Football Karma

There’s so much I want to tell you that isn’t about my own team, but I guess it’s not fair to keep you in suspense. So I’ll start off this post by going over where I stand in Week Five’s matchup – although it isn’t quite over yet. But after that is when things will start to get interesting. We’re going to spend most of our time this week breaking down a different matchup between two of my former competitors. Why should we do this? Because there’s been drama in the league this week, y’all! Brace yourselves, because grown men have been throwing tantrums in the best possible way. And revenge, it seems, is a dish best served on Sundays.

But that comes later. First, my matchup with Smile$ Julio:

w5-results-shot

Just admire my team for a moment there. Tom Brady did everything you’d expect Tom Brady to do in his first week back from suspension. Is this what it’s like to have a reliable, elite quarterback on your team? Because I could for sure get used to this. Brady went for 29 points, which as it happens is more than I had at the quarterback position in the first three weeks combined. He’s a superstar, and he’s earning all those points for Team BlueAndGold, and I’m happy as a clam about it.

Then there’s Ezekiel Elliott. Through Week Four, his point total had gone up every single week – 11, to 12, to 16, to 20. It didn’t seem like there was much room for it to go higher, which was fine, because it seemed like he’d plateau around a 15-point average and be reliably stellar. And then this week happened, where he could not be stopped by a defense that one would have thought would have been able to stop him. 28 points? That’s actual insanity. I couldn’t perform that well in a video game, and Elliott did it in real life. It’s unbelievable, in that it is literally difficult to believe unless you are looking at the real numbers.

It wasn’t all roses, however. Rudolph underperformed – but against an admittedly strong defense, and I won’t be deterred from starting him again in the future. A.J. Green (5) and Julian Edelman (3) both had weak showings – but Randall Cobb (10) and Jamison Crowder (9) on my bench did not, so maybe we get more matchup-critical on my suddenly robust WR corps in the coming weeks. The Rams defense (3) did what I brought them on to do, which was overperform the Texans defense (0), but I’d still have liked them to score more for me. Still, at the end of the day, I have 99 points and a very, very solid showing.

But it isn’t over. Smile$ Julio has also had a solid showing. Roethlisberger also scored 29 points in the QB position, so Brady’s huge day didn’t give me an edge so much as keep me in the game. My running backs were monsters, but his were reliably above-average, so again, I didn’t get very far out ahead of him with those standout performances – and even if I had, he made it up on me by his one WR that’s played so far scoring more than my two WRs combined. As it stands now, he has one player yet to play on Monday night, while all my players are done. I have a 20-point lead on him, which should be insurmountable but isn’t really. His last player is Mike Evans, a Tampa Bay WR who absolutely could earn the 21 points Mr. Julio would need to overtake me. Do I think he will? Not likely. But he could. I’m not calling this a victory yet, not until the curtain comes down on Monday night’s action.

But I feel good about it.

Now, for the drama. We had trade action in the league this week that set the league on fire. I’ve mentioned before how I get dumb, lopsided trade offers all the time, trying to part me with my best players for garbage that I could get off the waiver wire. There are a couple of offenders in sending trades like this, but the biggest by far is my former Week Three competitor, !!!!! Dream killer!!! (He’s changed his team name now, but let’s keep calling him DK, because why not.) I’ve never taken one of these trades, but I do wonder what his strategy is in continuing to offer them – week after week, day after day, sometimes literally minutes after I’ve just refused the last one. Does he think I’ll have a stroke and forget how to evaluate players, and suddenly these trades will make sense to me? Does he think my finger will slip and I’ll accidentally press “yes” instead of “no”, and the trade will go through? Does he think that if he offers the same trade enough, I’ll somehow be persuaded that it’s equitable after all and agree? Does he think that because I’m a woman, I either don’t know enough about football to know these trades are stupid (even though I demonstrably do know, since I’ve rejected them every time) or that I’ll be passive enough to just agree to give him what he wants?

I can’t answer for his motives; I can only speculate. And neither can I answer for the motives of the two other women in my league, who have both made terrible trades with him. Last week, he was able to get Julio Jones from one of them in return for Eric Decker. Now, this might not have been so lopsided – Decker’s a good player, if not the standout that Jones is – except that Decker was also injured and expected to miss time. But when/if Decker comes back, he will have value. So this trade was bad but not egregious.

