Curse of the fantasy writer?

I’ve always liked to have fun with curses, trends and superstitions as they relate to fantasy football.

I’ve documented now infamous hexes like the Madden curse and the curse of the Super Bowl loser this offseason, and I’m always the first person to jump on trends like second- and third-year wide receivers and how closing in on the age of 30 affects the value of running backs.

Now I’m starting to feel like I’ve created a curse.

OK, it’s a little far fetched (like I said, I like to have fun with curses), but five of the 10 players I had listed in my original players to avoid column have suffered some sort of setback or off-field incident.

Javon Walker, WR
Oakland Raiders

2007 statistics
Games: 8
Rec: 26
Yards: 287
TDs: 0

The first is Shaun Alexander (remember, some of these columns were written earlier in the offseason and have been updated as needed). Based on emails I received on the potential for Alexander to rebound this season, I thought it was a good idea to put him on the list of players to avoid in prominent draft positions. In my opinion, Alexander was done the second he turned 30 and lost OG Steve Hutchinson to the Minnesota Vikings.

Seattle released him in April, and he still hasn’t landed with another team.

The next player on my list of those to avoid that have had some offseason trouble is Marvin Harrison. He missed most of last season with an injured knee, and at 35 (he’ll be 36 in late August) Harrison’s time as an elite fantasy wideout appear to be finished. Then came news that Harrison’s name came up in a shooting in Philadelphia. No charges have been filed in the incident, and it appears Harrison will be back for the 2008 season.

How he’ll perform, however, still remains to be seen.

I noticed this trend or curse when the next player, Travis Henry, was given his walking papers earlier this month. With Selvin Young, Michael Pittman, Andre Hall and rookie Ryan Torain in the mix, Henry was a perfect bust candidate. Then the Broncos decided to move on with him.

Like Alexander, Henry still hasn’t landed with another team.

So with three players in my column in the news (none of it positive), I wasn’t shocked to see a fourth player fall on hard times. Despite reports that he was still considered the favorite to start in Chicago, I still had little faith in Cedric Benson. I’ve never seen a back with so much talent run with so little motivation. So when the Bears drafted Matt Forte in April, I felt like Benson’s fate was sealed.

Of course, Benson was ultimately released after a second run-in with police over alcohol-related issues. He also hasn’t found a suitor, and chances are he could be a free agent when training camps open in July.

The fifth player to fall victim to the Fabiano curse is Javon Walker.

As much as I liked Walker in Green Bay, nothing has gone right for him since he tore his ACL in Week 1 of the 2005 season. He had issues with Packers management and finally landed in Denver, where he recorded 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in 2006. Knee issues caused him to miss half of the 2007 season, but he still landed a monster contract with the Oakland Raiders in the offseason.

Now comes word that Walker was the victim of a robbery in Las Vegas and suffered “significant injuries” as a result of the incident. He was left unconscious on a Vegas street after a night of partying. A large amount of cash was a few pieces of jewelry were taken, according to police. There was also a report that Walker had sustained an orbital fracture” as a result of the attack.

Raiders officials are still in the process of gathering information.

The players who have been “unaffected” despite being on my list of players to avoid include Bernard Berrian, Justin Fargas, Edgerrin James, Greg Jennings, Jon Kitna, Matt Leinart (replaced Alexander), Jeremy Shockey (replaced Henry) and Fred Taylor (replaced Benson). And with all the talk about Shockey’s relationship (or lack there of) with the New York Giants, he could be the next player whose fantasy value is altered.

Stay tuned…

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