Friends and Family Matters

If you think Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning is going to be good on Sunday because of the drama and high level of competition, then you would have loved the Michael Gehlken vs. Brad Evans showdown in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League last week. But before I tell you how it went down, let me give you some background info.

Evans and I have a rivalry of sorts, which began about two-and-a-half months ago on August 15. The Friends and Family draft had concluded the day before, and for me, the summer was ending. I was flying up from San Diego to Sacramento that day to move into my apartment and start working as the sports editor of the UC Davis newspaper, The California Aggie.

As I was getting situated in Davis, a friend tells me that I should check out this article written by Brad Evans that name-drops me. Naturally, I'm intrigued, so I halt my move-in and go to it. Soon thereafter, I learn that my name has been Evans-ized. In the article, I am no longer "Michael Gehlken" but am now "Michael 'Bolton's Next of' Gehlken."

At first, I'm honored. As a longtime Yahoo! Sports reader, I've seen Evans make hundreds of puns, and you never think that it will someday be your name in the lights. This honor soon fades away into confusion, however, as I start to wonder what exactly "Michael 'Bolton's Next of' Gehlken" even means. I get the pop-singer reference, but after that I'm stumped. (Free fantasy advice to the first person who can tell me.)

A couple weeks later, Evans mentions me in an article for the second time. Again, I'm not "Michael Gehlken." This time I'm "Michael Gehlkin." Notice the "I" in the last name that does not belong. I know my name is German and it can be difficult to spell, but it's not exactly Houshmandzadeh or Biakabatuka. Misspelling "Gehlken," which distinctly appears in my team name, is inexcusable.

Along with the name situation, Evans traded Joseph Addai to Brandon Funston, which is like giving a loaded weapon to one of the America's Most Wanted. Then he beat me to the punch on two preseason free agency acquisitions. So, as you can tell, Evans was pretty much in my hair for the entire NFL offseason.

All of this caused me to announce my goal for the Friends and Family League. It wasn't to win the league, but it was to bring the noise to Brad Evans. I wanted to beat him when our teams played one another in Weeks 5 and 8.

Fast-forward to Week 5. After over a month of waiting, I finally had the chance to make good on the first half of my preseason goal, and I did. My team defeated his team 102-50. Afterwards in my weekly recap, I went ahead and guaranteed a Week 8 victory. I believe my words were, "I did it once in Week 5. I'll do it again when we meet in Week 8." Then, making a Muhammad Ali reference, I said that I was a "baaad" man and that beating Evans is what I do. (I was pretty confident.)

Fast-forward to last week, Week 8. This is it: the end of my season. This is my playoff game. If I win, then I've completed my preseason goal. If I lose, then my first ever expert league is a complete failure.

Evans took control of the match early, holding a ridiculous 83-32 advantage after the 1 pm ET slate of games. With my season on the line, my team – led by 24- and 27-point performances by Marques Colston and the San Diego defense, respectively – overcame all odds and went on to defeat Brad Evans 98-85.

This season is over, and I'm an undefeated 2-0. I have brought the noise to Brad Evans: mission accomplished. I must be the greatest.

Bud Selig Bowl IV
Every week, the Friends and Family League schedule features one interdivision game, which pits a Yahoo! expert from Division A against a non-Yahoo! expert from Division B. This weekly contest is named in honor of the Milwaukee-based car salesman-turned-commissioner who brought interleague play to Major League Baseball.

For the second time this season and the last three weeks, the Friends have defeated the Family. Thanks to a seven-point Monday Night Football effort from Brandon Stokley, RotoWire's Jeff Erickson edged Andy Behrens, 60-56.

Behrens was the latest victim to the fantasy nightmare that is the Carolina Panthers backfield. He started DeAngelo Williams (two points) over DeShaun Foster (12 points), and that was the difference.

Bud Selig Bowl Season Counter: Family 6, Friends 2

Trade Breakdown
For the second time in three weeks, Behrens and Scott Pianowski have made a two-for-two trade with one another. In the first swap, Behrens traded Derek Anderson and Maurice Morris to Pianowski for Vince Young and Leon Washington. Here's how the second trade looks.

The Move: Behrens traded Patrick Crayton and Justin Fargas to Pianowski for Shaun Alexander and Jason Wright
Behrens' Logic: "Reason number one [for making the trade] is because Scott Pianowski is the only person in the league who is trading, to the best of my knowledge. I'm 4-4, and I need wins. I'm hating the Carolina backs this week against Tennessee. I'm selling high on Patrick Crayton, and my hope is that Shaun Alexander can't get much worse."
Pianowski's Logic: "At this point in the year, no reason to stockpile depth. Assemble the best starters you can, and run with them. Did I sell Alexander low? No doubt. But I'm not competing against a bunch of witless hacks in this league – all of us do this for a living. I wasn't going to get a lot for an over-the-hill guy plodding through a cliff season; Alexander's name brand means nothing to my opponents. A solid No. 2 wideout in a strong offense, that was good enough for me. Also, the Laveranues Coles injury forced my hand a bit; the waiver wire isn't much help at any position right now, receiver included."
The Verdict: Even though Crayton's numbers have declined steadily over the last four weeks, he is a serviceable option in this 14-team league. With Lamont Jordan's health, it could only be a matter of time before it's Fargas' time in Oakland.

Alexander, meanwhile, is running like he's Cedric Benson's brother: no explosion; no reason for optimism. Still, having an MVP backfield of LaDainian Tomlinson and Alexander carries fantasy championship potential.

Like the two experts' first trade, both teams seem to come out on top. But the verdict here goes to the guy who is playing it safe and doesn't have a strong chance of coming out of this deal empty-handed. Winner: Pianowski.

Transaction Tracker
Here are some of the most notable roster moves that the experts made in the Friends and Family League following the Week 8 slate of games. I examine why each move was made and whether or not you should consider making the same roster additions in your league.

The Move: Evans added Ryan Grant with the No. 6 waiver priority and dropped Isaac Bruce
The Logic: Last Monday at Denver, Grant became the first Green Bay Packers running back this season to rush for 100 yards in a single game. With DeShawn Wynn (shoulder) out for the rest of the year, Grant will have every opportunity to replicate those results this week.
Read and React: For six straight seasons, the Packers have had a 1,000-yard running back, which is by far the longest streak in team history, dating back to 1940. There's little doubt, then, that Grant can be productive in this offense. While Brandon Jackson is not completely out of the fantasy picture just yet, Grant is the man now, and he should be owned in most leagues.

The Moves: I added Adimchinobi Echemandu with the No. 9 waiver priority and dropped Patrick Cobbs
The Logic: Last week against the usually defiant San Diego Chargers front-seven, Echemandu showed some serious spark, rushing 10 times for 62 yards and tallying two receptions for 12 yards. My offense, which still starts Cedric Benson from time to time, could obviously use some spark.
Read and React: I know that Michael Silver will see this pick-up as the latest "proof that the University of California is the center of the universe," but I think this is simply proof that I'm looking for any upside I can find at the running back position. After how Echemandu ran last Sunday, there's no doubt the upside is there. Whether or not he has the opportunity to cash in on that upside is always the question with the Houston Texans, but he's worth a speculative pick-up in your league either way.

The Move: I added J.P. Losman and dropped David Carr
The Logic: Basic algebra: Losman + Lee Evans + Cincinnati Bengals defense on the road = many, many fantasy points for Losman and Evans. Evans was owned; Losman was not.
Read and react: When on the road, the Bengals allow an average of 23 points fantasy points to quarterbacks. The least they have allowed is 18 points. Obviously, Losman is a fantastic Week 9 play in any league.

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