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The question is not whether Saquon Barkley is the best running back in this draft class. The question is whether any running back, even one as good as Barkley, warrants a top-five draft selection in the NFL in 2018.

06 Jan 2016

Scramble for the Ball: 2015 Staff Playoffs Draft

by Andrew Healy and Sterling Xie

The Football Outsiders Staff Playoffs Fantasy League is back for another run. Once again, the scoring rules are as follows:

  • Six points for rushing or receiving touchdowns, four points for passing touchdowns
  • One point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving, 20 yards passing.
  • A loss of two points for a lost fumble or interception.
  • Two points for a two-point conversion of any kind.
  • Kickers: three points for a field goal under 40 yards, four points for one between 40 and 49 yards, and six points for kicks of 50 yards or longer. Plus, one point for every extra point.
  • Defense: Two points for an interception or fumble recovery, six points for touchdown, four points for safety, one point for sack, and a loss of one point for every seven points the defense actually allows (and a bonus five points for a shutout)

Teams are comprised of one quarterback, two running backs, three wideouts, one tight end, one kicker, and one defense. There are no substitutions, so if a player is injured or his team is eliminated, then he ceases to produce points for his team. The teams, in drafting order, are as follows:

  • Clutch Columnist Scott Kacsmar
  • Your Editor and Quick Reads Author Vince Verhei
  • Any Given Sunday Author and Your Scramble Writer Andrew Healy
  • Head Honcho Aaron Schatz
  • Your Scramble Writer Sterling Xie
  • Scramble Writer Emeritus Tom Gower

This is a serpentine draft with a two-pick round eight. The results were as follows:

Round 1

Scott: QB Carson Palmer, Arizona
Vince: QB Russell Wilson, Seattle
Andrew: QB Tom Brady, New England
Aaron: WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
Sterling: QB Cam Newton, Carolina
Tom: TE Rob Gronkowski, New England

Round 2

Tom: QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Sterling: RB David Johnson, Arizona
Aaron: WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle
Andrew: RB DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh
Vince: WR Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City
Scott: WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona

Round 3

Scott: RB Marshawn Lynch, Seattle
Vince: RB Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati
Andrew: WR Julian Edelman, New England
Aaron: RB Jonathan Stewart, Carolina
Sterling: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
Tom: RB C.J. Anderson, Denver

Round 4

Tom: WR Demaryius Thomas, Denver
Sterling: TE Greg Olsen, Carolina
Aaron: WR Tyler Lockett, Seattle
Andrew: TE Jordan Reed, Washington
Vince: TE Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati
Scott: WR John Brown, Arizona

Round 5

Scott: WR Emmanuel Sanders, Denver
Vince: WR A.J. Green, Cincinnati
Andrew: WR Michael Floyd, Arizona
Aaron: K Stephen Gostkowski, New England
Sterling: WR Ted Ginn Jr., Carolina
Tom: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay

Round 6

Tom: RB Eddie Lacy, Green Bay
Sterling: RB James White, New England
Aaron: TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City
Andrew: K Steven Hauschka, Seattle
Vince: Chiefs Defense
Scott: RB Ronnie Hillman, Denver

Round 7

Scott: Seahawks Defense
Vince: RB Charcandrick West, Kansas City
Andrew: RB Steven Jackson, New England
Aaron: Patriots Defense
Sterling: WR DeSean Jackson, Washington
Tom: WR Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh

Round 8

Tom: K Mason Crosby, Green Bay & Packers Defense
Sterling: K Graham Gano, Carolina & Panthers Defense
Aaron: QB Alex Smith, Kansas City & RB Spencer Ware, Kansas City
Andrew: WR Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh & Cardinals Defense
Vince: WR Jermaine Kearse, Seattle & K Cairo Santos, Kansas City
Scott: TE Heath Miller, Pittsburgh & K Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona

