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Coaching controversy

Bears receiver DevHester runs for positive yardage after catch during second quarter Chicago Bears 39-10 wover MinnesotVikings Sunday October 16

Bears receiver Devin Hester runs for positive yardage after a catch during the second quarter of the Chicago Bears 39-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday October 16, 2011 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 19, 2011 8:51AM



In one of my leagues, our commissioner decided to try out a new option offered by the league-management site to add a head coach to our rosters. Each team win yields seven points, with a loss registering a goose egg.

I wasn’t in favor of this tricked-up option, but a collective shrug from the rest of the guys allowed the commish to institute the change.

The first challenge presented itself in the draft, since it’s awfully hard to determine the proper draft position for a head coach. So I decided to trigger a run on the position by selecting Bill Belichick at the top of the 10th round. So far, so good.

But we almost had an unexpected controversy on our hands yesterday, and it had nothing to do with “Handshakegate” between Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz. Or on Mike Shanahan’s decision to sit Tim Hightower after declaring him active and signaling that he would start.

Instead, it centered on Saints coach Sean Payton, who suffered knee and leg injuries after a freak sideline collision. The Saints went on to lose to the Bucs; but had they won, should Payton’s owner have been awarded the points, even though the coach watched the second half from the locker room?

I say no. Hey, if the league chooses to add a silly position like coaches to the mix, they should be treated like every other player. Those who lost Jason Campbell in the second quarter Sunday weren’t allowed to add Kyle Boller’s stats to his total. Why should a coach be any different?

Now, on to the next challenges. Whom am I going to pick up this week while Belichick is on his bye? And whom do I drop to make room for his replacement?

Sheesh . . .

FREE AGENT PICKS & PANS

To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here’s a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else’s lineup.

Catch ’em while you can

DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: He was recommended in this space weeks ago, after Felix Jones suffered his shoulder injury. Now that Jones has added a high ankle sprain to his list of woes, Murray again merits a pickup. Especially if Tashard Choice is traded before Tuesday’s deadline, which would be odd now that Jones is on the shelf again.

Earnest Graham, RB, Buccaneers.: We found out later than normal last week that LeGarrette Blount would miss time with a knee injury, so alert owners have already snapped up the versatile Graham. But he’s still available in roughly a third of leagues, and he proved Sunday that he can shoulder a heavy workload. Blount could be out until Week 9.

Fred Davis, TE, Redskins: Davis’ value has been hindered both by the presence of Chris Cooley and mediocrity at the quarterback position. Well, eliminating one of two ain’t bad. Cooley fractured his hand and finger and will be out indefinitely. New starter John Beck will likely find it easier to connect with Davis than his wideouts.

Don’t be fooled

Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns: Hardesty racked up a combined 53 yards after Peyton Hillis suffered a hamstring injury. But he dropped a few passes and was generally unimpressive against the Raiders’ below-average run defenders. Hillis’ injury does not appear too serious (he returned to the field briefly in the fourth quarter), and the tough Seahawks and 49ers rush defenses are on tap next for the Browns.

Devin Hester, WR, Bears: Hester is arguably the greatest return man in NFL history. But as a receiver, he’s as unreliable as they get. His 16 career punt and kickoff return scores in the regular season exceed his 13 career receiving touchdowns. To make matters worse, he suffered a chest injury late in Sunday night’s game.

Donald Brown, RB, Colts: Those of us who invested in Brown last season after Joseph Addai injured his neck know better than to trust him. Not only did he lose his backup role to rookie Delone Carter in the preseason, but Indy’s running game is even worse this year with Peyton Manning watching from the sidelines. Let someone else waste their roster space on the first-round bust.

Raiders receivers: Now that Campbell has been lost for the season with a broken collarbone, all bets are off for the Oakland passing attack. Boller might just be the worst backup quarterback in the league, and his presence could have a debilitating effect on the entire team. You can drop or trade your receivers, or pray that Oakland signs free agent David Garrard. Don’t count on the team persuading Cincinnati to trade Carson Palmer.

Ladd Biro was voted the 2010 Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).



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