Saturday, February 23, 2008

Week 16—The Championship!

Here we are: the final game of the season. In my league, that means two teams with 8-6 records are playing for the title, having beat teams with much better records. Go figure.

In my mind, going into the final, the match up was far from even. My opponent had the last pick in the draft, he had been hit by numerous injuries over the course of the season which depleted his roster and he had not picked up enough solid replacements from the waivers to beat me. As a result, I felt way too confident. And over confidence almost always leads us to make foolish mistakes. In my case, my over confidence led me to pay more attention to my opponent’s trash talking than I ever should have done. My opponent was the same jerk who always won our league, and he started trash talking me before it was even guaranteed that we would be matched up in the final game. It continued for the entire week. If I had been smart, I would have ignored the guy. But instead, I wanted to make him pay. I wanted to beat him so badly that he would be embarrassed. And that foolish, emotional response almost cost me the Championship.

In response to my opponent’s trash talking, I began to actively seek out players who were on teams still looking to get into the playoffs, which led me to make some risky moves to tweak my roster to exact my opponent’s devastation.

Looking back at my line up in the final game, it is surprising I won. My opponent sent out his regular guys—the ones who got him to the final game in the first place. He was projected to get 68 points, which isn’t great, but higher than my 65. I, on the other hand, put together a roster which included a mixed group of solid players who helped get me to the playoffs and some guys who may or may not have big games this week. It was beyond risky—it was down right foolish. Fantasy Rule: Unless there is a valid reason not to play the guys who got you into the playoffs (like injury or a secured playoff berth), you always start your best players.

Through out the season, I had a solid group of players who consistently put up 70+ numbers from week to week. This was why I had a winning record, and made it into the playoffs. To abandon those guys for the final game was a major risk. So why did I do it? Partly it was a desire to destroy my trash talking opponent. But it was also due to what had happened this season. Most teams with play offs berths were sitting their best players, while teams still trying to make the playoffs were posting huge numbers. I knew I had to get 70 points to even be in contention, so I had to find players who would give me a chance. As a result, I dropped Harrison (despite rumors he would play this week) and I benched Housh, Crayton, and Williams because I didn’t think they would play much.

In the end, I had some successes and some failures with my final roster. Cutler got destroyed against SD (which turned out okay since I had them as my DEF). I picked up 2 guys from NO: Steckner was dominant and off set Patten’s low numbers. Addai and Clark did excellent, which is surprising since they were both on a team with a playoff spot and a couch who is notorious for benching stars in such a situation. My mistakes though revolve around not playing solid players, over guys who may or may not even play. Housh and Williams had solid games, while Gonzo barely played (a situation nearly every one by me expected). I really knew Housh would do well this week since they were playing the browns, but since he had done little in the last few weeks, I just didn’t trust him. Do I need to say how dumb this was? I also never should have played Dayne. There was talk that he was injured, although no one could tell how serious it was, this should have been a good indication to me not to play him since the Texans had no chance to make it into the play offs. This brings me to another Fantasy Rule: Don’t play a possibly injured player if his team has no reason to play (as in, no chance to get into the playoffs). Like Housh and the Benglas, Peterson and the Bears were playing their arch nemesis GB. I should have known this would be a good match up. The Bears would want revenge for the earlier loss this season, while GB could care less about this game and should be looking toward the playoffs. Peterson had 12 points, Dayne 0. Lesson learned.

Despite my mistakes this week, I won the Championship. It is my first for football, and all the more satisfying since I beat the guy who dominated our league since its creation. It is also nice to take a team, which has just a 8-6 record, into the winner’s circle. Especially when there were two teams with 10+ wins in the playoffs. Having now gone back through each week, I think I have learned a great deal. Now, I just have to wait until next year to put them into practice, and of course, defend my title.

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