We Are (Almost) The Champions

We’re here. It’s Week 16, the game to end all games. You’ve been through a lot to get here, or you are cursing the two finalists in your league(s). After biting off more than I could chew with five leagues, I made it to two title games this season.

Game one is my local keeper league. The league started in 2000, and year one was an auto-draft. Mark Brunell was my first ever draft pick, but thanks to Eddie George and Warrick Dunn I made it to the championship game. Kordell Stewart was my Week 17 waiver pickup (remember Week 17 title games?) and I prevailed. I was in three of the first four title games, losing in the fourth year thanks to a total team collapse (I’ll never forget that, Daunte Culpepper). After that, it took me nine years to return to the big game.

I faced my longtime nemesis Chuck in that game. Chuck and I have been (mostly) playfully bantering since I watched the Titans lose to his Rams at his house 15 years ago. Two times Chuck’s needed to beat me on the final week of the season just to make the playoffs, and he did in spectacular fashion, winning the league title both times. Two years ago, I fell short, thanks in part to Peyton Manning handing the ball to fullback Lance Ball instead of my Knowshon Moreno.

I feel the weight of 12 years since a title. I feel like I have to win to justify my status as a writer of the fantasy footballs. Plus Chuck will be merciless if he beats me again in the “big game”.

League two is a Fanium league. I face raconteur Matt Rittle, who’s fresh off making a few bucks in the Millionaire Maker. I led the league in scoring all year but Matt beat me twice. It’s a 2 QB/2 RB/4 WR/2 TE league, simple in its complexity. I’ll be starting at least one waiver-wire QB. I’m looking for a little bragging rights here.

Hard to believe, but I have just one “overlap” player. It’s Antonio Brown.

Here are some tips to surviving Week 16:

It’s one game: You just have to outscore your opponent. For one week it’s totally cool to be the 11th-highest scoring team when your nemesis is #12. Plus there are only two teams playing, so that’s ridiculous.

Waiver-wire shenanigans: You’re going to pick up players like Joseph Randle or Harry Douglas, guys who probably weren’t on anyone’s Top 300 heading into 2014 drafts. Know what your “hated rival” needs and react accordingly. I’m leaning toward RB this week because WR is deeper.

Change is weakness: Maybe look at your lineup one more time than usual, but if you have a routine that’s worked, stick with it. Don’t be afraid to “stream” QB and TE if you’ve had success doing it all year.

Focus on the now: It’s all about what a player does this week, not where they rank in seasonal scoring. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Joseph Randle outscores LeSean McCoy. Let’s be honest, you’re not in the big game if you’ve been starting McCoy all year.

Enjoy the moment: What, this is supposed to be fun? Random crap happening is what fantasy football is all about, and you have to embrace that. Talk smack with your leaguemates, because next week it’s going to be really quiet.

Here’s something to share with your league heading into the big game. Yes, there’s explicit language, just like at the Patriots game.

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