After 33 weeks of experiencing bad to horrendous fantasy football luck watching from my home in warm, sunny Australia, I find it gloriously ironic that good fortune finally began to smile completely upon me on a cold rainy night in, of all places, Cincinnati. But it was through lighter precipitation further south, in Tampa Bay, 31 hours earlier that the first sole ray of sunshine burst through the perpetually ominous cloud cover.
In a semifinal matchup, my team, Sterling Sharpe, started Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and kicker Mason Crosby while my opponent, Discount DoubleChick—helmed by the indomitable Kate Jones (née Nast)—had all-everything running back Eddie Lacy.
About halfway through the third quarter Lacy was stopped at the goal line from the one yard line:
And then with 13 minutes and 49 seconds remaining in the final quarter this seemingly innocent play occurred:
That left Lacy with 17 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown (he’d also caught his only pass for five yards). His fantasy production thus far? Eleven points. More importantly, though, he seemed to have injured himself on his six yard run. Whatever the malady, he didn’t return until over 10 minutes later when the Packers again had the ball on the one yard line.
Then this transpired:
If Lacy had scored again he not only would have earned another six fantasy points but it would have taken those points away from Rodgers (at minimum a 12 point swing). Even more magical from my point of view, if he even gains one more yard he gets three more fantasy points under the Frozen Tundra scoring system. (One point for the 20 yards rushing and then an additional two point bonus for reaching the century mark.)
So by not gaining a yard, not scoring, and Aaron Rodgers getting a long-awaited touchdown pass—part of the real-life rationale for throwing so many times on the one yard line—there was a huge 15.33 point swing, with touchdown passes worth six points and completions one-third of a point in this league.
In the end, Rodgers earned me 19.23 points and Crosby (despite missing a 48-yard field goal, a five point swing) got me eight; Lacy contributed just the 11 for Mrs. Jones.
Despite that good fortune, after all the Sunday games had taken place I still was in desperate straits, with Yahoo! only giving me a one in three shot of advancing to the championship tilt:
My last shot at a championship rested on the talented shoulders of Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. What I needed from him was daunting but not impossible: 19 fantasy points. In 14 previous games, he had reached that magic number three times:
Week 3 in Seattle: 11 catches for 149 yards (19 fantasy points)
Week 8 at home against San Diego: nine catches for 120 yards and three touchdowns (33)
Week 10 in Oakland: five catches for 67 yards and two scores (20)
Six other occasions saw him score in double digits, but for me on this day at had to be at least 19. And in his last three games he had scored a combined 20 points. The odds were certainly not in my favor.
In the lead-up to the Broncos-Bengals kickoff—as a sloshed around in the waves at Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas—I went over the varied permutations that would get me the 19 points:
Seven catches for 120 yards and a score
Nine catches for 200 yards
Four catches for 60 yards and two scores
Two catches for 19 yards. Oy.
And then, as I walked back to the hotel from the stinger-free part of the ocean I was swimming in, 9,070.042 miles (as the crow flies) away things slowly began to change.
It began innocuously enough:
A catch for 19 yards. Then another for 33, followed by a short slant for nine yards to the Cincinnati four yard line. And then, on the next play, a touchdown!
But he wasn’t done.
After a missed connection on he and quarterback Peyton Manning‘s next drive, the Broncos forced a turnover.
And, to make it that much sweeter, almost immediately after I got back to my hotel room and turned on the game here in Oz, Manning hit Sanders again for his second touchdown of the game!
Perhaps knowing his job was done, Sanders never returned to the contest. His final stat line? Six catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns (21 fantasy points).
