There are times when you’ve just got to stick with your guy

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports -

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. My guy. 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.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Bal­ti­more Ravens run­ning back Ray Rice has stum­bled through the sea­son, but it’s hard to for­get the lit­tle guy who once played big.

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