The Fantasy Fool: Debate settled -- Calvin, meet Barry


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Having lived the majority of my adult life in the Dallas area, I often find myself begrudgingly acknowledging the Cowboys’ anachronistic title as “America’s Team,” when the football chatter inevitably turns to such things. Despite having celebrated its last Super Bowl victory nearly two full decades ago, Jerry Jones’ brand still resonates like no other – across Texas, the United States and the globe.

If nothing else, most of us either love the Cowboys or love to hate the Cowboys. And that’s a pretty powerful combination that fans of the other 31 NFL teams would love to claim.

[Full disclosure: As a young Ladd, I spent many glorious Sunday afternoons and Monday nights in the Orange Bowl stands, bleeding aqua and orange for my beloved Dolphins. To this day, I share in the cork-popping jubilation of the ’72 Perfect Team when the last undefeated club bites the dust, even as the rest of you roll your eyes at our “desperate” embrace of ancient history. Sorry, Kansas City, but most Dolfans stopped worrying last week when the Colts toppled the Broncos.]

But while Dallas fans may have a point when it comes to their irksome nickname, it’s time they acknowledge the truths that Detroit fans – and everyone else beyond the DFW Metroplex – hold to be self-evident.

Barry was better than Emmitt.

And Calvin is better than Dez.

For all his toughness, mind-boggling durability and irrefutable role in the Cowboys’ dominance of the early 1990s, nobody but a diehard Dallas fan would honestly select Emmitt Smith over Barry Sanders as their featured running back. I know, I know…Barry quit. Emmitt never did (though many wished he had sooner). I get it. But the debate is not about which player had a bigger heart, or was more loyal to his team. It’s about being the best.

Dez Bryant showed his heart – and, arguably, his immaturity – on the sidelines of yesterday’s shootout in Detroit. And he likewise flashed the brilliance that has landed him, justifiably, in the same conversation with Calvin Johnson as one of the best receivers in today’s NFL.

But Johnson’s near-record performance served as an emphatic statement that cannot be denied. He is in a class by himself. Hands down.

Decades may pass before Lions fans can lay claim to as many Lombardi trophies as those surrounding the Cowboys’ star. But Motown will always have Barry. And now, Megatron.

Debate over.

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

Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals – The rookie won’t be available in four out of five leagues much longer, after he torched the Falcons for 154 yards, including an 80-yard scoring run. The concern with Ellington is his small frame, which keeps the Cardinals from giving him a large number of carries. Perhaps his performance Sunday will vault him over Rashard Mendenhall in the backfield pecking order…

Marvin Jones, WR, Bengals – Is there any doubt Jones will be this week’s most sought-after free agent? A 122-yard, 4-TD game tends to grab the attention of fantasy enthusiasts. It’s just a shame we weren’t focusing earlier, as Jones was amassing 128 yards and 2 TDs over the previous two games. Cincinnati finally has a worthy complement to A.J. Green.

Kenny Stills, WR, Saints – Though he has the look of a boom-or-bust type of receiver, we can’t overlook Stills’ 129-yard, 2-TD outing against the Bills. Drew Brees has now connected with his rookie wideout for three scores in the last two games, so Sunday’s outing was no fluke. He’s a decent consolation prize for those missing out on Jones.

Don’t be fooled

Dexter McCluster, WR, Chiefs – Though the multi-purpose playmaker has overshadowed Dwayne Bowe of late, that’s more a sign of Bowe’s fading fantasy relevance than McCluster’s sudden emergence. McCluster’s first scoring reception of 2013 leaves him one shy of his career-best showing in 2011. Move along. There’s nothing to see here.

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).


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