When I think of Ray Rice, I think of Mike Ditka.
The former Bears coach was wildly successful in the early years with Chicago, but over time he became attached to many of "his guys," and by the end of his tenure the team's roster was a mess. Loyalty and stubbornness ultimately cost Ditka his job, and they can cost fantasy owners, too.
That brings me to Rice.
Ray Rice is one of "my guys." I was telling people early in his career that he was my favorite non-Bear to watch. He's a little guy who played big — smashing, spinning and straining his way to success.
I was driving the bandwagon before there were any passengers, and I drafted accordingly. I put my fantasy faith in him before he became a must-have. He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2011 (2,068), and even though he wasn't on any of my teams that year, I felt vindicated.
Last year, in the one league I really want to win, I drafted Rice third overall. He proceeded to disappoint for much of the season. He gained 1,621 total yards, but he had six games in which he rushed for less than 50 yards. He also caught 15 fewer passes and averaged a yard and a half less per reception than the year before. His overall performance was attributed to misuse by former Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and injury.
Heading into this season, it was assumed that 2012 was an aberration and Rice would return to form. He once again was a consensus first-round pick. I was a little wary, but I drafted him fifth overall in a different league. That was a mistake. He's been ineffective and/or injured all year. He's averaging 2.5 yards per carry and has scored just three touchdowns.
It's been frustrating to watch Rice literally stumble through this lost season. It got so bad early this week that I actually put in a waiver claim late one night to drop him. That seemed harsh in the light of the next day, especially considering I haven't been able to take him out of my starting lineup, so I revoked it.
Of course, the reality is that dropping him is a legitimate option at this point. He's more albatross than Raven these days.
I am not giving up on Ray Rice, though, for two reasons. First, he faces Chicago this week. The Bears have given up 106, 95, 150 and 105 yards, respectively, to the opponents' primary back in the past four games. If Rice — who claims he is healthy — can't have a big game against them, he won't have one against anyone. Second, even if Rice disappoints again Sunday, I will hold on to him — and probably keep starting him — because I want him to succeed, and I want to succeed because of him.
My guy. Win or lose.
Week 10 Lineup Crime: I never forget to fill out my lineups, but somehow I left my defense/special teams empty in one league. It was St. Louis, which scored 29. I lost by 3.8.
Week 11 Lineup Time: A gimpy Peyton Manning against the league's best pass rush seems like the perfect storm. But I have a feeling the Chiefs will be exposed, especially underneath by Wes Welker. ... If you're thinking of starting Jason Campbell, he has a good matchup against the Bengals. ... I'm waiting for Nick Foles to return to Earth, but I doubt the Redskins can make that happen. ... Matt Ryan has become a matchup play, and the Bucs present a great one. ... Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore should find room to run against the Saints.
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