Papa always told me "life ain't fair."
That was usually right after he stole my last French fry, or reneged on his promise to take me on a blimp ride after I finally made it through a semester of elementary school without an "N" (not satisfactory) on my self-discipline grade.
Indeed, life could be cruel growing up on the mean streets of Coral Gables, Fla. But it steeled me for the many trials I've confronted later in life.
Like now, when I compete in three fantasy leagues without Peyton Manning on my side.
Heck, other than a swift pickup of Julius Thomas after the opener, I don't even own any of Manning's spoiled receivers.
I can't shake this sense that I'm just playing for second place, like 31 NFL teams, as long as Manning continues on his ridiculous tear. For crying out loud, who starts the season with 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions? (Milt Plum, that's who. In 1960. See what I mean? We're in very weird territory here.)
To be sure, Manning alone isn't enough to carry you to a fantasy title. Even he needs a strong supporting cast. But there's no doubt he gives his owners a decided advantage every week. He's on track for yet another MVP season and, best I can tell, he has yet to break a sweat. Despite sitting out Sunday's fourth quarter, he's still on pace for nearly 6,000 yards and 64 TDs!
Not fair. Not fair at all.
My expert advice: Schedule your matchup with Manning's owner in Week 8.
Free agent picks and 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
Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers. Only Jamaal Charles has had more passes thrown his way than Woodhead, who took two of them to the house on Sunday. Like Darren Sproles, San Diego's diminutive back is valuable primarily in PPR leagues. Neither gains enough rushing yardage to be a steady contributor in standard-scoring leagues, but they make up for it as trusted receivers.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Raiders. Consider this a desperation play for owners with bye-week gaps to fill. As if on cue, Darren McFadden left Sunday's contest with a hamstring injury. No word yet on how much time, if any, he'll miss. Marcel Reece, who would normally be the best candidate to fill in, also exited with a bad knee. That left Jennings as the last man standing, and he responded with 45 rushing yards and eight receptions for 71 more. But you may remember how Jennings fared the last time he was asked to cover for an injured starter (Maurice Jones-Drew). So caveat emptor.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars. Still available in nearly 90 percent of all fantasy leagues, Blackmon has served his four-game suspension and will step right back into the starting lineup. Before you scoff at picking up a Jag, remember that the team was just as sorry during his rookie season; and yet Blackmon became a solid fantasy contributor.
Don't be fooled
Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers. With the emergence of Le'Veon Bell as Pittsburgh's shiny new workhorse, there's no reason to hold onto Redman, who sat out Sunday's game due to the lingering effects of a concussion. Still owned in four out of five leagues, Redman isn't even worth keeping as Bell insurance, as he made painfully clear over the first three games of the season.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears. Those searching for promising receivers on the waiver wire may be tempted by the second-year wideout that just notched his first 100-yard receiving day (with a TD). But despite 11 targets Sunday, Jeffery is still the fourth option, at best, in Chicago's passing game. That's not good enough for consistent fantasy production.fantasy
Ladd Biro was named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010, 2011). Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog, on Facebook and via Twitter @ladd_biro.