EVERYBODY was busy in the Eagles locker room last Sunday after beating Dallas. They were patting each other on the back and talking about what a smart guy Brian Westbrook was.
At no point did they consider guys like Matt Azarva.
Westbrook pulled one of the all-time unselfish plays toward the end of the Eagles upset over the Cowboys. Rather than walk into the end zone with an easy touchdown that would have put the Eagles up 11 with 2:19 left, Westbrook voluntarily crumpled at the 1-yard line. A couple of kneel-downs by Donovan McNabb and the Eagles escaped with the win without giving the Cowboys even a remote chance of mounting a comeback.
Thing is, Azarva - and thousands of other fantasy leaguers - needed Westbrook to score that touchdown. Call it the Flop Heard 'Round the World.
"I couldn't believe it," said Azarva, an associate producer at Comcast SportsNet. "It was a smart play and I understand the reasoning . . . but I just couldn't believe it."
Instead of defending his championship, Azarva lost in the semifinals, by three measly points: 86-83. Ugh.
Westbrook has said he was simply following the (ahem) advice of 6-7, 330-pound lineman Jon Runyan. Still, Westbrook apologized for the pain he inflicted.
"I'm sorry. Next time I'll score for you," he said, adding, "Some of my close friends were trying to trade me after the game, it was disappointing [to hear that]."
When your tight end and kicker are your leading scorers, there's a real good chance you're not going to win.
And so it was for Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who was drilled by Craig Wilson, 64-30, in a semifinal matchup in the MLB Players FFL hosted by CBSSports.com.
Lidge got one point each from running backs Marion Barber and Selvin Young and two points from quarterback Derek Anderson. Kicker Rob Bironas had 14 and tight end Donald Lee added six.
Wilson got big days from Drew Brees (21 points) and Fred Taylor (14) and will meet Matt Clement in the championship.
* Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts: Coach Tony Dungy says the Colts will not start resting guys even though they've locked up the AFC's No. 2 seed. Gonzo has 13 catches and three scores in the last two.
* Aaron Stecker, RB, Saints: Don't sweat Reggie Bush's possible presence. Stecker should be played ahead of guys like Rudi Johnson, Edgerrin James and even Clinton Portis.
* Kolby Smith, RB, Chiefs: With Larry Johnson almost surely out again, Smith becomes a viable No. 2 against the Lions 21st-ranked run defense.
* Reggie Williams, WR, Jaguars: He's opened some eyes with touchdowns in five of his last seven. But can't recommend him this week against the Raiders, since the Jags might run the ball 45 times.
* Mike Shanahan, coach, Broncos: Notoriously unfriendly to fantasy leaguers, Shanahan continues to play running-back roulette. If you had to play one of them, Selvin Young should get the nod over Travis Henry.
* Jeff Garcia, QB, Buccaneers: Coach Jon Gruden calls it a "tragedy" that Garcia isn't on the Pro Bowl roster. Fantasy owners find it tragic that Garcia hasn't thrown for 200 yards in a game since October.
* A nice crowd joined in yesterday's chat on philly.com. For a transcript, visit go.philly.com/fantasy. The final chat of the season is slated for next Thursday at 1 p.m.
Winds around 20 mph are in the forecast for Cleveland at Cincinnati, Green Bay at Chicago, the Giants at Buffalo and Miami at New England. The weather in Foxborough won't be as treacherous as it was last week, so play your Patriots. *
Ed Barkowitz, who is praying that Gisele Bundchen doesn't show up to distract Tom Brady, has written about fantasy football in the Daily News since 2001.
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