I've never been much of a sports fan, but in recent years I have become a fantasy sports fan. The funny thing about fantasy sports is that it totally distorts the importance of events in games. Take, for instance, last week's Monday Night Football game. We were nearing playoff time in fantasy football. My roommate and I were dominating the league, and had clinched playoff spots. There was one other team with a winning record who had also clinched. And there were 2 teams in contention for the final playoff spot.
It's a head-to-head league, and I was playing one of the 2 teams. Due to some bad performances by key members of my team (*cough, cough, Tom Brady, cough*), I was down by 5 points by the end of the Sunday games. He had no players remaining, but I had 1 person playing in the Monday night football game. There's just one problem: he's a kicker - not a position known for high scoring. A kicker gets 1 fantasy point for every extra point they kick, and field goals can be 3-6 points (depending on how far the kick is from).
So basically, what you had last week was 4 or 5 people throughout the northeast intensely following and rooting for (or against)... a kicker.
Me: They're in field goal range! Call in Wilkins!
Roommate: Dude, it's second down. I don't think they're going to kick it.
As luck would have it, I lost. However, I was still in the playoffs and I ended up playing the same person I would have played anyway. Alas, it appears that my team peaked early. After going 12-1 during the first 13 weeks of play, I've gone 0-2 in the past two weeks. I lost in the first round of the playoffs. There may still be some hope for placing third place, but I must concede that my season didn't end the way I planned. The main culprit here was injuries, as my top Wide Reciever and another solid Running Back both went down in recent weeks, thus weakening my team considerably. Nevertheless, I bear my team no ill will, and so I'll let the Badgers take a bow:
- Tom Brady: (QB) In some ways, he's been a bit of a disappointment, but in reality, he's done about as well as I could have ever hoped. Quarterback was a tough position to fill this year, what with all the underperforming stars and former stars and rookies and injuries. There were probably only a handful of consistent performers, and a couple of abominable weeks aside, Brady was one of them.
- Larry Johnson: (RB) At the start of the season, there were really only 3 elite running backs to get, and LJ was one of them. I was fortunate enough to get the second overall pick in the draft, so I was able to get him (Ironically, the 3 backs were drafted in opposite order of eventual performance). Overshadowed by the obscenely dominant LaDainian Tomlinson (who has already scored a record breaking 33 touchdowns, and he still has two games left in the season), Johnson was actually my leading scorer.
- Kevin Jones: Apparently, this guy went to my high school. Go figure. In any case, for most of the year, he was my surprisingly productive second back (surprising in that, you know, he plays for the Lions).
- Ahman Green: (RB) He made a nice third back option when I needed him, and managed to fill in well for Jones when the injuries started coming. He spent a decent portion of the season on the bench, and I got him very late in the draft, so I was pretty happy.
- Larry Fitzgerald: (WR) He was supposed to be my premier receiver and did very well until he got injured for several weeks. He came back towards the end of my run, and put up decent numbers. Not quite the spectacular year everyone was expecting from him, but decent nonetheless.
- Darrell Jackson: (WR) Up until last week, he's been one of the steadiest players on the team, consistently putting up high fantasy numbers. Then he got injured and didn't play last week. I started one of his backups, Nate Burleson, but he didn't do anything. Darn.
- Jason Witten: (TE) Tight Ends don't normally put up big numbers, and Witten was no exception. Still, i was expecting more than a single touchdown from the guy. A few years ago he damn near put up a thousand yards with 6 touchdowns (and he had a ver respectible season last year too). No one ever counts on their tight ends, really, and Witten didn't do that bad, but still.
- Jeff Wilkins: (K) Early in the season, this guy was putting up huge numbers. Huge. This is, of course, absurd for a kicker, and it didn't last. Still, he did better than anyone would ever have expected.
- San Diego: (D/ST) The SD defence was quite good this year, and netted me a fair amount of points, considering that I drafted them pretty late in the draft. I started the season with Denver, but SD consistently outscored them, so SD got the call for most of the season, and did a good job
- Miscellaneous: I picked up Brandon Jacobs off the waiver wire and had him filling in for a few weeks during some of the injury-laden times. He makes a surprisingly decent third fantasy back because even though he doesn't get a lot of touches, he gets them where they count: the goalline. Tiki Barber owners must be furious (this is another example of fantasy distorting reality). Kevan Barlow had a similar (but much less consistent) situation going in New Jersey, but pretty much rode the bench for me all year long. Keyshawn Johnson and Isaac Bruce both put up consistent (relatively low, but still decent) numbers and made some appearances at the flex position throughout the year, but neither really did a ton for me. I picked up Tony Romo towards the end of the season, and pretty much regretted not starting him every week (especially the week he threw for 5 touchdowns). But still, how do you start a young, unproven punk like Romo over someone like Brady?
All in all, it was a decent year, even if they did peak a little early and get injured a little too often. I've made it to the playoffs in two of the last three years (and the one year I didn't was due to an uncharacteristic bad draft pick). This is actually not half bad for someone who doesn't pay attention to sports!