Just Because It's Fantasy Doesn't Mean It Hurts Less: A Tale of Pain

Preston ParkerCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 03:  Willis McGahee #23 of the Baltimore Ravens runs against Richard Seymour #92 of the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images


Despite a solid 177-155 win in one of my championship games, I sadly lost by two in a choke job only the Broncos could rival. In a format that totals your output from Weeks 16 and 17, I was leading by a score of 115 to 46 after last week, and thought I was in the driver's seat to a fantasy football title.

Thinking I could play it safe and play some lesser guys and still coast to a victory, I took the uncertainty of Chad Ochocinco playing and benched him for Michael Crabtree. Thinking Beanie Wells would get at least some decent time against the Packers, I decided to start him above Fred Jackson.

My opponent had me fooled; with Brandon Marshall and Brandon Jacobs still in his/her lineup on Sunday morning, I was sure this was one of those negligent fantasy owners that signs up for a league and loses interest halfway through.

In ESPN's fantasy leagues, I've come across many of these sorts. However, what I didn't notice was that five minutes before noon kickoffs, my opponent had indeed been paying attention, and switched Jacobs, Steven Jackson, and Marshall for Willis McGahee, Jason Snelling, and Devin Aromashodu.

Needless to say, he was one smart cookie.

Willis McGahee, the true antagonist of this cautionary tale, scored three touchdowns against the Raiders en route to 34 points. My trio of running backs (Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, and Beanie Wells) scored just half of McGahee's total, giving me 17 points. But this was only the beginning.

If McGahee was the appetizer, Ben Roethlisberger, Jason Snelling, Devin Aromashodu, and Vernon Davis were the main course. The wily lineup changes my opponent threw together off the waiver wire gashed me for a total of 132 points in one week.

Still, I thought I was okay. I had Donovan McNabb, Roddy White, and the Chargers' defensive unit to rely on. What happened? Roddy White gave me 12 points, notching six receptions, one for a touchdown, en route to the Falcons clinching their first ever consecutive winning seasons, which I congratulate them for. The Cowboys defense shut down McNabb, limiting him to just eight points.

Let me get to the climax of this tale. With about 20 seconds left in the Redskins-Chargers game, I was down 178 to 176. With just my tight end, Fred Davis, and the Chargers defense left, my heart was put on ice. I couldn't possibly falter after building such a huge lead...could I?

I watched helplessly as Jason Campbell threw four straight incompletions and as the Chargers defense did nothing. No sacks and no interceptions when I needed them most!

On Dec. 21st, 2009, the Chicago Bulls blew a 35-point lead to lose to the Sacramento Kings in one of the most shocking choke jobs in sports history.

In the 2007 AFC Championship game, the New England Patriots built a 21-6 lead at halftime and were getting ready to book hotels to Miami and Super Bowl XLI, until they fell to Peyton Manning's Colts 38-34.

In the 2004 American League Championship Series, the Yankees won the first three games in the series and seemed prime to receive yet another World Series berth, until they went on to lose the next four games against their hated rivals, the Boston Red Sox.

On Jan. 3rd, 2009, Team Parker blew a 69-point fantasy football lead in the championship to lose the title game, 178-176. While it may not get the media coverage, it might be one of the biggest choke jobs we see in sports this decade. Just because it's fantasy doesn't mean it hurts less.