For reasons that I’ll discuss here later, I’m glad that the fantasy football season is over. At least it should be. Unless you are playing in a total points league, there is no reason why your league wasn’t decided last night. Week 17 is always a crapshoot. For the first couple of years that I played fantasy football, our league went through the final week of the regular season, and it didn’t take us long to realize what a poor decision that was. You’ve gotten this far with the best team in the league. Now you are left to vie for your title with the likes of Hank Baskett, Lynell Hamilton and Billy Volek?
The Indianapolis Colts are the poster franchise as to why you don’t play fantasy football in week 17. Hell, they made a case on Sunday that it may not be right to play in week 16. We all knew that the time of hibernation for the Colts’ stars was coming, but how it came was absolutely disgusting. I get that a team’s goal in the preseason is to win the Super Bowl, not go undefeated. But as Tom Brady said on Monday in his small appeal that the Patriots not rest in week 17, “You can get hurt at any point. Everyone always says ‘injuries, injuries’ but the reality is you can be hurt the first play of a playoff game.”
That’s the risk you take playing football. Getting hurt is a part of the game. By resting your starters, you avoid potential injury in that regular season, but that doesn’t mean that potential disappears in January. Meanwhile, your offense — yes, yours, Jim Caldwell — risks losing its momentum, its rhythm, its swagger and there’s no guarantee that it will get that back in time for their first playoff game, which won’t come for another 19 days.
Colts fans should be irate (the local government is). Fantasy footballers should be miffed, too. I’m sure many of you were depending on the likes of Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne this past week. Because of the early hook, they combined for just 15 fantasy points. And if you want to complain to some of the brass, be prepared to get cut off and told to shut up.
And now … a string of bullet points:
- Before you read this, you should probably get to know this.
- I will listen, but it’s going to be hard to persuade me that Chris Johnson isn’t the No. 1 overall pick for 2010 drafts. Adrian Peterson is fantastic and, despite relatively low yardage totals this season, set a career mark for fantasy points. But Johnson’s ability to just gain five yards out of nothing fascinates me. He always falls forward to get those extra yards and is clearly the game’s premier game-breaker at the position. He’s an adequate pass catcher and has shown that he can handle short-yardage work.
- Norv Turner said that he wants to play his starters, despite the fact that the Chargers are locked into the No. 2 seed in the AFC. But there are guarantees for how long he will play them. I would say no more than a half. If you can live with that, feel free to start Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson against the Washington Redskins. Not LaDainian Tomlinson. Once again, he scores — twice this time! — by basically falling into the end zone, set up by a pass interference penalty that placed the ball at the 1. He’s nothing more than a flex play, and that’s when he’s expected to play 60 minutes.
- In one of many efforts this week from quality players that helped no one in their fantasy playoffs, Matt Ryan throws three touchdowns after throwing six in his previous six games. And it came against the league’s No. 2 pass defense.
- Why were the Falcons throwing touchdowns up by 21 with less than 5 minutes to play in the fourth quarter? As a Roddy White owner, I don’t care. It all counts.
- Where will Terrell Owens play next season? Does anyone give a damn? Fantasy players shouldn’t.
‘Twas the night before Christmas and fantasy football owners want to know, did the Grinch get a job at the Elias Sports Bureau?
Yes, in the season of giving, Elias is apparently in the mood of taking. On Wednesday, the Elias Sports Bureau, the official keeper of NFL statistics, changed this play from a five-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Warner to Anquan Boldin to a simple five-yard run for Boldin because the pass, ruled Elias, was a lateral.
Fantasy championship dreams shattered for thousands, yet realized for just as many simultaneously. I was unlucky enough to fall into that former group. What a nice Christmas Eve gift, guys!
On Monday night, I was relieved to make it out of my semifinal matchup with a 4-point win, despite the exploits of Eli Manning and Steve Smith versus the Redskins. I mentioned in my Tuesday post that I advanced to the finals of my league.
Forty eight hours later, not so much. The change was made, the passing touchdown was stripped and, as a Warner owner, I am out of the championship game by about two points. I am a bit stunned, and I know that may sound awkward to those of you who have never played fantasy sports. But this really isn’t about fantasy football. This is about winning, a competitive nature. I want to win, period. At everything. I was preparing to win this weekend. Then, Elias swooped down the chimney and stole the roast beast.
