Hector and Victor like to reminisce sometimes about our favorite video game, "Parappa the Rapper." We both used to be tight with Parappa. Hector attended grade school with him, and Victor used to date his cousin. One of our favorite stages of Parappa's game was the kitchen scene, "Cheap Cheep," where Parappa found himself stuck in a cooking show, and forced to learn things like, "The little tiny shrimps just go everywhere!" So, as a tribute to our good friend Parappa, we'd like to give you all some fantasy-related recipes, and help you decide if these three players might be the missing ingredient (Get it? Get it?) for your fantasy teams.
Kolby Smith, RB, Chiefs
Recipe for disaster:
1. Feel supremely confident in your current star running back and returning former star running back; add then quickly remove Michael Bennett from the mix.
2. After star running back goes down with injury, appoint former star running back and his surgically repaired neck as starter.
3. Former star running back predictably reinjures neck, and is forced to retire. Thrust untested rookie into starting role. Cook until kitchen is consumed in flames.
Kansas City, though, must have forgotten to grease the pan in Week 12, as the recipe turned out horribly wrong, and Kolby Smith, the virtual unknown from Louisville, destroyed the Oakland defense to the tune of 150 yards and two touchdowns. That slapping sound you heard came from the millions of Smith-less fantasy owners around the country who hit their foreheads in disgust after reading his stats on the Bottom Line.
Still, this has been just one game, and Smith initially took a backseat to a guy who hadn't touched a football in more than a year. So, we'd be crazy not to ask: Kolby Smith, are you for real?
Hector: Kick. Punch. It's all in the mind. The thing about being a virtual unknown to the rest of the league is that you're not unknown to yourself. If you know you've got All-Pro type mad skills, and your coach entrusts you with the starting job, then it makes no difference that two weeks ago most NFL fans would have thought you were one of the stars of CW's "Gossip Girl." The real trick is performing as well once that performance of yours makes it into the film room of the San Diego Chargers. I think we're looking at a much more down-to-earth 50 yards, and then a job holding the mop once Mr. Johnson is ready for another close-up.
Victor: Kick. Kick. Punch. I'm going to agree with my colleague here on the "film" aspect of Smith's performance. He had all of 10 carries before this game against a poor Oakland rush defense. Plus, even though it gets less likely every day, Larry Johnson is still, technically, "set to return," which will spell even fewer carries for Smith. I'd grab him for maybe the next week, but I can see a scenario come playoff time where the Chiefs get coy about Johnson coming back, reports say he'll be inactive, you insert Smith into your starting lineup, and the Chiefs surprise everybody by starting Johnson, while Smith gets seven carries for 32 yards.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings
Recipe for "Green QBs and Rice":
3. Slightly injure Rice's hamstring, just to further gum up the batter.
4. Finally, dump a heaping tablespoon of Jackson over Rice. Leave it on the range over an open flame, and see what happens next.
Rice's season has been inconsistent to say the least, but that could be as much a factor of, say, the three quarterbacks who have thrown to him as, perhaps, the hamstring injury he has attempted to play through. Think of Rice as the poor man's Bowe, with maybe just a little less talent, but just as good a chance to shine.
We have seen glimpses of his ability throughout the season, with games of 82, 66 and 75 yards. On the other hand, we've also seen glimpses of low-yardage games, with eight weeks of six or fewer fantasy points. Still, he's been "good" more often than "bad" during the past month, and it could be thanks to a rapport with Jackson. So, Sidney Rice, Hec and Vic would like to know: Are you for real?
Hector: Step on the gas. Now step on the brakes. That's the lead-footed driving style of the Minnesota Vikings' offense. It hasn't helped much that with the emergence of Adrian Peterson, there's really been no need for the development of a passing game, much like the isolation of Australia caused the indigenous creatures there to develop far differently than the rest of the world's animal life. Eventually though, technology will advance and the boats will reach Minnesota. At that time, the battle for survival of the fittest will begin. I firmly believe that Sidney, like his Australian compadres, will be left standing in the end.
Victor: Just for the record, that's a Parappa and a Darwinian reference up above. Now turn to the right! I'm going to take a less academic approach and just slap a fat "yes" on Rice. He's athletic, he's talented, he seems to be developing some sort of relationship with Jackson, and his bad weeks in between his latest two outbursts of fantasy scoring were marred by injury. He's no Bowe (yet), but he's on the way.
A.J. Feeley, QB, Eagles
Recipe for cooked bird:
1. Take beloved quarterback, give him a debilitating injury from which he returns, but is still far from 100 percent, then blame him for all your team's woes.
2. Hit beloved quarterback with several more injuries, forcing him to the sideline.
3. Eschew talk of starting super-rookie in favor of tested backup who once dated women's soccer player. Experts guffaw as he faces best team in the NFL.
4. Tested backup burns the consensus No. 1 team in the NFL for 345 yards and three touchdowns, almost pulling off the upset of the season.
5. Overreacting fans call for the head of beloved quarterback. (Kids call for the wishbone!)
And such is the case of A.J. Feeley (never, ever to be confused with Dolphins kicker Jay Feely), who took the Eagles -- and a nation -- within one touchdown of ending all this annoying "This Is New England's Year in Every Sport" talk. With an achy, banged-up Donovan McNabb watching from the sidelines, Feeley took everyone by surprise and passed for more yards and as many scores as he did in all of 2006. Thus, Hector and Victor, both revering McNabb for his ridiculous accomplishments at Syracuse and hating Feeley for his dating of Heather Mitts, must ask, with a rather heavy heart: A.J. Feeley, are you for real?
Victor: I can sell a bottle cap like this. And I can try to sell you on A.J. Feeley, but it might be tough. Still, look at it this way: Maybe this team is built more for a quarterback like Feeley than it is for a quarterback like McNabb. Sometimes this is just the case, such as when Pittsburgh took off under Ben Roethlisberger, or New England really started to turn it on under Tom Brady. Or even how the Eagles played last season under Jeff Garcia. I love McNabb more than any quarterback in the league (and not just because he was a walk-on for the Syracuse basketball team), but after two backups lit a fire under the offense, it might be wise to consider someone like Feeley as a viable fantasy option until McNabb returns.
Hector: In the rain or in the snow, he's got that funky flow, but now, he's really got to go. A.J. is a lot like those doughnuts you keep in your car. You can use them to get you to the nearest gas station, but anything beyond that and you're asking for some major damage to your car. Sorry, Mr. Feeley. Don't get all touchy. That's just the way it is. You're not for real. Now check and turn the signals to the right, get back in the trunk, and wait until the next time Donovan gets a flat.