Fantasy football: Worst feeling in fantasyland?

Earlier in the season, one of the leagues I’m in posted a poll about what’s the worst feeling in fantasy football. Starting the wrong guy was No. 1 in a landslide.

Ask any fantasy owner and he’ll tell you there is no worse feeling than agonizing all week about two players and watching on Sunday as the guy on your bench goes nuts and the other guy gets blanked.

I got one that’ll beat it: Telling a friend who to play and then watching that player lay an egg.

That’s what happened to me this past week as a colleague asked me if he should play Matt Cassell over Donovan McNabb. I’m not a big believer in Cassell so I told him to stick with the proven commodity, McNabb.

Well, that didn’t turn out well. McNabb imploded, got benched, and gave him negative points. Cassell? He did his best Tom Brady impersonation.

Uh, if you’re still reading David, sorry about that.

That leads me into this week’s first question:

Is McNabb worth starting anymore?

Well at least he got his job back. After being benched for Kevin Kolb in the second half of last Sunday’s game against Baltimore, McNabb was in serious jeopardy of losing his job to the second-year player. And for good reason. Since strafing the Seahawks — no longer an impressive feat — he’s had three bad games, including throwing for just 59 yards against the Ravens. I’ve never been a big fan of McNabb (too injury prone) and I’m completely off the bandwagon. The guy is emotionally unstable to begin with so there’s no telling how he’s going to take his benching. He may have a decent game today — Arizona is not good on the road — but with the Giants and the Redskins coming up in the next three weeks, don’t expect McNabb to lead you to a fantasy title. If you have a better option, use it.

Will the return of Derek Anderson help Cleveland?

Who knows where Anderson’s head is at after being benched three weeks ago. He could either be resigned to the fact that Cleveland is not where his future is or he could be determined to win the job back. The biggest problem facing Anderson and the Browns’ passing attack is the upcoming schedule. Cleveland plays Indianapolis, Tennessee and Pittsburgh over the next four weeks, which means using Anderson over an already established quarterback isn’t a good idea. As for Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards, Anderson should be able to help their numbers, but if you own those guys you’re likely not in the playoff hunt. Sorry.

Will Jason Witten be ready for the playoffs?

Not the real playoffs. His ribs have enough time to heal for that. But for fantasy owners it’s a different matter. Witten, who was the No. 1 tight end on most draft boards going into the season, broke a rib in Week 8 and hasn’t been the same since. He sat out Week 9 and has just three catches for 34 yards in the two games since. Not the kind of numbers his owners have come to expect. Witten practiced on Wednesday and is probable for the Seahawks game today. If Dallas was playing a marquee opponent, I’d expect Witten to play the entire game and put up some good numbers. But the Cowboys should open up a big lead, which means Witten will likely be shown the bench pretty early in the game. He may catch a few passes and a touchdown isn’t out of the question, but don’t expect a breakout performance. As for the fantasy playoffs, Witten should be fine and will be called upon often against tough opponents like Pittsburgh, the Giants and Baltimore. Unless he re-injures the rib today, play Witten with confidence in the playoffs.

Who should I play this week?

After a couple of breakout games, Titans rookie RB Chris Johnson has been struggling as of late. The Lions’ defense should remedy that. Expect the fastest back in the NFL to carve up the Detroit defense this morning. It may sound crazy, but Matt Hasselbeck should have a good game today. The Cowboys defensive backfield is banged up — they signed Tra Battle off the Chargers’ practice squad on Wednesday and he may play. If you’re desperate, give him a go. And if I’m not tempting fate too much here, don’t play Cassel this Sunday. He’s roped his owners into trusting him and he’s primed for a spectacular fall against the Steelers, who are a completely different animal than the Dolphins.

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