Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

It's finally happened. After nine long years of struggle, the fish have wriggled up onto dry land, so to speak.

The Fighting Coelacanths are champions at last.

Canths Logo.JPG

Formed in the fall of 2001 for the fledgling Fantasy League of Gentlemen/Gentlewomen, the franchise had an inauspicious beginning, missing a playoff berth and finding solace only in winning the inaugural Toilet Bowl between the worst two franchises. Since that time, however, the Canths have been one of the most consistent FLOGG franchises around--during the regular season. Despite earning playoff berths in every season from 2002 through 2008, the team couldn't seem to put a playoff run together, often losing to lower-seeded squads in early rounds. In 2005, the Canths finished the regular season 9-5 and fought their way to Super Duper Bowl V, but fell to the 7-7 Hipsters (a/k/a Hip Hip Hezbollah) on the strength of a 200-yard/3-TD performance by Tiki Barber.

By the start of the 2009 campaign, the Coelacanths were one of only two original FLOGG franchises never to win a title.

This is why on draft night, I decided (or more accurately, since we approach fantasy football as a role-playing game, my character--TFC owner/coach Perry "Shoat" Cooper, hog farmer, fisherman, and proud resident of Garland, NC--decided) to abandon the safe-but-unsuccessful strategies I had previously employed in forming my teams. I had picked 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th in every draft since 2002, and I could never grab the star players I needed to take a title. This year, I swore that I would either make a big splash or at least fail so spectacularly that I could grab a top player in the 2010 draft.

That's why, when my pick came up in the sixth slot of the first round, I threw caution to the wind. With the top-tier running backs gone, I could select either a second-tier runner or follow the accepted Plan B of drafting a top quarterback.

I drafted a wide receiver.

Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals joined my keeper from last year, the Chargers' Vincent Jackson, and suddenly I had a pair of top-flight wideouts to anchor my squad. Fitz would finish the year as the sixth-best scoring WR in the league, Jackson the tenth. From that point, I could snag players as I would. I solidified my running game with Frank Gore, Pierre Thomas, Ray Rice, and Rashard Mendenhall, picked top-tier tight end Jason Witten of the Cowboys, and selected promising quarterback Jay Cutler.

And there you see my mistake. Though I had great WRs (with rookie Percy Harvin joining the squad in round 12) and a big supply of good runners, it became apparent around Week 7 that Cutler wasn't going to do the job, and backup Kyle Orton wasn't much more reliable. I was 3-4, mired in my usual mediocrity, and something had to be done. I had to get a consistent signal caller, and that meant a trade.

Luckily, the Peace Corps Psychopomps had two fine QBs, Matt Schaub and Philip Rivers, and had room for a good running back. Thanks to my late-round RB successes (Rice in 6, Mendenhall in 10), I decided I could afford to part with Gore and Orton in exchange for Rivers and Jamaal Charles. Rivers immediately proved himself a far more consistent QB than Cutler, scoring 193 points over the rest of the season (as opposed to Cutler's 124) thanks to 17 TD passes and only 6 interceptions (as opposed to Cutler's 12 and 16). As a bonus, when Mendenhall's star began to wane late in the season, Charles proved a fine option as my second running back.

Thus reformatted, the Canths went on a 4-2 surge to close out the regular season and finish over .500 at 7-6. As the third seed in the Tickle division, we faced the Banana Slugs in round one and took them down 106-89. The division-champion Donkeys had been dispatched by a spectacular 160-point performance from the Psychopomps, which gave me more than a little trepidation about our second-round meeting, but my Rivers-to-Jackson combo picked up 53 points to the 38 produced by the Corps' Schaub-to-Andre-Johnson package (not to mention the 19 earned by former Corpsman Jamaal Charles) and we emerged victorious, 115-97.

Then it was time to face the Slap division's champion, the Screamin' Boiled Lobsters, who had ridden their first-round pick, Peyton Manning, to great success... but in Week 16, Colts head coach Jim Caldwell opted to give Manning a rest in the second half, leaving him with only a 7-point total. Though the Lobsters got a great boost from Ryan Grant and the Packers defense, they couldn't overcome double-digit performances by Rivers, Charles, Fitzgerald, Witten, and the Cardinals D. The Super Duper Bowl title was at long last the Canths' to hoist. After years of struggle, obsessive calculation, and recrimination, I have finally won a championship in the most fantastically entertaining fantasy league on the face of God's green Earth.

And that, I promise you, will be the last time I mention fantasy football for eight months. Though you can expect to see a photo once Dan sends me my trophy. Oh, yes. You'll see it. ALL of you will see it. Our precioussssss.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on December 29, 2009 7:20 AM.

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