(Vance McDonald contributed to week 16’s weirdness, Courtesy Getty Images)
Grinding through a long fantasy football season is only worth it in the end. Sure, the fun of setting your lineup and navigating trades in a fun pastime, but true fantasy fulfillment is only reached through winning a championship.
Although many people (including myself) set themselves up to bring home a first-place trophy, the fluke that was week 16 hindered far too many fantasy owners from reaching fantasy nirvana.
After reaching the playoffs with the number one seed and winning my first game in the playoffs to reach the championship, I was feeling pretty confident.
That probably was the case for many of you reading this.
The problem is, however, that many had to suffer through one of the most poignant weeks of fantasy football, in one of the most cursed seasons that has come to be in a very long time.
Many owners battled their way through injuries of Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles, and Keenan Allen. Others sifted through the waivers to replace busts like Eddie Lacy, Jeremy Hill, and Dez Bryant.
After all our hard work, our fantasy lives screeched to a halt after setting up our team for fantasy glory.
My mood is bitter, as is this article. I’m basically going to use this article to vent to fantasy owners who are diving deep into the feels after a regretful second place finish.
In a PPR dynasty league, my lineup had battled through injuries of Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles, and Arian Foster. Even with those chinks in my armour, I still had a killer roster for my championship.
I was lucky enough to start Ben Roethlisberger, DeAngelo Williams, Devonta Freeman, Antonio Brown, Eric Decker, Rob Gronkowski, and Stephen Gostkowski. I also decided to leave Julio Jones on the bench (a crucial mistake).
Who would’ve thought that a team of Kirk Cousins, Tim Hightower, Jerick McKinnon, Allen Hurns, Doug Baldwin, Vance McDonald, and Shayne Graham would come out on top to the team above?
You could’ve had the top scorers at each position in 2015, and still lost to the team above this week.
Week 16 was bonkers, and quite frankly, I’m mad about it.
To see how crazy the championship week really was, let me give you a Start ‘Em/ Sit ‘Em guide that would’ve sent me to the nut house had I released this prior to Thursday Night Football.
Quarterbacks To Start:
Kirk Cousins will throw for 365 yards and four touchdowns on the road this week. Cousins has thrown for over 300 yards on the road just once this entire season, and hasn’t thrown for more than one touchdown in any games in which he hasn’t played on his home field. That in mind, still expect to see Cousins score 32.2 points while losing a point for kneeling the ball with six seconds left in the first half.
Although Brandon Weeden has lost his last 11 starts and is 5-19 in his career as a starting quarterback, expect him to get back on track this week. He’ll throw for 200 yards and two touchdowns, while adding a rushing touchdown en route to a win over the Titans.
Also consider Sam Bradford and Brock Osweiler to carry you to a championship.
Quarterbacks To Sit:
Ben Roethlisberger may have a fantastic matchup against one of the worst secondaries in football this week, but leave him on your bench against the Ravens. For some reason, Big Ben will only throw for 215 yards and two interceptions and the Steelers will lose to Baltimore.
(Benching Big Ben probably never crossed any fantasy owners’ minds this week, Courtesy USA Today Sports)
As an elite fantasy quarterback, Tom Brady will look to bolster his numbers and playoff positioning against the New York Jets. Shy away from the future HOFer this week, though. He’s only going to score 11.14 points and will throw just one touchdown.
Leave Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers on your bench even though your championship life hangs in the ballots this week.
Running Backs To Start:
Even though Adrian Peterson will see his normal workload, start Jerick McKinnon this week. It is certainly gusty, but I have a feeling he’ll put up around 89 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Giants.
Although Frank Gore has failed to reach double-digit scoring in eight of the last ten games, start Frank Gore. Even though he’ll probably be wheelchaired into the stadium, I can see Gore scoring two touchdowns and adding 95 total yards this week.
Oh, and I heard you’re worried about which Buffalo Bill running back to start. Pfff, don’t worry about it! Start them both of course.
Running Backs To Sit:
Chris Ivory has been pretty consistent this season, but starting him this week will be a huge mistake. He’s probably going to rush for around 38 yards and will have four receiving yards. I don’t see him scoring either.
A hot commodity on this week’s waiver wire, Cameron Artis-Payne is better off unowned this week. Even though he’ll see plenty of work with Jonathan Stewart out, Artis-Payne will uneffective this week. I don’t expect anything more than 56 total yards this week.
Forget about starting Matt Forte and Doug Martin this week, even though they could go off for huge numbers in any week (except week 16, of course!)
Wide Receivers To Start:
You mean to tell me you’ve never heard of Dontrelle Inman? Nonsense! This Charger wideout will chalk up 82 yards and one score on Thursday night. 14.20 points is a solid night, especially for someone who won’t be started by anyone in championship week.
It’s not 2013, but don’t tell Pierre Garcon. He’ll play like he did two years ago, and have 80 yards and a touchdown. I know it sounds risky, but he’s bound to have his second double-digit game of the season sometime, right?
Josh Norman isn’t even that good. Start Julio Jones with confidence, and leave Eric Decker on the bench if you’re experiencing that conundrum.
Wide Receivers To Sit:
Are you dull? Why would you start Antonio Brown in the biggest week of your season? He’s obviously going to have just 61 yards on seven catches. Leave the Pro Bowler out of your lineup this week.
After scoring exactly 65 points in the past three weeks, don’t even think about starting Ted Ginn Jr. this week. He’ll only have one catch for nine yards, and I have a feeling he’ll aggravate his calf before the first half ends and be out for the rest of the game.
Playing star wide receivers is so last week. Leave Demaryius Thomas, Sammy Watkins, and Larry Fitzgerald out of your lineup as well.
Tight Ends To Start:
I know you haven’t had a good feeling about playing anyone from San Francisco, but I have a good feeling McDonald will put up a quality day. He should score one touchdown and have 61 receiving yards on the day.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been injured all year, but Sunday’s game against Chicago will be one for the craftbook for this tight end. 60 yards? Yep. One touchdown? Boo yah.
I can’t pronounce his name, and neither can you. But all you need is your thumb to insert Michael Hoomanawanui into your championship lineup.
Tight Ends To Sit:
Gary Barnidge has been a breakout player in fantasy football this season, but he’s not even that good. I mean, what guy that just turned 30 is named Gary anyway? Sit the Barnyard Dog, as he’ll only score 4.70 points this week.
Julius Thomas has resurrected his season in recent weeks, but he’ll have to wreck fantasy owners’ worlds this week with a 12 receiving yard performance. How do I know? Well, I promise.
So there you have it, folks. The theme for week 16’s championship is to bench your stars, and pick random players out of a hat.
I’m stuck with a second-place finish this season, and if anyone has any similar outcomes, I feel for you.
Let’s sulk together.