As animated prognosticators, Hector and Victor are strong allies of our animated brethren getting work. We have always been pro-cartoon (although we have debated the merits of Fox's robot football player before and after commercial breaks). So it pained us when we realized that our animated cousins, the Guinness "Brilliant!" brewmasters, were retired prior to this football season. We're also going to miss the disembodied sexy female voice attempting an enthusiastic "Brilliant!" during the "PTI" sponsor roll call, if that is retired as well.
Anyone watching ESPN or ESPNews has been treated to Guinness' funky new "It's Alive Inside" campaign instead. As fellow cartoons, it pains us to see the brewmasters go. However, as beer-drinking projectors and predictors, we must admit the new ads are kind of cool. But we still can't help but feel our favorite brewmasters will be back.
So, in honor of our fallen brothers, we give you three players who are "Alive." They've taken advantage of an injury, ineffectiveness or change in role to brew up a little value. But will their "brewmasters" return and steal back the show?
The Colts elected to rest Addai (shoulder) before his bye, and Keith sure took advantage, with 121 rushing yards, 37 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Kenton Keith? Yeah, he's the guy who probably was picked up by that overzealous owner in your league a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, Tony Dungy was adamant on Monday in saying that if this were a playoff game, both Addai and Marvin Harrison would have played, meaning Keith could be the guy who gets put back on the waiver wire by the same loser as the team heads into its bye week.
Still, we've seen this before -- a mysterious game missed, a coy, somewhat-misleading coach, and a nagging injury keeping a star out a few extra weeks. Kenton Keith, we must ask you and your alliterative name: Are you for real?
Hector: If we were all allowed to start a "fourth-quarter specialist" in our fantasy lineups, then yes, Kenton would be very much for real. With the Colts spending the better part of this century waiting for the second-half clock to reach triple zeroes while trying to hang on to a double-digit lead, they're always going to need a guy to spell the main guy and rack up yardage in garbage time. Kenton is that guy. He can easily rack up 40, 60, even 80 yards on any given Sunday, just by breaking a long one against an already-beaten defense. But he also can go weeks without playing, and there's your rub. Yes, he did nicely filling in for Addai, but who knows when he'll get significant carries again? That's not "for real." Far from it.
Victor: Unfortunately, I cannot disagree. Kenton Keith -- as cool as his name is to say -- gives us very little in terms of realness. But I would be remiss if I didn't at least give readers this spin on things: Running backs who are pronounced "good to go if it was the playoffs" might turn out to be more injured than they actually are. I'm not going to question Tony Dungy's ethics on things such as banter with reporters, but why wouldn't he slip that little gem in there and make future opponents prepare for Addai when it will really be Keith carrying the ball?
Hector: Poor Victor doesn't recognize an honest man when he sees him. Doesn't even know the meaning of the word. Next thing you know, he'll be publishing his private conversations in this column.
Davenport found the end zone twice in Week 5, bringing his season touchdown total to three. You laugh and say that Davenport is just a short-yardage specialist and touchdown vulture, but he has put up games of 43, 46, 47 and 58 yards so far this season, while averaging a ridiculous 7.5 yards per carry. Touchdown vulture he is not, my friends. But he does remain Willie Parker's backup, which knocks his value down a few pegs.
Or does it? We are here to help. Najeh Davenport, are you for real?
Hector: Yes, he is, which is a real pain. Remember that game when Jerome Bettis had five carries for one yard and three scores? That was great for anyone who started The Bus, which was, well, nobody. You can't start a goal-line specialist over any back who gets regular carries. Even Earnest Graham and Cedric Benson are smarter plays. At least with them, you know for sure they will touch the ball. That yards per carry average is ridiculous because it's not coming from a large enough sample size to mean anything. And like Kenton Keith's, these yards are mostly coming late when the game is already decided. The touchdowns are nice, but you can't hang your hopes on the possibility of Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes or Parker getting tackled inside the 5-yard line each week.
Victor: Tell you what, I am going with Davenport being "for real" here. He has gotten 40-plus yards four out of five games and has more rushing yards this season than Maurice Jones-Drew. It's five games in, people! Yes, Davenport has been a fantasy bust in years past, but he has proved -- in more than one-third of the season -- to be at least a somewhat effective fantasy weapon. He will get vulture touchdowns, might get 40 rushing yards per game (we have no reason to believe he won't just yet) and stands to benefit from any injury Fast Willie might suffer in the future. As far as handcuffs go, he is a must-have. But he's as good of a touchdown vulture as any I've seen this year.
A fellow sports scribe (SI's Peter King) shared with the world a text message exchange with Trent Green after his concussion Sunday. Not to be outdone, Hec and Vic whipped out our two-way pagers and asked Cleo Lemon about his feelings heading into this week:
Victor to Lemon: Dude, how you feeling?
Lemon to Victor: Who is this?
Victor to Lemon: It's Victor, buddy!
Lemon to Victor: Oh. What's up?
Victor to Lemon: Just wanted to say hi.
Lemon to Victor: Hi.
Victor to Lemon: Is your refrigerator running?
Lemon to Victor: Yes.
Victor to Lemon: Well, you'd better go catch it!!!
Victor to Lemon: I was just kidding.
Victor to Lemon: Come on, guy. I was just messing around.
Victor to Lemon: Lemon?
Victor to Lemon: Lemon buddy?! These are costing me 15 cents each!
Lemon to Victor: You hurt me when you do this.
Victor to Hector: He's mad at me.
Hector to Victor: But is he for real?
Victor: Hmm. Like Natalie Imbruglia, I'm torn. Lemon has done nothing to prove himself so far, but he hasn't exactly been given the chance to, much like Tom Brady and Tony Romo weren't in their early years. His receiving corps is actually pretty interesting, with Chris Chambers having undeniable skill, Marty Booker being a huge end-zone target and Ted Ginn an explosive weapon. Factor in Ronnie Brown, having undeniably one of the best seasons for a fantasy back so far, and it's a recipe for success. Of course, the question, naturally, becomes: Why didn't it help Trent Green?
Hector: Vic, I bet you like the music of Vitamin C, too. That's a citrus joke, Vic. (I hate always having to explain these things to him.) Look, the Dolphins are winless, so it's not as if there's a lot of pressure on Mr. Cleo. All he has to do is hand it to Ronnie Brown a few times and avoid throwing it to the guys in the other jerseys, and he'll do better than 75 percent of the league's starters in any given week. With all the injuries out there, you could do a lot worse. Byron Leftwich anyone? David Carr? Brodie Croyle? No thanks. I'll take Cleo and his 150-200 yards passing and be happy. He's not going to be a Tony Romo, but even Tony can have interception-heavy days (see: night, Monday) And for any owner who drafted Damon Huard, J.P. Losman or Matt Leinart, you can't be too picky with what's left on the waiver wire.
Victor: And I predict we're done for this week. Hey, what do you know? I'm right!