The Thinking Chair

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It happens during the fantasy football season. It's helped you, and it's hurt you; and indeed, it's probably impossible to do well over the course of a season without it. I'm talking about the stinky win. That's when your team lays the proverbial egg and has a horrible outing; but by chance, your opponent had an even worse week. Often, you have the second-lowest point total of the week, but your opponent just happens to have the lowest.

Now, before we get to the term, a step back. If you are a regular reader of this column, you'll know that I am the proud parent of a baby girl. And if there's anything a parent knows about, it's poop. Yep, I said it -- poop.

Why do I mention this here? Because we're talking about a poopy win. But sometimes the non-diapery poop manages to float to the top of the bowl. (Sorry, were you eating? My bad.) So, when you eke out a win you really don't deserve? That's a floater.

Yep, a floater. I was the victim of a floater last week in my main league, mostly thanks to a terrible performance by young Tim Hightower of the Cardinals, who couldn't get it going against the 49ers defense. I started him over Jamal Lewis, with the thought that at the least, Hightower gets goal-line carries. So all things being equal, he was as good a bet for a touchdown as Lewis, but with a much higher upside. Then, each time the Cardinals got within the 5-yard line -- which was (sadly) often -- Kurt Warner passed the ball.

I fell victim to a floater. But in truth, I've won twice in that same league by the same shady margin, once beating an opponent who sat Willie Parker in favor of Justin Fargas. (I'll let that sink in for a moment.) That's the beauty and the curse of fantasy football; you can get way too clever, but you can also benefit from your opponent doing the same. Floaters aren't pretty, and in fact, they are often pretty gross, but they are an integral part of the game.

Speaking of the game, we've got Thursday night football, folks. And that's a gorgeous development. For those of us who commute on the West Coast, that means we can listen to NFL games on the ride home. Regrettably, the Jets-Patriots game featured Ian (that's pronounced "Eye-In") Eagle and Dennis Green. If you remember Green screaming about the Bears that, "THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!" or any of his other interviews, you know he's got a scratchy, uneven voice that sounds like a bicycle chain in a blender. It's not pretty. But what's worse? The fact that his co-host Eagle consistently refers to him as "Coach." Look, the guy was a coach, but he isn't any longer. The only other place this happens to my knowledge is in royalty and politics, where we'll call an ex-president by that title in perpetuity. I don't talk to my brother-in-law by saying, "Hey, PR Manager, what do you think is going to happen here?" Why? BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE INSANE. Of course, Eagle is far from the culprit here. It's a standard in football broadcasting, and it must stop.

Speaking of floaters, my condolences out there to everyone who sat Matt Cassel -- that was a smart thing to do, since the Jets defense has been rock solid. But 400 yards? Three touchdowns? And 62 rushing yards? That's a night you really want to count for your team.

The so-called Hot Stove League is in full swing (hey now) and trades are abounding, many of which have a fantasy impact. The biggest name to move recently was Matt Holliday, being shipped from Colorado to Oakland. Many folks assume that, by leaving the thin air of Denver and going to a less friendly park in Oakland, Holliday will see a power drop. I'm not so sure -- for one thing, Oakland has played home to a lot of big power hitters. And a lot of so-called knowledge is expressed about the huge foul territory in Oakland. That's certainly true, but I have yet to see data that truly show how many balls are in play that would otherwise be foul. I'm sure it matters; I'm not sure it matters a whole lot. I think Holliday will continue to rake, and as a fantasy owner, I'd hype along with the thought that his value will plummet, because that will leave him for you on the cheap.

The Cubs have apparently given up on Kerry Wood, trading for Marlins closer Kevin Gregg. All managers, in fantasy baseball or the major leagues, should see this as a tacit acknowledgement that Wood's arm will separate from his body at some point before the All-Star break. I've always been terrified of Wood, but if the Cubbies won't have him, there's no way I'm getting close.

The Yankees traded for Nick Swisher, as well, and frankly, it's hard to know which version of the Swish will show up. I wouldn't overpay for him, because while he'll be hitting in a good lineup, he certainly played on an offensively loaded team last year in Chicago and did almost nothing with it. It will be interesting to see where Jason Giambi lands, because he is no longer part of the Yankees' plans.

Speaking of plans, I've got a plan to wrap this column up. So I'll leave you with this -- don't fear the floater.