This column chronicles the ups and downs of the team drafted in the FFPC’s Terminator contest – one player from our roster must be eliminated each week.
This is why we play.
When you’re in enough leagues, it’s hard not to get a bit jaded, watching weekly results in terms of how it affects all your teams and not getting too high, or too low, with any outcome. Sometimes, you’re rooting for so many conflicting results, you don’t know what the hell you want to happen.
“Let’s see, if Zach Ertz scores nine more points, that’ll get me an extra Victory Point in my main dynasty league and earn me a bye in my home league. Shit, it’ll knock my Best Ball Championship team out of contention though. Oh, wait, I also need him to score 15 points for another team to knock out the team I’m contending with for a playoff spot. But if he does that, then I…. ahh fuck it. I’m gonna go grab a beer.”
The beautiful thing about Monday Night Football is that it distills all the conflicts to just one matchup. You have 20 hours between the end of Sunday’s games and the kickoff of MNF to figure out all the possible scenarios. At the end of the season, with championships on the line, you may have hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars riding on just one player. The adrenaline kicks in. You’re laser-focused on that one game, and the old, raw energy of fantasy comes rushing back.
And so it was for my Terminator squad. It all came down to the fourth quarter of the last game of the fantasy regular season. Thousands of opportunities for the players on each team, and yet victory hung in the balance on a few measly targets on a Monday night in early December.
This final week of the regular season illustrated the two distinct types of “sweat” in fantasy: The hope sweat, and the fear sweat.
The Hope Sweat
With the hope sweat, you’re down and you need your players to score. Every offensive play for your team you imagine a big breakaway play for a touchdown. If there’s time on the clock and your guys have the ball, there’s always a glimmer of hope that something big could happen. Sometimes you need a miracle, but you’ve seen miracles before, so you allow yourself to believe.
That was my condition entering Sunday’s games. Like I said last week, down by 50 points, I needed some big numbers from my top guys.
What this really comes down to though is Cam Newton and D.J. Moore. With a QB-WR stack on my team, I need them to go nuclear if I’m going to have any shot at winning.
I kept hoping they could connect for a touchdown that would push me to victory, but the Tampa Bay defense and Newton’s balky shoulder had other plans. Sometimes miracles come from where you least expect them though.
There’s a reason my opponent is in first right now, and it’s because his team is pretty damn good.
But this isn’t a week where “pretty good” will suffice for me. This is a week where I need a few of my players to bathe in the blood of their enemies. I need to watch the Giants postgame and see Odell Beckham Jr. gulping mead from Kyle Fuller’s hollowed-out skull. That’s the kind of week I need.
My team didn’t pillage the countryside, but my opponent’s team fell flat on its face. Pretty good was good enough. For the moment.
I went into Monday night up by 64.9 points. I needed to win by 49.7 points. With no players left to go on my team, and Alshon Jeffery and Jordan Reed playing for my opponent, it was time for the fear sweat.
The Fear Sweat
With the fear sweat, you’re in the lead and hanging on for dear life. Every offensive play for your opponent’s team is another chance for his guy to make a big play and put a dagger through your heart. It’s that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you watch the closer of your favorite baseball team walk the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. Every snap is agony.
In case you couldn’t tell, I hate the fear sweat.
The most terrifying pass of the evening came midway through the third quarter on an Eagles first-down pass from the Washington 5 yard line. Carson Wentz targeted Jeffery in the end zone for what could have been a TD if not for Josh Norman undercutting the route for an interception.
I may have dodged that bullet, but with TE-premium scoring, Reed in catch-up mode could have easily sunk me with a few catches for decent gains. The only thing that made this fear sweat tolerable was knowing that Mark Sanchez was the man trying to seal my fate. On a scale of Ryan Leaf to Tom Brady, Sanchez ranks somewhere around Jon Kitna in the fear sweat index.
And in typical Mark Sanchez fashion, he let his owner down.
After never having been higher than second in the standings at any point during the season, I eked out the championship by six points.
This is why we play.
And now I get to play for an even bigger sweat.
My weekly average was good enough to rank 23rd among all contenders heading into the final tournament, giving me a slight advantage over the tournament field of 120 teams, but well behind some of the juggernauts that were among the 29 other league winners. If I want a chance to have a Week 16 sweat for the $25,000, I’m going to need some of my lower owned players to hit big in these final three weeks.
Things are off to a good start.
Thanks to Derrick Henry’s unlikely obliteration of the Jaguars, for one brief, beautiful moment, I’m at the top of the leaderboard. Only four other teams own Henry – hell, I’ve been trying to cut his ass for weeks – so it’s a leg up on most of the field. It’s literally just one game into what is now a three week season though, so it ultimately doesn’t mean too much. That being said, if you want to win it all, you need a lot of little things like this to go right for your team.
Unfortunately, one little thing has also already gone wrong. While Matt Breida’s injury was a blessing in disguise since it forced me to hang on to Henry, there’s no such silver lining for Odell Beckham Jr.’s quad strain. My first-round pick will miss at least one game, and there’s not much reason to rush him back with the Giants out of contention. Breida was my cut this week, but I’m absolutely dreading how much weaker my team is going to look if I’m forced to cut Beckham in Week 15.
Despite all that, I’m technically in the lead right now with every other team looking up at me. This likely won’t be the case after even just a few minutes of play on Sunday, but for now, let the three-week fear sweat commence!