ESCANABA - With the Fantasy Football regular season winding down for most teams, playoff teams should be just about decided. Five of my league's six qualifying teams have punched their ticket and the top two spots have locked up first round byes.
Silver Crush (My Team) is assured of finishing the regular season in first place, which unfortunately means little once the playoffs come around, except that I'll be assured of no worse than a fourth place finish.
Only one team in my league scares me though, and I won't face him until the final.
At first I was concerned about the lack of quarterback play on my team. Michael Vick had scored a combined 17 points over two weeks before his injury. I then switched to Alex Smith, who scored 21 points two weeks ago, but only four points against Baltimore on Thanksgiving. Silver Crush still rolled to a big win, scoring 138 points on the strength of Wes Welker and Victor Cruz.
Silver Crush is the exception, not the rule, in Fantasy Football. I've never seen another team survive shoddy quarterback play, let alone finish in first place.
Not that I'm bragging. I've gotten here on luck and I have no delusions otherwise. But I've also built a big advantage with my receving corps.
When i picked Cruz out of the free agent scrap heap, I hoped for six points. Instead I stumbled upon a top-five Fantasy receiver. He scored 32 points Monday night to go along with Welker's 27.
So it didn't even matter that Drew Brees nailed me for 44 points.
I also have two No. 3 receivers in Jabar Gaffney and Damien Williams who are each capable of scoring 10-15 points per game.
Receivers are the last sure-fire thing in fantasy football. Running backs just aren't what they used to be. Teams go with 2-3 man rotations and you aren't likely to find a consistent 20 point threat out there.
But find a team that likes to throw the ball like the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans or New York Giants and you can get that kind of production out of any of their top two receivers.
For Tennessee it didn't even matter that Fantasy monster Kenny Britt went on the IR list after two huge weeks to start the season. It took Williams a few weeks to catch up, but he has replaced Britt nicely as Matt Hasselbeck's top option and leads the team in touchdowns.
When I picked him up, he was a nobody. An anonymous fourth-string receiver. He's surprisingly still available in 77 percent of Yahoo leagues. Even fewer (6 percent) have him on their starting roster. We're talking about a player that has scored 10.5, 18.5, and 11 points in three out of the last four weeks.
This tells me a lot of teams outside of the playoff race have given up. The teams in the playoffs that own Williams are probably playing him.
Speaking of giving up, don't do it. You might not have had the season you wanted, but by throwing in the towel, you ruin the competitive atmosphere of your league. Your apathy destroys the game for those that worked hard to get to the top.
Besides, you can still play spoiler and mess up playoff positioning for some of those top teams.
One team in my league took giving up a step too far. This week he attempted to dump his entire roster, including quarterback Phillip Rivers, top running back Michael Bush and top receiver Pierre Garcon.
Our commissioner had to lock his team and lock all of the players he dropped so no other team could swoop in and grab them, giving them an unfair advantage.
I suppose our first clue this owner would do such a thing came two weeks ago when he renamed his team "who freakin cares."
Give it all you've got this final week of the season if you're on the outside looking in.
A week from now, when the playoffs begin, is when crunch time begins. Earning a first round bye is nice, but at the same time it's not.
Two years ago I had a bye and watched my players rack up their highest scores of the season...against nobody. The following week against an opponent, they did poorly and I was eliminated. Nothing about this game is more frustrating.
Next week the 2011 All Fantasy team and All Sleeper team will be unveiled.