FO Playoff Fantasy Rosters

Scott Vince Andrew Aaron Sterling Tom
QB Carson Palmer Russell Wilson Tom Brady Alex Smith Cam Newton Ben Roethlisberger
RB Marshawn Lynch Jeremy Hill DeAngelo Williams Jonathan Stewart David Johnson C.J. Anderson
RB Ronnie Hillman Charcandrick West Steven Jackson Spencer Ware James White Eddie Lacy
WR Larry Fitzgerald Jeremy Maclin Julian Edelman Antonio Brown DeAndre Hopkins Demaryius Thomas
WR John Brown A.J. Green Michael Floyd Doug Baldwin Ted Ginn Jr. Randall Cobb
WR Emmanuel Sanders Jermaine Kearse Markus Wheaton Tyler Lockett DeSean Jackson Martavis Bryant
TE Heath Miller Tyler Eifert Jordan Reed Travis Kelce Greg Olsen Rob Gronkowski
K Chandler Catanzaro Cairo Santos Steven Hauschka Stephen Gostkowski Graham Gano Mason Crosby
D Seahawks Chiefs Cardinals Patriots Panthers Packers

As always, assemble your Best of the Rest team in the comments from players we did not pick, and we'll track which commenter ends up with the highest total.

Scott Kacsmar

Andrew: He's gone all in on the Cardinals, so the strategy certainly adds up. But I think it's hard to pass up Wilson at No. 1. I really like the Marshawn Lynch pick, which has huge upside. The Seattle defense fits with that pick, so he's looking for a Cardinals win over Seattle in the NFC conference championship. That's probably the most likely outcome, too. And he's rounded out his team with Denver, so he's hoping to get at least two games there. His team makes a ton of sense. Can I switch it with mine?

Sterling: I think Arizona is the safest team to stack with, even if Pittsburgh and Seattle possess the upside of an extra game. So while I would've taken Wilson over Palmer in a vacuum, I agree with Scott's pick based on the notion that you need to commit to a team to win this league.

Palmer-to-Fitzgerald and Palmer-to-Brown are pretty safe connections to bet on, and I could see those three players carrying him to the top. Marshawn seems like a potential cherry on top -- is Seattle willing to give him full control of the backfield? Because of Wilson's monster second-half without Lynch, think it's safe to say the touch volume will go down a bit even if he is the bell cow back. Christine Michael has been really impressive in two out of three games, so there is that danger that Seattle would (logically) decide to split carries.

Vince Verhei

Andrew: Love that he got Wilson. I wonder if he was hoping Baldwin would fall to him in Round 2 and that he might be able to snag Lockett later, too. When those guys not available, Vince got himself invested in the Chiefs and Bengals, splitting his next six picks between the two teams. He needs the Bengals to win at least a game even if Wilson goes berserk. With Dalton maybe coming back next week, the Bengals strategy could be a high-variance play altogether since their chances in the divisional round on the road might be just as good as their chances this week at home. West was an interesting boom-or-bust pick in Round 7.

Sterling: Vince's roster is the only one to limit his spread to three teams: the Seahawks, Bengals and Chiefs. Everyone else has four or five teams represented on their roster. Additionally, his roster is the only one consisted entirely of players from wild-card round teams, so he has the highest games played potential. I like the minimization strategy a lot. Vince has the fewest team agendas to juggle, and since the Chiefs and Bengals can't meet until the AFC Championship, he probably won't see any friendly fire on his roster to worry about.

That said... I'm having a hard time backing the Bengals stack. Even if they do upset the Steelers, I think it's likelier to occur because of the defense playing a terrific game and Big Ben continuing his road struggles. The offensive skill position players are touchdown-dependent at this point. Since A.J. McCarron entered the lineup in Week 14, there have only been two instances of any Cincy player gaining more than 90 yards from scrimmage. And both those games were driven by a single big play: Green had a 66-yard touchdown in a 132-yard game against Pittsburgh, while Hill had a 38-yard touchdown run in a 115-yard game against Baltimore last week. Those plays were Cincinnati's second-longest pass and longest run of the season, respectively, so I think Green, Eifert, and Hill are all score-or-bust, at least with McCarron under center.

Andrew: And we got Vince's thoughts after the fact: "Last year I picked a bunch of players from different teams, which is a good way to guarantee that you do not finish first or last in the competition. So this year I knew I was going to play more boldly and focus on two or three teams and hope at least one goes on a good playoff run. I didn't know which teams I would take going in, except that it would not be the Texans or the Broncos (I have no faith in the 2016 edition of Peyton Manning). Russell Wilson was a no-brainer in the first round, but then all his teammates started going off the board, so going Seahawk-heavy was not an option. So I ended up investing heavily in Kansas City and Cincinnati. I love the Chiefs' odds of getting at least one win, but they're not exactly loaded with offensive stars. I don't necessarily love the Bengals' odds against Pittsburgh, but even if they do lose their first game I'm hoping they get a couple of scores against Pittsburgh's defense. But yes, my fantasy hopes ride on one franchise that has not won a playoff game in 22 years, another that has not won a playoff game in 25 years, and Russell Wilson. What could go wrong?"

