This matchup started on Saturday where Parkey was giving Castillo a glimpse of the disappointment to come with two missed FG's while Antonio Gates was turning back the clock with a big time Saturday night performance. The Antonio Gates Fantasy Bowl MVP prop wasn't even on the board this year as nobody expected this old timer to score 21.2 points and win the game's MVP award but Antonio proved that he isn't dead yet and was the best player on the field at the most important time for J.P. Sunday morning started off a little sluggish for both teams with Matt Ryan and Julio both getting some yards but no big plays while Castillo's running backs were held in check. Castillo has loved watching his backs dominate all season long and when they both faced off on the NFL field on Sunday, it meant Castillo could focus on the Chiefs-Steelers game and watch Bell and Charles work their magic on the same gridiron. Instead, Castillo got a mediocre game from Bell and a bad game from Charles as neither player could break a big play and both combined for a very disappointing 18.9 points. J.P. was tuned into the Falcons game and with a very nice matchup against the Saints, Ryan and Julio racked up a lot of yards but failed to pull away with only one passing TD from Ryan, which was not caught by Julio. The Huckleberries weren't doing much early on Sunday but neither was Dirk Diggler and as we rolled into the 2 o'clock games, the outcome was very much up in the air.
The eyes of both owners shifted to the Cowboys-Colts game where our league's MOP, Andrew Luck would need to put up Star Wars numbers for Castillo while J.P. was hoping that our league's MVP, DeMarco Murray would stay healthy and productive. The Cowboys dominated the clock early and even though Murray wasn't going bananas, he was at least on the field and given opportunities to succeed. Andrew Luck and the Colts team in general looked asleep all day as their defense was getting manhandled while the offense wasn't moving the ball one bit. Midway through the second quarter it was obvious that Luck didn't have it that day and when Murray ran in a one yard touchdown plunge, it pretty much meant the end to Castillo's season. Tre Mason got into the endzone for J.P. while the Rams defense had their worst game for Castillo with -7 points and the rout was officially on for Dirk Diggler.
Castillo was the latest owner to hold onto hope when the afternoon games kicked off and when he saw that Luck, Watkins, Donnell, and the Rams D were still to play, he knew he could still pull this thing off. Instead, these players combined for 10.9 points, which is probably about 50 less than what Castillo was hoping for. It's baffling to think that this fantasy team that scored 49.7 points in the Fantasy Bowl was the same team that scored 197.1 points four weeks ago. That's a 147.4 point difference.
I'm sure if you would've told Castillo that Andrew Luck would score 0.2 points, be pulled from the game, and be outscored by Matt Hasselbeck, he would still be laughing at you but fantasy football is a game that gets the last laugh most of the time. I'd like to make this Fantasy Bowl game story more about J.P. and how his team stayed solid throughout but the difference in this game, like pretty much every other game in the playoffs, was decided simply because a few players crapped the bed for the losing owner. To J.P.'s credit, his team scored over 100 points and they got some solid games and barely any clunkers, which is about all you needed to survive this year in the playoffs. J.P. will etch his name once again into our championship trophy while every other owner tries to resist the urge of punching their computer or swearing off fantasy football forever.
Sure, we all knew that anyone could win the cup once the playoffs began but seeing J.P. up on the podium again is something I'm sure every other owner in this league is sick and tired of seeing, especially knowing J.P. scored the 8th most points in the regular season. Dirk Diggler was the latest in a long line of 6 seeds to make the title game (5 in a row) and as we look back to the most recent Fantasy Bowls, we'll see that there's really no correlation between regular season success and playoff success, although it is encouraging to see the 1 seed get to the finals three out of the last four years.
So where does this leave us when we look back at 2014 and think ahead to 2015? Of course we love playing fantasy football because it combines football, gambling, and friends but 2014 was a swift kick in the nads for anyone that got their hopes up in the playoffs. Time after time, there was plenty of opportunities for an owner to make an exciting come from behind win and time after time, that owner saw his best players come up shorter than Spud Webb. This playoff season was a comedy of errors as our top three point scorers (Luck, Rodgers, and Manning) combined for 8.9 points in their three losses and once again taught us that even the best and most reliable players can ruin your fantasy season. The winner of our league made the least amount of moves all year and also started an inactive player in the semifinals, which just speaks to the randomness and stupidity that is the fantasy football playoff season.
