Livin' The Fantasy, 2017 Week 15-16
(originally written 12/23/17)
Disclaimer: this is about NFL football, specifically Fantasy football. Now's your chance to escape if this is not your thing.
This week, I am a Gurley-Man.
Last season, my first in Fantasy Football, I didn't spend too much time biting my nails in the waning moments of close matchups; all but one of my 13 regular-season games were decided by at least 11 points. Then came a seven-point playoff win before a 26-point dismantling in the semis. So as you see, basically my whole rookie season was suspense-free.
That dramatically changed in 2017, beginning with a Week 5 loss when my fill-in Indianapolis D frittered away a sizable lead late against the 49ers, allowing 185 yards and 14 points in the 4Q and OT. I lost by five points, and felt terrible rooting against my Niners.
That was followed by Week 8 comeback magic—trailing by 15 at Sunday's end, my hopes lay with Denver's D and RB C.J. Anderson going on Monday. However, turnover-happy Broncos QB Trevor Siemian almost single-handedly f---ed me; his D got worn out and Anderson's touches dried up. Somehow, I still stole the W...by 2.37 points.
Pretty tight, huh? It got tighter. (And no, that's NOT what she or anybody else said, you pervs.) In Week 10, Monday Night Football decided the winner once again. I led going in, and just needed Carolina to hold Miami WR Davante Parker to 10.5 points for triumph.
At first, he was quiet. But then the porous Miami D allowed Carolina to run wild—this game produced the Cam Newton ground-wiggle highlight—shortening their drives and putting Miami in pass mode; Parker made some noise. Still, I pulled out the 1.36-point win.
Surely, I would not face another thriller like that in the playoffs, would I?
HA! Your crystal ball must be defective.
Since my second-round opponent (Andrew, who also happened to be the defending champion) had basically dismembered me and beaten me for hours with my own limbs in our Week 7 clash, it didn't seem our future held a nail-biter. In fact, in an average week, I'd have lost this matchup by about 25-30 points and been forced to endure another involuntary self-assault.
But as I said, this week I was a Gurley-Man.
Rams RB Todd Gurley was so cold at times in '16, I benched him twice. But I'm not here to talk about the past. Whether motivated by his off-year or aided by QB Jared Goff's emergence, Gurley 's been a beast in '17...never moreso than in Week 15 when I most needed him. You see, I'd chosen to sit WR Rishard Matthews in favor of WR Mike Wallace—coming off injury, Matthews had been quiet in Week 14 and besides, I just couldn't root for him to excel vs. my 49ers. Plus, Wallace was facing the Browns. As it turned out, Matthews outscored all my other receivers—including A.J. Green by 14.50. I sat the wrong guy.
Luckily, Seattle couldn't stop Gurley, who finished up with 46.50 points, allowing me to end Sunday with a healthy 32.94 lead over Andrew, who would be throwing Bucs QB Jameis Winston and Falcons WR Julio Jones—no slouches—at me on Monday. In fact, Jones put up a 48-point effort of his own in Week 12. This was not going to be easy.
It went all the way down to the final play. I clung by the plaque on my teeth to a 0.28-point lead when Tampa lined up for a potential overtime-forcing kick. If OT happened, odds are unlikely Tampa wins it without eight yards passing by Winston, or Atlanta wins it without three yards receiving by Jones—the necessary totals to erase my ultra-slim lead.
Kick: missed. Victory: mine. Margin: slimmer than the Raider-screwing index card.
Now I'm playing for the trophy. I've made another tough choice: sitting underacheiving QB Kirk Cousins for my original starting QB, Philip Rivers. I also sat Anderson at flex in favor of Wallace, productive in recent weeks after an ice-cold start. Though tempted, I did not turn to TD-wizard Will Fuller—all the juice was squeezed from that orange in Weeks 4-8, it seems.
Win or lose, it's been a fun ride livin' the Fantasy Football life, and I eagerly await 2018. That is, if I live that long—any score closer than that last one might stop my heart.