February 01, 2009

Three And Out Takes Third Fantasy Football Trophy. Shrug.

As the Super Bowl wrapped up the year's NFL season, so to ended the year's fantasy football season - which on some days seems dramatically more important. And, now that the dust has cleared, my team has finished 1st overall, just like it did the last time I played, in the 2005-06 season, and the 2001-02 season, my rookie year. And while I should be elated, given my push to be competitive, and love of sports and all things statistical, ending up the winner is met more with a shrug than jubilation - partly because of the knowledge the competition is complete, with no more weekly battles, and also, as the margin of victory was already guaranteed, making today's game moot.

As I mentioned back on January 4th (See: Geek Leading Fantasy Football League During Playoff Push), I managed to take a lead after the 1st week of the playoffs, and knew I was well-positioned going into week two, but surprisingly, a lot of little things went right for my squad, and badly for everyone else - so while there were many upsets each weekend, the only real surprise in our league was that I managed to not only keep the lead - but score highest every single Sunday, increasing my lead.

By the time the Pittsburgh Steelers were crowned NFL champions this evening, I had finished the four-week playoff round with a total of 391 points, almost twice that of the second-place finisher, who had 217 points, followed by the stragglers at 190 points and 101. To give you an idea of how wild it is that I scored so many points, just three years ago I won it all with 281 points, beating out the second place team, who scored 239, and the prior year, I had finished second, losing 290 to 265 - much closer contests than the 2008-09 playoffs. (See: Kiss of Death League: History)

So how did this happen? As with any good fantasy squad, significant luck was involved. I had expected the Carolina Panthers to do very well, and possibly contend for the Super Bowl title. But as we were drafting one Saturday morning, I wanted to make sure I didn't post a zero in the initial Wild Card contests, and loaded up on the high-offense Arizona Cardinals, getting the quarterback and wide receiver pair of Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald, as well as the San Diego Chargers' Darren Sproles, who I expected to rack up points returning kickoffs against what was supposed to be a superior Colts squad. But then Sproles became the primary running back as Ladanian Tomlinson was injured, and the Chargers beat the Colts. And virtually everyone knows what happened to Arizona. They went all the way to the Super Bowl, and both Warner and Fitzgerald set records along the way. It almost didn't seem fair as my team excelled while others were virtually eliminated by week one.

I'm torn because I love the fact I blew out the field. But I also would have liked some better competition, and to have been watching Sunday's Super Bowl with the knowledge my fantasy season could also be on the line. I love that I won by such big margins because I'm going to enjoy going through the stats, but it isn't exactly fun to talk trash (a major part of fantasy football) when you're ahead by 100 points, so for the last month, that piece has practically been eliminated.

How much did loading up on Arizona help me? According to the league statistics, Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner were the 1st and 2nd highest scorers, garnering me 180 points between them. Add in the 44 points from Arizona special teams, and I'd be at 224, already ahead of the second-place finisher, and that doesn't even take into consideration the 74 points picked up by Sproles, who had an amazing first two weeks.

So now it's all done. At some point, I'll probably get a PayPal notification rewarding me about $200 or so, which is nice, but not life-changing. The first thing I'll likely do? Go out and see if I have to buy my own trophy to match the other two on my bookshelf. What's the fun in winning three times if you can't show everyone?