So, I’m trying to be positive and I have found peace in the misery of others. While I only lost a chance to win a free league among high school friends, I know that this change probably caused other people to lose a chance at a substantial amount of money.
Maybe that’s why RotoTimes’ “advice” for those who lost their week 15 matchup due to Warner’s non-pass reads like a negotiator trying to talk down a bridge jumper.
Hell, one of my league competitors called me this afternoon to “just let you know that I love you.” And we’re heterosexual!
Hopefully this doesn’t cause anyone to take their own life. But I don’t know — the holiday season is peak time for suicides. Elias may have some blood on their hands.
Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m headed out to buy some rope.
I’m extremely competitive. I want to win everything for which I vie. As sad as it may sound, fantasy football is something that I pour my heart and strength into every weekend because I want to win so much. And when I don’t, it’s not a good idea to be around me for the next 24 hours.
But over the years, I’ve learned that you can only do so much with fantasy football. You can read the mid-week injury reports and break down the matchups. You can make all the moves you want on the free agent market and decide which players are best for your team each week. But at the base of all fantasy sports, you have no control! Once the game begins, all you can do is sit back and watch the carnage.
I say this because I know someone will find this and need a reason for why their 13-1 fantasy team was just eliminated from the playoffs due to the likes of Marion Barber, Joe Flacco, Jonathan Stewart, Matt Cassel and Braylon Edwards. Those five scored 120 points in my tw0-quarterback league. Of course, there were others who exploded (Matt Moore, Maurice Morris, Mike Wallace, Michael Bush) who weren’t started on any rosters across the world. And I haven’t even mentioned Jerome Harrison’s insane day, because he was started in less than three percent of Yahoo! leagues and about 1.5 percent of ESPN leagues. I think if I was facing him, I would have truly cut my eyes out with scissors.
But while I’m going crazy over this subject of unexpected breakouts late in the season, it happens every year! it just goes to show that in fantasy football, getting your team to the playoffs does take a lot of skill. The playoffs, however, are mostly dumb luck.
Here is a bullet rundown of things that caught my eye in week 16 of fantasy football:
- So now when we think about the Cleveland Browns and running, we’re supposed to think of Jerome Harrison? This would be similar to Michael Jordan’s Bulls franchise record of 69 points in a single game being broken by John Salmons. And watch this Sunday. I know Harrison is facing the Raiders, but I bet he will disappoint his new owners. You won’t be disappointed if you look at last week’s game for what it is: a fluke. He’s probably a flex play at best in 12-team leagues.
- I was a few hours too early on my prediction that Nick Folk would be cut by noon on Monday. But when I said that I thought of Shaun Suisham after Folk missed a game-clinching field goal on Saturday, I certainly didn’t mean that I thought Suisham would REPLACE Folk! I think that is a horrible move.
- Darrelle Revis locked down another top wide receiver as Roddy White caught just four balls for 33 yards. This week, Revis will take on Reggie Wayne — and we’re not even sure if he will play the entire game. Thus, you have to think that Wayne is nothing more than a No. 3 WR this week.
- On a separate-but-related note, the New Orleans Saints will rest for no one.
- Hey, Michael Turner! Yeah, thanks a bunch. I’m so happy you can back for one freaking carry! That was awesome. And yeah, of course the Jets were aiming for your ankle. What did you expect, yo?? It’s football! They are going to try to hit your weak points! You know what? Don’t even try to come back. No one wants you any more.
I haven’t really enjoyed listening to Matt Millen as the NFL Network color analyst in the past few weeks, but he said it best tonight: The Dallas Cowboys played like a team that needed to win this game. While the Saints weren’t in as desperate a situation as their opponents, they certainly could have used this game. Not just for perfection, but for playoffs. A win tonight would have put them one Vikings loss away from clinching home-field advantage in the NFC.
But it just didn’t look as if the Saints wanted to win tonight. They couldn’t pass protect. They couldn’t run on the limited attempts when they actually tried. The dropped first downs (Marques Colston). They dropped touchdowns (Devery Henderson!). Brees’ offensive numbers don’t look too bad, but know that with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, he had just 127 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Clearly, the Cowboys wanted this one more. And for fans in the Superdome who are always ready to party on a Saints game day, that’s a tough fact to realize.
