Week Sixteen Preview: Underdog!

Speed of lightning! Roar of thunder!
Fighting all who rob or plunder!
Underdog!
UNDERDOG!

underdog
Actual picture of me this week.

Okay, so, maybe it’s not exactly fighting a supervillain. But I am the underdog, both for this week and for the finals matchup as a whole. And lest we forget, my opponent isn’t exactly a saint in this fantasy football thing. He hasn’t been accused of paying off anybody for his lopsided trades, but he has made some doozies. He’s not outright corrupt like my last opponent was, perhaps, but robbery or plunder both seem like words that fit.

For fun, I went through my trade records to see all the BS trades he offered me over the season.

Brace yourselves: it’s a long list.

  • September 2: My Julian Edelman for his Anquan Boldin. His last draft pick for my third. Oooookay. That was gonna happen.
  • September 13: My Julian Edelman for his Devonta Freeman and Antonio Gates. This wasn’t terrible, in hindsight – Freeman had a great season – but we didn’t know that then. And I didn’t need another RB anyway.
  • September 13: My Julian Edelman for his Devonta Freeman and Eric Ebron. In case I wanted a different TE in that package.
  • September 14: My A.J. Green for his Devonta Freeman. Again, I was RB rich, and we didn’t know then that Freeman was going to be a beast – he was supposed to be in a committee with Tevon Coleman. (Which he was, they just both scored huge for a while there.)
  • September 17: My A.J. Green for his LeGarrette Blount and Devonta Freeman. Since I wasn’t interested in one RB, he offered me two. Two good players, sure, as it turned out, but that wouldn’t have helped my lineup. I had RBs; I needed WRs. I’d have to have been a special kind of stupid to give up the WR I did have for RBs I didn’t need.
  • September 17: My Julian Edelman for his LeGarrette Blount, Devonta Freeman, and Will Fuller. I would have robbed him, as it turns out, by accepting this, but again, I did not need running backs.
  • September 27: My Julian Edelman for his Will Fuller. Cuz he realized that offering me all those RBs as part of the trade would be too much. Okay, fine. But Fuller was not and is not a player near Edelman’s level. Fuller was still on his team until this very morning, by the way, even though he hasn’t scored in double digits since Week Four. I would have cut him ages ago.
  • September 28: My A.J. Green for his Will Fuller and Dwayne Allen. He’s persistent, give him that. But… I’m not insane. Hard pass.
  • September 28: My Ezekiel Elliott for his Eric Decker. Right as Decker was injured. Sure, I was gonna give up my best player for a guy about to get moved to injured reserve.
  • September 28: My Julian Edelman for his Eric Decker. In case I was just worried about the price for his injured guy being too high.
  • September 28: My Melvin Gordon for his Will Fuller and Dwayne Allen. Okay, he went after a new player, but with the same combo of garbage I’d already refused?
  • September 28: My A.J. Green for his Eric Decker. Which I was pretty sure by then he’d already offered me. Reviewing the records shows me that no, he hadn’t offered me this particular iteration yet, but he’d offered Decker for an inferior player and I’d refused. So I was gonna go for this one… why?
  • September 29: Not a trade with me, but this was the point at which he acquired Julio Jones for Eric Decker. I’ve been told by the guy who accepted the trade that he didn’t realize at the time that Decker was injured. I’ve made sure to research any player that’s offered me in a trade ever since, even if I think I already have a handle on who they are and what their performance is like.
  • October 5: My Melvin Gordon for his Matt Forte and Markus Wheaton. Wheaton was also about to go on injured reserve. And Forte’s an inferior running back to Gordon.
  • October 5: My Ezekiel Elliott for his Matt Forte and Markus Wheaton. Before I’d even had a chance to refuse the last one. Just in case I wanted to give up an even better running back for the same garbage package.
  • October 6: My Ezekiel Elliott for his Matt Forte and Jimmy Graham. Little did he know I’d never accept a trade with a Seahawk in it. Although at least this was close to equitable.
  • October 6: My Melvin Gordon for his Matt Forte and Jimmy Graham. Again, so eager to part me with any of my good players that he offered me the same trade for a different player before I even had a chance to refuse. Which I guess is a strategy?
  • October 6: Not a trade with me, but this was the point at which he acquired David Johnson (for Jimmy Graham, Markus Wheaton, and Kamar Aiken – only one of whom is any good and certainly isn’t David Johnson good). This trade was widely decried by the rest of the league as massively unfair.
  • October 11: My Ezekiel Elliott for his Matt Forte and Kelvin Benjamin. Again, he didn’t know I wasn’t interested in any Panthers, but maybe he did know that Benjamin’s best performances were behind him and that’s why he wanted to get rid of him. Doesn’t matter. Not interested. And I’m not interested in Matt Forte, which he also hadn’t seemed to figure out yet.
  • October 12: My Ezekiel Elliott for his Matt Forte and Jeremy Kerley. Owning a piece of San Francisco’s offense is a terrible idea, and I did not bite. Especially not for my best guy. Although I wouldn’t have given up my worst player for this nonsense.
  • October 14: My A.J. Green for his Jeremy Kerley and Giovanni Bernard. I was hurting for TEs during this particular week (Rudolph’s bye), but not bad enough to give up the only reliable WR I had at the time, for any price. Especially not for a bye cover.
  • October 24: My Ezekiel Elliott for his Kelvin Benjamin and Brandon Marshall. Marshall never lived up to who he was supposed to be in the preseason. By this point in the season, that much was clear. So I was gonna part with my stud for him why?
  • October 24: My Ezekiel Elliott for his Kelvin Benjamin and Tyler Eifert. Eifert was just coming back from injury and no one knew how he would be. He’s tuned out to be quite good, but who knew that then. And I was confident I had a reliable TE situation – I certainly wasn’t going to part with Elliott for such a question mark.
  • October 24: My Ezekiel Elliott for his Matt Forte, Kelvin Benjamin, and Brandon Marshall. Just throwing names I’ve already refused at me in the hopes that I’ll say yes. Just throwing trades at me until my finger accidently slips onto the “yes” button?
  • November 14: My Julian Edelman for his Emmanuel Sanders and Robert Woods. I had already cut Woods once by this point. And Sanders is wildly inconsistent. I had and have no interest in relying on him.
  • November 15: My Marcus Mariota for his Panthers D/ST. A quarterback for a defense. And not even a good defense.
  • November 15: My Marcus Mariota for his Emmanuel Sanders. A high-level quarterback for a mid-pack wide receiver, at best, with an inconsistent role in a bad offense.
  • November 15: My Marcus Mariota for his Andy Dalton. A very good quarterback for a less-good quarterback. I really do not understand him at all.
  • November 22: My Marcus Mariota for his Emmanuel Sanders. Cuz a week later I was suddenly gonna see what a good idea this trade was. I actually countered this one. I’ll give you Mariota… for your best wide receiver. Julio Jones. (He did not bite.)
  • December 1: The trade deadline. Finally, blessedly, peace.

