The playoffs in the WTO Laid Back League are set and my 10-3 Oracles ended up as the No. 4 seed as I defeated Western Division champion Paul Mangione - opening the door for his little brother Joe's St. Louis Shockers to steal the division.
However, Joe was upset - really upset - by Soothsayer Dean Wells and so, at 6-7, Paul Mangione's Hooktown Hero's backed into the playoffs by winning the Western Division. They will be seeded third with a sub .500 record. Brian Ferry's FISH team (9-4) had a monstrous week and passed Allen Seybert (9-4) for the fifth seed and will battle my Oracles. The bye weeks were awarded to No. 1 seed Jon Myler (10-3) and No. 2 seed Frank Galeazzo (9-4).
Last week, I posed the question to my readers and received several responses if I should roll over and try to end up the sixth seed for a matchup against the undermanned Western Division champ so as to avoid a tougher matchup; my favorite responses are as follows with "man pants" being a common theme:
Rob Stewart is... The Fantasy Oracle
Brian K. said, ".put your man pants on and go for the better season record."
Joe C. said, "Well Rob, let me tell you I have been a fantasy football commissioner for 10 years now and I have run in to this myself. And I always end up going for the win. So put on your man pants and win the game."
Carie said, "When have ever you ever rolled over and played dead...?"
Michael B. said, "... the key is to win a championship and you do what it takes to hoist the trophy, even if it is not the popular decision."
During the year my Oracles made a ridiculous 57 moves, including four trades and 53 waiver wire acquisitions, and owned 12 different defenses. In addition, the Oracles have cut the following players during the year: Josh Freeman, Matthew Stafford (twice), Mike Williams-SEA (three times), Ryan Torain, Mike Thomas (twice), Derrick Mason, Ben Obomanu, Davone Bess, Todd Heap and Tony Moeaki.
Thursday night, the Colts defeated the Titans 30-28 and three players were started in the two quarterfinal match-ups. Peyton Manning (Ferry), Kerry Collins, Chris Johnson (Seybert), Javarris James, Reggie Wayne (Ferry), Pierre Garcon, Bo Scaiffe and Adam Vinatieri all put up big fantasy numbers.
Ferry's start of both Manning and Wayne netted him 35.36 points in his matchup against my Oracles. The rest of his lineup will be Knowshown Moreno, Ronnie Brown, Terrell Owens, Santana Moss, Benjamin Watson, Sebastian Janikowski and the Giants defense. My Oracles will start Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson, Darren McFadden, Tashard Choice, James Starks, Ed Dickson, Garrett Hartley and the Eagles defense. This is the definition of a toss-up as our point projector shows this dead even and during the season less than two-and-a-half points separated these teams.
In the other quarterfinal matchup, Seybert was rewarded with 23.90 points Thursday night from Chris Johnson. His other starters will be Matt Ryan, Ricky Williams, Dwayne Bowe, Larry Fitzgerald, Mario Manningham, Kellen Winslow, Josh Scobee and the Packers defense. Mangione, a fifteen point underdog, will counter with a lineup of Tom Brady, the disease known as Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Reggie Bush, Donald Driver, Brandon Lloyd, Danny Amendola, Jason Witten, David Akers and the Bears defense.
Real football? The big game on the NFL docket this week is the New England Patriots, fresh off a 45-3 drubbing of the N.Y. Jets, travelling to Chicago to play Da Bears. The Patriots do it with offense as they have averaged 40 points a game in their last four, while the Bears have only allowed an average 16 points a game all season. Add to this a chance of inclement weather and this could be a low scoring affair.
CUTLER CORNER: Jay did just enough to help the Bears comeback and defeat the Detroit Lions, 24-20, last week. This week he needs to be sharp and play turnover free to give the Bears a chance against the sizzling Patriots. Look for 200 yards and a touchdown in a game Chicago will try to control the clock with Matt Forte and keep Tom Brady on the sidelines.
FEMALE FANTASY PERSPECTIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Our female correspondent says, "Bears barely pulled a win against Detroit (24 -20) but Baby Face Bears Jay Cutler just makes me smile when I watch him play. Bills Steve Johnson was useless last week, if he had a third hand he would need another pocket to put it in."
FREE AGENTS TO TARGET: Ben Obomanu, Deon Butler, James Starks, Tashard Choice, Ryan Torain, Ed Dickson, Owen Daniels and The Falcons defense.
INJURIES: Matt Cassel, Dez Bryant (IR), Ladell Betts (IR), Marion Barber, Patrick Crayton, Demaryius Thomas and Todd Heap are out or extremely doubtful to play. Keep an eye on Brett Favre, Mike Goodson, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Mike Williams (TB), Mercedes Lewis, Antonio Gates and Matt Prater. Questionable players this week include Jason Snelling, Ben Obomanu, and Mike Williams (SEA).
PLAYERS RETURNING FROM INJURY: Ryan Torain, Pierre Thomas, Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith (NYG) and Brandon Marshall
ULTIMATE LINEUP: Michael Vick, Knowshown Moreno, Maurice Jones-Drew, Brandon Lloyd, Greg Jennings, Vernon Davis, Garrett Hartley and the Falcons defense. Flex play will be Roddy White.
FANTASY BUST OF THE WEEK (11-2): Last week I predicted Knowshown Moreno would flounder and I missed the mark for only the second time this year as Moreno had a great game totaling 175 total yards. This week I try to get back on track with Tom Brady. Inclement weather, hostile environment and off a big win he and his Patriots could be in for a letdown.
Playoff quarterfinals: Rob Stewart vs. Brian Ferry - the winner meets Jon Myler in the semifinals, and; Paul Mangione vs. Allen Seybert - the winner meets Frank Galeazzo in the semifinals.
Out of the playoffs: Jon Sitler, Dave Hishman, Cody Elms, Dean Wells, Mike Campbell, Derek Farr, Bob Patchen, and Joe Mangione.