Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Mike

Mike's Articles

Week 16

Last Week’s Question

In last week’s column, I asked readers to write in with suggestions for putting Week 17 to use. I am grateful to everyone who responded, but I fear I would overwhelm my audience with minutiae if I included every reader’s variation on this theme. I have therefore selected the three responses that are least like the suggestions I have received in past years. If you are itching to keep the fantasy season alive for one more week, it should not be hard to modify one of these suggestions for your league (regardless of what kind of league it is).

I’ll start with Cary’s response because his experience likely mirrors that of many readers. Once upon a time, he got burned by a championship game that was scheduled for Week 17:

In the past our league concluded our championship bracket in Week 17, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that it can be an unsatisfying experience, having lost the championship game a couple of years ago by one point because I thought Tom Brady would play at least a quarter, only to have him play only a series.

For many leagues, experiences such as the one described by Cary are the catalysts for moving championships to Week 16. It seems that Cary’s league, however, would have continued with a Week 17 championship if not for an expansion of the league:

This year, our league expanded from 12 to 14 teams. As part of that expansion, we went to single division format, with a 13-game regular season, and playoff games in weeks 14-16. This seemed the best route because it was balanced. Every team played every other team only once, and no one would be able to open a back door into the playoffs by playing a weaker team twice or dominating a weaker division. However, with the championship game (and toilet bowl) in Week 16, a void was created in Week 17. So, to help postpone the post partum blues (so to speak) for another week, we came up with a “dream team” gimmick game for Week 17.

Using our regular season starting roster and scoring rules, every owner will select a dream team of players for the Week 17 game, and the team with the highest score will win some cash. The only downside is that it will take some effort on my part to manage, but that’s what I signed up for, so no worries.

Most of the suggestions I receive concerning “Pro Bowls” or “Dream Teams” in Week 17 incorporate some rules to prevent different owners from submitting identical teams. However, the appeal of the wide-open approach described by Cary is that it is really easy to implement—even as an afterthought. There is no planning required, and it puts everyone on an equal footing.

It isn’t necessary to get bent out of shape about the possibility of different owners selecting the same players. In the first place, owners who are left completely to their own devices are unlikely to select identical sets of players. In the second place, even if there are two identical teams in your league, they probably won’t end up with the most points. (Who really cares about the two owners who tied for sixth?) And in the third place, if there is a tie for a winner in your Week 17 “Pro Bowl,” it’s easy enough to split the pot.

Those who want a slightly more complicated approach to a “Pro Bowl” may be interested in what Ross has to say:

In our 8-team salary cap dynasty league, we use week 17 for a Pro-bowl. Each owner submits a standard line-up for our league. The only wrinkle is it must use at least 1 player from each owner's roster. The 4 play-off teams compete against the 4 teams that missed the play-offs. The scores are from each set of 4 teams are summed up, and the group with the lower total score buys pizza (or some other agreed upon food) for next season's free agent auction (equivalent of a draft). The beer is provided by the team that finished in last place, so we are all set for auction. In this format, it usually is beneficial to coordinate line-ups to minimize the risk of players being rested for a half or whole game. Sometimes it's unavoidable. For instance, 2 or 3 years ago, the Eagles had not yet clinched their play-off spot, and Jeff Garcia was on a hot streak. We started him on 2 of 4 line-ups. The Eagles played the late game and some team lost in the early game clinching a play-off spot for the Eagles. Garcia played the first series and was then sent to the bench to rest. I think our Pro-bowl is a great way to make week 17 interesting but not impact FF play-offs with the risk of NFL teams resting their stars.

The approach I want to close with comes from Nev, whose “tag team” variation is unlike anything I have ever encountered. It seems like a great way to build camaraderie between owners at the end of a season:

We are in our 21st season and have been utilizing Week 17 for the past 10 years. Everyone seems to enjoy our “Tag-Team Battle Royal,” which reduces the entry fee for next season by $50 for two lucky winners. Basically, each owner puts in an extra $10 for this purpose at the beginning of the year.

Here's how it works: the schedule for Week 17 has match-ups where your opponent is actually your Tag-Team partner. Your partner team is assigned based strictly on the League’s Week 13 Power Rankings (a CBS Sportsline feature, but something analogous can be done manually if necessary). In our 10-team league, number 1 partners with number 10, 2 with 9 and so forth and so on. The duo with the highest combined score wins. A Tiebreaker would be broken according to our current rules using the benches from both teams combined.

This gives us the ability to use Week 17 in a competitive meaningful way without impacting the coveted League Championship.

The fact that the partnerships at the end of the season are always unpredictable presumably only makes things more fun for Nev and his fellow participants in the “tag-team battle royal.”

This Week’s Question

What are the 5 most boneheaded fantasy decisions that you made or witnessed this season?

In the LMS section at the end of this column, Marc Mondry asks readers to chime in on the most boneheaded plays from the NFL this season. I look forward to seeing how readers respond to his question, but I’ll leave it to Marc to explain why J.P. Losman is klutzier than DeSean Jackson.

As for me, I’m not sure that Joseph Addai has done anything particularly boneheaded this season, but it may have been boneheaded of me to think that taking him in the first round was a “safe, solid pick”—as I told myself at the time.

