This is not my regular wrap-up post, because my matchup is not over yet. There is one player left to go in Monday Night Football between myself and my opponent, and the matchup is close. It could go either way.
Instead, I’m going to tell you the story of my fantasy day yesterday, taking you on the journey of how this nail-biter of a situation developed. And I’m going to lead off by doing the very last thing I want to do: revisit the UCLA game Saturday night.
This is for you, guys. I’m putting myself through this heartache for you.
Anyway, here we go.
Saturday night I got to go to my first football game of the season, UCLA vs. Stanford at the Rose Bowl. Stanford is an incredible team, and honestly, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to hang with them.
And then, somehow, we were.
For three and a half quarters, the Bruins were in the lead. We were controlling Christian McCaffrey, their future-Heisman-winning running back. We were keeping them out of the end zone. We were putting together scoring drives. We were up, 13-9, late in the 4th quarter, when it started going wrong.
We let them hang around, is the main thing. We had a chance to score and go up bigger, make it a two-score game with less than four minutes to go. But we dropped the ball (literally) and Stanford got the ball back, marched down the field like we weren’t even there, and scored a touchdown. All our hard work, all our amazing play, gone in an instant. A game we could have won, maybe even should have won over a usually superior team, became a loss in an instant. It was heartbreaking.
My fantasy matchup has progressed in a similar way.
First there was the Thursday night game. I’ve laid that one out already. At the conclusion of that, I was down, 35-3. I had more players left to go than he did, and it was by no means over, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. If I wasn’t afraid I was getting outplayed yet again.
Then, the first round of games started on Sunday.
I had four players up – both my WRs, my QB, and my kicker. And my opponent had four players up – his QB, a WR, his kicker, and his defense. I had more scoring potential in the positions I had active, and I expected to make up ground on him. Especially since I expected my QB to overachieve and his to underachieve.
But that didn’t happen. I sat at home, watching helplessly as his score kept going up and up and mine… just didn’t. His QB, Matt Stafford, had a banner day in a shootout-type game. Mine, Ryan Tannehill, threw an interception almost as soon as the game had started. He got back on track eventually, but he scored 18 points to Stafford’s 26. My WRs scored just 10 points between the two of them. His Broncos defense had a very solid showing.
The only crack in his armor was the performance of his active WR, Kelvin Benjamin. I was afraid of Kelvin Benjamin, having been burned by him already when he was on Team Coleman in Week One. He scored 15 points that week, and 22 the next week when I mercifully didn’t have to face off against him. But there he was again, ready to light me up once more.
Except he didn’t. He didn’t touch the ball all day. Zero points.
So that kept it close, after the first round of Sunday games. Except it didn’t feel close. The margin between me and DK had inflated from 30 points to almost 40. And my phone, helpfully, made sure I knew it with a score alert.
I felt very down, when I got that message. I knew I still had my biggest scorers to come, but DK’s lead felt insurmountable. I was mentally preparing myself to lose yet again, drafting my next post-defeat blog post in my head.
And then, the afternoon round of games began.
I had two of my RBs in that round. DK had his last two players, WR Eric Decker and TE Dwayne Allen.
And a funny thing started happening. Decker got almost no touches, in a Jets offense that got almost no traction all day. I wasn’t watching that game, but I’ve since learned that Ryan Fitzpatrick, their QB, threw six interceptions. Six. (Remember when I thought about streaming him? So glad I went a different way!) He wound up with one big reception, but that was it. 3 total points.
And Allen definitely made me nervous, because I was counting on Indy’s offense to score high – I needed Frank Gore to be productive for my own team. I needed their opponent, San Diego, to score high too, to benefit Melvin Gordon. I needed this game to be an offensive shootout. But if that happened, the likelihood was that Dwayne Allen, and by extension my opponent, would benefit too.
Except that isn’t what happened. Dwayne Allen only had three receptions, for 35 yards and 3 points. And Gore and Gordon each ran for scores and had 80 yards. 14 points for Gore, 13 for Gordon.
I got a new message from my phone. And it showed a gap that was still significant, but closing.
Even more importantly, all of DK’s players were done by this point. I had two more to try to close the gap.
But 21 points for two players is a huge gap. Not impossible. But I’d be relying on them both for big scoring games.
I thought my best chance was for Ezekiel Elliott, who I had in the night game, to rush for two scores.
He didn’t have a single TD.
But somehow, this didn’t doom me. Because the end zone seems to have been the only place he didn’t run to. He rushed for 140 yards and had another 20 receiving. He earned 16 points, without even a TD.
He’s a stud, by the way. I knew taking a rookie with my first-round draft pick was a risk, but so far it’s paying off.
So the gap narrowed yet again. And then, late last night, my phone gave me one more score update.
So I’m still behind. But I have one player left to play tonight, Atlanta TE Jacob Tamme. I specifically chose Tamme for his ability in this matchup. I streamed him, on purpose, to score big. I need 6 points from him to win, and he’s projected for 7. And in this offense, in this matchup, he can get there.
He could miss it, too. This isn’t over yet.
But it’s the middle of the fourth, and my opponent has been bucking the pregame predictions to be in command all game long. But he let me hang around with his poor WR and TE play. And now I’m in command of the ball, and I’m driving.
I’m Stanford here. And I can do this.
I know there’s a debate tonight, but I’m going to be watching Monday Night Football, holding my breath and crossing my fingers, waiting to see if I’ve squeaked out my very first fantasy football win.