Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tavon Austin
- When I sat down for dinner, I had a very small lead in my fantasy football matchup with two Cowboys still to play.
- My opponent didn't have any players left, so I went the uber-conservative route, thinking a win was guaranteed.
- I was wrong.
Let this story serve as a word to the wise in fantasy football.
In golf parlance, it’s my own personal “What a stupid I am” moment, a nod to when Robert De Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard to lose the 1968 Masters.
I’m in a 16-team fantasy league with the boys at West Orange Country Club, where I’ve got already got a target on my back as the “Action Network Guy” who’s supposed to know certain things about how this stuff works.
On Sunday, my opponent was my buddy Josh, a grudge match between partners in our regular Wednesday golf league. You always want to win in fantasy, but as we all know, some games you want to win a little bit more. This was one of them.
Early in the day, knowing Leonard Fournette wouldn’t suit up for the Jaguars, I picked up Tavon Austin, who qualifies at RB in the ESPN format.
Not the best option, obviously, but at the 11th hour in 16-team league, it was the best one available.
I won’t bore you with the intimate details of our game, but I was losing most of the day. My only hope was that some of my players in the late games would post furious fourth-quarter rallies to get me within shouting distance.
Well, that’s exactly what happened.
My squad picked up some late points, and Brandon McManus’ game-winning field goal for the Broncos simultaneously put me over the top.
Or so I thought…
As soon as the Broncos game was finished, Josh’s players were all finished and I held a 108.9-108.3 advantage. Celebration time. I’d won the grudge match.
And I still had two Cowboys left — Austin and the team defense.
At this point, I figured I’d play it smart.
After all, Austin wasn’t a traditional RB. He could field a punt and fumble, recording negative points for me. And the defense could easily get Saquon’d and OBJ’d, perhaps also losing points.
With dinner waiting on the table, I took a quick glance at the score, then decided to go into a figurative victory formation and take a knee.
I removed Austin and the defense from my lineup, just to be careful. Smart move, I blindly thought.
Without checking the score again, I watched early on as some potentially big late-season tiebreaker points were left on my bench. Austin took an early Dak Prescott pass 64 yards for a touchdown. And as the game wore on, it was clear the Giants offense wouldn’t be able to get much going against the Cowboys D that I’d left on the bench.
Even so, a win is a win, right?
When I woke up Monday morning, I’d found that I lost – by 1.4 points.
The dreaded scoring adjustment.
Initially, I thought there was a little-known rule that would dock a team one point for each empty lineup spot. Nope, that wasn’t it.
Then I considered that the app hadn’t yet calculated my opponent’s Broncos defense, which scored two points. It wasn’t that, either.
I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but one or more of his players earned a positive scoring adjustment after the games were over, something I’d never accounted for when going with my conservative play-calling on Sunday night.
As it turns out, Austin put up a total of 19.4 points and the Cowboys defense added 13. If I’d simply left them in – if I’d sat down for dinner and stopped paying attention – I would’ve won the game by 33 points.
Instead, it’s the worst beat I’ve incurred in nearly 30 years of playing fantasy football.
Let this be a lesson to you: Stay aggressive, don’t kneel on the ball and keep trying to rack up points.
There’s another lesson here, too: The “Action Network Guy” might not be the smartest dude in the league. At least, not in my league.
What a stupid I am.