A Tootsie Pop, preferably unopened, and an econo-size bag of Johnny Cat cat litter was my reduced asking price for Shaun Alexander this week.
The price was still too steep for the other owners in my fantasy football league.
So with the eighth Sunday of the NFL season fast approaching, Alexander, who's only slightly less worthless this week because the Seahawks are off, remains shackled to my roster, and I find myself scrambling to avoid a major bye-week disaster.
As if Alexander's disappointing performance hasn't made it hard enough to find a willing trade partner, it was impossible to move my first-round bust on his "scheduled" off-week. So here I am at the season's halfway point, still visible in our league leader's rearview mirror (third place), but at the mercy of a running back whose star is rapidly fading and trying to fill out a starting lineup from a roster that has four full-time starters on hiatus.
Overall, Alexander's numbers -- 460 yards in 135 attempts and two touchdowns -- aren't horrible, but they aren't worthy of the fifth overall draft pick.
After starting strong (including rushing for over 100 yards in two of Seattle's first three games, Alexander has gained just 185 yards and failed to reach the end zone in his last four games -- a drop in production that can be attributed to a sprained left wrist and the loss of fullback/lead blocker Mack Strong to retirement.
Having learned my lesson from a series of panicky baseball trades that backfired this past summer, I was determined to let Alexander right himself and not get Brandon Webb-ed again. After all, the guy is only two years removed from leading all planets of the Solar Federation in touchdowns and rushing yardage, so he can't be done yet, right?
But after disappointing 25-, 35- and 47-yard efforts against suspect Saints, Bengals and Rams defenses the past three weeks, I was done and spent Monday exploring trade possibilities. Unfortunately my desperation-meets-insincerity sales pitches wooed no one, many of whom had their own bye-week issues to contend with.
The best offer I received -- Alexander, Raiders quarterback Daunte Culpepper and Lions wide receiver Shaun McDonald for Bears quarterback Brian Griese, Jets wideout Laveranues Coles, whom I had dealt the week prior, and Falcons running back Jerious Norwood -- was taken off the table 24 hours after I thought it was a done deal. (If my younger brother didn't appreciate the Donnie Wahlberg New Kids on the Block doll I bought for him and wrapped in an old TV box weighed down with encyclopedias as a gag Christmas gift years ago, he's just gonna love what I have in store for him this year).
Those of us who own Alexander, I'm sorry to say, are pretty much stuck with him at this point, but there is still reason for optimism. Alexander will have had two weeks to rest his wrist and recharge his battery by the time he returns to action next week, the Seahawks' schedule is littered with cupcakes from here on out and there are nine weeks left to turn things around.
Will it happen? It can, but not if the former MVP continues to tiptoe hesitantly toward the line and rolls over when the nearest would-be tackler makes eye contact.
He has taken a beating in the media, been booed lustily by the home crowd and had his manhood called into question by fantasy owners across the nation, but I expect a fresh Alexander to return next week with a vengeance.
That's the hope, at least.
Otherwise, the sequel to "Shaun of the Dead" will be "Stu of the Dead."
Timeout ... I'm pleased to report to everyone that Alexander has become someone elses problem, thanks to one of two midnight deals (that was consummated just before deadline).
The deal brought six new players including Eli Manning, Jason Witten and Torry Holt into the fold and has made Week 8 a much friendlier place to visit ... wheewww.
My Week 8 lineups
'NEW AND IMPROVED' TEAM 1 (3RD PLACE) -- QB: Eli Manning (at Dolphins); RB: Clinton Portis (at Patriots); WR: Roy Williams (at Bears), Torry Holt (vs. Browns) and Brandon Marshall (vs. Packers); TE: Heath Miller (at Bengals); K: Phil Dawson (at Rams); D/ST: Colts (at Panthers).
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN -- QB: Daunte Culpepper (at Titans); RB: Clinton Portis (at Patriots); WR: Chad Johnson (vs. Steelers), Ronald Curry (at Titans) and Isaac Bruce (vs. Browns); TE: Heath Miller (at Bengals); K: Phil Dawson (at Rams); D/ST: Colts (at Panthers).
Stu Rosenberg's fantasy sports column runs Fridays. He can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.