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Fantasy Life, Episode 9: A Disappointing Year, But It Could Have Been Worse

Brad's receivers all lay eggs causing him to be knocked out by the thinnest of margins. Adam's other league loses all its fantasy money in a gambling bust.

I'm going to win Brad the championsh--what do you mean, he's out?
I'm going to win Brad the championsh--what do you mean, he's out?
Joe Robbins

"I'm out. I'm out of the contest."

Yeah, not that contest. But, I have played my last fantasy football game of the 2012 NFL season.

Frankly, as Trent Dilfer said this week about the Jets being knocked out of contention, my loss was football justice. After drafting Larry Fitzgerald and a bunch of mostly clown receivers, I never deserved to hold the trophy. I'm not happy about my exit, but had I won, it would not have been earned. I feel like if there were a mistake to be made this year, I made it.

Draft the aging wide receiver with the horrendous QB situation and decide not to bench him all year? Check.

Don't trade Reggie Bush after his Week 2 breakout when I absolutely knew that was the last productive game he'd have? Check.

Fail to trade Maclin or get a decent backup for Amendola's injuries? Check.

Only play Brandon LaFell and Andrew Hawkins on weeks they put up virtual goose-eggs? Check, check, and discount double-check.

I made one good decision all year and that was drafting Adrian Peterson. Take out his production and this could have been one of my worst fantasy years in the Saving Private Buddy Ryan League. Speaking of AP, I really do need to decide what to do with him next year. The SPBRL is a keeper league and since I got Peterson in Round 2 this year, I can keep him in Round 1 next year. Based on the way we pick draft slots, I can probably have AP at 11 or 12 (which is really like pick 18-20 in a keeper league).

It seems like a no-brainer to keep him and I probably will. Mostly because it becomes very hard to trade top picks. You can trade a good 7th round keeper for, say, a 2nd round pick, but it would be hard to get a 2nd rounder for even a super-stud like Peterson since that would make the owner essentially use his first (on Peterson) and second (to you) round picks for one guy. Not typically going to happen.

The player I likely will put on the trading block is Aaron Rodgers. I can keep him next year in the second round. He's been on my team the last three years and I like rooting for the same guy each year, but don't you get the sense that a bunch of teams sort of figured out ways to stop Rodgers from having big games this year? Rodgers didn't break 350 yards once and 70% of his TDs came during one six-week stretch. In fact, I'd go so far to say that a full seven of his 14 games this year have been fantasy disappointments. I do hope my league isn't reading this because I'm about to tell potential trading partners how awesome he is.

Even with my dysfunctional and catch-challenged lineup, I went into the playoffs with a pretty good matchup and the feeling that anything could happen. And, it did, but not in a good way. My Round 1 (NFL Week 14) game had me up against Randy, whose team is fairly awful as playoff teams go. As Randy struggled to try and come up with replacements for Jonathan Dwyer and Marcel Reese, I had Peterson and Trent Richardson (acquired through trade) going for me. My ego swelled and I thought, who cares if my WR corps is a shambles? I thought about starting Andrew Hawkins over the horrible Fitzgerald or in place of the injured Amendola, but at the last second I decided not to. I would regret it.

I started Maclin, Fitzgerald, and got Givens off the waiver wire for the spot start. Lo and behold, Maclin had one of his two best games of the year and gave me 30 points in the 1:00 p.m. game. I was in good shape. In fact, at 4:45 p.m., when I checked the scores, I was exactly 20 points down, which was amazing, because we are a high-scoring PPR league, and while Randy's team was completely done for the week, I still had Fitzgerald and the Giants defense/special teams (who had already scored a TD) in the 4 pm game and Brandon Pettigrew and Aaron Rodgers for the nightcap.

To lose, I would really need the Giants to do nothing the rest of the way and Fitzgerald, Pettigrew, and Rodgers to have almost career-bad games. You may know the rest. The Giants actually got a couple of turnovers and sacks for me for 5 more points once everything was calculated. But, Larry Fitzgerald caught 1 ball for two yards: a single point. Brandon Pettigrew got knocked out on the first series for the zero. Even still, you'd think Aaron Rodgers could get 15 points in his sleep. He didn't. Rodgers' streak of 35 straight home games with a TD pass was broken, and, in the end, I lost by a single point. Had I started diminutive Andrew Hawkins over either Givens or Fitzgerald, I would have won easily. Football (fantasy) justice. So, I'm out.