The final box score:
And a contemporaneous play-by-play thanks to my great mate back home in the States, Jason Moore:
A team-by-team breakdown of the week that thankfully was (note: playoff participants in bold; eliminated teams in red):
|Team||Result||Record||Streak||Differential/Playoff Update||What If?|
|Green Bay Gamblers||139.28-84.64||5-9||Lost 3||-3||Out with a whimper.|
|Sterling Sharpe||105.56-102.90||13-3||Won 12||Finalist||Twelve in a row!|
|Brc||132-88||8-7||Lost 2||Eliminated||Frustrating season.|
|Snuffleupagus||97-88||9-5-1||Lost 1||Eliminated||Jordy’s drop the difference.|
|TR’s Peepers||106.88-90.62||6-7||Lost 2||-5||Second most points and I miss the playoffs. Major bummer.|
|Pangaea||173-113||12-16||Lost 1||Eliminated||Not to be this season.|
|Valley Forge||126.1-114.5||5-8||Won 1||Even||Highest point total of the season!|
|GBG||159-57||7-6-1||Lost 2||Eliminated||Absolute beat down. Wow.|
|Fuzzy Dunlop||163-132||10-6||Lost 2||Fourth place||Very disappointing finish.|
|The Taco Stand||149.52-99.32||9-7||Won 1||Third place!||So proud of this bunch!|
|Unironic Witty Name||232.50-160.48||13-2||Won 1||Third place!||Helluva season boys!|
Week 16 playoff record: 3-1 Overall: 10-8 (.556)
Still Alive: Sterling Sharpe
Season Over: Valley Forge, TR’s Peepers, Green Bay Gamblers, GBG, Pangaea, Snuffleupagus, Brc, Unironic Witty Name, The Taco Stand, Fuzzy Dunlop
My 619.58 points scored in just four matchups would have translated to 1,858.7 for a full 12 game week. That would have easily trounced my previous best mark of 1,772.9 in a nearly undefeated Week 10.
Week 16: 619.58
Week 15: 776.13
Week 14: 1,076.0
Week 13: 1,706.6
Week 12: 1,571.9
Week 11: 1,509.2
Week 10: 1,772.9
Week 9: 1,507.0
Week 8: 1,771.5
Week 7: 1,608.5
Week 6: 1,544.1
Week 5: 1,486.2
Week 4: 1,609.1
Week 3: 1,181.3
Week 2: 1,391.1
Week 1: 1,677.6
Unlike Week 15, Week 16 has always been very good to me:
2014: 3-1 (10-8, .556)
2013: 3-0 (5-7, .417)
2012: 5-0 (10-5, .667)
2011: 2-3 (8-8, .500)
And now for this week’s awards:
Player of the Week: Emmanuel Sanders. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!)
Goat of the Week: Tough to assign one when I had a such a successful Week 16, but New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen disappointed again, catching only one ball for 12 yards and only mustering 38 yards on the ground.
Team(s) of the Week: Obviously Sterling Sharpe takes top billing. But I’m also equally proud of two teams that lost in the semifinals before bouncing back for dominant victories in their respective third place games. Their resilience pocketed me an additional $180.
Pure Genius: Picking up erstwhile stud New England flanker Danny Amendola (for Jaguars rookie Marqise Lee [seven fantasy points]) and inserting him into Sterling Sharpe’s staring lineup in lieu of the great but aging Reggie Wayne. The latter went for a now-not-unusual three catches for 23 yards (four fantasy points), while Amendola exploded for 18 thanks to eight catches for 63 yards and—most importantly—154 return yards. Good for a point for every 20 yards, those crucial seven points proved the difference in moving on to the championship game.
What was I thinking?!: Going 3-1 in Week 16 is pretty great; also no reason for second-guessing as the team that lost, Fuzzy Dunlop, was never competitive. . .
Pickup(s) of the Week: All in a pursuit of a championship: Atlanta Falcons running backs Devonta Freeman and Jacquizz Rodgers and Patriots backfield compatriots Brandon Bolden and ex-Badger James White were added to Sterling Sharpe’s roster.
Drop(s) of the Week: Insurance for Sanders not playing on Monday night, Cody Latimer, plus the services of the Buffalo defense, Wayne, and the suspended-again Josh Gordon are no longer needed.
Lambeau Field update: After not making the playoffs for the first time in this storied league the best I could hope for was someone not winning for the second time (in 11 previous years there has been only one squad to capture multiple championships). As fate would have it, Lambeau Bowl XII features two teams who, despite being in it from year one, have never held aloft the most revered trophy in fantasy sports. Good luck to Matt Allord and Nate Meier tomorrow!
The semifinal results:
And Nate’s Cinderella run continues:
Previous Lambeau champions:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year; follow my quest for a now solitary fantasy football championship on Twitter: @nicholasjonwood.