For two decades, The Men of The League have fought and battled for the opportunity that now lays in front of just six of them. When first they set out on their quest there was a full dozen, their fates as fragile as the soft shells of eggs within the carton. Little by little, one by one, cracks began to appear; chinks in the armor. For some, the cracks became akin to a hole on a ship, taking on water, sinking their fortunes to depths of the ocean of the 2022 season. For yet others they battled on, knowingly weakened, yet unwilling to succumb to the rising waters until at last they were overcome by the endless onslaught of waves. And then there were six, six that did not yield to the cracks but instead turned them into scars, each one a reminder of the toil and sacrifice it took to get to this very spot.
Six men stand before you now upon to the precipice of greatness, battle tested and sharpened as they begin their ascent upon the mountain of the 20th postseason in The League’s illustrious history. Danger and peril awaits them all; pain and heartbreak inevitable for all but a lucky one of their number. One by one they will fall, from dizzying heights to unfathomable depths. The higher they climb, the worse the fall. Nevertheless they are propelled ever onward and upwards, driven solely by the sliver of hope, the dream, that they will be the one not to fall, but to rise, impossibly higher, until at last they reach the glorious mountaintop and look out over the vast expanse of the 2022 season, king of all that they survey.
Who will be that One? The defending champion, the memory of completing the perilous climb just last year still fresh in the minds of The League as the fallen snow, looking to do what no one has done in over a decade? The commissioner, having vanquished a postseason drought, aiming to even up the score at the top of The League’s championship count? The diamond in the rough, having won the shootout in the West with a quick draw and an even quicker trigger, seeking yet again to reach the peak for the first time? The newly minted father of 2, matching the number of his feets in, with a roster built and managed with nothing but the climb in mind? The bumbling buffoon, stumbling into the postseason for a remarkable fifth year in a row, powered by his idiocy, lack of integrity, and attempts at dark magic? Or the ultimate fighter, showing us all the definition of tough by weathering the fiercest of storms and somehow still arriving at the base of the mountain with as good a chance as any to make it all the way to the top?
Over these next two and a half weeks we will inch ever closer to the answer to the question, the only certainty being that five will fall, and one will rise. Tonight, the climb begins.
Welcome, gentlemen, to the 2022 League Playoffs.
3. Koo Kupp Klan (8-6) vs 6. I’ll Show You Tough (7-7)
Our first matchup pits the winner of the West against the lowest seeded but hottest team in the dance. Nicky Diamonds Koo Kupp Klan squad played a lot of games without its namesakes, but still managed to win the hotly contested West, capturing Nick’s 5th career division title (second of all time behind Vaf’s 6). When asked about the accomplishment, the grand wizard was floored. “Wow,” he stated, “I was not aware of that statistic and feel some pride having proof of my labors”.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. After starting off the year 2-4, Koo Kupp Klan rattled off 4 straight victories and entered the last round of divisional play having all but erased the divisional deficit he found himself in in the early going. And in the next two weeks, he managed to knock off a surging Vaf and then take down early favorite Marky Mark to clinch the West with a week to spare. The roster, built on the back of the controversial zero-RB strategy, enters the postseason with a nevertheless formidable RB duo in rookie sensation Kenneth Walker and banged up NE bellcow Rhamondre Stevenson (Stevenson’s status will be one to monitor closely heading into the weekend). Veteran receivers Mike Evans and Terry McLaurin are frequent fliers in the fantasy postseason and will lead the aerial attack in this one. But the engine of the team is found under center, where MVP candidate Jalen Hurts provides a floor/ceiling combo at QB unmatched by anybody left on a postseason roster beside perhaps Mahomes.
Diamonds credits a lot of this season’s success to his disappointment from last year and how that fueled his performance at The Draft: “This division title means a lot because after falling short of the mark last year, I made sure to prepare and have multiple strategies in place for this years draft. It’s easy to bail on a 0 Rb strategy in a panic, but I stayed the course and have been rewarded with a division title and playoff berth.”
Of course a lot of the zero RB strategy was tied into first round pick Cooper Kupp, who was more than living up to his draft billing before losing his season to injury. But that’s in the past, and Nick isn’t dwelling on it heading into what’s sure to be a tough battle against a foe who has seemingly had his number of the years. “Injuries are inevitable and it’s never easy losing your first round pick who was performing as such,” Nick said, “but we have no choice but to press on!”
On the other side of this matchup sits Jay Hey, currently in the midst of a run for the ages and unquestionably the hottest team in The League over the last month+. Jay began the year 1-6, and then ultimately 2-7, despite scoring over 100 points in 7 of those 9 games and over 110 in 5 of them. 3 of those 7 losses came by less than 1.5 points. After such a string of bad luck, it would have been easy for the team to fold up shop. But Jay kept his team focused. “I told my team to take the approach to do whatever it takes to win,” Jay said. “The close losses really sting but you have to keep fighting until you’re eliminated.” And while the team kept fighting, Jay himself kept fighting to improve the team, making a series of trades to help stave off that final nail in the coffin. “Once I had loss #7 I knew we were 1 more loss from the season being over. I made some big trades that led to performances that saved my season. I thought given my points scored -if we ran the table & got a little help, we could force my way into the playoffs”.
Compared to some other teams in the postseason, Jay’s roster is almost unrecognizable when compared to the one who came out of the Draft with. There were 8 trades in The League this year, and I’ll Show You Tough was involved in half of them. In fact if you look at Jay’s projected starting lineup in this one, it features only 2 players not acquired via trade or free agency. Tee Higgins was traded away, spent a couple weeks playing for Olsen, and then traded back! But all the moves helped shore up a roster that produced the third most points in The League and rattled off five straight wins to stunningly claim the final playoff spot. Even Jay himself didn’t start to believe what was happening until later on. “Since I knew it was win out or bust – I probably didn’t fully buy in I could do it until maybe week 13 vs. Meade,” Jay confessed. But, “once you get hot you really start to think you’ll find a way to get in done each week.”