Well, as they say, one out of three ain't bad. I kind of like the upside with Kearse, by the way. He might be as valuable as Lockett, who went in Round 4. It was between him and Wheaton when I picked last.

Sterling: If he has no faith in Houston or Denver, I think the Chiefs actually make perfect sense as a stack. It's weird that the AFC teams on bye, the Broncos and Patriots, are so shaky in terms of fantasy value they can provide. I would have liked the K.C. stack more if he had at least gotten Ware along with West, since the cumulative numbers tend to be alright for that backfield.

Andrew Healy

Andrew: Drafting third, I figured I had no chance at Russell Wilson, who was the guy I wanted. The Seahawks are by far the most likely team to play four games and Wilson is probably the guy expected to have the highest number of points per game, anyway. So there's huge upside with him in this format.

With Palmer also gone, Brady was the move. The Patriots or Steelers are next up in expected number of games played in the playoffs. And even if there was a slight edge to the Steelers, whatever, I'm going with my guy no matter how many e-mails I get from buddies about Brady's footwear preferences, political leanings, etc.

I ended up with my Patriots stack (Brady, Edelman, Jackson), although if the decidedly high-variance Jackson hits, know that I was hoping James White would fall to me. I ended up with two maybe No. 3 receivers (Floyd and Wheaton) who might end up being better than other options on their team. Floyd has been posting No. 1-level numbers for a long time now. He has put up the most fantasy points on the Cardinals since his Week 6 breakout. Wheaton is a much dicier proposition, but has gotten 12 red zone targets in the last six weeks.

Sterling: You were all-in on the Pats in this draft last year, which got you to second in the end. I was debating for a while between White and Adrian Peterson, but couldn't talk myself into taking that kind of risk with AP. Plus, with you and Aaron kind of stacking the Patriots, I thought taking White might stir up some chaos for you two.

A New England-Pittsburgh conference championship game would be good for you, especially given the likelihood that Arizona plays at least two games. I would say your lineup has a fairly solid chance of having everyone play multiple games. That being said, you also stomached the most injury risk by spending two of your first three picks on DeAngelo Williams and Julian Edelman.

Andrew: Last year, I blundered by not taking Brady with my second pick (I took Antonio Brown instead). I did what Aaron did this year and waited to take the last quarterback. Last year, it meant I got Big Ben in the last round. (That seems better than Alex Smith, but Roethlisberger got upset in Round 1.) So my Patriots stack this year at least has some more logic rather than my Edelman-Gronk-Gostkowski-Vereen-D stack of last year. I think it's less likely to succeed than last year and the floor is certainly low, but I also think the ceiling is pretty high. I was pretty happy to get Jackson that late, since I think his ceiling is higher than some of the running backs who went in front of him. His floor is literally zero contribution. I love those high-variance guys.

But I'm coming clean on DeAngelo. I was interviewing economists all weekend in San Francisco and through into the first few rounds of our draft, so this was the one weekend I missed almost all the football in real time. I care about fantasy more than is healthy, so I tried to research every pick and usually thought way too much, but that injury slipped through the cracks for me. I know I checked for a Brady injury and an Edelman update, but somehow I didn't even hit DeAngelo at all. Was too excited to run his name up to the table when I saw him as the only other running back option that I didn't do a Google, I guess. The one other thing I missed was the return of Marshawn. Might have considered him instead.

During the draft, I said that it was interesting how predictable it all was, with everybody doing logical stuff in almost every instance. And clearly I was actually the exception to that, since that's about where a healthy DeAngelo belongs.

Sterling: The DeAngelo injury has surprisingly gotten a bit buried. Unlike the Le'veon Bell knee injury from Week 17 last year, there hasn't been a lot of coverage for DeAngelo. Pittsburgh is also being kind of secretive, at least early in the week. It sounds like a high-ankle sprain based on both the video and what the Steelers have been hinting. That would allow him to play, unlike Le'Veon and his knee injury last year, but needless to say, playing through that kind of injury is going to hinder his production regardless. He would've been the easy No. 1 running back had he not gotten hurt.

