By Frankie Reynolds
Well, gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. The fantasy playoffs have finally arrived, and honestly, the landscape hasn’t changed much since last year. Five of the six teams who made it last season made the dance once again (sorry Chad and good job Nate), and four have made it every single year. While the makeup of the teams who are in have changed, the consistency is still there.
Still, we can’t give too much credit where it isn’t due. Two teams with losing records got in, and the leader in points this season somehow missed out. In a way, that’s what makes divisions fun – it doesn’t matter how good you are; you’re going to need a little bit of luck to prevail. It’s also what makes them excruciatingly painful. I’m sure Chris knows a little bit about what you’re going through, Benny.
This is the last blog post of the year, which means this is also the final batch of power rankings. Seeing how this is the final post of the year, I’ll finally include myself for the first time since the pre-season.
- Jamie: Last year’s champ has as good a better chance than any to repeat. He finishes the season 11-2 and third in points overall. Not a bad way to follow-up a championship run. We’ve all basically known he was going to make the playoffs since week five or so, and now his real season begins. He gets the bye, but next week he’ll face either Kevin or Brandon, arguably the two hottest teams in the entire league. The road to a second ship in as many years won’t be necessarily easy, but hey, is it ever?
- Kevin: Kevin moves up to number two after scoring 134.9 and 164.4 in back-to-back weeks to round out the season. Wow, talk about momentum. His team is peaking at the right time, similar to Chad’s last year, and he’s now three wins away from the league’s first dynasty. The challenges that lie ahead? Brandon, Jamie, and – barring a major upset – Nate. Three of the four best teams stand in his way, but Kevin is also the luckiest person in our league. If anyone can do it, he can.
- Nate: Nate had a “bad” week to finish the regular season, “only” posting 101.7. It doesn’t matter; he still gets the bye, followed by a matchup against a team with a losing record in the regular season. There has never been an easier path to the championship, so for his first appearance in the playoffs, I’d say that’s a decent draw. Still, with a team like his, just making the championship isn’t the goal – winning it is. Is his team good enough? My answer is yes, but he’ll need to catch the winner of the Mexican division on an off-week. Not impossible, but not overly likely, either. A little luck could go a long way.
- Brandon: Brandon is in! He completes the comeback with a two-game sweep of his rival and his fourth straight playoff berth. But making the playoffs isn’t a tall task for this man – winning a game is. That’s right, Brandon has been one-and-done each and every year since this league started, and it’s not looking good this time around, either. His team may be hot, but Kevin’s is absolutely on fire, so it’s going to take a little something more to beat the two-time champ this week.
- Cordell: Cordell has definitely fizzled down the stretch, but he still has the talent to make a run. As it has been since the start of the season, he dons a boom-or-bust squad. Anything from 70 to 130 points is possible, so if he can string together three great weeks in a row he could very easily win this whole thing. If not, he could be facing a first round exit. There’s just no telling with this team, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
- Frankie: The worst of the playoff teams on paper, but a playoff team nonetheless. Honestly, after the year I’ve had, I’m just happy to have made it in. The team I’ve put together probably has a less than five percent chance at winning the whole thing – it will take a miracle just as great (if not greater) than what Chad accomplished last season, but at least I won’t be performing an embarrassing set of slam poetry this year!
- Benny: Benny, at least points-wise, is the best team in the league. A sweep by Jamie and two losses by a combined 0.3 points doomed him. If this was me, or Kevin, or Jamie, or Brandon, or Cordell, or even TL, no one would feel bad. But there’s something about watching a man who has never made the playoffs, who has lost the league and worn a dress to the bar before singing karaoke, miss out after being so close that makes your heart hurt. Ah, well, there’s always next year, Benjamin.
- TL: TL came close, but even with a win he wouldn’t have gotten in. This is the second year in a row where TL has missed the playoffs, and but the good news is that he shouldn’t have to fight for his life in the Fish Bowl this time around. His team would have been good enough to threaten at making a run in the postseason, so it should easily save him in the loser playoffs.
- Justin: This nightmare of a season is about to come to an end. Much like TL, he shouldn’t have to worry about losing the whole thing, but he, like Benny, is once more on the outside looking in. Better luck next year, Fudge.
- Chris: Chris and Noah are a coin flip for this tenth spot, but I’ll give it to Chris based on points. He actually scored more than me and TL this year and came very close to Justin and Cordell. But, just like every year, he was thoroughly outscored by significantly more than anyone else in the league. Still, this is as bad as it gets, Chris. Please don’t leave the league – we love ya bud, so just do us all a favor and stick it out for one more year to see if your luck turns around. The Fantasy Gods can be merciful.
- Noah: Side note, thank you for the past four years, Commish. You will be difficult to replace. And I know you’re contemplating leaving, too, but I beg you to reconsider. Give it another go. This league has to get shaken up eventually, right? As for your loser-playoff chances, I just don’t know. Chad has your number, and you’ll get him in the first round. After that, you’ll get the loser of Justin vs. Chris. Win that game and you’re safe. Lose, and you probably get Chad again… so just win and you’re good to go!
- Chad: The pre-season number one somehow finishes last, but will he lose the whole thing? Honestly, my prediction is no. He’s 2-0 in fish bowls and he has Noah’s number. Hmm…
MVP of the year: My MVP this year is David Johnson. Shocker, right? But not only was he one of – if not the – best backs in fantasy, he’s also the sole reason Brandon was able to slip in. It still hurts that I passed on him…
Bust of the year: This is a more difficult category, but I see three possibly candidates: Alshon, Gurley, and Gronk. The case for Alshon: He was injured in the beginning of the year, he’s suspended now, and he was mediocre in most of the weeks he played. For a second round pick, that is atrociously unreliable. The case for Gurley: He’s been a starter all year, so you’ve had to roll with him on a week-to-week basis. Whether you want to consider that a good thing or a bad thing us your call, but the fact is that he’s a low RB2 when he was drafted by many as the #1 overall back. Gurley owners roll with him every week hoping he’ll break out, but he’s yet to rush for over 85 yards. Believe me, I know better than most how much it sucks. The case for Gronk: He’s on IR now, he missed the first few weeks, and he was banged up in a few others. The Madden curse is real. If you drafted him (and it was probably with a high pick), you probably got four good games to show for it.
Manager of the year: There are a lot of good choices here. Really, every playoff team could be up for the award – Nate was 0-2 and made the playoffs, I started 0-3 and got in, and Brandon was 4-5 at one point before storming back. Kevin went from having an above-average team to a real championship contender with a few solid moves and Cordell made great managerial choices on a weekly basis while dealing with injuries and suspensions. But my choice is Jamie. After losing his second round pick in week one, he made some bold moves that paid off. His Zeke “reach” turned out being the best move of the draft, and his faith in guys like DeMarco Murray and Terelle Pryor paid off. Well done, James.
Jimbo of the year: It didn’t come back to bite him, but Brandon dropping Travis Benjamin after drafting him in the 10th round for a retired running back will forever live in infamy. We’ll probably never see any move so bold or brash made again.
It’s been a great year everyone. Good luck these next few weeks!