In a season full of brutal losses, the last one was by far the most excruciating. Two points was the miniscule margin of defeat that ended my 12 game-winning streak and—most devastatingly—finished my fantasy football season without a championship for the first time ever. Coupled with an eight-team baseball campaign that produced four second place finishes and one third place result and I have now gone an entire calendar year without winning a title. (Though thankfully much of this unyielding disappointment is mitigated—both mentally and financially—by taking home the $1,200 Suicide Pool midway through the season.)
Two points, though, doesn’t tell the true tale. Before I delve further into the numbers here is the final box score of the 2014 fantasy football season:
As evidenced by the chart below it was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout:
Though I correctly chose all the highest-scoring starters on my squad, two injuries derailed my chances of winning my fourth championship in the 10 year history of this league.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed two drives when he re-injured his calf muscle late in the second quarter on a touchdown pass to Randall Cobb. Perhaps if he plays those series he gets me the seven completions, 24 passing yards, or six rushing yards that would have provided enough points to win—because I had beaten Worst Team Ever twice during the regular season (and was the league’s top seed) I would have won the championship in the result of a tie score—but that is pure speculation.
Arian Foster’s injury leaves no such second guessing. In just a quarter of action, the dynamic Houston Texans halfback produced eight fantasy points on 23 rushing yards and one reception for a touchdown. For the remaining three-quarters of the game he would only need to have tallied either 37 rushing yards or two catches or a touchdown to propel me to victory.
And yet despite all that, thanks to Denver’s defense earning my 17 clutch points in the late-afternoon game against the Oakland Raiders, I was still in a fantastic position to win with only one game left on the Week 17 slate. If Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovanni Bernard does not earn his highest point total since Week 6—a season-best since he was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie running back Jeremy Hill—I still am triumphant.
One final what-if: if either of Rodgers two touchdown passes go to someone other than Cobb (or teammate Jordy Nelson) Sterling Sharpe prevails.
Of this I am beyond certain: Giovanni Bernard is my Antonio Gates:
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||100.61-98.61||13-4||Lost 1||Second Place||[Bangs head into wall. Repeat.]|
|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 17 playoff record: 0-1. Overall: 10-9 (.526)
Season Over: Valley Forge, TR’s Peepers, Green Bay Gamblers, GBG, Pangaea, Snuffleupagus, Brc, Unironic Witty Name, The Taco Stand, Fuzzy Dunlop, Sterling Sharpe
My point total over each of the 17 weeks:
Week 17: 98.61
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
The first time I didn’t come through with at least one win in the final week of the season:
2014: 0-1 (10-9, .526)
2013: 1-0 (6-7, .462)
2012: 2-0 (12-5, .706)
2011: 1-1 (9-9, .500)
And now for some hardware:
Player of the Week: Aaron Rodgers. Gutsy, legendary performance that shant ever be forgotten in Green Bay and—on a more macro scale—clinched him his second National Football League MVP. His 27.61 point total was his eighth best of the season but when he injured himself on that touchdown pass to Cobb I thought he, the Packers, and Sterling Sharpe were toast. The fact that he returned at all—let alone at his usual historically high level—was amazing. And when he rushed for that touchdown I believed for the first time since Foster’s injury that I had a chance to win the championship. Couldn’t have asked for more all season from my second round draft pick. Phenomenal.
Goat of the Week: Jaquizz Rodgers (writ large: the entire Atlanta Falcons offense). Three points? At home with a chance to win the division? Really?! The Falcons horribly poor offensive performance severely limited Rodgers’—and teammate Harry Douglas at wide receiver—statistical upsides. But even if he comes closer to his 9.46 projected total—he garnered a measly five points on 44 rushing yards and a three catches for 19 yards—I win. Douglas did about what I expected with six points.
Team of the Week: Only one choice here. Despite the bitterly close loss in the title tilt, 12 straight wins is an amazing accomplishment. Well done, Sterling Sharpe!
Pure Genius: I long ago planned to start the Denver Broncos defense at home against the hapless Raiders. Their big first half lead translated to second-half fantasy points with a sack-strip-touchdown that netted me nine big points. In all they put up 17 fantasy points, allowing only eight points against and adding three sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery, and that touchdown, exceeding their projected total by nearly 11 points. They were the second most productive position in the championship matchup.
What was I thinking?!: No lineup mistakes were made. Foster’s injury was just too much to overcome.
Lambeau Field update: Congrats to Matt Allord on his first Lambeau Field championship!
Only 85 days until Opening Day! For everything you want to know leading up to the baseball season—not to mention sage advice on the upcoming Academy Awards—please follow me on Twitter: @nicholasjonwood.