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Friday, September 26, 2003

Pro Picks, Week 4: Fantasy Land

Confession: I am playing fantasy football online, and that is one sure fire way to make you a psychotic follower of every little stat and injury. So far I'm doing well, 3-0 in my weekly matchups, but this week I may be headed for a defeat.

Daunte Culpepper fractured some bone in his back and is doubtful, and this on the same week that my other QB, Kerry Collins, has a bye. Two of my best points producers, Ricky Williams and Chris Chambers, also have a bye with Miami. And to top it off, David Boston (or, as fantasy-heads are calling him these days, David Bust-ton), who has not produced due to a mysterious heel injury that kept him out last week, has been suspended by the Chargers for Sunday. As Dick Enberg would say, when bad luck comes, sometimes she brings her knitting.

This experience is reminding me why I disliked fantasy football when I played a few years ago. I had Steve Young, who was injured and out for the year after a few games, and my squad never could recover. Even if you draft and manage your roster perfectly, injuries can ruin you. How can there be such injustice in the world?

As I said, fantasy makes football fans crazier than normal. Who knew I would ever be so interested in who scored the touchdown in the Denver game as the score update scrolls across the bottom of the screen? Furthermore, as I pick games, sometimes I go against teams that have my fantasy players, so I end up bizarrely rooting for my guy to rack up big stats in a loss. This stuff is schizophrenia-inducing.

Enough wallowing in my own insane obsessions. On to this week's picks, which, as always, are for recreational purposes only.

New England at Washington

The good news: Pats are 2-1. The bad news: Bill Belichick called me this week asking if I would join the team as a linebacker. In case you didn't get that one, the Patriots have lots of players with injuries. And if you have today's Boston Globe, check out the nasty shot of Tom Brady's swollen elbow--yick. The Redskins, meanwhile, are still dealing with the wrath of Hollywood after pre-empting the Emmy pre-show last week with their overtime game against the Giants on Fox.

Pick: Redskins

Dallas at NY Jets

The Bill Parcells tour of teams he left continues with another stop at the Meadowlands. I look forward to seeing Herm Edwards throw another nutty in the postgame presser if the Jets lose again.

Pick: Jets

Atlanta at Carolina

Doug Johnson and Jake Delhomme are the QBs. For your own sake, don't watch.

Pick: Carolina

Cincinnati at Cleveland

The battle of Ohio! How did the Browns pull off that win last week in San Francisco? Holcomb leads them back with a fractured leg, and what does he get as his reward? Tim Couch starts on Sunday. The Bungles should help ease him back into playing.

Pick: Browns

San Diego at Oakland

This is a tough call. Should I go with the team of players that are bad because they're getting too old, or with the team of players that are bad because they got rid of their veterans and are playing unproven young guys? I'm guessing it's better to have been good once upon a time than to have never been good, and I'll bet the Raiders will want to show Monday night was not who they are.

Pick: Raiders

Green Bay at Chicago

Who is actually thrilled to tune in Monday night to see the new and improved Soldier Field? Are they actually hoping for a ratings boost because of a stadium renovation? And on the Pack's embarrassing loss in Arizona last week, I think the doomsayers are overlooking one key thing: it was over 100 degrees for the game. Of course no visiting team will want to play football in that, so the Cards, despite sucking, have a major edge at home.

Pick: Packers

Other Games

St. Louis over Arizona, San Francisco over Minnesota, Pittsburgh over Tennessee, Jacksonville over Houston, Buffalo over Philadelphia, Kansas City over Baltimore, Denver over Detroit, Indianapolis over New Orleans.

Last Week: 8-6
Season Record: 27-19