December 28, 2004

You Live By the Volek, You Die By the Volek

I made the playoffs in the Baseball Think Factory fantasy football league with a Week 14 victory over Chris Dial's Peyton Manning-led team. Days before the first playoff game (which was the league semi-finals, since only four teams made the postseason), I decided to pick Tennessee backup quarterback Billy Volek up off the waiver wire. Volek had been subbing for an injured Steve McNair and putting up some pretty big numbers. I also loved his Week 15 matchup against the Raiders, a team said had the worst pass defense in the NFL.

So I picked Volek up and started him in my playoff game, ahead of Jake Plummer and Aaron Brooks (don't ask me how my team made the playoffs with those two at QB, because I have no idea). What did Volek do? Five total touchdowns and 492 passing yards on an astonishing 60 passes, with just one interception. Volek scored 50.7 fantasy points all by himself and my team totaled 124.3. I went into Monday Night Football with a 3.25-point lead and no players left, while my opponent had Miami tight end Randy McMichael. McMichael totaled 29 yards and no touchdowns, scoring 2.9 fantasy points. I won 124.30 to 123.95 -- a difference of 0.35 points.

For this weekend's league championship, I didn't really like Volek's matchup against the Broncos very much and I actually thought Plummer could do some damage against the Titans' defense in what was a must-win game. But really, how can you bench a guy who threw for 492 yards and accounted for five touchdowns the week before? I couldn't, so I started Volek in the championship game and he laid a massive egg. Zero touchdowns, two interceptions, and a total of just 111 yards. And that was all before he got yanked in the middle of the game for -- get ready for this -- Doug Johnson.

My team had other problems too. The New York Jets' defense, which had been so good for me all season long, gave up 23 points to the Patriots without creating a single turnover, scoring me exactly one fantasy point. Matt Stover, who was in the top five for kicker scoring entering the game, kicked a lone extra point in Baltimore's 20-7 loss to the Steelers. Roy Williams came up with 33 measly yards and no touchdowns and Brian Westbrook didn't even play last night. Edgerrin James and Darrell Jackson had decent games, but my squad scored a grand total of 35.35 points in the championship game, which is beyond pathetic.

I'm not really complaining though, because in the end I probably got what I deserved. If you pick up a QB on waivers days before your first playoff game, start that QB over the two guys you used all season, and then win the game thanks to an amazing performance from that QB ... well, you probably deserve a lot worse than having that same QB lay an egg the next week. In fact, what you deserve is for the whole team to score fewer points in the championship game than that QB had the week before.

NOTE #1: I'm heading out to the Canterbury Park Card Club for my first taste of live poker today. If you're out there around noon and you see a big guy with glasses and a blue Twins hat who is bluffing way too much, start up a conversation with him about Luis Rivas.

NOTE #2: If you'd like to meet me, but you'd rather not do it in a poker room, make sure to check out yesterday's announcement.

Today at The Hardball Times:

- Leveling the 1930s Playing Field, Part 1: The Seasons (by Steve Treder)

- The One About Win Probability (by Studes)

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