So, when it comes down to it, I have to admit, fantasy football is really all about luck (and I’m not talking Andrew). How else could you explain the fact that my husband, who does virtually no fantasy research and makes managerial decisions that drive me up the wall, and I, who spends 15+ hours a week watching football, reading fantasy experts and listening to podcasts, are the only two undefeated teams in our college friends’ league? And how else would you explain that last week, when my team was riddled with injury, and I happened to make every wrong sit/start decision possible, I still won my match up by less than 2 points, because my opponent, Rob Pattinson, hadn’t yet paid his league dues and was locked from making any changes to his line up? (A dirty way to win, I know. I am the Seahawks of that league.) It all comes down to luck. And it’s not fair, I know, because no matter how much research I do, the minute the minute my husband pulls ahead of me (even being TIED with me!), he acts like he’s *so good* at fantasy football and knows *so much*, and all my work is for naught.
Last year I wrote about another experience I had with luck and karma. Similarly, in this week’s “Love/Hate” column, Matthew Berry wrote about angering the fantasy gods. So all this got me thinking: how often in one season can one team call on the fantasy gods for help? Is there some point when your luck runs out? I’m not sure I want to test it, so in my Priority #1 league, where I’ve been both savvy and lucky so far, I’m going to roster the best team I can and leave well enough alone. Not even *hope* for the win. (Coincidentally, my opponent in that league, “Vanilla Pudding”, happens to be one of the luckiest guys I know.) So that’s that.
In my Priority #2 league, however, I think I can rightfully call on the gods. You see last Monday night, on the verge of being undefeated in this league, I went to bed with a comfortable lead and one quarter of football left to play. Unfortunately, no thanks to Brandon Marshall, I woke up having barely lost. I hate that. I want retribution. So here’s the situation in that league:
My Opponent: I’m up against “Sensitive Thugs”, the guys who brought me into this league and who are, therefore, my biggest rivals. They are both extremely knowledgeable when it comes to football (real and fantasy), one of them was once a scout for the Bufallo Bills, and they run their own production company, so presumably have time on their hands to do the necessary research. Their downfall: one head is always better than two when it comes to managing a fantasy team. They are off to an 0-3-1 start, to my 3-1. Losing to them would be painful and embarrassing.
The Quarterbacks: I have the solid choice between Matt Ryan and RG3. This is not a tough decision this week–I will start Matt Ryan, hands down, against my Redskins’ porous secondary. Sensitive Thugs appears to be starting Andrew Luck (vs. Green Bay) over Matt Schaub (vs. the Jets). Not sure I agree with them on that choice, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they change their mind. Either way, the QB advantage goes to me.
The Running Backs: I have some decisions to make here. Sadly, Willis McGahee is my most obvious starter. He’s not the solid RB1 that I’d like, but he’s been performing decently, and, while the Patriots defense is not easy against the run, I expect they’ll be going after Manning hard, and McGahee could see some receiving action in screen plays and check-down situations. After McGahee, it’s all muddy water–between Chris Johnson (not ready to start him after just one week of performance), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (knock on wood, I don’t think he’ll fumble again this week, but Miami run D is pretty staunch), CJ Spiller (not sure he’s 100%, still figuring out his role with Fred Jackson, and facing the 49ers), and Andre Brown (who seems like the least obvious choice, but probably has the most upside and is facing a generous Cleveland D.) Depending on how risky I feel, I may end up with Brown as my starter and pray to the fantasy gods for a big game.
On the competition, I’m looking at Darren Sproles and Daniel Thomas. (Their RB1, Darren McFadden, is on a bye.) Thomas I wouldn’t expect to come up huge, but he could vulture a touchdown or two. Sproles I think could have a big day against his (and Brees’) old team, in what I expect to be the Saints first win. I might have to give the advantage to Thugs in the RB area.
The Wide Receivers: With Miles Austin on a bye (and, frankly, who-knows-what going on in Dallas), my two obvious starters here are Percy Harvin and Roddy White, both quite solid. While it’s unbelievable to think that White could repeat a performance like last week (169 yards and 2 TDs), it’s actually not inconceivable either, considering he’s facing the Redskins. Harvin’s match up against the Titans is not too scary either. Then the Flex spot in this league I can fill with either a WR or TE. Right now I have Nate Washington penciled in, based on the assumption that Kenny Britt doesn’t play, but with Matt Hasselbeck starting over the injured Jake Locker and facing a Viking’s #13 pass D, I don’t love him this week. My only other WR option is Brandon LaFell, who I’m not going to start against the Seahawks, but who I’m also not ready to give up on (despite having a donut performance last week), so I can’t drop him to pick someone up off waivers. So I may run a two-tight-end set, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
The Thugs have a pretty solid starting threesome of Eric Decker (against a #24 Patriots pass D), Andre Johnson (who hasn’t been great yet, but faces the awful Jets, which, then again, could mean the Texans take an early lead and run the ball all night), and Jordy Nelson (who also hasn’t been great yet, and faces a not-so-bad Colts pass D, but will probably put up decent-but-not-stellar numbers). That said, I think that Harvin + White alone are greater than or equal to the Thugs’ starting three, so I’m going to give myself a slight advantage here.
The Tight Ends: With Tony Gonzalez as my starter, I feel pretty comfortable in this position. (Can you tell I went all-in on the Falcons in this league?) I also expect him to have a decent-to-big day (see Matt Ryan, Roddy White). My second option is Greg Olsen, who I could use in the Flex. Assuming the Seahawks shut down Steve Smith and LaFell, I would expect Olsen to have a solid repeat performance of last week, making him a decent option over Nate Washington. We’ll see…. The Thugs, on the other hand, have the frustrating Jermichael Finley, who, for most of last year and so far this year, hasn’t been anything to write home about, and I don’t expect things to change this week.
Kicker & Defense: Their Greg Zuerlein to my Billy Cundiff is a clear advantage for the Thugs. (Incidentally, one of the Thugs also drafted Zuerlein in our other league. I laughed at the time, but boy was I wrong about that!) Fortunately, Zuerlein’s numbers are already in the books, and with only one long field goal on Thursday night, I don’t have to worry too much. Also, I don’t expect Cundiff (knock on wood) to miss three field goals again this week, and I expect it to be a high scoring game, so as long as he hasn’t been cut by Sunday, I feel ok starting him.
My defense, Arizona, has already played. Disappointing performance, but not detrimental. The Thugs are starting Buffalo‘s D, who haven’t been as good as expected this year. They’re also facing San Francisco, who don’t put up a ton of points, but have a pretty efficient offense, so I wouldn’t expect a lot of takeaways or sacks.
Overall: I’d like to think I have the advantage here and should be 4-1 in this league next week, but nothing’s certain. All I can do is cross my fingers, wish for the best, and hope that the fantasy gods are smiling upon me this Sunday.