In true fantasy fashion, I checked this past week and with Rodgers' three touchdowns, AP's ridiculous game, Richardson's two touchdowns, and Amendola's and the Houston defense's decent games, I would have beaten any of the remaining playoff teams by 30+ points even if I got nothing from my other two WRs, K, and TE. Sometimes even fantasies are cruel. I don't think I can watch the final, although I do hope Jimmy wins in his last year as Commissioner.

I've moved on to other pursuits, however. I received a very happy surprise this week when I found out via email that I am second in the NFL over/under pool I am in - with a real chance at winning. I basically need Cleveland and Miami to go 0-2, so that they both go "under" based on the pre-season Vegas line. There's a distinct possibility of that, with the biggest challenge by far being that Miami gets Buffalo at home this week. Come on, Bills!

It's a great little pool if you've never done one of them. You get the over/under lines before the season and every line ends with a half a game, like 6.5 wins, so there are no ties. Then you have to pick 8 overs and 8 unders, so you have to make a choice on half the teams. It is a lot harder than it sounds. More than 50% of the pool will get 8 or fewer correct with some getting as few as 4 out of 16 right. Those Vegas guys are truly great at setting lines. Hopefully, I can pull it out this year as I've never finished in the money in one of these.

It is amazing how some teams can seem good year in and year out, yet the NFL is entirely unpredictable. Every year, and I do mean pretty much every single year, there is a team that comes from bottom five status to make the playoffs (for 2012, see Colts and maybe even Redskins). Every year, a prior year's powerhouse falls mightily (for 2012, see Saints; and while not powerhouses last year, Lions and even Eagles).

All in all, therefore, my virtual football worlds could have been worse this year. For instance, I could have been Adam. Like many of us, Adam has more than one fantasy league. Adam's other fantasy league is run by some guy named Petey. I'm not sure what Petey's real-world job is, but while my side job is writing and doing videos for SB Nation, Petey's side job is apparently being a bookmaker. According to Adam, Petey isn't some sort of hard-core, connected, break your kneecaps bookie. He may be more of a DeNiro in the excellent and currently in theaters "Silver Linings Playbook," basically a guy just making extra money from his friends to provide for his family a little better.

Who am I to judge Petey? I'm not the cops. Ah, the cops. The cops have indeed judged Petey. Well, I suppose a judge and jury will "judge" Petey. The cops only booked him. See what I did there? Booked him. 'Cause he's a - anyway, as I just practice copyright and trademark law, mostly for large businesses, I got to learn a little criminal procedure from Petey, through Adam. And Adam has a very keen interest in Petey's case. Not because they are friends, mind you. More because when you get arrested for being a bookie, it seems your assets related to the alleged crime get frozen.

Now, if you happened to have co-mingled your fantasy football league's payments in the same account as your illicit business activities, I know it is shocking, but the police do not see the need to be generous and allow you to transfer that money to some new Commissioner so it can be paid to the league winner. Anyway, the good news for Adam is that he is in his other fantasy league's championship game. The bad news is that if he wins, he will have to make a claim with the court for the money he is owed.

Oh, and I really want to see how this goes. Because if you've been following this season, you know that Adam is exactly the one person I know who would think it is completely appropriate to tell a judge something that is the equivalent of: "Some of the money in the bookie's account belongs to me because I won the pot in a different sort of gambling activity. So when do I get my winnings?"

Even better would be if he gets one of the more senior judges who's somehow never heard of fantasy football. Then Adam can explain that he wasn't having Petey hold his funds in hopes that one football team would beat another team in a game by a certain amount of points, in which case he would win money. He was having Petey hold his funds in hopes that a group of football players in a bunch of games would score more than a different group of football players in a bunch of games, in which case he would win money. "So when do I get my winnings?" I am definitely skipping work to see that.

I will write one more article next week to wrap up the Saving Private Buddy Ryan season. But as my own chance of winning is done, I just want to thank Adrian Peterson for carrying the Dexy's Midnight Runners on his back. Yes, my team is named after an 80s one-hit wonder band. Because your team name is so much better, right? So, thank you AP. You were truly spectacular. And, in the spirit of the holidays, I apologize in advance if I trade you away for draft picks and root against you next year.