I also think Edelman does make some sense. I'm hesitant to look at Dez Bryant, who suffered the same foot fracture and struggled terribly upon his return, and assume the same will happen to Edelman. Maybe it's the homer in me, but Edelman will have had nine weeks off, while Dez only took six weeks before returning. There were reports that a 10- to 12-week timetable would have been more realistic, so Edelman is a lot closer to that than Bryant. If he's near 100 percent, the target volume should take care of the rest.

Andrew: I remember how Rob Gronkowski looked in Super Bowl 46. "High ankle sprain" = serious second-round regret por moi.

Sterling: Who ever thought that Steven Jackson would be the healthiest Patriots player on your roster at this time of year? Yes, I think that bodes ominously for New England in general.

Aaron Schatz

Sterling: If I had gotten the first pick, I would have taken Antonio Brown. So it was much to my dismay when I thought I was going to get him at pick No. 5, only to see Aaron swoop in one spot ahead. This clearly looks like the strongest receiving corps to me (Brown, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett), especially with Pittsburgh and Seattle both strong threats to play four games.

At the same time, Aaron lamented during the draft how he had a hard time finding a single team he could stack. Tom swiped Big Ben to ruin the Steelers stack he was planning with Brown. Then he moved to a Seahawks stack with Baldwin and Lockett in Rounds 2 and 4, but didn't get the defense or Hauschka to finish things off. Ultimately, he went with the Chiefs and Patriots in the later rounds, including a pretty surprising choice of Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins or Peyton Manning.

Aaron's the only roster with two players from four different rosters. There's a high probability he has at least one or two dead spots because of teams that go one-and-done, but his floor is probably higher overall. All his teams are favored to play at least two games, which does help.

Andrew: I'm really surprised to hear you'd take Antonio Brown No. 1. I like him in Aaron's spot, but there's just such a huge advantage to having a quarterback who advances deep in this format (see my team last year). I think you're right that Aaron's team is medium ceiling, high floor. His team actually reminds me of my team last year. He has Brown, Gostkowski, Pats D, and waited until the end to grab his second running back and quarterback.

It's interesting that both he and Vince are in on Seattle and Kansas City. If Seattle goes crazy, it will probably be one of them to win it. If it becomes a race between them, I want this to come down to whether Charcandrick West or Spencer Ware ends up getting carries. Because fantasy is just that random. By the way, in a vacuum, definitely Cousins or Rodgers or Bobby Douglass over Alex Smith, but I like the decision given Kelce and Ware being on the roster.

Sterling Xie

Sterling: I'm pleased overall with how things turned out. I knew I wanted to stack, and though Seattle or Pittsburgh would have been ideal, those went out the window when I couldn't nab Wilson or Brown in the first round. In the end, I ended up with five Carolina Panthers, the only roster to have that many players from a single team.

Of course, there's a pretty distinct possibility I end up in last. A 31-10 beatdown at the hands of Seattle would seal it. At the same time, I'm happy to bank on Cam Newton's arm and legs. Ted Ginn and Greg Olsen combined for just under half of the Panthers' total regular-season targets, so I should have a monopoly on their passing game. I wanted Jonathan Stewart as well, but Aaron sniped him one pick before me in Round 3. Memo to Mike Shula: No handoffs inside the 10-yard line, please.

I'm pretty ambivalent about the rest of my team, though I was pleasantly surprised to get David Johnson at the top of Round 2. With DeAngelo Williams hurt, Johnson, Peterson and Stewart are the only clear-cut workhorse backs in the field. I don't think you can throw Marshawn in there right now. Of course, no one took the plunge on Adrian Peterson, which makes sense. He's playing for the biggest Round 1 underdog, and even if Minnesota wins, Peterson's reward would be games against the second- and third-ranked run defenses.

I figured a DeAndre Hopkins flier couldn't hurt either. My roster is the only one with a player from the Texans, so I would benefit a lot from a Houston-over-Kansas City upset.

Andrew: As someone who picked Carolina to go -1 and 17 before the season, I'm not giving up on my Panthers bearishness no matter how much I adore Ron Rivera. I still like your strategy a fair bit. You have the clearest path to victory. Given the DeAngelo injury, I actually wonder if you could justify picking David Johnson in Round 1. But I suppose Aaron closed off the Pittsburgh stack and so you were left with the Panthers one. Something tells me you were thinking about all this when you handed in the card with Newton's name on it.

