Itï¿½s fairly early on the Sunday morning before Christmas. All ready weï¿½ve seen three games this weekend. The Skins handled the Niners, Pittsburgh was taken to the mat before the Giants and Eli Manning succumbed, and the Atlanta Falcons fed Cinderella Carolina a poison apple…(ok, so I had to borrow from a COUPLE fairy tales, but bear with me on this)…by letting the genie (Mike Vick) out of the bottle in the nick of time so Falcons fans could live happier ever after…at least for one more week.
This week is serious for fantasy football players. The regular season whittled down leagues into haves and have-nots. Only a few teams from each league moves on. Every week now is Sudden Death Overtime. In each game one team goes home, one moves on. In most cases, the teams winning today will play for the league championships next week.
This year I participated in 15 leagues. There were some differences. Two of the leagues were on Yahoo and were total points leagues. Called the Homer leagues, the objective was to select a team, and field players only from that team. You could add and drop as many times as you liked with only one restriction…the one mentioned in the previous sentence.
I took the Colts. I think everyone knows I am Bucs fan, so why the Colts? Well, first, Tony Dungy took many Tampa hearts with him when he went to Indianapolis. And a lot of heart pieces. Tony is one of those supremely wonderful guys that you love having in a community. The first thing you noticed when Gruden came on board was that no longer was character an issue. Hence the short-lived Darrell Armstrong experiment.
That wasnï¿½t the reason of course, but Iï¿½ve written all year and havenï¿½t mentioned TDï¿½s name once, so I figured he was due. The reason was much simpler. I like the name, Colts. My youngest sonï¿½s name is Colton. We call him Colt, or CJ. So my team was Coltï¿½s Colts. It was a reminder to me to remember that, while I have a full time job and am pursuing a dream as a sportswriter, that he is there every day, wanting some of my time as well, and as much of it as he can get.
One of the reasons I really like Fantasy Sharks is Tony. Something he said to me in the early days, and something he has reiterated to all of us, is the importance of our families. That they should be priorities in our lives, not footnotes. I figured that since it is the time of year when we relax and enjoy our families and gain perspective on the year now almost past, I could throw some of that introspection in this issue of Icebox. I did it. Iï¿½ll move on now.
So we were talking about Sudden Death.
Out of fifteen leagues, Iï¿½m only in the playoffs in two. That is a far cry from being in the playoffs in all four of my leagues last year. I won three. I got beat in the money league I run, which is also my office league. Last year I was the top seed and highest scoring team and got beat in the final. This year I am the underdog looking to knock off the top seed and reach the final. Iï¿½ll be cutting way back next year. Seven, eight teams tops.
The other league is the Fantasy Sports Academy Xperts league. Weï¿½ve made fun of it since it had nothing but problems, beginning pre-draft and continuing most of the season. There is plenty I could say bad about it, but I wonï¿½t. Trust me, I said all I needed to say and more to FSA and my league mates. The words trouble-maker and rabble-rouser come to mind. It got so bad I strongly considered leaving, but what kept me there was knowing the kind of guys I was playing against. They werenï¿½t sharks, but they represented other web sites that think they are as good as we are…some that have been around a lot longer and are generating a lot of money.
Tony guided me through those troubled waters, and I ended up as the number one seed. It has been challenging. Brett Favre carried me early on, as did Cmart, and Priest. Along the way I picked up Brees and Brandon Stokely but I lost Priest. I went from supernatural to merely mortal when I lost my spirit guide. I didnï¿½t get Blaylock, as I picked the wrong back up in Larry Johnson early in the season. By the time it was apparent Blaylock was the play, I was too low in the waiver standings to snag him. It may turn out to be the luckiest thing to happen. Larry Johnson has apparently earned the starting job, due mostly to the Chiefs needing to decide who to keep as the heir to the throne. There will be some killer deals to be make with a starting back in the off season. Teams will be willing to bet draft picks, money and players for one of the two backs.
No matter what the tank thought of this league, these guys arenï¿½t stupid. They are all rabid fans, so rabid that they own, work or write for a fantasy football web site. They eat and breath football, like the rest of us, and they are representing. And they put their reputations on the line, for all to see, jeer, admire and make fun of. I tip my hat to them and roll my eyes at the critics, safely ensconced in their recliners with beer and remote nearby.
The final four are the team from Fantasy Sports Academy, run by Frank Pagnotti; Fantasy Asylum and Justin Centann; FanStar (the company that hosts the league) and Mike Gregoire; and Fantasy Sharks, yours truly.
The teams that didnï¿½t make it were Rotowire (Herbie Teope), Ask the Commish (Bryan Hughes), Fantasy Guru (Scott Pianowski), Fantasy Football Champs (Steve Sarney), Fantasy Football Today (Matt Waldman), and FantasyFootballDiehards.com (Robert Zarzycki)
Iï¿½m second guessing the decision to start Brees over Favre. I based it on the competition…the matchup. Iï¿½m hoping for big games from Larry Johnson and Curtis Martin, Rod Smith and David Akers. So far he has 61 points from Mushin, Ramsey and Bettis and I have 6 from Coles. Join in prayer with me, brothers and sisters, and pray for the speedy recovery of my team and a berth in the big game, the Champeen-ship.
Then sit back, enjoy the games, and make sure you have some family around to share the passion.
Very Early Monday morning – I had a good score, but Fantasy Asylum was better. Iï¿½m out in the FSA Xpert League, but finish as the top point producer. Whoopee. Peyton Manning looked human so it is the Patriots D and Vinatieri against David Patten and 15 points. These two have pulled my bacon out of the fire several times this season, so let ï¿½er rip.
My next column, Tank TV, will be written and submitted from somewhere near Mount Ranier in Washington state. Merry Chrismas