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East Coast Offense: 2008 East Coast Offense-Week 16

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

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

  • The Giants need to adapt to life without Plaxico Burress

    Even though Burress was only modestly productive this year, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride acknowledged that was largely because defenses were double-teaming Burress even more than they did last season, and the effect was to open up the running game and leave other receivers in one-on-one coverage, often with safeties or linebackers. Now that teams are able to gameplan for an offense without Burress, the Giants need to get creative. Brandon Jacobs, who should return, will see eight in the box, and New York needs to make teams pay for that either by taking shots down the field, or getting a playmaker like Ahmad Bradshaw more involved. Otherwise, they're going to have to win like the Titans, Bucs or Ravens, and not the dominant team that won in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Arizona and crushed Baltimore at home.

  • The 49ers have turned the corner under Mike Singletary

    Playing on the road and without its best offensive player, San Francisco outgained the Dolphins by 70 yards and dominated time of possession. They lost the game, but San Francisco is no longer a league doormat, and I'd be surprised if that doesn't carry into next season. (Assuming they don't make me look like an idiot in St. Louis this week).

  • Tarvaris Jackson never should have been benched

    The Vikings with Gus Frerotte have about as much upside as the Titans with Kerry Collins - only Tennessee is more likely to have a home game in the playoffs. But had Jackson developed, the team had a chance to be far better. (Not unlike the Titans and Vince Young, though in Tennessee's defense, Young got hurt and wasn't mentally up to the job, so it had no choice). Minnesota could luck out with Frerotte's injury though.

  • The Cardinals are the NFC version of the Broncos

    Both sit atop the league's worst divisions, and both have one-dimensional passing attacks and questionable pass defenses. The Broncos are probably worse, but Arizona's lackluster loss at home to the Vikings makes it hard to see them advancing in the playoffs.

Things to watch for in Week 16

  • Will the Steelers knock off the AFC's other physical bully (Tennessee) and secure home field advantage in the playoffs? (The Titans are missing Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch)

  • Will the Giants find a solution on offense against Carolina in the other game for conference supremacy.

  • Will the Ravens defense handle the Cowboys on the road in a must-win game for both teams?

  • Who will dominate the battle of Ohio?

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