I promise you I would rip your moves in a second if I could -- I'd really rather do that -- but I liked everything you did as it happened. I love the Johnson pick. Also really liked the James White pick and thought the DeSean Jackson pick was spot-on. Anyway, bully for you, but I think you may get that loss to Seattle. Although let's go 20-13 rather than 31-10.

Sterling: Tying up a loose end, I was pretty curious about the quarterback run in the first round. Last year's draft didn't have a single quarterback taken until the end of the second round. And even though this doesn't really resemble real fantasy football, I still expected people to wait on quarterback because of the lack of depth at both running back and receiver. Getting stuck in Aaron's position wasn't so bad, since he got to ignore quarterback until the end and pick from a not-horrible range of candidates.

So I didn't have any intention of taking a quarterback as high as I did, but with three plus Antonio Brown already off the board before I picked, I figured Cam was the only outlet towards a stack. I'd feel a lot better about things if Carolina was an AFC team.

Andrew: First, in fantasy, Alex Smith qualifies as a pretty horrible quarterback given the other five who ended up on rosters (Wilson, Palmer, Brady, Newton, Roethlisberger). Five guys who, if healthy, can light up a stat sheet and one guy who has never thrown for more than 23 touchdowns in a season.

On the quarterback strategy, the problem is that this isn't real fantasy. Since quarterbacks accumulate so many points by accident, you just have to have one who advances. No matter how good all my Patriots did last year, I was dead in the water without Brady. And with Brady, Aaron had a 20-point lead on the field and a much larger lead on most of us.

So your team is Carolina or bust. What do you have as the spread for Seattle and Carolina in Round 2? Before the Rams game and with Carolina 14-0, I had it at as a pick. Now I have it as Seattle -2.

Sterling: I guess it depends on how Seattle looks in the first round (and any injuries they suffer, of course).

Andrew: Stop vacillating and man up!

Sterling: Alright, I'll pound my fist on the desk Skip Bayless style and say Carolina -2. I think they're slight favorites cause of the homefield edge, but bettors will see Seattle as the better team on a neutral field.

Andrew: Then I'll be Stephen A. and just say that's as ridiculous as Kristaps Porzingis being able to make a layup, at least before we saw him actually play.

Sterling: If this ends up being like Stephen A.'s new feelings towards Kristaps, then things are looking up for my team.

Tom Gower

Sterling: Tom was not pleased with my sniping. In the odd rounds, I was one pick ahead of him in the draft order, and according to him, I took the player he wanted each of the first three times that occurred (Newton in Round 1, Hopkins in Round 3, and Ginn in Round 5). Sorry Tom, but you thought your column was the only thing I wanted to take from you?

Kidding aside, Tom ended up going the unconventional route of a Packers stack. He has four Green Bay players (Lacy, Cobb, Crosby, and the defense), along with two Broncos (C.J. Anderson and Demaryius Thomas) and two Steelers (Big Ben and Martavis Bryant). Coincidentally, Tom also had Lacy, Anderson and Crosby on his playoff roster last season.

Nobody else touched the Packers, so after going AFC in the first four rounds, he was basically left to choose between the two NFC North contestants. Green Bay is obviously risky at this point, but it does get the benefit of facing the worst defense in the playoff field. Players like Big Ben, Demaryius Thomas, and Rob Gronkowski should be fairly stable point suppliers, but this roster looks like it depends on a Packers revival.

Andrew: I do like that the Packers get to face Washington, but after seeing them against Arizona -- who line up to be their second-round opponent -- it's hard for me to get behind a Packers stack. That said, would it completely shock anyone for Cobb and Lacy to each get two touchdowns against Washington? I'm going the other way and picking one last step to complete hibernation for the sleepwalking Packers offense, but there continues to be a much bigger sample of Aaron Rodgers succeeding with a wide range of receivers than this half-season of failure.

You have to take a chance on a team or two, so my bigger problem with the roster here is not the Packers but the combination of the Steelers (Roethlisberger and Bryant) with the Broncos (Anderson and Thomas). If Pittsburgh wins, they get Denver for sure in the second round. A Broncos win there almost certainly means that the defense, Roethlisberger, and Bryant had a quiet week. A Steelers win there means you get one week from Anderson and Thomas.

Loser League Final Recap

Before we get to the worst of the worst from the second half and announce our Part II and season-long winners, let's do a quick recap of Week 17!

