A Day of Football
Posted Dec. 31 at 07:11 AM
Week 17 was an interesting mishmash of fantasy lessons, great football, bad football, and how to enjoy or not enjoy a Sunday. I feel like I did it all yesterday, so let's break it down from start to finish.
Early games: I didn't buy that the Bengals, Ravens, or Falcons would use their starters throughout in meaningless football games. Turns out I was right, mostly. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, for example, sat out after suffering an injury in pregame warmups. It remains to be seen if that injury is legit or not. My guess is he'll practice fully this week. Bottom line, the Bengals and Ravens didn't use any of their starters past halftime, and if you counted on any of them, you got burned. Bernard Pierce got the most work for Baltimore, but Anthony Allen got the touchdown. Lesson: don't use starters in meaningless Week 17 games who play the following week, don't put too much stock in coaches saying "We'll play to win." That's not the same as saying "We won't rest starters.
On the flipside, though, the Colts and Falcons used their starters throughout. We thought the Colts might because they're a young team with a bunch of kids who need the work anyway; if they gave a rest to Luck or Ballard, they'd have almost nobody to put on the field, and at home with their head coach back on the sideline, they wanted to go out on a high note. And they did. More surprising -- to me -- is the Falcons, who played their starters throughout. Ian called that one correctly. But Ryan, Julio, Gonzo and White didn't do anything of note, except some modest numbers in PPR formats, and you have to think they'd have done more if they'd really been trying to win. So starters played, but it was like an exhibition. Bottom line, every Week 17 is different, but I think there's a lot more risk in counting on players only focused on the postseason than simply sitting them down and looking elsewhere.
None of the other early games had any meaning, ultimately, but it was nice to see that if you counted on Bears or Giants, teams vying for playoff spots, they gave you some good, solid production. Too late to help those burned by the Giants the last couple of weeks, of course.
Late games: Full disclosure here, I left the channel on Vikings-Packers and ignored the other games. Which had no surprises: Patriots, Broncos and 49ers all won easily, all securing byes thanks to Houston and Green Bay losses. It also dawned on me early in the Minnesota game that we'd get a rematch if the Vikings won. Moreover, it turned out to be one of the best football games of the season, with Adrian Peterson's incredible run at Eric Dickerson just an added bonus.
What a crock the whole deal with the unchallengeable turnover was. It was the exact same situation as the Texans-Lions Thanksgiving game, but they decided to let the officials review the play anyway, since they'd already started reviewing before Mike McCarthy threw the unnecessary challenge flag. Really. Obviously, it's an idiotic rule that should never have made it into the books and situations exactly like this one should have been foreseen. Really makes the officials look good when McCarthy and Jordy Nelson are laughing it up on the sideline after Nelson tried to hide the challenge flag. Unlike in the Texans game, at least the right call ultimately got made, and the Vikings won anyway, but wow.
Green Bay's offense looked pretty much unstoppable in the latter stages of that game, so it's reasonable that the Packers are and deserve to be favored in the playoff game. But I was duly impressed by Christian Ponder, who kept his poise and made some really nice throws yesterday. Granted his late touchdown pass could/should have been intercepted, but he'd thrown a TD a couple of plays earlier that Michael Jenkins couldn't hang onto. Ponder obviously benefits from having one of the league's best-ever running backs scaring opposing defenses, but he's saddled with one of the worst receiving corps in history, as well, what with Percy Harvin out. I do not think Minnesota winning at Lambeau is that unlikely, although they'd best have Antoine Winfield available.
NFC East: I went out to watch this game, to a sports bar which had far less interest in this matchup than you'd expect. Granted the local Giants being eliminated was a major factor, and then I think there was the fact that few believed Tony Romo and the Dallas offense would get it done. And that's how things went. I feel kind of bad for Romo, which I guess is my own weakness for great quarterbacks with something of a history of making big mistakes in critical situations. Yeah yeah, Brett Favre. No excusing Romo, though, whose first interception might have been Kevin Ogletree's fault, but whose last two were just awful throws. Dallas lost, and should have, and Washington-Seattle looks like a classic first-round game. ... Alfred Morris sure had a nice season. If 2005 will always be known as Fantasy Index's Tatum Bell year, this should be our Alfred Morris year. Sometimes the bold preseason picks work out.
Now, the playoffs! We'll have our overall preview out this afternoon, and the Weekly on Wednesday morning. I'll be back in this space next Saturday for a quick look as well. Briefly, I don't think any of the four road teams should be discounted too heavily this week. I see Baltimore and Green Bay are the biggest favorites, 6-7 points each. I would bet the underdogs and take my chances.
Posted by Scott Anderson | Dec. 31 at 07:18 AM
Hey Andy! Wrapped up my big-money championship, thanks mainly to Bryant's injury leaving him 9 points short of the big comeback. That makes me 4 for 4 in playoffs, 3 championships! Anyway, I was curious what site's playoff challenge you enjoy the most? We are getting something together and we would like to use an online manager for payment & drafting. (We have leagues on myfantasyleague.com, rtsports.com & yahoo). Thanks for a great great season - and for Alfred Morris, my keeper in the 9th round of the 2013 draft!
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Dec. 31 at 07:35 AM
Scott, I have done playoff challenges at ESPN and rtsports.com. I like Realtime's for the idea that you have a 1 in 12 chance of winning the money. Haven't tried myfantasyleague's deal. Most of my friends have little interest in playoff fantasy leagues, so i usually join one with strangers just to be in one and have a rooting/monetary interest.
Posted by JOHN RUPPE | Dec. 31 at 07:41 AM
Andy I think this was my best fantasy season ever. 4 leagues. 3 Championships and a second place. $810 in winnings. And to top it off I scored 187 points in the Super League, good for 7th best for the week, and jumped up to 68th/69th overall to tie this writer for FFI. Yes that would be you Mr. Richardson. JRS RAMMERS caught you! :) Have a happy and safe New Year and once again thanks for a great year! Alfred Morris is still running wild in my mind. Kudos!
Posted by DAVID DIGREGORIO | Dec. 31 at 09:35 AM
If Romo can overcome his big gameitis, and win a SB, he might be headed to Canton.
Posted by Paul Owers | Dec. 31 at 11:05 AM
Thanks for the great advice, Andy. Danario caught just one pass, but it was a big one. :)
Posted by Robert Kurek | Dec. 31 at 02:05 PM
Andy (and staff) - thanks for a great year of FF. You helped with my common strategy (std scoring) of drafting WR early and RB's later (great picks of Ridley and Morris in later rounds!). Look forward to next season!
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Jan. 01 at 11:14 AM
CBS has gone to the same format as Real Time this year with 12 team money leagues. I used to play their free game for fun knowing I had no shot to win the grand prize against millions of entrants. At least there are a few sites now offering playoff FF where you can win some cash.
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