Citizen Kev And Playoff-Bound Bengals

by Kevin Burton

   One last night on pins and needles.  Now back to reality.

   My 17-week stint as a fantasy football owner has ended. Another week, another nail biter.  This final game a 128-122 win in the third place game of the USA Legends league. 

   For next weekend’s slate of NFL games, I have resumed my role as citizen Kev, plain old fan, watcher of games, manager of nothing more serious than my supply of Doritos.

   My big Sunday decisions go back to is it pizza or wings, pizza and wings, what have you. God bless Broncos running back Javonte Williams, but I am done worrying about his knee for a while. 

   When this whole fantasy football thing started I asked a question on Page 7 (“Can Fantasy Football Save NFL Sundays?”) Aug. 6. Well yes, it can and did.

   I was almost completely tuned out of NFL football, a sport I really used to enjoy.  But the competition, analysis, planning, researching and just dumb luck of fantasy got me re-engaged in a big way. And, it ends at a time of celebrating a Bengals Division title! 

   I started this season by saying Cincinnati should have drafted offensive lineman Penei Sewell and not wideout Ja’Marr Chase in the first round. I thought Sewell a foundational piece for later division titles. Now Chase is all-pro and has just set a record for receiving yards in a single game by a rookie, 266 yards against Kansas City Sunday.

   Sewell has almost as good a rating on Pro Football Focus as Chase does. But of course he hasn’t had anything like Chase’s impact.

   Not draft Chase?  With thinking like that you wonder how I won any fantasy games, let alone 11.

   Going into last week the Bengals had two games remaining, needing one win to clinch the division. They played first against the streaking Chiefs and also had a game with the last-place Browns.  The fact that they clinched against the hottest team in football tells me that just maybe they will handle their business when they get to the playoffs.

   In the fantasy playoffs, I didn’t handle mine. I lost my semi-final to the eventual league champion by 43 points. If I had to lose I was glad it came that way, not by losing by two or three points because I picked the wrong running back. So I didn’t get a title but did avoid a winter’s worth of “if only.”

   This was my first go at fantasy. I figured I would do well to stay out of last place.  But things went surprisingly well during the regular season and I found myself like the Bengals, two games to go needing one win to make the playoffs. I lost my penultimate game though, leaving it to the last game to clinch.  That game I won by 13 points, too close for comfort.

   For last night’s third-place game, my opponent was Rob Weigand, the commissioner of the league and the one who got me into fantasy football in the first place. In our regular season meeting, I won by four hundredths of a point.  In my short fantasy career I haven’t witnessed anything as brutal.

   So last night I led by 23 and watched as his last player, wide receiver Diontae Johnson of Pittsburgh, ate into that lead.  A second-quarter touchdown by Johnson ensured that the game would be in play to the end.  We ended up winning by six points.

   I will never turn down a win, but I think Rob deserved that game because of the agonizing loss in the regular season.  Guess poetic justice had the night off.

   Winning third place means I get my small investment back. Each team in our league put in $20 dollars.  I’m not sure the exact breakdown of the winnings, but that means nothing to me.  I am just glad to be a playoff manager in my first try.

   I know some people put big money into things like this but I never will. My co-manager, blog proofreader and wife Jeannette will see to that. She already has the power to call for an intervention if I sign up for seven teams, like my brother did. 

   I bet you anything that with all this experience I have gained, having been through the fires, I will draft a much better team next year….and fall flat on my face.  I’ll be 4-11 like the Yahoo people said I would be this year.

   That is if I play next year. Should God grant me heath enough to live that long and play (no guarantees in life and fantasy) I will need to spend less time on the game, tone it down to an obsession rather than an OBSESSION in all caps.

   But that seems a long way off. For now I’m riding with the Bengals and maybe getting a little more sleep.

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