Mood swings are part of the game

All across this great land of ours, there are three kinds of people today: the winners, the losers and those waiting in line for their label.

You can spot the winners in the office. They're the ones walking with that extra swagger. They make direct eye contact in the halls and bark out a more sincere "How are you" than normal, because they're just begging for you to ask how they're doing.

The winners have locked up their fantasy playoff berths, and they just can't wipe the smiles off their faces. Watch them in your staff meeting. When they're not engaged in the conversation, you can catch them floating away on a cloud of fantasy bliss, replaying the Chris Chambers touchdown catch that put them over the top. They're oblivious to everything going on around them because they can't believe the good fortune they had in facing LaDainian Tomlinson this week instead of almost any other. Walk by their office, and you might find a shrine to Carson Palmer or Larry Johnson.

The losers might be a little tougher to identify, if only because a good number of them called in sick today. And, no doubt, sick they are. They're sick of Jamal Lewis and his season-long disappearing act. They're fed up with Corey Dillon and his will-he-or-won't-he playing status. They're physically ill over their decision to bench Lee Evans and his three TD receptions.

If they somehow dragged themselves into work, they're laying low. They avoid groups gathered in conversation and eat lunch alone, muttering to themselves about what they'd do to Brett Favre if they saw him in a dark alley.

The last people they want to run into are the winners. They know it's only a matter of time before the taunting email arrives, asking them what they're going to do with all their free time now that their fantasy season is over.

And finally, there are those in fantasy limbo, awaiting the results of tonight's game. They are acting unusually distracted today, unable to focus on their work because their minds keep calculating the various scoring scenarios that must unfold for them to advance to the postseason.

They're either praying that Shaun Alexander has his typically outstanding outing, or that he spontaneously combusts. Many are pinning their hopes on the Matt Hasselbeck-to-Joe Jurevicius connection. Some are hoping against hope that Mike McMahon throws multiple touchdowns, or that David Akers breaks the record for most 50-yard field goals in NFL history.

You see, nobody wants to stop playing fantasy football on December 6th. Not when personal pride, the thrill of victory and, in a few cases here and there, some serious scratch is on the line. Besides, there's nothing worse than watching your players go lights-out in Week 14, long after your Web site has stopped adding up your points.

So here's to the winners: Congratulations, my friends, and good luck next weekend.

To those in limbo, I hope everything swings your way tonight.

To the losers, I extend my sincerest sympathies. I know nothing I can say will make you feel better, so I'll just say this: Better you than me!


It's a whole new season now that the playoffs are here. Win and keep on playing. Lose and somebody else steals your glory. Here's a look at a few players that should shine, and others who may fade, during the fantasy playoffs.

Primed for the playoffs

Trent Green, QB, Chiefs: Again playing with confidence and showing the accuracy that has made him a perennial fantasy star, Green will need to stay hot for KC to reach the playoffs. He's usually at his best in December.

Drew Brees, QB, Chargers: In a tight race with the Broncos and Chiefs for a playoff berth, Brees should fare well against Miami and KC, but will need his best stuff in the Week 15 battle at Indy.

Domanick Davis, RB, Texans: A disappointment most of the season, Davis has found his mojo when it matters most. He should follow-up his 155-yard romp against the Ravens with similar success against the Titans and Cards.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals: No longer overshadowed by Chad Johnson, T.J. is a consistently potent weapon in the Bengals' high-octane passing attack. With an easy schedule ahead, he'll be money in the playoffs.

Checking out early

Stephen Davis, RB, Panthers: The term "starter" is now officially meaningless when it comes to Carolina's backs. Davis has virtually disappeared from the Panthers' game plan and should not make it off your bench again.

Curtis Martin, RB, Jets: Riding a 7-game losing streak, the Jets are already making reservations for their postseason vacations. Martin is getting no relief from the passing game, and will be fortunate to find the end zone again this season.

RRandy Moss, WR, Raiders: It's clear that the league's most explosive receiver is less than 100 percent physically, his quarterback is struggling and his team isn't competitive. Look for disinterest, and discontent, to set in quickly.