So let’s recap what I thought were the Key Factors leading into this week’s matchup against the #1 team in the division:
he has 3 NE players: Brady, Moss nad RB Lynch. In Buffalo. Weather may play a huge factor for yet another team that has the ‘overload on one team and ride them to victory’ approach. Plus, Moss is pouting. I do have Welker that will alleviate some of the damage that Brady might do.
Well, the RB was actually Maroney….anyway, the weather was not a factor. No wind, perfect conditions. Fortunately, Buffalo has a stout secondary and so this triple threat fared ‘good’ but not ‘great’. Brady: 115 Pass Yards and one TD. Poor. Moss: 70Yd, 5 Recpt, 1 TD. Average. Maroney: 81RuYd, 1 RuTD : above average. I was more than happy to sacrifice my Welker to this mediocre outing: 40ReYd and 4Recpt – by far the worst of the season. But a small price to pay. Chalk this factor up to Ruddigers.
he has Dallas Clark, who I traded to him earlier this season. He is having a monster season – but Indy has clinched homefield. So will he play a full game? Or just enough to still do damage?
This player went on Thursday night to open the week. I went to my buddy Ian’s house to check out his newly finished basement and watch the game in HD on his 50″ Panasonic (you had to outdo me!) along with Pat. This game was a worst case scenario for me and was a very poor way to start things off. Poor enough that I was preparing myself for inevitable defeat. Clark came to play for the whole game and it was a close one a high scoring. He was involved to say the least: 95Yd, 2TD, 7Recpt. That is a 15.1 pt monster. And as this is the guy I traded to him earlier this year, you might was well call this a 30pt swing in the scoring. Ouch. Even though I fared well in that trade at the time, it is a clear reminder to me that I should think twice before trading within division. Besides, now that V.Y. is back, I don’t even need the QB he traded to me, I don’t even play the TE he gave me, and the only value I see in his draft pick he sent me is that he is forced to drop 4 players next year to satisfy the agreement. But wait, this might be more value than I initially thought: I’m certain he is going to have a very big problem trying to find 4 players to drop without giving up a great player. He probably doesn’t want to draft next year. I’m thinking I can probably offer him back that draft pick so he can avoid this altogether. Since his pick is going to be 10th, I can either offer to delay the pick for a year hoping he does worse next year and/or trade that pick for a couple of guys I see on his team that could go before I would get a chance at them with his 10th pick (my personal draft pick will be no higher than 11th for reasons to be revealed shortly)
he has Andre Johnson, the primary receiver for my QB Schaub. This may limit the damage I can do to him. But since they’re up against the lowly Rams, I have to ride my QB.
Well, I rode my QB and he played to his average, which is top 3 QB scoring caliber so not complaining. Unfortunately, as expected, everything was offset by the fact that he threw most of his yards and his only TD pass to Johnson. We effectively negated each other. Which in the end was probably a plus for me since my Welker effectively did the same to his Brady. I’m loving the fact that his 2 best players were offset by these two players. The remainder of my team is by far better than his.
I have Grant going against Pitt. Not a great matchup. Could be a bust, but I don’t have viable alternatives because…..
Well, I played Grant, and it was looking like a serious bust with only 5 carries with 6min left in the game. 13 yds rushing = 0.4 pts. The Pack was constantly trying to keep up with Big Ben’s record 500+ passing yds. By the time this was playing out, I had the towel in my hand and was about to throw it in. Then, and truly it is one of those miraculous fantasy moments: even though behind in the game with 6 min to go (i.e. not ever likely to be another running play), they hand off to Grant and he busts through the #1 rushing defence known as ‘The Steel Curtain’ and breaks out a 24 yd Rushing TD. That, my friends, was THE pivot to the game. After being down all day by 20-25 pts (thanks to Dallas Clark), I finally clawed over the top and took a slim 3 pt margin. A couple of late game passes to S.Holmes (same game by the way…next drive in which Pitt took the ball down to the endzone and made a game ending/winning TD) and I was 5.1 points ahead going into Monday night.
Steven Jackson may not go this week. This is the most critical point. Without him going, I’m in serious trouble. Already scrambling for alternatives and deciding if my backups are viable.
I lost the most sleep with this one: I flip-flopped between Hightower and Jackson right up to game time. But when Jackson was listed as starter avoiding both H1N1 and playing through herniated discs, I opted to roll the dice on my stud and let the gods decide. Hightower unpredictably ended up with more points, but S.JAX did not disappoint and finished with a strong 82RuYd and 41ReYd on 4 catches. A very respectable outing that made a difference.
