The wildcard weekend certainly lived up to its name despite the dearth of fantasy scoring around the NFL this weekend (unless you were a LeVeon Bell owner). The margins for error were small and every lineup choice was crucial. In a weird twist of fate both of our wildcard teams were heavy favourites against our third and fourth seed division winners, but as Burns said “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley”
SanFran-Gordon 69ers 76.54 @ 75.12 Tweedbank Pirates
The SanFran-Gordon 69ers entered their matchup with Tweedbank Pirates as early 8 point favourites, but the loss of star receiver Julio Jones changed everything leaving the Pirates as slight favourites with the emergency addition of Breshard Perriman. Perriman was described as “having no value to teams in the fantasy playoffs”, but of course value is in the eye of the beholder!
The 69ers decided to roll with a 2 RB/3WR split with surprise starts for Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor and the Lions DST over Tyreek Hill, Antonio Gates and the Steelers who all had superior matchups. Both 69ers RBs (Murray and Hyde) and their QB (Luck) faced tough matchups with Vinatieri and Baldwin rounding out the starters.
The Pirates had the benefit of a settled lineup with flex the only one up for grabs. In the end, the upside of Dion Lewis won out over Justin Forsett although Cobb and Coleman were also contenders. Stafford started at QB with Gurley and Jennings leading at RB. The WRs picked themselves with Hilton balancing Luck’s 69er output and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. Kelce, Santos and the Vikings rounded out the rest of the starters.
Pirates were on the board first with Kelce making a healthy 10.10, but Santos could only muster a disappointing 3 on Thursday Night Football.
The early Sunday games helped maintain the Pirates lead with Hilton offsetting Luck, but Fitzgeralds brutal 1.2 in a monsoon in Miami would have caused concern if it hadn’t been balanced by the 69ers Pryor anonymous 0.3 outing. Further pain was lessened with Reed managing a paltry 1.0. Stafford produced a decent outing for the Pirates at 16.42. The defences also squared off in the early games with the Pirates again having the edge +3, but this was balanced by Vinatieri’s advantage over Santos (+2). With some tough matchups to come for the 69ers things looked good for the Pirates.
However, the late and night games on Sunday finally got the 69ers back into the tie with Carlos Hyde and DeMarco Murray producing the goods with a 21.2 position swing. The tie rested on the Monday Night matchup between the Ravens and Patriots although the Pirates could have confidence from a 2 point cushion and an expected heavy workload for Lewis.
Of course, “Belichick hates your fantasy team” and unfortunately for the Pirates, the Patriots changed their normal game plan against a tough run D and spent most of the evening pounding with Blount rather than using their more dynamic RB. Lewis saw minimal touches and produced a paltry 1.9. That was enough for Perriman to break open the game with a 47-yard sideline catch to win the game for the 69ers (76.54-75.12) and set up a grudge match with 2-time champion Jaguars.
Kelsae Avengers 57.3 @ 92.76 Pilton Panthers
It’s a game in which every GM not in the playoffs felt Stuart’s pain and everyone still in the playoffs breathed a sigh of relief as the high-flying Avengers crashed out.
The Avengers were early and heavy favourites in this game with a 16 point advantage. Analysis backed this view with the Avengers scoring more than 100 points in 10 of their 13 regular season games and averaging a dizzying 115 points over the last 5 weeks of the season. In contrast, the Panthers had broken 100 points only twice during the season and averaged just 89 points over the final 5 weeks of the season.
But when it goes wrong in fantasy it goes wrong spectacularly. Both teams put out their best line-ups although the one question mark with the Avengers was their heavy reliance on Seahawks in evening matchup against the Panthers best player Jordy Nelson (Packers).
Both teams put out their best line-ups although the one question mark with the Avengers was their heavy reliance on Seahawks in an evening matchup against the Panthers best player Jordy Nelson (Packers).
The game got underway well for the Avengers with Latavius Murray posting an excellent 16.3 points on Thursday Night, but an ominous 11 point game from the Chiefs DST kept the Panthers in touch…however, things went downhill quickly from there.
The early Sunday games started badly for the Avengers and they found themselves facing a very large deficit as Cousins, Jackson and McCoy all posted big numbers for the Panthers as Newton, LaFell, McManus, and critically, David Johnson all came up small for the Avengers. The Panthers could even afford the error of starting Gillislee over Tevin Coleman as they took a 21 point lead to the evenings crucial matchup between Seattle and Green Bay.
The lead would have been worrying for the Avengers, but with the Mike Evans facing the Saints and the Seattle trio of Rawls, Jimmy Graham and the DST they were expected to claw back the Panthers unexpected early lead. In fact, Seattle were 3 point favourites despite being the road team against the Packers.
What happened next probably doesn’t need repeating. The Packers destroyed the Seahawks at Lambeau with Jordy Nelson scoring 10 points more than all 3 Seahawks combined and with Mike Evans making a paltry 4 points against the #29 pass defence it was up to Panthers K Mason Crosby and his 8 points to apply the coup de gras on the Avengers wonderful season.
The Panthers face the Kelso 187’s in next week’s semi final.