I am good at fantasy sports. I have played baseball twice, and finished third and first. I have played football in 3 leagues in the two years prior to the present, and finished 4th, 5th, and 1st (all 10-team leagues). This year, I have gotten 5th in one league (10-man), just lost a semifinal in another (10-man; the focus of this blog entry), and am in the championship in a third (12-man), with a 20-point edge in projection. So clearly I know what I'm doing, at least more so than the average fantasy participant.
I have never had a result so confounding than I just wrapped up last night -- the semifinal I lost.
Start with my team. I had a very good draft (except, obviously, my first pick). I got the #2 slot, and since the #1 guy picked AP, I took LT. Why the hell wouldn't I? At second? It was an easy choice.
After a plethora of adds and drops, I ended up with the following team for the playoffs (with the beginning of the year starters in bold):
QBs: Tony Romo, Matt Ryan
RBs: LaDanian Tomlinson, Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, Pierre Thomas, Sammy Morris, Justin Fargas
WRs: Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings, Eddie Royal
TE: Dustin Keller (drafted, and regretting drafting, Kellen Winslow)
K: John Kasay (didn't draft a kicker)
DEF: Washington/Miami (drafted NYG)
I'd say that's a pretty good team. One thing to note is scoring idiosyncracies: For example, receivers and running backs earn 5-point bonuses at 100 yards. That helps explain some of the scoring that will follow.
The problem with my team ended up being that the team was too good. Because in this league, the positions were set as QB, WR, WR, RB, TE, W/R, K, DEF. Only 8 spots, and . So literally every single week, I left at least one 20-point RB performance on my bench. Still, I topped the league in points by 150. I ended up fifth in the regular season because of matchup ridiculousness. (About 4 of my 6 regular season losses came in the week my opponent scored his regular season-high in points. Figures.) But I still made the playoffs.
Why did I not win this league (or lead it in points by 200-300)? Two letters: L-T. I have never been so exasperatedly disappointed in one human being in my life. And it's not even his fault -- Norv Turner (makes me wanna vomit, just looking at his name) forgot (or never knew -- my guess) how to runs plays, and the offensive line forgot how to run-block. Amazing how a team can be so effective against a pass rush, and not be able to open so much as a black hole for a running back. But I digress...I lost because of LT.
You can't bench LT when he plays Indianapolis' run defense. You can't bench him when he plays Atlanta's run defense. You can't bench him when he plays Kansas City's defense (twice). Why? I benched him once this season -- against the Raiders, before it was known indisputably how bad their run defense was. He burned me for 100+ yards and two touchdowns. I still won the matchup, but the backfire had an impression on me.
So the beginning of the end was Week 10. This is when I should have realized LT was done, at least this year. I started him over DeAngelo Williams against the Chiefs, who'd just allowed the Johnson-White monster to go insane on them. LT was projected for over 27. He scored 11.7. My bench: DeAngelo - 25.2; Mewelde Moore - 22.5. And on it went (okay, it didn't actually go on until Week 12):
Week 11: Sat LT vs. the Steelers. LT proceeds to put up the highest point total he would reach for the rest of the year. I started DeAngelo and Turner, who scored 29 and 20, respectively.
Week 12: LT (Indy) - 11.4. My bench: DeAngelo - 25; Fargas - 16.5.
Week 14 (first round of playoffs): LT (Oak) - 15.1. My Bench: DeAngelo - 26.2; Pierre - 27.9. Somehow, I still won that playoff matchup. Then came...
Week 15 (the last straw): LT (KC) - 13.4. My bench: Turner - 29.2; Pierre - 26.6; Sammy Morris - 22.7.
Would I have ever started Morris, even against Oakland? No. But I asked and asked and asked -- do I start Pierre Thomas at Chicago? He's been so good lately, with most of the reps. My answer, and those given to me: No, he's still sharing with Bush, Deuce is not suspended. Not a good play. The same agony occurred Sunday, over Turner -- could he do to TB what the DeAngelo-Stewart monster did? (I convinced myself, no, the Panthers' scheme did that.) But what about LT's last garbage game against KC? My answer: They're still one of the bottom-3 run defenses in the league. He can't suck against them twice in one year. (Statistical note: KC has allowed 155 RYPG, on a 4.9 YPC, and 22 rushing TDs. LT's numbers against them this year: 117 yards, 3.2 YPC, 1 TD. SICKENING.)
So I played LT. He can't possibly do anything but dominate the Chiefs. Besides, look what happened to Turner earlier this year against Tampa. You can't go back and start Pierre, and the argument against LT is the same as that against Turner. At least LT is facing a bad run defense that stifled him earlier this year; Turner is facing a good run defense. This was my reasoning for leaving LT as a starter. It did not pan out.
I lost by less than four points. The difference between Turner and LT was roughly 16 points. (I also started Washington's defense, which inexpicably allowed Cincinnati to score 20+, over Miami's -- that poor choice also would have won me the matchup.)
The difference between my team and a championship in this league was LT. Can you imagine if I'd had Peterson instead, who normally went #2 overall? Peterson outscored LT in this league by 65. Last week (when it mattered), he outscored LT by more than 10. That also would have won me the matchup.
Come to think of it, I could have PASSED on my #2 pick, and my team would have been better off. I never would have had to think about starting LT. I had that dilemma every week (note to Jamey Eisenberg: About 6 weeks ago, it was time to start including LT in your "start/sit" feature). When I sat LT, it was the right decision. When I started him, it was the wrong one.
I had three running backs I could have started over LT last weekend that would have put me in the championship. I started LT, and now I'm out.