My kicker has a dream outing against DET. Unfortunately, he has a groin issue and will likely be a game time decision. Which means I may need to scramble minutes before the game.
Well, that kicker was actually held out so I had to scramble for an alternative. I ended up picking the right one off the waiver: the one who is kicking in a dome against a poor defence. Tough to say no, even though he is having an awful season. True, he ended up missing a 52 yarder, but he more than made up the miss with 3 FG and 1 XP. A very strong outing for a kicker.
So, in the end, every key factor was a winning choice for me. And then, well, there were key factors that I hadn’t even thought about that played an even bigger role in winning:
1) Even though my Packers defence had a better matchup on paper, I swapped them out last minute for my Eagles defence (both are #1 and #2 fanasy wise BTW, nice problem to have) and avoided certain demise. The Pack were smoked by Big Ben and ended up -0.5 while the Eagles enjoyed a robust 14 point outing agains the surprising 49ers.
2) What will likely be talked about as the luckiest move of the week: at the last minute I sat my TE from the trade and started an unknown Fred Davis from Washington that I grabbed from the waiver. Owned by <40% of leagues and started by few, I made a gut call and sat my proven #1 for this apparent wildcard. This brought about the biggest drama of all..... So after clawing all Sunday to absorb the Dallas Clark debacle, with the help of a dream last minute TD from Grant, I was finally in a lead. A slim lead of 5.1 points. a very magical number indeed. With his kicker yet to go, 5.1 points covers even a 50+ fieldgoal (5pts). My last second TE replacement also yet to go. Very uncomfortable security. I was anxious the entire day for this game to go. Thinking about all the hard-luck loss scenarios that I might encounter. It would suck to lose by mere tenths of points. Pregame: weather ideal for both kicking and passing....narrowly avoiding a blizzard that just came through. Game in WAS gives me some hope that my hometown TE can produce enough to stave off whatever his kicker will produce: 9-10 points is a typical outing. What proceeds to happen over the 1st half I would consider to be on the verge of WORST-CASE-SCENARIO: By half time, the kicker's team has accumulated 24 points: 1FG and 3XPs = 6 pts. Enought be .9 ahead of me with 30min to go. My TE MUST produce and improve upon the 0 points thus far. Aside: My other TE that I swapped out had ended up with 2.3 pts...enough to be still on top if I had stayed pat. At the end of the 1st half, to add insult, I was a hare's breath away from a TD score. I'll never forget the feeling: a dropped pass that brought me from exultation down to 'what could have been'. This, of course, is the reason for Fantasy Football. The feeling of winning pitted against the agony of defeat. If you don't know what I mean, watch 'The League'. This game was going poorly. Washington's offence was ridiculously inept and I was certain I was toast. I had studied this TE and felt he had other wordly catching skills. Useless skills if the QB cannot get the ball out of his own hands, or, at least on target. The only positive thing to take from the 1st half is that he was the primary target for most inept pass attempts. Then, as it happens after many halftimes, Washington changed strategy and went to a playaction strategy and lo' they started clicking....and Fred Davis was the focus of the attack. Just as I had planned it! Soon into the 3rd quarter, he received a 5 yd pass on the 5yd line and, what felt like an eternity, he dodged two apparent tackles and dragged 2 defenders into the endzone. One of those moments where you can't believe what your seeing as it unfolds in your favour. To a limited few in the world, that play was as exciting as any sporting play ever to have happened. To the rest of the world, it was a meaningless TD in a meaningless game where the game was already way out of reach. This score placed me back up in front with a 4.5 point lead. Enough to cover a 30-49yd FG. With 1.5 quarters to go. Without going into gorey details, the next 1/2 hr was a see-saw of emotions where situation after situation unfolded where there was a great possibility that a FG was likely to happen. And this is when watching football gets weird. You start hoping for certain plays to succeed or fail depending on the situation. Sheer confusion for somebody who watching with me but not vested in the game....sorry Pat, but I'm sure you enjoyed watching the agony. One minute your praying for a reception. The very next play, at the same yardline, you are praying for the exact opposite. You want whatever scenario to unfold that minimizes points. And, when all is said and done, it unbelievably worked out in my favour. The Giants continued to score TDs instead of FGs which resulted in my team preserving a lead that was never less than 3pts. Everytime an XP was scored, I countered with a reception. It was always tight, but I never relinquished the lead. Fantastic! Now I'm off to the finals....and, I think I may have my TE for the future. Fred Davis has skills and is only in his 2nd year. Definitely softens the *mistake* I made trading away Clark.