Week 11: Does Your League Make The “Consolation
Playoffs” Or “Losers’ Tourney” Meaningful
To The League As A Whole?
Last Week’s Question: How does a fantasy
diehard deal with watching just one game on Sunday?
last week’s column, I
asked for a miracle. I wanted to know what a guy who is used to
flicking between channels with the NFL Ticket is supposed to do
when the urge to check on players around the league strikes while
he is at a live NFL game.
I should probably take this opportunity to say that I was asking
only for myself. I was not attempting to paint a portrait of the
average FF participant. Don’s remarks on this subject warrant
This is why real sports fans hate you fantasy
geeks. You can’t just enjoy a sporting event without reducing
it to a bunch of numbers and statistics. You might as well send
your tickets to me. They are wasted on fantasy diehards.
Don seems a little grumpy, and I doubt that I can say anything
to change his mind about “fantasy diehards,” but I
want to stress that my compulsive channel-hopping with the NFL
Ticket is really the culprit here—not fantasy football.
I have admitted in the past that the NFL Ticket and fantasy football
complement each other wonderfully, but even if I stopped playing
fantasy football, I would still switch channels on Sunday in an
effort to follow more than two games in an afternoon.
I suspect that “fantasy diehard” is just as misleading
an epithet as “real sports fan.” I know an incredibly
bright guy in Philadelphia who thinks of himself as a true football
fan and of me as some kind of fantasy varmint. We were talking
before the season about who might really be considered the best
QB in the league apart from Manning and Brady. When I told him
he should pay closer attention to Drew Brees, he asked me who
that was. What he really wanted was for me to agree that Donovan
McNabb is the best QB in football. I love McNabb. His jersey is
the only official NFL product I ever bothered to buy, but I think
a “real sports fan” should be able to take off the
home-team blinders and see talents around the league for what
All of that, of course, is a digression from the question of
what I can do when I find my right hand pointing at Wade Philips
and attempting to press an imaginary remote because I do not want
to watch the referees around him consult for three minutes about
offsetting penalties. The answer (based on the responses of those
who bothered to write in without chastening me for my interest
in fantasy football0 is to drink more at the game than I do at
home on Sunday. Here is how Daryl put it:
I feel your pain. I love finding the most
emotional games on Sunday (however many there are) and trying
to watch every play from those games. I find that when I go to
a stadium for a game, the pauses between the plays are far more
frustrating than they used to be. You just have to drink through
the frustration. At half-time, try to find some place with different
television screens on different games. If you can pay attention
to those other games, you have to drink more.
I specifically mentioned that I did not want to become the guy
who misses the game going on right in front of him because he
is checking his blackberry for updates on his fantasy squad. Tim,
a kindred spirit of Daryl’s, had this to say on that front:
The answer is simple. Whenever you get a desire
to check your blackberry for scores, take one gulp of beer. I
tell myself that I will do that the whole game if necessary, but
I am chilled out and completely [absorbed by] my one game for
the day by the end of the first quarter.
Monte approached matters more philosophically:
There is no sense in saying you don’t
want to be the guy who checks his cell phone for scores. You are
who you are. I bet you are that guy (like it or not), but you
don’t want the people you are attending the game with to
know. So just be sneaky about checking your cell phone. Problem
I think Monte’s answer is pretty funny, but I am going to
try Tim’s solution. I am paying more for tickets and transportation
to the game than I have paid for the NFL Ticket and all my fantasy
leagues, so I intend to leave my cell phone at home. (Or maybe
I am just telling people that, eh Monte?)
This Week’s Question: Does your league
make the “consolation playoffs” or “losers’
tourney” meaningful to the league as a whole?
Lots of leagues structure some kind of alternate postseason competition
for the teams that do not make the playoffs. The league I am in
that has done this the longest awards a cash prize to the winner
of the “losers’ tourney” that is equal to the
entry fee for the league.
A reader named Jones wrote in to let me know that his league
actually makes the outcome of the losers’ tourney meaningful
for the league as a whole:
We do something in my league that keeps most
owners involved until the end, and I didn't see it mentioned in
the side-bets discussion.
Those that don't make the playoffs go to the losers’
bracket for a 3-week tourney. The winner gets the first pick in
the draft the following year. This is in contrast to most situations
in which the owner with the worst record gets next year's #1.
Even those that clearly aren't in playoff contention
by week 9 or 10 stay interested because they can always improve
their seeding in the losers' tourney.
Anyway....It's worth playing for, keeps things
interesting for those who are eliminated, and provides incentive
to keep winning vs. trying to lose out to improve next year's
That really sounds like another brilliant solution to the apathy
problem. If your leagues does anything unconventional with “consolation
let me know what that is and how well it has worked.
Wk 11 - Last Man Standing
- (Courtesy of Marc Mondry)
Circumstances compel me to keep the analysis short this week.
The three assignments I have due on Monday have combined to make
for a sad, tired, and busy Marc.
Trap Game: Tennessee over Houston
I absolutely love this trap game pick. Tennessee does have to
travel to Houston, a divisional rival, but it’s a short
trip and Houston isn’t a particularly difficult city for
Jeff Fisher and the former Oilers to play in. The records of these
teams may be deceiving (Houston is 5-4, Tennessee is 3-6); they
appear to even be deceiving odds-makers because Houston is favored
by more than a field goal.
Tennessee has played nothing but solid ball, winning 3 games
in a row after a dismal (and somewhat perplexing) 0-6 start to
the season. Chris Johnson said in his interview after last week’s
thrashing of the Bills that the team intends to win its next seven
games, go 10-6, and make the playoffs. Those are lofty goals for
a 3-6 team, but an inspired Titans club is very dangerous and
could be too much for the Texans.
3. Cincinnati over Oakland
There is one team every season that comes out of the blue and
becomes a reliable pick at some point, even though most folks
did not take the team seriously in September. That team this season
is the Cincinnati Bengals. They are 5-0 in their division with
two wins over Baltimore and Pittsburgh each. Although Cincinnati
does have a penchant for losing to bad teams (e.g. Houston), a
road trip to Oakland shouldn’t cause much concern. That
said, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with them as my #1 pick
this week. There’s something about the awfulness of Chad
Johnson and Chris Benson last year that I just haven’t gotten
2. Pittsburgh over Kansas City
Another AFC North team heads West to face another bottom-of-the-barrel
opponent. Pittsburgh, however, has earned my trust after years
of consistently solid (and sometimes spectacular) defensive play.
Coming off a tough loss last week at home against the Bengals,
the Steelers have to know that they can’t afford to lose
any more games, given that they are now essentially one and a
half games behind Cincinnati in the playoff race. I expect them
to take out some frustration on the lowly Chiefs this week, who
will likely be without their two most talented players, Larry
Johnson (cut and signed with Cincinnati) and Dwayne Bowe (violating
NFL drug policy).
1. Dallas over Washington
The only thing not to like about this game is that it is a divisional
matchup, and Washington will really want to come out with a W.
That said, The Redskins just don’t have the firepower to
match Dallas in a game featuring two “used to be good but
now mediocre” defenses. Clinton Portis may not play because
of injury, Chris Cooley is gone for the season, and Jim Zorn is
likely headed out the door pronto. Dallas, on the other hand,
has essentially been handed the division lead by the inconsistent
Giants and Eagles. If history is any indication, the Cowboys are
unlikely to let that lead slip away casually. A loss . . . at
home . . . against the Redskins? It just seems out of the realm
For responses to this week's fantasy
question please email me
no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.