WORLD'S SIMPLEST POOL
It's not complicated – pick one team to win a game outright each week, survive if successful and eliminate that team as a possibility for future weeks – but it's a lot tougher than it sounds. Last year I somehow managed to make it to Week 10 before turning things over to a few of my friends in the sports and entertainment worlds, and I'm hoping I can avoid the "any given Sunday" phenomenon for at least that long in '07. So here goes: I'm picking the Houston Texans, the team that ruined it for me last season by stunning the Jaguars in Jacksonville, to take down the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. I'm going with Houston partly because I'm dubious about Kansas City's chances of doing anything this season, and partly because I have a serious hunch the Texans and new quarterback Matt Schaub are about to step up to the big time. That's right, I'm putting it all on the Texans. I'm not joking; this is my job.
MY BUDDY'S ANNOYING FANTASY FOOTBALL ADVENTURE
Last year my buddy Malibu staged a fantasy draft online and called me 39 times in two hours to hit me up for advice. He did OK in his league of entertainment-industry types, but that didn't stop him from harassing me on a weekly basis when my picks didn't pan out. After the season, he ripped me for having advised him to select the Texans' Andre Johnson. That seemed weird, so I looked up Johnson's stats. "He had more receptions than anyone in the league," I protested. "He made the Pro Bowl." Alas, I was informed, he didn't produce enough fantasy points.
This year, two things changed. First, during a cram session while getting pounded by waves at Drainpipes Beach last Sunday afternoon, I made an honest effort to learn the rules of fantasy. And, shortly thereafter, I saved myself the over-the-phone hassle and showed up for Malibu's first-ever in-person draft, featuring 12 festive dudes with spread sheets and an utter conviction that they knew more about football than anyone else in the room. They were especially dubious about my credentials when I advised Malibu to make some picks that defied conventional wisdom: Adrian Peterson in the second round; Clinton Portis in the third; Santana Moss in the fifth; and Kellen Winslow in the sixth. (You'll be pleased to know he once again picked Andre Johnson in Round 4.) Malibu got grief for some of the selections he made without my assistance as well: Carson Palmer with the fifth overall pick and San Diego non-stars Michael Turner, Craig Davis, Brandon Manumaleuna, and Malcom Floyd. (Can you guess which NFL franchise is his favorite?)
I did get some love for advising Malibu's son, A-Man, on picks like Wes Welker (seventh round), Ladell Betts (eighth) and Dallas Clark (11th), but that might have just been the Coronas talking. And when I tried to get anyone who'd listen to take Matt Schaub (he went in the ninth round 106th overall), one player, Dan the Man, screamed, "This is my eighth draft, and Matt Schaub has never been picked!"
"Uh, right," I replied, "but this is the first time he's been a starting quarterback."