I had a “come to Jesus” moment this weekend. I found myself seeing the upside of Rob Gronkowski getting his knee ligaments shredded. It made me think.
When I first got involved in fantasy football, it was something that the NFL turned a raised eyebrow toward. The connection between friends and co-workers throwing money into a pot that would be divided among them based on success seemed to me to be the concept of capitalism. To the NFL attorneys, it was gambling. Now the NFL not only embraces fantasy football, but promotes it for monetary gain. It has become a corporate entity.
It was a long, long road to get from Point A to Point B. The big fish that were fighting in out when you benched a running back with perimeter speed because he was going up against Lawrence Taylor are playing against half a league that has only been following the fantasy game for five years or less. That isn’t true in The Shop league. There’s a waiting list to get in that will require just about all current members to die for that person to get in. We ain’t going anywhere, so good luck with that. But, the view of fantasy football has changed. So have I apparently.
Due to injuries to several of my key players, I had to play in the first round of the playoffs. I was playing against Gronkowski. When he took his knee shot, my first thought was one of happiness. Does that make me wrong? Had Gronk remained in the game, I probably would have lost. I didn’t. I used to think the best thing about fantasy football was that it heightened casual fan awareness in something other than the local team. A guy from Chicago has no reason to care about the Jaguars, unless you have Maurice Jones-Drew in your lineup.
On a typical fantasy roster, an owner likely has players from about half of the NFL’s 32 teams on the roster. The league-wide interest that it creates for fantasy owners is a good thing. I had to take pause Sunday because, when Gronk went down, I was watching and I was happy. I have come the grips after the fact that it would have happened whether I was watching or not, but I still a little oily for being happy when I understood Gronk would do any more damage to my team.
Whether I win this week or not doesn’t seem to matter as much. I became one of “those guys.” Maybe this week, I’m going to get the Christmas shopping done Sunday afternoon. I need a little penance. If there is a moral to this story, win or lose, don’t be happy when a player gets injured. It makes you the person that people who don’t get fantasy football envision as the type that enjoys the bad side of winning.
Hopefully, this feeling will subside when Peyton Manning throws five more touchdowns on Thursday, but fantasy football got put in perspective last weekend. I won’t be happy when a player gets hurt again because I didn’t like who I was as a result.
- The weather last Sunday was brutal for all teams in the East and Midwest throughout the weekend. Fortunately, some of us were prepared because it happens somewhere every year. If you were caught unaware, you should have read The Buzz two weeks ago, because Nostracletis predicted it.
- Of all the technological advancements the NFL has made, among the most impressive in my book was superimposing yard lines on snow-covered fields. Well done, fellas.
- Josh Gordon owners continue to bask in the glory of him being a silk hat on an offensive pig in Cleveland. Two weeks ago, he set the all-time NFL record for most receiving yards in consecutive games. Last weekend, he set the record for both three- and four-week stretches for yards. If you had to choose between Gordon and Megatron right now, it might be a tough choice.
- Remember when the Eagles couldn’t win at home? If Slim Shady keeps running like that, they may want to truck in snow for the remainder of their games. If the roof at the Metrodome isn’t any better, it may be possible Sunday.
- Remember when people were saying Larry Fitzgerald was dead as a fantasy player? 10 touchdowns this season speak a different story.
- About 7 p.m. Sunday I was thinking to myself that there were an awful lot of touchdowns Sunday. Turns out I was right. Even before Monday’s game, which featured nine touchdowns, Week 14 had the most touchdowns of any week in the history of the NFL.
- I’m not positive about this, but I would put money Week 14 also led the NFL all-time in two-point conversion attempts.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
10. Goodbye, Cleveland! – When the Browns started 0-2 and traded Trent Richardson, who we have since learned sucks everywhere except Alabama, it was thought Cleveland was going to tank. When they glove-slapped Cincinnati 17-6 in Week 4, they proved they weren’t a joke, especially on defense. But, they’ve lost six out of their last seven and four straight. In those four games, they have allowed 127 points – and average of 32 points a game. Seeing as they’ve scored 32 or more points just once this season, that doesn’t bode well. But, for 58 minutes, they had the Patriots on the ropes at Gillette Stadium. That could have been a franchise-defining moment to get players to buy into the offseason drudgery of the “voluntary” workout program. They blew that opportunity with a last-minute meltdown.
9. Next Man Up – The injury killer continues to count up more victims. Rob Gronkowski is gone for the year. Wes Welker suffered his second concussion in less than a month. Adrian Peterson might get shut down with a foot injury that, while nobody is saying or confirming has light Lisfranc stink surrounding it. In a season when players are falling like rib bones and corn cobs at a 4th of July picnic, the big hits just keep on coming. Those three guys were being counted on for titles. Their names were auto-picked on a weekly basis. This is where things get dicey for fantasy owners going for the gold. Believe it or not, a customer lamented Monday that he had all three on his team. A candlelight vigil has begun. He won a hard-earned bye in the first round of our playoffs. He will likely say, “buh-bye” this weekend. It just shows you how quickly a season can turn.
