East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
An Indifferent God of an Arbitrary World
It's hard for people to entertain the idea that their lives have no meaning. That horrible trauma you suffered recently? It had no purpose. You were just unlucky. It wasn't meant to be, and you won't learn from it. In fact, it will prevent you from ever being the person you wanted to be. There is no redemption. Your dream is dead. Better luck next lifetime.
If that sounds harsh, well, then you haven't played fantasy football. It's not like real football where teams gain valuable experience from playing on the biggest stage and coming close, experience they can take into next year. In fantasy, if you lose, then that team you drafted, sculpted and worried over is gone for good. It's existence is wiped out - as if it never was. It was but one possible permutation of players among hundreds of billions to which you became fruitlessly attached and which you were forced to muck prematurely. Better luck next year.
Fortunately, as I write these words, I'm thinking not of myself, but of my opponent over whom I had an 8.16 point lead heading into Monday night in the prestigious and extremely important RotoWire Steak League. I was out of bullets, but he had one player left, Eagles' defensive end Trent Cole. Our league awards one point per tackle or assist and three for a sack. Cole had three tackles and a sack in the first half (7 points because the sack also counts as a tackle), and I was pretty sure I was toast. Cole was flying around the ball, on runs and pass plays, and had hit Ken Dorsey several times just as he released the ball. He was making my adopted Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas look awfully slow, which even the announcers pointed out, and announcers are always loathe to criticize a Pro Bowl player. Cleveland was down multiple scores and would have to drop back to throw. Another half sack, or at least another couple tackles was inevitable.
But as I watched the third quarter run down, panicking on every pileup for signs of No. 58 being involved, my one-plus point lead was still intact. With one quarter to go, I was now almost even money as top defensive ends typically don't make more than four or five solo stops per game.
In the fourth quarter with the game out of hand, I didn't see Cole on the Eagles' line, but the camera rarely shows all four D-linemen in the same shot. Maybe he was moving around. But the team had removed Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook for good, so maybe they also took out Cole. Whatever the case, he wasn't heard from again.
While I savored my victory (in a meaningless and arbitrary world, power and conquest are everything), I have to admit I felt a twinge of regret... if Cole had gotten just one more tackle in the first half, my margin would have been .16, and my opponent would know the worthlessness of his existence with soul-crushing certitude.
Oh well, I'll just have to content myself with reaching the finals.
The Pass Interference Loophole
To belabor the semi-final Steak League game, I never really never should have been subjected to the torture of watching Cole abuse Thomas and hoping that my adopted quarterback Ken Dorsey would get rid of the rock. (Thank you for throwing the pick six rather than taking the sack).
The reason is I had Devin Hester and Greg Olsen in the Thursday night game, and both should have racked up big points but for pass interference by the Saints defense. The second Hester PI was especially frustrating because Hester was so far behind the defense, only a horrendous underthrow by Kyle Orton made it even possible. But even worse was the PI on one of the final plays of regulation on Greg Olsen which wasn't called. Not only did that cost me a big head start in a couple leagues, but it sent the game into overtime which resulted in a push against the spread rather than a cover for the Bears who I backed. Setting aside my personal stake in that call, if what happened to Olsen wasn't PI, then there's no such thing.
Pass interference is a strange loophole in fantasy football where the team gets credit for making the play, but it doesn't help the players involved. We could change the rules to accomodate the skill of a receiver drawing the flag, but no one I know has ever suggested it. It wouldn't be difficult to do - you'd just add on the exact yards generated by the penalty. But because we've all accepted the arbitrary and Godless nature of fantasy we just write it off as one more thing among hundreds that can screw you. Kind of like global warming, nuclear proliferation, the impending Supervolcano, etc.
The Master Vs. The Student
Nnamdi Asomugha has shut down virtually every top receiver he's faced this season, allowing just eight receptions for 133 yards and no touchdowns in 14 games. But on Sunday, he faced his mentor, and Randy Moss caught three balls against him. (That would be three of the eight all year, though Moss's two touchdowns were not against Asomugha).
Things to Take Away From Week 15
Beating the Book
The Texans covered and won outright (not that we get extra credit for that), putting us at 10-5 in this forum. We're 112-104-8 overall.
Cardinals +8.5 at Patriots
This line seems way too high on its face - after all, the Cardinals are a playoff team that's more or less played as well as the Pats for most of the year. But the Book is begging us to take the Cardinals, and we're going to resist for a few reasons. First, the Cardinals don't travel well; second, they're a warm weather team heading east for an early game in the cold (that's like a 10 am game for them - though I can't be bothered to check whether Arizona is on PT or MT this time of year, so maybe it's 11). Either way, it's an adjustment. And third, if weather is a factor, (and there's always a chance it will be), that could neutralize Arizona's biggest weapons in the passing game. Back the Pats who roll.
Patriots 31 - 17
We were 6-10 in this forum last year, but 127-120 on the season overall. From 1999-2007 we're 1184-1018 (53.8%, not including ties).
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Surviving Week 16
Last week, our top three choices (Eagles, Colts and Jets) came through, but our fourth, the Redskins, lost. It's worth noting that we changed our minds about Washington on Thursday and bumped them out of our top five in the full Survivor article.
This week there are no layups, but we'd take the Patriots first, and if you've used them, then probably the Texans. Houston would be a borderline playoff team if Matt Schaub had remained healthy all year, and while Oakland might give them some trouble, we'd rather roll the dice on that matchup than on the reeling Broncos against the Bills, or the Saints on the road against the desperate and winless Lions. We reserve the right to change our minds before the full article comes out Wednesday night.
Article first appeared 12/17/08