And then there were four. Two-thirds of The League’s participants have officially been eliminated from contention, meaning there are only 3 games left before a new champion will be crowned and Diesel must relinquish control Ol’ Glory. Lets break down this week’s matchups, the winners of which will be headed to The League Championship Game.
2. Couple Screws Loose (9-4) vs 3. Midnight Rider (7-7)
Diamond’s midnight run improbably continues into The League Semi-Finals, after a season-best performance knocked off the defending champ in the Wild Card Round. Nicky has now racked up 4 straight wins and a ton of momentum as he looks to claim his first title.
Standing in the way, however is a team that might be equally hot. Marky Mark has racked up four straight wins of his own and comes into Sunday already 3 points ahead of projections thanks to TE Mark Andrews.
On paper this one certainly seems lopsided. Mark won the regular season matchup between the two, and holds a 30 point OPR advantage and outscored Diamonds by 20 points per game. He also has probably the two best players in the matchup in Pat Mahomes and Chris Godwin, who figures to be force-fed targets with Mike Evans going down for the year. If Nick is going to pull off the upset and keep his Cinderella story alive, he’ll need to continue the formula that has worked so well for him over the last month, relying on the steady WR duo of Kupp and Moore and taking advantage of the career renaissance of Gase-free Ryan Tannehill.
The X-factor in this matchup might not be a player at all however. While Mark seems to have all the arrows pointing his way, he unfathomably scheduled Lucy’s second birthday party for this very day. Was it a simple oversight driven by one too many late-night martinis? An instance of brash confidence now that papa and daughter are trending away from relying on diapers to contain their involuntary blowouts? We may not know the answer, but as we saw with Jay last week, distraction during playoff games has a history of turning the tide.
5. Brainbusters (7-7) vs 1. Lobster Beesk (10-3)
We knew BJC had the big game potential to knock off Jay Hey, but we didn’t expect Scoops Ahoy to never set sail at all. Either way, the Brainbusters waltzed into the Semis with a career-best playoff performance, and now has a date the team that pretty much sat in first place from the very beginning of the season.
Meade comes into today’s game with a well-rested squad thanks to what has been a career year for the owner, winning his first division title and setting career best marks in both regular season wins and OPR. Lobster Beesk has been prepping for the postseason all year and now it has finally arrived for him, facing what may be his toughest challenge yet.
Lobster Beesk swept the season-series between the teams 2-0, but the advanced stats say that these teams are just about dead even. They averaged nearly the same points per game and have near-identical OPRs. And while we’ve talked at length about Brian’s potential to put up monster point totals on any given week, no team managed to lead The League weekly in points than Meade’s this year.
Both lineups are not short on star power. The QB matchup will be a fun one, with BJC’s DeShaun Watson squaring off against Meade’s Russell Wilson. Two of the best skill position players in the sport, fantasy or otherwise, will go toe to toe as well with the remarkable Michael Thomas looking to bust up the electric Christian McCaffrey. This matchup could come down to which stars shine brightest.
At the same time though, this one might be determined by the secondary players. While Brinbusters will run out December Derrick Henry and Todd Gurley, Meade’s secondary pieces are a bit more suspect at first glance. Keenan Allen has had an up and down year, as has RB2 Devonta Freeman. Injuries have also taken their toll on his TE position, which looked like a strength coming into the year but now remains a giant question mark with Evan Engram on the shelf on Jared Cook being a Monday night game-time decision. If Henry is healthy and either Gurley or Landry have big games, it might be too much for Meade to overcome.