By Greg Price
Woulda, shoulda, coulda.
That is often the motto of many a player of fantasy sports as they look back on their season if they didn’t win it all, and I am no exception.
Having played fantasy hockey and baseball in the past, I decided to give football another try after a brief hibernation, joining the nearly 60 million people who play fantasy sports across North America.
Judging by how my season went, being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, the theme song of Facts of Life comes to mind of ‘You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life.’
GOING STREAKING: In the Loser Leave Town League I was the last team in the 12-team league to record its first loss. But as they say, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Although technically the first team to secure a playoff berth with a 7-2 record after a win against the Castor Raiders (great team name), my team ceremoniously goes on a five game losing streak, culminating in falling 113-106 to the Steelers in my first playoff game. Ironically, my team was not playing that bad, having recorded triple digits in three of my last four games. I can’t whine too badly upon hearing a friend not qualifying for the playoffs in either league he was playing in, where one of the leagues, each one of his losses but one featured his opposition scoring their highest point total of the season on him. Sometimes, it’s just bad luck.
ISN’T IT IRONIC: Players are picked up and dropped all the time in fantasy football and the waiver wire can be your biggest friend or enemy. Ironically enough, two players I dropped (Ben Roethlisberger and Denver Broncos defence) ended up costing me a chance to advance in the playoffs as they were picked up by my opponent and both went off, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of his team’s offence in a league where you have nine position slots. In my defence, I already had a quarterback that was playing at an MVP type level in Carson Wentz, and well, I hate Ben Roethlisberger who was playing like hot garbage in the first half of the season. The hot garbage motto has been the creed as well for the Denver Broncos team as a whole this season including what was supposed to be a staunch defence. Nevertheless, Roethlisberger throws for 506 yards against the second-ranked defence in the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos pitched the shutout against the New York Jets. Compounding my waiver wire woes, had I started the very first player I picked up on waivers in Cooper Kupp (118 yard receiving with a touchdown), thIs column wouldn’t have been a fantasy football retrospective.
DRAFT KINGS: Nobody wins in fantasy football with the team they drafted, but you sure can help yourself to losing with a bad draft. Looking back, I’m amazed I was able to get as far as I didi as basically by the end of the season, my first two picks were afterthoughts in Jay Ajayi and Jordy Nelson. It’s amazing to see how early some players were drafted and then seeing players like tight end Evan Engram, quarterback Carson Wentz, quarterback Alex Smith, wide receiver Robert Woods, running back Alvin Kamara, wide receiver Robby Anderson etc. on waivers for multiple weeks or were drafted very low. And then there are the lost draft picks and waiver claims you have no control over due to injury in Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, David Johnson, Dalvin Cook and Odell Beckham.
MONEY MATTERS: While I play fantasy sports and may not win them all the time, I’ve been playing for basically free the last number of years. In the Cornbelt Confederacy fantasy baseball league I play with some fellow journalism types in southern Alberta, I can’t recall the last time I’ve had to dole out cash for it, having finished in the top three the last number of years or in fourth like this past year where your league entry is paid for. While I may have been knocked out of the Loser Leaves Town fantasy football league, side bets with the commissioner of the league has me pushing nearly even with the entry fee cost.
IMPURE THOUGHTS: I have to admit, I love playing fantasy sports, but it does have its drawbacks. The pluses are it makes every single game interesting, even the stinkers between two horrible teams if you happen to have one of their players on your team and he is piling up points. The drawback is when players on your fantasy football team are going against your favourite team in real life. I found myself wanting the Dallas Cowboys to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 31-28 with Carson Wentz throwing four touchdown passes from the Eagles… I felt so dirty thinking this. But overall, it was just great talking about football with other owners in the league along with doing a little trash talk here and there. Although no one fully embraced the Donald Trump role in the league in being the biggest heel that everyone loves to hate (unless it’s me and nobody is telling me).
IT IS WHAT IT IS: Fantasy football can be a cruel mistress. No matter how strong your teams looks like on paper, how much of a powerhouse you were during the regular season, one bad week in the playoffs and your championship aspirations are finished. My league commissioner told me a story where he was in a league where a team ran the table during the regular season going undefeated, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs to a team that had to scratch and claw to get into the league. Loser Leaves Town fantasy football league saw the same thing happen this year as the lowest seeded team in Sargeaguchi beat Ninja’s Exterminators 107-71, halting the Exterminators’ six-game win stream and top-seeded team in the playoffs. Sargeaguchi was tied with two other teams going into the last game of the regular season for the last playoff spot and mathematically had the worst chance to make it due to tiebreakers. Nevertheless, he moved on with a win with the other teams losing and he is moving on once again with his playoff victory. If you work the waiver wire and trades hard enough (there were two players on Sarageuchi’s playoff game winning starting line up in which he drafted at the beginning of the year), and the match ups are good, upsets can happen.