Hello to all and welcome to Episode 7 of Fantasy Life, our online exploration of one fantasy football season and its cast of characters. This episode will actually recap the last two weeks, as I was unable to write for last Wednesday. I spent last week on a Disney cruise where there were more princesses than Cowboys and more mice and ducks than Eagles.
Amazingly, we are in the home stretch of the fantasy football season with only three more weeks before the playoffs. In fact, for better or worse, the playoff picture seems pretty much set in the Saving Private Buddy Ryan League. I'm now 7-3, another team is 7-3, and three more are 8-2, leaving a 5-5 team and a 4-5-1 team fighting it out for the last playoff spot--and yes, I'm hoping and discounting the idea that I'll go 0-3 and the 5-5 and 4-5-1 teams will both go 3-0.
With every other team having no more than three wins, this is definitely the most haves and have-nots season I can remember. This seems to be contagious, however, as I have two other buddies whose leagues are in similar situations. One of those leagues actually allows seven playoff spots (one bye and the other six play in round one), which sounds crazy to me, and it means that the 2-8 teams are actually still in the running. It is the fantasy version of the 2010 NFC West.
With my league, the biggest problem with it being so clear which teams are in and which are out is that we are in a keeper league and the dumping frenzy is now in overload. I'm not the guy who usually gets really upset at a lopsided trade, but I returned home from my vacation to find that Dave, who was 8-1 going into last week and is in my division, had somehow pulled off the most insane fleecing of Greg, who I haven't ever described before because I know nothing about him. I can only assume either Dave knows Greg, or Dave actually IS Greg, and has been holding his alter-ego in check until just this moment.
In return for C.J. Spiller, who can be kept as a 6th round pick next year, not a great keeper by any means, Greg gave Dave both Ray Rice and Wes Welker, who were Greg's top two picks this year. To make matters even worse -- and this part didn't affect me, but it really put me over the edge in my frothing at the mouth -- Greg failed to set any lineup last week, so he not only dumped his best players, but he the forfeited his next game. I suppose I can be talked off my emotional cliff, but right now, I'd say that Greg deserves to be kicked out of the league. Maybe I am just overreacting. The only silver lining to the whole fiasco was that Dave ended up losing his game last week to drop to 8-2 even with Rice and Welker.
That gives me some hope that he is beatable. I was really getting pessimistic that he had maneuvered his way into an unstoppable path to the championship, but I guess "any given Sunday" works for fantasy football as well. And the truth is that not every lopsided trade works out the way you think it is going to. Three weeks ago, Adam thought he got a steal when he was able to trade away a couple of second-tier parts in Doug Martin and Willis McGahee in exchange for Arian Foster, whose owner, Will, was 0-7 and looking for any spark and maybe some keeper value. Martin proceeded to go off for over 100 points over the next two weeks with McGahee getting a couple of quality starts. Will is 3-0 since the trade and Adam is 0-3 and may have knocked himself out of the playoffs.
For my own part, I got to 7-3 this week by pulling out a victory even after starting Alex Smith in place of Aaron Rodgers -- due to the Packers' bye week, not due to my being hit on the head ... which ironically, Smith was. Any time you can get pretty much no points out of the Giants defense, Reggie Bush, and the QB and TE positions, and still win -- thank you, Adrian Peterson -- you count your blessings.
While my win may have been unexpected, it was definitely not the craziest win of the week. That honor easily belonged to Jimmy. Jimmy's TE is Owen Daniels, but it was unclear until the last moment that Daniels wouldn't be active for the Sunday night game. We use CBS Sportsline, and, even as Commissioner, Jimmy didn't realize that the week's transactions close at 1:00 pm eastern. So, at 6:00, when he was finally sure Daniels would be inactive, Jimmy searched in vain for a way to drop one of his spare parts and pick up Kellen Davis. Jimmy figured that the transaction would be legal given that the game in which both Daniels and Davis were in hadn't started yet. He took a good hour before he realized there was nothing he could do but take the zero for the tight end slot.
Even with the zero, Jimmy won his game. But, only by one point. Although he didn't know it at the time, the football gods (fantasy division) were smiling on Jimmy. Were he able to pick up and start Davis, he actually would have LOST by one point. Davis touched the ball once all game, got 6 yards ... and fumbled.
Perhaps Jimmy's good fortunes were karma. For, as much as I say that Jimmy is often too nice as Comissioner, last week, while I was away, Jimmy had to step up to the plate and make a truly hard Commissioner decision -- and this is one big reason why I can't complain too hard that he do anything about the Greg dumping and forfeiting situation. Jimmy kicked Tom out of the league. If you've been following along, you know that Tom is the new guy. And, we still don't know where Jimmy found Tom -- at this point, we all agree that the fewer questions and the less said about Tom among the group the better (I'm going to suppose he's not reading this).
You will also remember that Tom was, in no uncertain terms, stalking Randy. Really, we all thought this cute and amusing at first, especially since it was happening to Randy. But, as each of us realized that we didn't want to talk to Tom, not because we thought what he was doing was harmless or even because to bring it up would have been awkward, but because we were legitimately scared by the prospect of being stalked ourselves, we realized that something had to be done. Do I think Tom was dangerous? No, not in the slightest. Well, maybe in the slightest. I certainly won't be the neighbor who gets interviewed by the news and says: "He was so nice and quiet, I never suspected anything." But, we were not terribly worried that he was going to harm anyone.
That being said, go watch a triple-feature of Single White Female, Swimfan, the Crush and any other number of obsession-based psychological thrillers and tell me that you would be happy being called, texted, and emailed a couple dozen times a day as Randy was -- and Tom was starting to extend his communications around the league, allowing more people to put themselves in Randy's shoes. To his credit, Tom took the expulsion like a man. At least that's what I was told, since I was 1000 miles away in the middle of the ocean where he couldn't contact me. Convenient, no?
Clearly he was offended. And he may have mentioned the words "sniper" and mumbled something that sounded like the phrase "won't see it coming." But, Randy has reported nothing but one, very polite email from Tom since Jimmy did the deed, and the rest of us haven't heard anything --and more importantly, haven't seen anyone lurking in the shadows or received any mysterious packages. We'll hope that trend continues. That should do it for this week's update. Good luck to all of you as you head down the last furlongs of your own fantasy races. And, if the next entry in Fantasy Life doesn't post next week ... call the authorities.