Real Head-To-Head Contests
Posted Jan. 06 at 05:03 AM
The best thing about the NFL playoffs is also the worst thing about the fantasy playoffs: Anybody can win on any given week. I think that's awful for fantasy, where the best team should always win. After all, a "Super Bowl" in our game is vastly different from the real thing. It's not even a true head-to-head match-up because you have no opportunity to affect your opponent's score. You can't play fantasy defense. You can't coach your team and the players don't even know the game means anything. They don't even play together. It's really just a tally of individual player statistics compared against another tally of different players' statistics. I understand the interest in making it look like the real game...but it isn't. And it never will be. It's definitely fun, but often unnecessarily random when it comes to determining a champion.
But in the NFL, where teams are actually playing against each other -- helmet to helmet -- it's the best way to resolve disputes. The San Diego Chargers weren't assigned 23 points based on a scoring system calculated by a computer program. They took each one of them from the Colts. They could have other touchdowns earlier in the game, but the Colts defense created turnovers at just the right times. The teams played each other and one emerged victorious. It might not always be the best team that advances (but it might be. The Bolts have owned the Colts the last couple of years) but it's always the right team.
Each of the eight remaining teams left in the playoffs are true Super Bowl contenders. While the Arizona Cardinals are probably considered the worst remaining squad, who's to say anyone will stop their offense over the course of a timed hour? If the Panthers' defense allows points, they'll earn them and potentially advance. And how comfortable can the defending Super Bowl champions feel having to face the Eagles again? There isn't a potential game left on the schedule that won't have both sides confident in victory. Again, that's what's great about the playoffs.
But as fantasy owners, we watch the game differently than traditional fans. In your head, you're always scouting players and teams for next season. Honestly, how soon after the Vikings lost did you start wondering how Free Agent QB X would look in purple? How reassuring was it to see Roddy White still used as a security blanket for Matt Ryan when the game mattered most? How clear is it that Derrick Mason continues to be undervalued in fantasy drafts? More questions will be answered this weekend as we see how Eli fares without Plaxico in the post-season and whether Darren Sproles is built to be an every-down back. Those answers will have an impact next August. I try not to think about it too much and just enjoy the games, of course. But if Domenik Hixon becomes a go-to guy, or Jeff Fisher lets Chris Johnson get the important, fourth-quarter carries over LenDale White, it will have an impact when the fantasy season starts again.
Still, I’ll try to put away my scouting hat for the most part and enjoy the games themselves. The fact that anything can happen makes for great contests on the field. It’s the ones on paper that get ruined when the best team doesn’t win. If your favorite team is still playing, good luck this week. If not, your other favorite team, the one you draft in about eight months, will need new players -- And quite a few will be on display this weekend.
Youtube Clip of the Week: Why didn’t I pay more attention to this guy when he was at Kansas State?
You can reach Michael Murillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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