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Two Minute Warning: The Final Bell

December 18, 2008 | By Derek Jones | comment on this post

Last Call

With the holiday season in full swing, thoughts arise of yuletide greetings, overindulging on egg nog, ducking shopping duties with your girlfriend to watch football and gorging yourself on food.

However, the holiday season also marks the end. Week 16 is here and for most leagues that means the end of the fantasy football season. A voyage that begins for most in August amidst beer drinking and consuming copious amounts of pizza ends by Christmas time.

It’s a bittersweet time because most teams are finished by now. So, if you’re an owner fortunate enough to still be setting a lineup, the final moments before championship week are here.

Thus, when Week 17 arrives there isn’t a lineup to set or a player to yell at because he keeps running out of bounds (yeah, I’m talking to you Reggie Bush and Steve Slaton) or because he might show disturbing psychological behavior somewhat similar to a world renowned chess champion. It’s all over.

Football is football and it’s fun, but after training our mind in the wacky world of fantasy football for five months, the detox process is very difficult.

As some random ’80s hair band said years ago, “there’s a whole in my heart and it can only be filled by you.”

I’m 99.9 per cent sure that song had nothing to do with fantasy football, but it still best describes my feelings toward it. Now, I have to do other things with my life, like pick up cooking, or go to graduate school or learn how to play chess or read a few books.

August 2009 is a long way off. When the clock strikes triple zeros in Chicago on Monday night, the march towards summer for fantasy football fans begins again.

Ten Things We Learned in Week 15

1. The New York Giants will not make the Super Bowl: I know it’s chic to jump off the Giant bandwagon, but keep one thing in perspective as we approach the NFL playoffs — two of the biggest reasons the Giants defeated one of the greatest teams in NFL history in Super Bowl XLII was great offensive line play and Plaxico Burress’ ability to create mismatches in the secondary. Heading into Week 16, they don’t lack both and that pass rush isn’t quite as ferocious either.

2. The Tennessee Titans will not make the Super Bowl: It was a nice story but as the Jags found out last season, this isn’t 1974 anymore and you can’t literally run your way to the Super Bowl. At some point, the quarterback and receivers must saddle up and make plays. Kerry Collins and company failed to do so last Sunday in Houston.

3. If fantasy owners have players facing the Steelers or Ravens, man up and sit your players: So, turning on the television after work on Sunday and seeing the score of “Baltimore 9, Pittsburgh 6” during the fourth quarter ranked as a big of a surprise as finding out that water is wet. Championship week offers ominous matchups for the Cowboys who’ll play Baltimore and the Titans, who’ll play the Steelers. Unless it’s an absolute necessity, consider sitting anyone playing against the Steeler or Raven defenses.

4. Marion Barber’s fantasy value in 2009 will not be of first round quality: At the beginning of the Cowboy training camp in 2009, they’ll have Barber, Tashard Choice and Felix Jones at running back. That’s a crowded backfield and it means ultimately that a lot of touches must go around for the running game. With the home run capabilities of Choice and Jones, don’t expect Barber to be a first round pick in fantasy drafts.

5. Andre Johnson should be the number one ranked fantasy receiver in 2009…if we could somehow be assured of a clean bill of health for Matt Schaub: It’s a pretty simple concept. When Sage Rosenfels plays, Johnson is good but not as dangerous. When Schaub is in, Johnson is the best receiver in the league because he provides the complete package. He’s physical, possesses great hands and can scoot after the catch. Consider him the number one receiver in the NFL and fantasy football heading into next season.

6. If Johnson is number one, Calvin Johnson will be number two if he’s ever fortunate enough to play with mostly one quarterback during a season: Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky, Daunte Culpepper, Drew Henson, and Drew Stanton were the quarterbacks fortunate enough to throw to Johnson this season. Sadly, a player as gifted as Johnson must put with that rubbish at quarterback. Nonetheless, he’s established himself as a major threat. Just imagine if he had a competent quarterback.

7. Ben Roethlisberger is the NFL MVP: I’m fully aware we live in the age of numbers and that it’s the only way to significantly measure a player’s importance according to some. Yet, I’m throwing my support for NFL MVP behind Ben (I will no longer use the R word because it’s too long and gives my Microsoft Word spell check a big headache). Despite his less than spectacular passer rating of 80.2, Ben (or as some call him, 7) survived the league’s toughest schedule in the last 25 years, a mediocre offensive line, and managed to stage fourth quarter heroics versus Baltimore (twice), Jacksonville, San Diego and Dallas. The end result is that Pittsburgh is AFC North Champion and poses as a legitimate contender to win the Super Bowl.

8. The lesser knowns often lead to fantasy championships: If you had Pierre Thomas and Antonio Bryant in your lineup this week, you clearly outperformed someone armed with LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Owens.

9. Stars will turn into goats: Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald didn’t get it done last week against Minnesota, Brian Westbrook failed to throttle the Browns and Jay Cutler threw up a clunker at Carolina. Welcome to the most miserable time of the year for some fantasy owners.

10. Ride the bad matchups to the finish line: The Saints visit Detroit, while the 49ers head to St. Louis. Obviously any Saint is in play, while 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill poses as an intriguing option. Also, Kansas City hosts Miami, in what should be a cake walk for the Dolphins.

Fantasy Power Poll

Last week’s rankings are in parentheses

1. Adrian Peterson (4) – Ladies and gentlemen, the number one overall pick in 2009 fantasy football drafts.

2. Michael Turner (5) – Turner will not sneak up anyone next season but he’s lived up to the billing and then some in 2008.

3. DeAngelo Williams (3) – A part of the best running game in the NFL.

4. Drew Brees (1) – Road Brees and Home Brees aren’t quite Dr. Jekylll and Mr. Hyde, but it’s not far off when comparing the numbers.

5. Brian Westbrook (7) – Despite not scoring, he moves up two spots because he’s likely to slam the ‘Skins on Sunday.

6. Kurt Warner (2) – He’s not running out of gas like Brett Favre, but teams are taking away what he likes to do and putting more pressure on him.

7. Andre Johnson (NR) – The Tennessee secondary is glad not to see Johnson anymore this season.

8. Calvin Johnson (NR) – He is matchup proof and must start against anyone.

9. Thomas Jones (6) – Thomas, your 15 minutes of fame are about up.

10. Larry Fitzgerald (8) – Warner’s demise down the stretch affected Fitzgerald last week versus Minnesota.

Link of the Week

It’s Christmas time and that means reliving holiday movies. No, no, no. I’m not going to subject you to a link featuring A Christmas Story, which will be on a lot over the next week.

Instead, I’ll offer up some Chevy Chase from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Nothing quite says Christmas like Clark W. Griswold being denied his Christmas bonus!

Next Week: It’s a field trip to Washington, D.C.!

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