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I'm starting to get the distinct impression that NFL coaches hate fantasy football players.
Oh sure, I've had my suspicions over the years. Every time Zack Crockett or Jerome Bettis runs for a one-yard touchdown after the starting back does all the hard work, it's a fork in the eye to fantasy players everywhere.
When he calls the tackle-eligible pass play at the goal line, you know the coach is snickering because those fantasy points were wasted on a player that's on nobody's roster.
But lately they've just gotten mean.
Take Sunday, when so-called coaching genius Bill Belichick decided to suit up Corey Dillon but only play his star running back in an "emergency." I'm not sure what constitutes an emergency, coach, but your team was behind nearly the entire game and eventually lost. What exactly were you waiting for? A call from FEMA? Meanwhile, countless fantasy players got a big fat zero thanks to you. I see you smirking.
Mike Shanahan has hated us for years. You don't really think the way he handles his running back rotation is part of some finely-tuned game plan, do you? Puh-leeze. He's just yanking our chains by starting Mike Anderson but giving equal carries to Tatum Bell so we never know which one to play.
You might think Bill Parcells was trying to keep the Giants guessing all week with his esoteric comments regarding Julius Jones' playing status. While he wouldn't commit one way or the other, he made one thing crystal clear: Tyson Thompson was the man if Jones couldn't go.
The Tuna is having a good laugh at our expense today, my friend, after Anthony Thomas — you know, the A-Train that was in Parcells' dog house earlier in the season — had 21 carries to Thompson's three.
And that Mike Tice guy? Oh, nevermind. We won't have to worry about his crazy antics much longer.
I'm thinking of organizing a drive to demand that coaches give due consideration to fantasy players in their pregame press conferences. We'll back it up with a threatened boycott, whereby all 20 million of us agree not to watch NFL games for one week. We'll cancel our satellite service, abstain from beer and salty snacks and spend quality time with our families instead.
Who's with me?
Yeah, me neither.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, you need to start with a good draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is equally important. Here's a look at a few players worth grabbing, and others who would look better in someone else's line-up.
Catch 'em while you can
Kelly Holcomb, QB, Bills: He's not racking up big yardage, but he's tossing TDs, which is more than you can say for a lot of higher-rated QBs. With so much talent around him, and a very favorable schedule ahead, Holcomb can help in a pinch.
Chris Perry, RB, Bengals: Each week he steals more touches from Rudi Johnson, and he looks awfully good doing it. He's a better receiver and, though it doesn't show up in the stats, he's a more explosive playmaker. If you own Rudi, you need Perry as insurance.
Doug Gabriel, WR, Raiders: If Randy Moss' injury causes him to lose playing time, Gabriel may be the biggest beneficiary. He was Kerry Collins' favorite target on Sunday, and made several big plays when given the chance.
Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: Pittsburgh traditionally doesn't use its tight ends much in the passing game, but after investing their first round pick in Miller, they've changed their tune. After notching his third TD in five games, Miller is a viable fantasy TE.
Don't be fooled
Duce Staley, RB, Steelers: Is he still on your roster? Why? He's been inactive in consecutive weeks despite being able to play, while even Verron Haynes has suited up alongside Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis. Let the trade rumors fly.
Mike Williams, WR, Lions: With both Charles Rogers and Roy Williams out, he was Detroit's leading WR, as expected. Unfortunately, he claimed that lofty title by collecting two passes for 27 yards. Blame Joey Harrington if you like, but it's your fault if you keep him on your roster.
Michael Clayton, WR, Buccaneers: Last week, Jon Gruden said he would make it a priority to get Clayton more involved in the passing game. He didn't lie. Clayton's 27 yards receiving were 27 more than he had the week before.