The one he made this week, with the other woman in the league, was egregious. He gave up Markus Wheaton, a WR with a tiny role on Pittsburgh’s offense, and Jimmy Graham, a good-but-not-great TE with Seattle (who had a bye this week) in return for David Johnson, widely considered the best running back, if not the best all-around fantasy asset, in the league. Bench guys, for the best player at a key position.

The rest of the league promptly went apeshit. Leading the hue and cry was DK’s current opponent, none other than my Week One foe, Team Coleman (who has also changed his team name since, but we’ll keep calling him Coleman to keep everybody straight on who is who). It was Coleman’s position, a position with which the rest of the league (including the commissioner) agreed, that this trade gave DK an unfair competitive advantage. He’s amassing the best players in the league for peanuts. Why have a draft if one guy’s going to funnel off all the talent for himself? DK’s position is that he didn’t force anyone to trade with him, so all should be fair. Maybe that’s true – maybe the other two ladies had good, solid reasons to make the trades they did. Neither one of them have come out to justify their actions, or what value they saw in giving up some of their best players for what looks to the rest of us like nothing.

I also don’t know for sure if DK makes these insane offers to every team in the league, and it only happens to be the two other women who’ve taken him up on them, or if he only focuses these unfair and predatory trade offers on the ladies. He’s certainly made other trades with the men, although those have tended to be more equitable. And I’ve never even bothered trying to negotiate an actual trade with him of value for value; I’ve just been so turned off by his ridiculousness that I’ve dismissed everything he’s sent me out of hand. So it’s possible that if I did push back and negotiate, I’d end up getting fair value from him.

All I can really know for sure is that he’s tried to part the women in the league with their best players for nothing, for his own benefit. Again, I can’t prove that’s anything more than a coincidence. But my hackles are raised.

Note that I’m also not saying he should make trades that benefit others and hinder his own team. But trades need to at least be equal, and at best be mutually beneficial. I did make my first trade this week, giving away Gary Barnidge and getting Robert Woods (the current primary receiver in Buffalo, now that Sammy Watkins is out injured) in return. I have TE solved, and looking at Barnidge only made me mad, so I’m glad to be rid of him; on the other hand, the guy I traded with needed a TE to start this week since his usual guy was on a bye. And I have a lot of WRs, but none of them have been so stellar that they can’t be sat week-to-week in favor of somebody with a better matchup. The more good WRs I have, the more flexibility I have. And it’s the only position I need to cover in this way, as at every other position I’m either confidant in my strength or confidant in finding competent coverage on the waiver wire when necessary. So this trade was mutually beneficial (even if I’m not super stoked to welcome a former Trojan onto my team – maybe as his role in Buffalo grows I’ll be able to trade him on yet again for even more value).

Anyway, the rest of the league joined in condemning DK’s David Johnson trade, but there was no real putting the toothpaste back in the tube. The commissioner has tried to pressure him to give Johnson back, but since Johnson played on Thursday, his roster was locked and there was nothing anyone could do at least until after this round of games. Which means Coleman has to face off against this superteam, and he’s not been shy about complaining about it. (I’m sympathetic to him here, but I’ll admit that I’m also enjoying the tantrum he’s throwing. It’s a little bit like a masculine version of a Real Housewives fight: entertaining, yet also sad.) The commissioner has promised to remove DK from the end-of-season rankings, so even if he “wins” he won’t be proclaimed the winner, but that won’t scrub the loss from this week off of Coleman’s record. (Nor will it from any future competitor if he winds up keeping Johnson. Luckily I lost to him fair-and-square already.) Johnson went off for 29 points on Thursday, so Coleman’s been staring at a deep, almost insurmountable hole.

Except…

coleman-v-dk-w5-shot

He’s doing it. Coleman, on the right, is beating DK, on the left, superteam be damned. His kicker scored over 20 points, which shouldn’t be possible and yet somehow is, and his own running backs were studs themselves, and he’s got a 17-point lead right now over DK headed into Monday night.

Now this matchup, like my own, isn’t over. DK has two players yet to go, and Coleman has one, and any or all of those three could have a stratospheric score. Or, equally likely, could bust entirely. So Coleman could still find himself out in the cold. But he’s in a strong position right now to serve a heaping helping of karma right in DK’s face.

And that, my friends, is why they play the games on the field instead of on paper.

Ain’t football grand?

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