So how do we fix it? Do we even want to fix it? Part of the fun is knowing that seeds 1-8 all have a shot at winning in the big dance and that almost anything can happen, which can be fun and infuriating. Is this the best way to determine a champion? I personally say no but I also don't know if there's ever a way to ensure that justice will prevail in a fantasy football league.
At the end of every season, 11 team owners are pissed off about how they lost and they try to conceive of ways to make our league a little better than the year before if poosible. I do this as well and I've come up with some playoff ideas to ponder once we start thinking about the 2015 season. These ideas range from radical to minuscule so lets get to it.
1. Make this a rotisserie league. This format would determine the truest champion. Basically the standings are determined by points scored and nothing else. It's not head-to-head so you don't worry about getting fucked over, you just want to score as many points each week. The problem is that only 2-4 teams are in the hunt towards the end of the season, which means most of the league would check out. This will probably never pass because it's on the boring side, is too radical a change, and takes out some of the fun and all of the luck.
2. Make our playoff matchups last two weeks long. This would also cut down on the fluky weeks and would allow the stronger team to advance in more cases than we see now but it definitely wouldn't eliminate the luck altogether. This probably wouldn't work either because we'd need to reduce our playoff pool from 8 to 4 teams and would need to start the playoffs in week 13.
3. Have the top 6 teams make the playoffs with the 1 and 2 seeds getting a first round bye. This would help the top teams avoid a first round upset and reward them a bit for being the best for the first 13 weeks of the season.
4. Have the top six teams in the standings make the playoffs automatically with the 7 and 8 seeds going to "wildcard" teams. The wildcard would go to the two remaining teams that scored the most points and not just the 7th and 8th place teams in the standings. The thinking behind this is to include any team that might've gotten fucked over with the points against as they drop down the standings during the season.
5. Allow the highest playoff seeds to determine their matchups. I like this idea a lot as the highest seed can handpick who they want to play each round. So for this year as an example, Zach would pick his round one opponent and wouldn't just be forced to play Chris because he was ranked 8th at the end of the regular season. Maybe Zach picks Chris, maybe he doesn't but he can look at the matchups and determine who he wants to play. His decision could ultimately screw him over, too. Once Zach picks his opponent, the two seed would handpick his opponent, and so on. I think this would add a lot of fun in terms of strategy and would also offer up a reward for the higher seeds.
6. Reallocate the pot money. We could start putting more emphasis on the regular season and points champs and less on 1st and 2nd place of the playoffs. We've done this already but could continue this trend.
7. There are other ideas like flex spot, kick return points, and using an auction to get free agents that don't have a direct impact on the playoffs and we'll talk about those ideas and any others that you guys come up with as we plan the draft next year.
I know everyone who doesn't use initials for their name is flaming pissed now and that feeling of anger and injustice will subside by the time we pick our teams next year so maybe we'll just be happy with sticking with the usual format next year anyways. I know this is a silly game that should be fun but when you commit $150, pride, and countless hours following this shit, it would be nice to reward the owners with the best teams/players a little more, in my opinion. The difference between winning no money and $1,000 is so fine a line that it's best to not even think about it usually. If Peyton doesn't suck against the Bills in round 1, Zach wins that week, defeats Castillo in round 2, and at least makes the Fantasy Bowl. If Chris doesn't see Chip Kelly pull McCoy around the goalline and lose three touchdowns, he advances and defeats J.P. in the finals. If Jerome gets .6 more points in round 2, he advances and beats Castillo in the finals. I know those are just the breaks in fantasy football but every time I see Jordy Nelson drop a pass, it'll remind me of the $1,000 I should have in my checking account and I'm sure there are a lot of owners that will look back and think of a couple breaks that would have filled their D12 stocking full of cash this Christmas.
Fantasy football. One minute, you're gliding along, having a fun time. Then one little slip and WHAM! your fantasy hopes fall off a cliff.
That's it for our time in 2014. I know this went a little long as usual, but you probably should've expected that by now. Sorry this post and a couple before this one had a depressing feel to them but man, did the playoffs suck the soul out of most of us. It was a pretty depressing season of NFL football with more violence off the field than on it, an aimless commish, and a bunch of crappy NFL teams. Plus, the Seahawks and Patriots look primed to meet in the Super Bowl. Fuck us.
Thanks again to everyone for humoring me with these weekly ramblings and for being a fun bunch of dudes to play fantasy football with. Remember to consider who your 2015 keeper might be and if you can think of any ideas for the next year, my office is always open. I hope you guys have a swell holiday season and I hope the Broncos can stop the trend of us getting our hopes up for football only to see them get squashed like a ladybug.