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High Staked: Title Town

Veteran high stakes fantasy football player Monty Phan chronicles his season.

For all the talk about metrics and strategy and whatever else that goes into being “good” at fantasy football, there’s still that pesky factor that no one can ever seem to quantify: pure, dumb luck.

For the fourth straight year, the FFPC Main Event team I own with three friends was playing for our league title, with $4,000 on the line. We sent a lot of group texts to each other trying to figure out which of Jarvis Landry, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Lockett, Chris Godwin or D.J. Moore to start in our two flex spots – vigorous debate with all the life-or-death urgency one would expect from such an important decision. Because, you know, if we nailed it, it’s because we are “experts,” but if we guessed wrong, it’s because we got “unlucky.”

Then actual luck kicked in: Our opponent lost Kareem Hunt and replaced him with Matt Breida, who aggravated an ankle injury during warmups and barely played. While nearly his entire lineup underperformed, we got huge games from Todd Gurley and Travis Kelce, and we split the difference on our flex spots, guessing right on the highest scorer, Godwin, but missing on Moore, who scored the fewest. Again, the luck factor: Despite our massive score, had we played that same opponent one week earlier, we would’ve lost.

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We’ve now won our FFPC Main Event league title four straight seasons. I’ve never won more than two championships in a row in any of my other leagues, against much less savvy competition. I’m at a loss to explain our good fortune, so I’ll just assume the obvious: We’re totally experts at magic football.

With the playoffs wrapped up, we move to the three-week Main Event championship round, where last year we placed ninth overall. This year we begin the contest in 63rd place. Everyone starts off with their average score from the 11-week regular season, and every week, each team gets the points from its starting lineup for that week. Teams are sorted by total points.

The blessing of having such a deep bench begets the curse of having to decide which guys to start; because points are so valuable now, if you’re lucky enough to ascend somewhere near the top of the leaderboard, the wrong start/bench decision could cost you thousands of dollars.

Adding to the drama this year is Hunt’s sudden release, eliminating what was the eighth-best RB from the competition. Another huge blow is the loss of James Conner for (at least) Week 14; Conner is currently the fifth-best RB and the anchor of a ton of top teams.

Last year, Gurley went absolutely nuts in weeks 15 and 16, and the top eight finishers in the championship round all had him on their rosters. This year, it’s possible the opposite might be true: If the Rams lock up the NFC’s top seed early, they could rest Gurley for the playoffs, screwing those teams he has carried all season, including ours.

Wouldn’t that be just our luck?

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