It all comes down to this. After nearly four months of action, the next League Champion will be decided over the course of three days. In one corner, the season-long juggernaut and presumptive favorite for the crown since we first started talking about favorites for the crown. In the other corner, the outlaw left for dead who nevertheless rode into the big dance sporting a fresh pair of Cinderella’s glass slippers. In mere hours, the final dance begins. Will the ultimate underdog finally sling his lasso around the elusive Ol’ Glory? Or will the clock strike Midnight on the Rider and turn the horse he rode in on back into a pumpkin? If you looked at the standings, the favorite is clear. If you looked at the projections, it would be even more clear. But in the words of the immortal Chris Berman, THAT’S why they play the game! But since you’re here anyway, and since I’m all out of wild west and Cinderella puns, lets break it down anyway.
Meade comes into the 2019 League Championship Game off of what has quite simply been the best season of his career. His 2019 marks for wins, winning percentage, points per game, and OPR have all been career bests. He has won 6 out of his last 7 games, topping 100 points each time. In fact, he only failed to reach the century mark in two games this season. His Lobster Beesk squad has cruised to this point, recording 7 120+ point games, 4 140+ point games, and 3 150+ point games. He led the League in points 4 times this year, representing over a quarter of the season.
Meade’s career-topping performance throughout the regular season earned him the number one seed and a first round bye, which he rather easily converted into his second Championship Game appearance with a 16 point victory over an explosive BJC squad. He now sits on the precipice of his second League Championship and erasing what has long been a stain on his lifelong record — with a win he will no longer have the worst career winning percentage among active League members.
The stakes are undoubtedly high for an owner that has rarely, if ever, been thought of as an odds-on favorite to etch his name into Ol’ Glory. Yet ahead of what looks to all observers to be the biggest game of his life, Meade is trying to approach the game with the same attitude he maintained when he won his first title in a stunning upset over Vaf all those years ago. “I am no more nervous than any other fantasy game,” Meade maintained. “I go into this weekend with a very quiet confidence and I am proud of my team and their effort no matter the result.”
That confidence has certainly been earned this year, as detailed above. And its hard not to be confident when your team is powered by undoubtedly the best player in fantasy football this year, Christian McCaffrey. Russell Wilson is consistently one of the top performers at the QB position, and receivers Keenan Allen and Terry Mclaurin have plus matchups against the leaky Raiders and Giants secondaries. If Devonta Freeman or Kareem Hunt show up to play, it is certainly likely the Meade’s confidence will pan out.
And yet, Cody was certainly confident entering the Wild Card round, the reigning champ facing off against The League’s lowest-scoring team. He found his firm grip on the trophy suddenly released, his title defense extinguished by a firehose of honey of his own making. Marky Mark was certainly confident heading into the Semifinals, the number two seed pitted against The League’s lowest-ranked squad in OPR. In the end, the only question left was not whether the stench emanated from father or daughter, but whether the blowout that soiled his big boy pants was voluntary or involuntary.
Diamond’s run to the championship has been as magical as it has been improbable. From a 3-7 start and the heavy Anthem favorite, the Midnight Rider rose like a phoenix from the ashes to find himself one win away from his first League Championship in his 10 year career. While Meade has been consistently strong throughout the year, Nick has caught fire at just the right time, setting season highs in point totals in each of his two playoff wins.
To what does Nick credit this sudden turnaround? “There’s no luck involved in this sport. It’s skillz or no skillz,” he says. “Clearly, I have arrived at this career defining moment due to my expert analysis and keen eye for talent forged in the darkness of the Anthem pits.” And to anyone on his team getting complacent or outsiders thinking he’s just happy to be here considering his predicament a month ago, the Midnight Rider quickly shut down any such talk. “One cannot squander the opportunity to seize the trophy when it is within grasp,” he said. “I’m here to win.”
If that is to be the case, it’ll take the familiar formula he’s used to get here, with perhaps a bit of a twist. We all know of the Tannehill resurgence, the talented receiver trio of Kupp (TDs in 3 straight but a tough matchup vs. SF), Moore (double digits in 7 straight) and Diggs, and the steady production of Joe Mixon (up against a terrible Miami run defense). But if Nick is to pull off the upset and claim the trophy, it might all come down to newcomer Mike Boone, who has an opportunity to etch his name into fantasy lore filling in for the injured Dalvin Cook this week.
The way the schedule shakes out in this matchup lends itself to an exciting finale. All Meade’s players play on Sunday, while Nick has 3 players going today, 4 on Sunday, and 2 on Monday night. It could be a big time rollercoaster of emotions. Here’s to a Championship Game as exciting as last year’s. Good luck to the participants. May the best man win.