Friday, February 22, 2008

Week 15—It’s Playoff time Baby!

No matter what people can say to the contrary, there is nothing better than making it into the playoffs—even if you expect to make an early exit like I did. Due to last week’s performance, I really had no expectations this week. I scoured the waivers, listened to the experts, and sent out my best line up. In the end, I ran out a solidly projected team: 79 points. Of course, it wasn’t going to be enough to beat my opponent’s 84 projected points.

But even though I expected to lose this week, I figured after a lot of re-considering that I had done well this year and had a lot to be happy about. I put together a solid team which consistently accrued 75 points or more. I had a winning record, and I made it into the play offs. It may not be a championship, but things could have been worse. For the first season where I actively tried to win, keeping regular tabs on my team, the league, and football in general, making it into the top 4 for my league isn’t too bad. Heck, there were far more dedicated managers out there who do much worse. Not just in my league, but in the fantasy world at large.

Enough already with the waxing philosophical, let’s take a look at the match up. Against all odds and common sense, I FUCKING WON THE FIRST WEEK OF THE PLAY OFFS. Some how, some way, the fantasy gods allowed me to beat the best team in my league. A team which hadn’t scored less than 70 point all season, stumbled and faltered, barely accruing 64.

My team did precisely as it had done all season long, racking up a solid 70+ total. Some players did better than others, without any sense of why or how. Housh, for the third strait week, did nothing. Clark and Clayton didn’t show up. Portis and Addai flip flopped, but still contributed. Gonzo came out of no where and had an awesome week, as did SD at defense. Cutler actually played well, just failing short of predictions. What more could I ask for?

The real reason I won is that my opponent had a bad week. Players who had consistently racked up solid points, just didn’t this week. In reality, this shouldn’t have been much of a surprise as my opponent had a half his players from teams guaranteed to make the playoffs. As always happens this time of year, the teams who made it into the playoffs didn’t play their best guys much this week. I suffered the same problem with Clark, Crayton, and Addai. The difference was that I had fewer guys in this situation than he did. Luck, it seems, was on my side.

Looking at my roster, there are two lessons to be learn from what I should have done differently.

1) Always play your RBs. Addai and Portis were solid plays, since Washington was trying to get into the playoffs and the Colts would want Addai to get at least one touch down before then benched him. But I knew Dayne would have a big week (and at least assumed Peterson would do well enough). Yet I still didn’t play an RB—picking a WR instead. This was a stupid move. No player on the field has a better chance of making big fantasy points than the RB, which is why it is so important to draft at least 2 solid guys and why all first round drafts are RBs.

2) In the last weeks of the season, it is usually better to play guys on teams still looking to make it into the playoffs, than those on teams already guaranteed a play off position. Every year, NFL teams who have a play off spot, sit their best players in the final weeks of the regular season in the hopes they can avoid injuries. This might be good for real football, but it is a fantasy nightmare and the best reason to constantly look for waiver players on teams seeking a play of spot. In my case, I played Crayton over Williams or MacDonald, even though I knew JAC were trying to secure a play off berth and DET wanted to complete a winning season, while it didn’t matter whether Dallas won or not this week.

A similar argument could be made for Housh, although I contend that his situation was different. The Bengals couldn’t make it into the playoffs, but they still had reasons to play hard. Besides, Housh is just too good to ever bench in my opinion.

Regardless of my mistakes, I won the week. Now, on to the championship.

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