And find a way he did, led by the high flying receiver trio of Justin Jefferson, Chris Godwin, and the aforementioned Tee Higgins. Joe Burrow, on fire of late, has provided a huge boost behind center. And one of the best defenses in the league in San Fran has been an overlooked factor in Jay’s run as well. As miraculous as the last 5 weeks have been, Jay is turning to focus to the future and his matchup with Diamonds. “This run has been awesome but I’m trying to not celebrate too much or too early because the hardest ones are ahead. I guess there’s only one thing left to do…. Win the whole fuckin thing.”
4. 2 Feets In (8-6) vs 5. Lobster Beesc (8-6)
The 4/5 matchup has heavy favorite Jacky G matching up against against a Meade-led squad that some pundits say deserves to be in the Anthem Bracket. Jack’s 2 Feets In squad got off to a bit of a slow start this year, but League analysts remained high on the roster throughout. And after a 2-4 start, their faith was rewarded.
From weeks 7-13, 2 Feets In won 6 of its 7 games, averaging 121.6 points per game over that span, including a 188 point outburst in Week 8 that represents the second highest single game score in League history. A few surprise losses from defending champ Frank The Tank during that stretch pulled Jacky G neck and neck for the division lead heading into the final week of the regular season, with the winner of the matchup set to claim the East and the coveted first round bye. Unfortunately for 2 Feets In, the Tank proved too much to overcome, leaving Jack with the wild card and a a date with Meade in the first round of the postseason. It was for sure a disappointment for 2 Feets In, but Jack told League reporters that the team plans to regroup with the help of “beer, wine, and hope.”
And one look at the roster shows that there is certainly reason for hope. The wide receiver trio of Tyreek Hill, AJ Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins can only come close to being matched by one or two teams (if that) in The League. First overall pick CMC is back in form, and looks right at home in the San Fran scheme which treasures the run and quick passing game at which he excels. RB2 Dameon Pierce is a bit banged up, but he’s backed up by solid depth in Rachaad White and Jeff Wilson. Tua has manned the QB spot and figures to do so should he advance further, but at the moment Jacky G appears to be playing the matchup with Mike White in the wild card matchup. Put simply, the weak points aren’t really weak, and the strong points are as strong as any in The League. All that adds up to 2 Feets In still being one of the favorites to take home the crown and an overwhelming point spread in his matchup this week (Yahoo has him as a 15ish point favorite, while Vegas has the line reaching into the 20s).
For his part, Jack isn’t taking Meade lightly. Informed about the expectations and the large point spread, Jack brushed it off. “You’re only as good as your last performance so we aren’t feeding into the point spread,” Jack said. “We feel like underdogs in this matchup but are ready to fight.”
On the other side of that fight is Meade’s Lobster Beesc, a seemingly perennial playoff mainstay. Meade has now piloted his team to the playoffs for the fifth straight year, even if his methods have drawn the ire of his fellow League members and offend the Fantasy Gods. Meade started off the year 4-2 and then 7-3, battling for the division with Commish the whole way. Throughout it all, the win-loss record seemingly justified his questionable roster moves and duplicitous use of the dark arts, as he openly rooted for injuries to his opponents. Indeed, he won 3 games over a 5 game period in which he failed to top 100 points. Alas karma would rear its head in Week 14, where a battle with the Commish with the Central and a bye on the line ended with a season ending injury to Beesc QB Kyler Murray on the first drive of MNF, effectively ending the matchup and ceding the division to Dear Leader. But even though he lost the division, Meade still managed to grab the 5 seed with while ranking 8th in The League in points.
Even though the numbers haven’t been impressive, Meade still has the horses to make a deep run, perhaps even a 3rd championship run. Stefon Diggs can go toe to toe with any WR in the league, Miles Sanders is quietly one of the top RBs in fantasy, and Mike Williams returning from injury gives Meade that crucial third weapon that nobody wants to go up against. The Kyler Murray injury hurts, as does Meade being seemingly oblivious to the utilizing the waiver wire to secure his replacement to a pivotal playoff matchup. In fact as recently as yesterday, Meade was still rostering a QB with a torn ACL, and three backup Seattle RBs. When questioned by reporters, Meade responded that “one of you put a curse on me just right now I can feel it. I started sneezing uncontrollably.”
Meade’s bizarre behaviors and lack of integrity didn’t stop there. When reporters asked last night why Meade had Travis Homer in the starting lineup even though Kenneth Walker was slated to play, Meade responded that “Homer isn’t gonna start believe it or not. The art of war is deception Klu.” Asked what Sun Tzu had to say about about him being a fucking moron and not putting a claim in for a QB, Meade said “lol I hate you guys.” Still, as early as this afternoon Meade had Travis Homer in the starting lineup, seemingly unaware that his planned “deception” scheme relied on him being aware that the Seahawks played tonight and not this weekend. As of this writing, he is still rostering the Seahawks, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th string RBs.
We’ll see if Meade is able to pull off the upset in this one. The odds may not be in his favor, but he is without a doubt the odds on favorite to win his second straight “Involuntary Blowout Badge of Dishonor” when the 2022 Regular Season Awards are announced this weekend.
That does it for the 2022 Playoff Preview. Good luck to all the participants in this week’s matchups. And of course, please remember that the Anthem Bracket will not show up appropriately on Yahoo. This week’s matchups are:
7. MiddleOfSpineHurts (7-7) vs. 10. Brainbusters (6-8)
8. So Much Honey (7-7) vs. 9. Meat Mavens (7-7)