There. Are you exhausted from reading all that? Cuz I’m exhausted from pressing “no” on dumb trades all the damn time.

So. If you didn’t have a picture of who we were dealing with before, you certainly do now. He’s relentless. He’s determined to hoard all the best players. And he’d certainly much rather dupe his opponents out of players than play fair.

And he thinks the championship is his already. As I mentioned, he’s changed his team name to YOU WANT IT!!!? COME GET IT. I do see where he’s coming from with that. His team has been dominant for weeks now, and I’m hurting from injuries. It’s no secret that I will be…

underdog-2
UNDERDOG!!!!

Except, funny thing.

w16-lines-shot

Yes, he’s favored, but not by nearly as much as I’m sure he hoped he’d be. Not by nearly as much as I’d feared he’d be, either. In fact, this is almost a statistical tie.

How exactly did this come about?

w16-preview-shot

I’ve got a strong lineup of players facing good matchups, that’s how, while he does have reason to be nervous about the matchups of some of his players. David Johnson is going to be good against Seattle, but can even he be great? Probably not. Ditto Jordy Nelson against Minnesota. Ditto the Broncos defense in Kansas City.

You’ll also notice he picked up Melvin Gordon’s backup to play in his flex. There’s an argument that this is a good move, that Kenneth Dixon is going to get the touches Melvin Gordon had and replicate Gordon’s production. Here’s the thing though: he’s not as good as Gordon. I have no doubt he’ll be productive, but not to Gordon’s level.

I do wish I had Gordon this week though. He’d be matched up against Cleveland. It would be score city for me.

Sigh.

I could have A.J. Green, who is expected to return but not be 100%. But I don’t trust what less than 100% A.J. Green will be. Especially not when I still have the guys I have to play instead. I might risk it if this were midseason, but this is the finals. I need more reliability than that.

So yeah, sure, I’m an underdog. But I’m not without confidence. I’m not without reasons for that confidence. And I’m not without the ability to turn this week’s faceoff into a strong platform for next week’s ultimate victory.

We’re here. It’s on.

Let’s go.

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