by Kevin Burton
There may never be a more heart-felt but quieter airing of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” than the one at my house Monday.
My spirit was sky high because L.A. Rams running back Cam Akers had finally stopped running the ball, and the team just in front of me lost its game by 2.34 points, and my K&J Sonics team slipped into the fantasy football playoffs.
The song’s volume however was low, because my loving wife Jeannette was asleep. It had been a rough day for her, but even on a good day, fantasy playoffs news can and must, wait till the morning.
So today’s post is multi-faceted, offering the reader a handful of helpful lessons. It starts with that free marriage advice I just gave you. Next, it goes to a “never give up” message.
I kind of did give up though.
At the end of last week’s play, the Sonics were in fifth place, one game behind the fourth-place team. That team (I will call them my lose team because I needed them to lose) was playing against a team, (my win team) whose manager appeared to have abandoned his team. In other words, that team truly had given up, stopped looking for good players to replace those who were injured for example.
That made it unlikely that my lose team would actually lose.
Then came Thursday. My lose team had George Kittle of the 49ers at tight end. He exploded for two long touchdowns. At that point I put the Sonics out of my mind completely.
For those of you who don’t speak fantasy (or Kev), “out of my mind completely” means I checked in on status once in a great while rather than obsessing over it, constantly looking up statistics.
But I did check on things after the afternoon games Sunday. To my astonishment, my lose team, was losing! They were about 7.8 points behind. Both my win and lose teams had one player left for the week. My win team had Washington wide receiver (and Ohio State man) Curtis Samuel, playing the Sunday night game. My lose team had Akers, who would play Monday.
So I spent the entire Sunday night Giants vs. Washington game begging Washington to get the ball to Samuel.
Then of course, the first two times Samuel touched the ball, he lost yardage.
Fantasy football is not for the faint of heart.
I have never considered acquiring Curtis Samuel because while valuable to his real NFL team, he doesn’t have the consistent excellence that would make me want to draft him in fantasy.
But now, due to circumstances beyond my control, Samuel was, for the moment, the most important player to my Sonics team.
He was not exactly a key weapon in the Washington attack. He did next to nothing all night. But he did have a fourth-quarter catch for 27 yards with 1:47 to go.
“That helps,” I said to nobody. Remember, Jeannette was asleep.
He finished with six fantasy points, pushing my playoff cushion to 13.8 or so, now only Akers standing in my way.
As the Monday game wore on, Akers kept gaining yards, cutting my win team’s lead down. It was nine points at halftime. He was still doing well in the second half, killing me softly, as my cushion dwindled to seven points, then five.
Two decent runs got my lose team to within 2.34 points of my win team.
What fantasy players call the “game script” eventually saved me. The Rams fell behind by 12 points and the strategy called for them to pass, not to handoff to Akers.
That 2.34-point lead held up. I was and am, pleasantly shocked. I was fully satisfied with two teams in the playoffs. Now I have three.
And that 27 yards Samuel got on that chunk play Sunday night? That got him – me – 2.7 fantasy points. In other words, without that catch, no playoffs for the Sonics.
One more lesson from this post: never apologize.
Did I mention that the Sonics have a record of 7-8?
Have you ever heard of Tom Brady? His current team stinks for sure, but it stinks a little bit less than the other teams in the NFC South. So Brady and the Buccaneers are likely to ooze into the playoffs, like my Sonics.
I guarantee that Tampa Bay, or Atlanta/New Orleans/Carolina, whoever wins the division and gets a playoff berth, will not be apologizing for it.
Neither will I.
It’s funny that the Sonics’ season should boil down to two such non-descript players, Samuel and Akers. Sometimes these things play out like a bad movie script.
And that’s why I love fantasy football.
In other news, my K&J Vipers won their league by three games, only to lose starting quarterback Jalen Hurts to injury right before the playoffs.
And that’s why I hate fantasy football.