Last Man Standing - (Courtesy of Marc Mondry)

Two weeks left. Congratulations on making it this far! (I assume if you are still reading you are at least in contention.) Welcome to the most difficult LMS week in the 2008 season. As I remarked to one of my readers just yesterday, “This is the week that is going to separate the men from the boys.” Only one team is favored by more than a touchdown to start the week (Houston, -7.5), and half of the favorites are visiting teams.

Last Week’s Bust: None
Actually, I’m going to take a moment to pat myself on the back (feel free to skip ahead). This is the first time I have not missed a LMS pick in consecutive weeks! Actually, if you have been following closely, you’ll notice that I am 11/12 in the last month. Sweet. And this week, I even nailed the Bengals over Redskins game. Life is good when things work out the way you plan.

Trap Game: Cincinnati over Cleveland
I was absolutely bewildered when I saw that Cleveland was favored by 3.5, even in Cleveland. Everything I said last week about the Bengals playing better ball applies directly to this game (particularly when we factor in Cedric Benson’s 150+ yards from scrimmage). Moreover, since Ken Dorsey took the helm, the Browns have had no prayer of winning a game. Even the defense, which looked mildly improved in the middle of the season, has been delivering lackluster performances week in and week out. It’s tough to get motivated when your offense cannot move the ball—and you anticipate being on the field for 40 minutes a game. Don’t forget that the struggling Browns did not force an Eagles punt Monday night until there were less than 5 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.

For those of you that did not watch that game, the 30-10 score makes it look closer than it was, as it was 30-3 when Kevin Kolb came in and immediately threw a pick that was returned for the Browns’ only TD. In fact, Tony Kornheiser actually provided some useful commentary Monday night when he pointed out that the Browns have not had an offensive touchdown in a month.

Pick 3: Denver over Buffalo

It goes to show you how difficult a week it is when I succumb to my urge to pick Denver. My confidence gets a boost when I watch highlights of the Bills vs. Jets game from Sunday and laugh out loud watching J.P. Losman make one of the most boneheaded plays I have seen all season. Losman’s gaffe is even more boneheaded than DeSean Jackson’s drop on the 1 yard line. Do any readers have any other bonehead play of the week nominations? This could be fun – send them in.

Back to business. There are a lot of things to like about this game. You have a fairly hot Denver playing at home and in need of one more win to clinch the division. If they don’t get the win this week, they need to travel to San Diego and beat the Chargers in order to keep the Chargers from taking the division title out of their hands. The AFC West is so weak that only the division winner will get to sniff the postseason, so it is put up or shut up time for the Broncos. Luckily for them, they draw Buffalo this week, who has only one weapon, Marshawn Lynch. What makes me nervous about this game is that Denver might not be able to stop the run even with 8 in the box. Denver should likely win and clinch the division this week, but this is my #3 pick for a reason. It isn’t hard to imagine Lynch going off for 120+ yards and multiple TDs, keeping Cutler off the field long enough for the Bills to secure a win.

Pick 2: Houston over Oakland
(TENNESSEE, dallas, CHICAGO, new york giants, TAMPA BAY, san francisco, Jacksonville, CAROLINA, philadelphia, WASHINGTON, new york jets, NEW ENGLAND, INDIANAPOLIS)

Houston!?!? Yes, Houston. They have quietly been playing some very good football. Steve Slaton is for real, Andre Johnson is in my opinion the best WR in the NFL (maybe 2nd behind Calvin Johnson), and the Texan defense has been containing offenses effectively for weeks. Houston has won 4 games in a row (JAX, GB, CLE, TEN); they held the Titans and Browns out of the end zone completely; and their last loss was a dogfight (27-33) with the then very hot Colts.

All that was the good news. The bad news is that Houston has to travel to Oakland, stop a healthy Darren McFadden and an upstart Johnnie Lee Higgins, and it remains to be seen what Andre Johnson can do against Nnamdi Asomugha. My money is actually on the Oakland CB, but Houston has enough weapons in the passing game (Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter, and Steve Slaton) to compensate and still put up big numbers. Add into the mix that Oakland is absolutely pitiful against the run, and you have a recipe for the Texans to put up 30+ points. Oakland’s offense simply cannot keep up with production like that.

Pick 1: New Orleans over Detroit

Don’t get me wrong – this one most likely will not be a blowout. I am thinking something like 38-28. Neither defense is going to be able to stop the opposition, other than the Saints containing Kevin Smith, as they have been playing well against the run lately. Dan Orlovsky might put up his best numbers of the season, and Calvin Johnson is an absolute beast, but it just will not be enough to match the Saints’ offense. Brees is money week in and week out, and with the emergence of Pierre Thomas as a very strong (I hesitate to say dominant, but perhaps he is) RB, there is a lot less pressure on Brees to make everything happen with his arm. I am putting the over/under for the Saints at 5 offensive TDs. Anyone care to take the under? Anyone think Detroit can put up 35 points, even against New Orleans? Didn’t think so. (As always, if you do think so, let me know!)

That’s all I’ve got for this week – this last game does not need a lot of heavy analysis. I think at this point in the season for the most part you know what you are going to get from a lot of these teams. One thing you must watch out for is teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs. Some teams absolutely love the spoiler role; others are incapable of playing it. Talk to homers on the forums; they can tell you which teams are which.

Those who want to hit me up for personal analysis of their LMS situations should get their information to me by noon on Friday. Otherwise, I cannot guarantee I will be able to answer you on time. Good luck this week!

For responses to this week's fantasy question please email me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.