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Fantasy football: Drafting Ray Rice should give owners pause

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Updated: August 22, 2014 2:36AM



A Bears fan awaits his turn to make his first-round pick in a fantasy-football draft. He has the sixth pick, a potential turning point in many drafts. Does he continue the run on running backs that begins many drafts? Or does he stem the tide and take a quarterback?

Making his decision more gut-wrenching is his allegiance. Packers running back Eddie Lacy should be available at No. 6, but having to root for a sworn enemy makes the fan’s stomach turn. He couldn’t possibly celebrate a touchdown by Lacy as he would with other players.

Fantasy football owners deal with such a scenario every season. But that pales in comparison to the scenario they face this season. Lacy playing for the Packers is nothing compared to Ravens running back Ray Rice’s transgression. In February, Rice allegedly beat his wife, and he was charged with felony aggravated assault. The NFL suspended him for two games.

How do you celebrate a touchdown scored by that guy?

Ravens fans don’t seem to have much of a problem with Rice. They unabashedly cheered him at a preseason practice in Baltimore and again at the team’s first exhibition game. But fantasy owners might not feel the same way, and they can express that by (a) not drafting Rice or (b) keeping him out of their league.

Ladd Biro has chosen the ­latter. Biro, who writes the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), had heard enough criticism of the NFL’s punishment on sports radio that he decided to start the Put Rice on Ice campaign. His goal is to make Rice ineligible in his leagues and have other leagues take up the cause.

“The common refrain was, ‘There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s not like we’re going to stop watching football,’ ” Biro said. “I decided that maybe if we could get a groundswell of support from fantasy-football players — among the most loyal and passionate fans of the game — we might be able to get the NFL brass’ attention and convince them to reconsider their discipline policy on domestic-violence offenses.”

Biro said the response has been positive. Several leagues have notified him that they’re making Rice ineligible, but that hasn’t been enough to catch the attention of the larger fantasy community, let alone the NFL. Nevertheless, Biro pushes on, promoting his campaign with a blog post titled, “Disgusted by NFL’s views on domestic violence? PUT RICE ON ICE.”

But according to Biro, anyone who drafts Rice might regret it anyway.

“Assuming [backup] Bernard Pierce doesn’t set the world on fire in the first two weeks while he’s out, I expect Rice to be a decent RB2 at best,” Biro said. “He’s clearly not an elite runner anymore, and I don’t think he ever will be again. He probably has a few decent performances left in him, but nothing to get too excited about.”

Drafting Rice won’t make you a bad person. NFL players have broken many laws and committed many crimes over the years. But hopefully those who do draft Rice will have a greater sense of how reality can affect fantasy, and ­perhaps they won’t take such glee in their success on account of him.

Email: jagrest@suntimes.com

Twitter: @JeffreyA22



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