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My Fantasy Reality: The most complicated loss ever

It took several days, but I ended up flipping almost my entire roster. After all that work, I ended up losing! It's just as sad as it sounds.

This was all your fault, you bad-at-football guy you.
This was all your fault, you bad-at-football guy you.
Doug Pensinger

This is the story of a loss. Know that straight away. This was a lot of work, and it was all for naught.

I'm sure you've seen these DraftStreet ads. Head coach abandons his team after a loss, because he can draft a whole new team for the next week. Guy over-celebrates in Week 1, only for mysterious spokesman-guy to tell him where he can go to this super-cool website to celebrate like that every week.

For some of us, though, we don't need some fancy new-fangled website to start over with a new team the next week. Some of us just trade our entire roster on Friday night.

The trade deadline was Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 - that way, any and all trades could process for that Sunday's games. I was hovering at .500, right on the cusp of the playoff race and desperate to figure something out. I had bought in on Josh Freeman in the preseason and was wearing a perma-sad face, so my quarterback was Tim Tebow. Good fantasy production, actually, but hardly reliable.

There were a lot of variables here. Jess wanted to trade for one more keeper (he was building for the future, as chronicled in an earlier Fantasy Reality). Brad, a bye week victim, was going to have to start Danny Woodhead unless he could trade for a running back. BHays was ten kinds of desperate for (a) a tight end, and (b) Calvin Johnson. And like I said, I was really wanting to change things up.

First up was Brad. Like I said, he needed a running back in a bad way, and I had a Mike Tolbert (pre-Carolina days, when he actually did football things) to spare. Brad's only trade chip was his spare tight end, Aaron Hernandez. Of course, I had Tony Gonzalez, so what did I care? Also, if I dealt Tolbert, I would have been down a running back for the week, because Darren Sproles was on a bye.

Enter BHays. Remember, he wanted him some Tony G. But he also wanted some Calvin, and I just so happened to have him. You don't trade Calvin Johnson for cheap, though. Especially not when you also might be trading away that level of tight end. But remember - Tebow. Surprisingly good or not, I didn't feel good about my chances of rocking out the Tebow time all season. BHays had Eli Manning, and I told him I'd need him back in any deal. We went back and forth, but couldn't quite lock anything down.

Then Jess showed up. Remember no matter what BHays could do for me at quarterback, dealing Tolbert would have left me with only LeGarrette Blount (sigh, I believed in so many Buccaneers) as a running back. But Jess really wanted Andre Johnson from me, as his theoretical keeper. In exchange for Johnson and (pre-Kaepernick, so pre-value) Michael Crabtree, he would give be Dez Bryant and my choice of Ryan Mathews and Marshawn Lynch. I chose Mathews. There was that problem solved.

That was all figured out by Tuesday of deadline week. But remember, things with BHays are still confusing. We go back and forth. Calvin for Eli? No, that doesn't solve my tight end issue. Tony Gonzalez for Eli? No, he's giving up too much then. We went back and forth. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Had to have been a hundred, two hundred texts between us. Brad's and Jess' trade offers just sitting in my Yahoo! window, waiting for me to do something. Hakeem Nicks or Steven Jackson might be coming to me, Ryan Fitzpatrick might be going to BHays. But we just weren't there.

By Friday evening, it wasn't happening. We had until 3 a.m., but I worked at 7:30 Saturday morning. I wasn't about to wait. We had gotten close, but maybe it wasn't meant to be. A little after 11, I went to bed.

Note: I went to bed. That doesn't mean I went to sleep. Because no, my brain wasn't going to let this be. More texts. Back and forth. A message from Brad: "U decide yet? Geez." More texts to BHays. More texts from BHays.

And then. 1:15 in the morning. He would send me Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Steven Jackson. I would send him Calvin Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, Tony Gonzalez, Ryan Fitzpatrick. He said yes. I said yes. All things were good.

I accepted his trade. I accepted Jess' trade. I accepted Brad's trade. I went to sleep.

To recap, the following charts show my trades, then my presumptive starting lineup for that weekend's games, alongside my actual starting lineup for that weekend's games:

Trade partner Sent away Received
Brad Mike Tolbert Aaron Hernandez, Danny Woodhead
Jess Andre Johnson, Michael Crabtree Dez Bryant, Ryan Mathews
BHays Calvin Johnson, Tony Gonzalez, LeGarrette Blount, Ryan Fitzpatrick Hakeem Nicks, Steven Jackson, Eli Manning
Pos Starters before trades Starters after trades
QB Tim Tebow Eli Manning
RB Mike Tolbert Steven Jackson
RB LeGarrette Blount Ryan Mathews
WR Calvin Johnson Hakeem Nicks
WR Andre Johnson Dez Bryant
WR Julio Jones/Eric Decker Julio Jones/Eric Decker
TE Tony Gonzalez Aaron Hernandez

(For more on my Julio Jones/Eric Decker only-holdover-starter conundrum, please read the Fantasy Reality debut. And hold me while I cry.)

So, how did that work out for everyone?

Well, Brad started Mike Tolbert over Danny Woodhead. That weekend, Woodhead got 5.5 points. Tolbert got 3.8.

BHays lost two of his last three games, with Johnson scoring only one touchdown in that span. Gonzalez only scored one. And Blount and Fitzpatrick were...well, they were Blount and Fitzpatrick. BHays ended up in ninth place, out of the playoffs.

Jess, in build-for-the-future mode after starting 4-6, had his presumptive keeper in Johnson. And then his team won out down the stretch, he eked his way into the playoffs, and came within a semifinals matchup of playing for the finals. And then the league-at-large decided to reset for the next season, so all of Jess' machinations were for naught. Basically, nothing went as he planned.

And then there was me. Look at that chart up there all you want, but I defy you to tell me (under 2011 player assumptions, remember) that I was worse off after the trades. I had improved my team, dangit, and I should have been fine.

I wasn't fine.

Somehow, in that weekend's Giants-Eagles game, Manning threw for only one touchdown, and it didn't go to Nicks. Jackson didn't score. Mathews didn't score. Hernandez didn't score. Dez did, and bless him for it, but I didn't even end up cracking 70 points. I ended the season 7-6, the same record as the 4, 5, and 6 seeds in our playoff chase, but lost out on a points-scored tiebreaker.

After four days, hundreds of text messages, four teams, and 14 total players, we all lost.

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