- Tony Romo is rolling. He was on point all Saturday night and would have had an even better stat line (312 yards, one touchdown, no turnovers) if Miles Austin didn’t let a couple gimme passes bounce off his mitts. Romo spread the ball around, never panicked and knew when to just take what he could get and throw the check-down. He was impeccable. And this is just a beauty. In his last four games, Romo has averaged 316 passing yards with eight total touchdowns and no turnovers. Before then, he was seen as a fantasy quarterback who could barely scratch the top-10, given the matchup. Now he is a must start. His final two games this season — @ Washington, vs. Philadelphia — aren’t great matchups, but you shouldn’t care. Let it ride.
I can’t remember being as sad over athlete’s death as I was this past week when I heard about Cincinnati Bengals Chris Henry. Most of it was focused around the human side of it. He leaves behind three young children who will have very limited memories of their father.
The fantasy football community was very aware of him and his skills. I drafted him for my team this season in hopes that his Randy Moss-like abilities would finally blossom. But outside of football circles, he wasn’t well-known to the general public. He was underrated. He caught just 55 passes in his five-year pro career. If anything, Chris Henry was a name less synonymous with football and more so with trouble. As much as our society largely loves to see athletes fall from the pedestal upon which we placed them and then kick them as they thud to the ground (i.e. Tiger Woods), we also love a good story of redemption.
And that was Chris Henry. Or at least, it should have been.
One week down, two to play and the Colts have yet to rest their starters. Oh boy!
Could they next week? Sure, but it sure does look like that defense needs a lot of work. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were limited. That secondary is riddled with injury and playing at an FCS level. The front seven allowed 110 rushing yards to Maurice Jones-Drew, who had looked sluggish in recent weeks. There should be no rest for those who don’t deserve it. And if the defense doesn’t rest, why should the offense be treated differently?
OK, I know I am probably grasping at straws here. Peyton Manning and Co. may not play more than a half in week 16 versus the New York Jets. But there is no doubt that defense isn’t changing its stripes And that should be good news for those who own Jets and Bills players in the final two weeks of the season.
- I’m not sure how this pass wasn’t intercepted, but regardless, Dallas Clark is now the most productive fantasy tight end in non-PPR leagues. Of course, he has now played one more game than most everybody else at his position, but it’s a fact! I feel like he kind of gets a little lost in the shuffle underneath Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis, but there will be a lot of talk about him after this weekend. Five touchdowns in two weeks! That’s almost as impressive as this classic.
Dec. 14 displayed another reason why baseball is just so much damn fun. Money, prospects, All-Stars flying all over the place — and meanwhile, it’s freaking cold outside. There really isn’t an offseason in baseball. It’s just a five-month period during which a bunch of GMs get together and play National Pastime Monopoly.
Everybody loves a three-way
This Halladay-Lee deal isn’t quite done at the time of this typing (VERY early Tuesday morning. This day is going to be a lost cause), but it’s going to be finalized. The names of the prospects may change though.
From the Phillies’ point of view, they pick up a 32-year-old Cy Young Award winner at the expense of a 31-year-old Cy Young Award winner who has thrown about 850 fewer innings. If the Phillies have to thrown in Kyle Drabek or J.A. Happ, this isn’t a deal that is in their favor much. Halladay is a small upgrade over Lee, but unless Cole Hamels can pitch more like his 2008 self next season, I don’t think this team is going to be better than last season. Although, I guess that was still pretty good.
But look at the Mariners! While everyone is consumed with what this trade means for Philadelphia and Halladay, I think this deal really favors Seattle. Sure, the Mariners aren’t going to be able to hold onto Lee for more than one year, especially considering how much money he wants as a free agent at the end of 2010. But for one year, it could be magical.
Just imagine: Lee and Felix Hernandez in the same rotation for 65 starts per season. Now this means that Erik Bedard is all but gone and there is a Double-A pitching staff slotted behind those two. But don’t stress the negatives. With King Felix and Lee at the top of the rotation to go with Ichiro and Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup, the Mariners could be extremely dangerous in an up-for-grabs division IF they can get some bats.
They let Adrian Beltre go (to bring an end to one of the underrated horrible contracts of the decade), and assuming they can’t re-sign Russell Branyan, the Mariners are left with Jose Lopez and Franklin Gutierrez as their top run producers. They will shut down offenses. They will definitely get on base. I just feel like this team is one or two decent bats away from being the favorite to win the AL West.