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High Stakes Journal: Week 16 Sweat

It’s funny to consider the absurdity of this hobby sometimes. Elation and agony, all tied up in some arbitrary set of rules that assign number values to yards gained, balls caught, and touchdowns scored, which are linked to a sport all with its own arcane regulations and idiosyncrasies.

Was this the guy who was trying to win the $250,000 FFPC Main Event title? Wasn’t he in second place or something going into the final week? Why is he … Uh oh. He’s getting all philosophical and “What’s it all mean, man?” and “big picture-y.” That must mean his team didn’t do well.

Take last Friday, for instance, when we put together our lineup. Cam Newton at home against the Bucs: no-brainer, great matchup. A well-rested Ezekiel Elliott at home in a must-win against a Seattle defense that had just given up four TDs to Todd Gurley: so juicy. Mark Ingram at home against Atlanta: another gimme. DeAndre Hopkins: always reliable. Rob Gronkowski at home vs. Buffalo? smash time. The Baltimore defense at home, in poor weather, facing a Colts team with nothing to play for: yes, please.

Didn’t see Gurley on his list. Did his team have Gurley? He’s probably saving the big Gurley reveal for later.

Our main debate was Latavius Murray at home against the Packers or Devin Funchess versus the Bucs. There were numbers flying around our text message group about Funchess and his targets since the return of Greg Olsen and Murray getting valuable goal-line carries, and I’m pretty sure I even tossed in some data I got from the RotoViz GSLP app. This decision carried the entire weight of whether we’d be winning $250,000. The four of us who run the team together decided on Murray, possibly because none of us wanted to be the dissenting voice that cost his team a quarter-million.

But Murray had only 75 total yards and a catch. He had three straight goal-to-go carries and couldn’t get in. This isn’t looking good, bro. Just get to the part about Gurley emerging unburned from the fire like Daenerys Targaryen, carrying your team in his loving arms.

Finally, the games. The Ravens defense started things off with a scoring line that totaled … two sacks. Murray was the right play, which just goes to show you what kind of week it was. (Giovani Bernard, the third-best RB for the week, was on our bench, but he was never a realistic option since a healthy Joe Mixon started the game.) Sunday was a day of frustrating near-misses, as Tom Brady sailed a TD pass over the head of an open Gronk, who later dropped a ball in the end zone he probably should’ve caught even though he drew an interference flag. The Cowboys failed to give it to Elliott twice at the goal line. An Ingram carry inside the 10 was botched by a bad exchange from Drew Brees.

And … no Gurley. I knew it. Nothin’ to see here, folks! Keep moving!

The what-might-have-been continued on Christmas. We were the only team anywhere near the top of the leaderboard that started Nelson Agholor, who barely missed a tipped pass in the end zone that, had he caught it, would have been worth $2000 for our team. Such is the craziness of watching the leaderboard in real time when something as simple as a converted extra point can mean thousands of dollars. Our total was our second-lowest of the season, and the fewest we’d scored since Week 3.



Alas, we didn’t have Todd “Stormborn” Gurley, First of His Name, Father of Dragons, Breaker of Gains, whose eight TDs and 123.1 points may have been the greatest three-week championship run in high-stakes history. Put into perspective, Gurley accounted for more than 20 percent of the top-scoring team’s points during weeks 14-16. LeSean McCoy was the fourth-best RB during that span, and Gurley had nearly doubled his production. Ingram, the eighth-best RB, had less than half of Gurley’s points.



Our ninth-place finish was the best we’ve ever done. The sting comes from entering the week in second and dropping, rather than, say, starting from 20th and moving up. But only three teams in the top 20 didn’t have Gurley, and we were the highest finisher. So out of non-Gurley teams, we were No. 1!

At least, that’s what I’ll be telling myself until September.

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