With due thanks to the Cafe team, I've managed to take out my fantasy league two years running. Which, since the league is only two years old, pretty much makes me an unstoppable fantasy guru. Now, to give it up for my squad, from the stars to those who just came in for a cup of coffee:
The Draft and Preseason
At quarterback, I began with Daunte Culpepper and Michael Vick. My initial running backs were Corey Dillon, Rudi Johnson, Lamont Jordan, Cadillac Williams, JJ Arrington and (as a 14th round afterthought) Larry Johnson. At the wideout position, Javon Walker, Steve Smith, Lee Evans, Eddie Kennison and Plaxico Burress. Heath Miller at tight end. Buffalo as my D. Where's the kicker, you ask? I decided to pick one up on the wire later.
My first move was to trade Burress and JJ Arrington for Drew Bennett. Not a great trade, in hindsight, but that freed up a spot for a kicker, and I took John Kasay for that void.
My boys had a big win (1-0), relying on big games from Rudi Johnson, Corey Dillon and the Buffalo D. It wasn't all smiles though, as Culpepper managed a score of MINUS 5.89 and my star WR Javon Walker managed to get broken in half. Of course, I sent J-Walk out to pasture and picked up the latest sensation out of Pittsburgh, "Fast" Willie Parker.
A disgraceful loss in this one (1-1) - NONE of my players scored a TD, Kasay scoring almost half of my points. Somehow, #1 overall pick Peyton Manning scored negative points in this one and I still lost. I reacted by dropping Heath Miller for Steve Heiden, as if a new tight end would cure all my team's ills.
Much better performance in this one (2-1)... Culpepper exploded into action, Steve Smith was unstoppable, and Corey Dillon had a multi-TD game, as I rolled. Still, it was time for some roster tweaks. Heiden didn't seem to be the answer, and the Buffalo contingent of my roster was annoying me. So out went Heiden, Evans and the Buffalo D, replaced by Jerramy Stevens, Ashley Lelie and Seattle.
Another rubbish loss (2-2) in which I only really had one contributor - Eddie Kennison. At this stage, I had way too many backs, so I offloaded Willie Parker for Larry Fitzgerald, which can only be described as a coup on my part. I also swapped Seattle's D for Detroit, on the basis that Baltimore's offense was quite putrid. Oh, and I did something which, if my fellow owners had been on the ball, could've killed my title hopes then and there - I dropped Larry Johnson (then still platooning with Priest) for David Carr at the last moment, as I needed a bye week QB.
Back in the black (3-2) with solid performances across the board. Against the vanquished foe of last year's final, so there was no shortage of smack talked in the lead-up. Straight after the game, I took Seattle straight back in exchange for Detroit, and dumped Carr for Larry Johnson who thankfully drew no interest from the other owners.
A very humdrum victory (4-2) in this one, though who am I to complain? Steve Smith carried on his fine form, and Dillon was a massive source of frustration, logging me no points whatsoever. Thanks, Bill Belichick. I needed a bye week kicker, so I dropped Ashley Lelie for Mike Nugent, and swapped Seattle's D for Buffalo's. Can you tell that I just play the matchups now? After this game, I decided that I'd kick it up a gear, trading Dillon in a fit of pique, along with the superproductive Steve Smith, for a then underachieving Peyton Manning. A masterstroke, I thought, given my woes at the QB position.
The low-point of my season (4-3) in which I had a shameful loss. You all know that owner who lets the autodraft pick his team, then falls asleep 'til January? Unfortunately, someone woke him up before his game against me with a few choice taunts, and he proceeded to beat me by a TD. I dumped Buffalo's D for... uhhh... St Louis, and added Heath Miller for the superfluous Mike Nugent. Then, when Ronnie Brown hit the waiver wire, I dropped Jerramy Stevens for him.
Back in action (5-3) despite my starter at QB (Culpepper) exploding after about a quarter, wrecking my hopes of trading him for a litter of champions. Of course, I took him out into the back paddock and shot him, replacing him with Trent Green. I also swapped the St Louis D for... uhh... Tennessee. Then I did a stupid thing - rumour was that Anquan Boldin would be done for the year, so I replaced him with Braylon Edwards. Oopsie.
I think this was about the stage where I started to get confident about the season (6-3) - Manning played a blinder, as did Larry Johnson, as Priest had given up the ghost, amidst much hollering by me at the local Holmes owner. Braylon Edwards was a non-performer, so I dumped him for Reggie Brown. Having two R.Browns in my line-up would've been confusing if I'd really played either of them. Also, Tennessee's D got swapped for my beloved Pats.
An easy win in this one (7-3) as my opponent barely put up a fight. Still, I had too many RBs, so I traded the slumping Caddy Williams for Torry Holt. How'd I pull that one off? Let's just say that the owner claimed afterwards that he was drunk. Then I swapped Reggie Brown for Ernest Wilford, and Trent Green for Ben Watson via free agency.
My best win of the season (8-3) in a Peyton Manning vs Carson Palmer shootout. I'll spare you the whole transaction section for the rest of the season, since the only things I did before the finals were to trade Ronnie Brown for Deion Branch, and fiddle around between defenses. No biggie.
Wins, all of them, as I made my move from 4th out of 10 (as my points total was lower than most up the top end) to outright first (11-3) - my team was really starting to click, and I was feeling like I was going to repeat last year's effort.
Week 15 (SEMI-FINAL)
First vs fourth, and I was up against last year's runner-up. Needless to say, he remained on my leash, as my team cracked the hundred point barrier (not easy in our league, happens maybe 4 times a season or so), delivering a killshot to my opponent's championship dreams. However, I had a dilemma before the final. Manning probably wouldn't play, and I didn't trust Vick against TB, so I picked up Jamie Martin on the wire.
Week 16 (FINAL)
Third had shocked second in the other game, and this was the only two non-American players in our league contesting the final, and it proved a worthy showdown. In the end, I needed New England to simply not implode against the Jets, and they did quite enough for that. The undoubted MVP of the final showdown with Larry Johnson, though it was solid scoring performances from all my WRs (Bennett, Holt, Fitzgerald) which saw me take the advantage.
If you read this all the way through, you probably deserve a medal. I'm pretty pumped about winning - possibly more than is healthy. So thank you, gang! I'll be back next year! Good luck to those of you in week 17 finals.