8. Sleepless In San Francisco – The Seahawks had a chance to put their season on playoff cruise control with a road win at San Francisco. Instead, the 49ers showed other teams how you attack Russell Wilson and grind them out. Seattle still has a one-game lead on New Orleans with a win in hand, so they’re still a virtual lock to secure the No. 1 seed and force anyone who is going to keep them from the Super Bowl to do it in front of the 12th Man. But, if anybody is capable, familiarity would say San Francisco is that team. A loss would have dropped the 49ers into a tie with Arizona for a wild card spot. Now, they seem locked and loaded for the playoffs and, if they win in the wild card round, a likely date for Round 3 with the Seahawks. When you have the chance to bury your top rival and you let them off the hook, bad things can happen. Just sayin’.
7. Drug Testing For Triplette – Jeff Triplette has become a laughing stock in the NFL among referees, especially for those who thought they were getting a gift playing against BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the playoffs. A week after his crew couldn’t decide between a first down and a fourth down, BGE was awarded a touchdown when it was clear he went down on the 1-yard line because he had his foot was grabbed by a defender. Not since Phil Luckett followed up mistaking Vinny Testaverde’s green and white helmet for a brown football by blowing an overtime coin toss on the Thanksgiving Day game between the Steelers and ended up deciding the game, has a head referee been so brutal. Luckett ended up losing his spot as a referee – moved all the way to back judge status. Don’t quit your day job, Jeff and give us back that white hat.
6. Stats Are For Losers – The Minnesota Vikings have become an epic fail this season in terms of losing games in the final minute. They’ve perfected it. I made plenty of cash on Monday, seemingly inexplicably bragging up the Vikings. The phrase, “Say what?” and “Oh, hell no!” were said more than once. Each time, bets were placed and you’re main C2 knew the answer to the question. Minnesota is the best bad team of them all this season. The record says that they’re 3-9-1. If games were 59 minutes long, Minnesota would be 8-5 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. Detroit would still be 7-6, but Chicago would be 5-8 and Green Bay would be 6-7.
5. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! – The Colts won the AFC South Division title Sunday despite backing in like a truck to a loading dock. They got owned by the Bengals, but, thanks to Tennessee gravitating closer to Jacksonville and Houston than the Colts, Indy found a way to moonwalk backwards into the division title. They’ve beaten Denver, Seattle and San Francisco, so they deserve a lot of respect, but they’re like the girlfriend on the episode of Seinfeld where she alternates between looking gorgeous and looking like a meth addict depending on the lighting. If the Colts are under a dome, they have a shot to advance. Seeing as the Colts will be the only dome team in the AFC playoffs, that ain’t good. When they look bad, they look real bad and could have a quick exit after limping to a division title by getting schooled.
4. Too Easy In the Big Easy – Carolina has been the talk of the NFC after rattling off eight wins following a 1-3 start. The national media was slurping Cam Newton in a fashion typically reserved for Tommy Boy, Peyton Manning and never-boring (or so they think) Drew Brees/Katrina angle. The Panthers and Newton had a chance to make a big statement Sunday night in New Orleans. There could have been a changing of the guard in the balance of power in the NFC. Newton and the Panthers made a statement, but, after getting slapped around by the Saints, the statement was that they have a long way to go in order to be a road killer in the postseason, which now looks like a guarantee.
3. Stealing a Win From the Steelers – Pittsburgh clawed its way back into postseason contention for the parity-laden No. 6 playoff spot in the AFC, but, along with the hapless Redskins, was the only team to lose at home on Week 14. Home teams were a glorious 14-2 Sunday, giving their fan bases an early Christmas present. At least the Deadskins were playing Kansas City, which has a habit of beating up the chaff of the league. But the Steelers lost at home to Miami, who should have been suffering in the cold. If only Mike Tomlin had done the Neutron Dance to keep Antonio Brown from stepping out of bounds on his way to the game-winning touchdown, the Steelers season might still be alive, instead of on life support.
2. Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves – The drop-off in one year in Washington has made it so Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan are at odds with one another to the point that it would appear that, when the disastrous 2013 season is over, one of them has to go. Since Daniel Snyder doesn’t sell any Shanny jerseys, you can figure out who the odd man out is. If they hire the Baylor coach, the inmates run the asylum. Either way, if Shanahan is out, RG3 is going to have a hand in hand-picking the new head coach. This has long-term impact that could resonate loudly for years.
1. Same Old Song and Dance – December means two things. One, it’s a month that most holiday celebrations take place, whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or something else. Two, Dallas sucks. With a chance to control their own playoff destiny, as they have done each of the last two years, the Cowboys not only lost, but pissed in a pair of white pants in public. Their dismantling by the Bears showed that the Dallas defense is about as bad as it gets and they’re more than capable of getting blown out. Now a game behind the Eagles with Philly heading to Minnesota, where players are already booking flights out of town Dec. 30, the Cowboys may once again be dead in the playoff water. Fire the General Manager. Oh, wait. Scratch that.