Week 17 Recap

Quarterback: Teddy Bridgewater hasn't had much volume in his sophomore season, and his 99-yard passing day against Green Bay yielded just 2 Loser League points. Volume isn't a problem for fellow 2014 draftee Blake Bortles, but turnovers are. Bortles' three-turnover day led to a 5-point outing against Houston, the second-lowest score of the week.

Running Back: Stevan Ridley got enough carries to avoid the 15-point penalty for the first time all season... and promptly posted a 2-point outing in the Jets' season-ending loss. Chris Ivory more than tripled his yardage even though he only received six carries, raising some serious questions about Gang Green's backfield distribution. Somewhere, Bill Belichick cackles at Ridley's inefficacy and Kenbrell Thompkins' killer drop on the final drive.

Wide Receiver: Congrats if you picked a No. 3 receiver from an AFC offense. Chris Givens, Chris Hogan, Nate Washington, Brandon LaFell, and Kenbrell Thompkins each posted goose eggs in Week 17. Givens' goose egg was the 14th time a Ravens receiver ended up with 0 points.

Kicker: Chandler Catanzaro has been excellent on field goals this year, going 28-for-31, but is now just 53-for-58 on extra points after missing his fifth PAT of the season against Seattle. Combined with a miss on his only field goal attempt, Catanzaro posted a dreadful minus-7 points, by far the worst kicker performance of the week. In fact, Catanzaro's outing tied him with Peyton Manning (Week 10) and Jason Myers (Week 13) for the lowest single-week Loser League point total of the entire season.

Part II Recap

Quarterback: The Dallas Cowboys are wondering what might have been with Tony Romo, but they aren't the only ones. Romo was on the verge of returning when Part II began, so Loser League owners weren't able to take the plunge on the eminently mediocre Matt Cassel. Cassel ended up with just 88 points in spite of three 15-point penalties, narrowly besting Nick Foles (93 points) and Matt Hasselbeck (98 points).

Cassel and Hasselbeck would have been the best duo by a wide margin, yielding 65 points for their owner. Cassel and Foles would have combined for 79 points, which actually would have been worse than Cassel and Philip Rivers (75 points). Though Rivers finished 18th among quarterbacks with 128 second-half points, his two worst weeks (6 points in Week 11 and 7 points in Week 13) happened to coincide with two double-digit outings for Cassel.

Running Back: Latavius Murray was a pretty useful fantasy running back, finishing 11th at the position by ESPN standard scoring. And yet, Murray was also the worst back of Part II, ending up with 66 Loser League points. Oakland's lead back always got enough carries to avoid the 15-point penalty, but apart from Week 16, he never actually scored more than 15 points. We see fantasy-relevant backs have single-week blips, but it's hard to remember someone being so useful for both fantasy and Loser League players.

However, Murray got to the bottom by being consistently average rather than having a few implosions. Melvin Gordon was the Loser League MVP at this position this year. After finishing with the third-lowest point total in Part I, Gordon had the second-lowest point total in Part II, despite incurring three 15-point penalties. Gordon scored between four and eight points every week from Weeks 11 to 15, and never eclipsed double-digits without the aid of a penalty. The trio of Gordon, DeMarco Murray, and Alfred Blue would have combined for 90 points.

Wide Receiver: Inefficient deep threat Chris Givens took home the honors of most valuable receiver of Part II, finishing with 26 points and edging ahead of Nate Washington (27 points). The Rams castoff quietly ingratiated himself into Baltimore's depleted offense, yet scored just once and never scored double digits. That Givens somehow avoided a 15-point penalty the entire second half is one of many sad developments for the 2015 Ravens.

As such, Givens and just about any other two receivers would have been great for your lineup. The trio of Givens, Chris Hogan, and Tavon Austin would have given you 36 points. Additionally, Givens, Wes Welker, and Randall Cobb would have yielded 39 points the entire second half.

Kicker: With just six field goal attempts after Week 6, Titans kicker Ryan Succop ended up leading all kickers in Part II with just 16 total points, well ahead of second-place finisher Dan Carpenter. Succop and Sebastian Janikowski would have been the best duo, combining for just 1 point for their owners. In fact, you would have been in the red with Succop and Janikowski until Week 17, when each scored at least 5 Loser League points.

The Results

With 276 points, Marvin Nelson, owner of "Pigs n da Skin," is the winner of Part II. Nelson narrowly edged out "The Proeb and His Astro Guide" and "Alabama English People," all of whom were within two points of each other headed into Week 17. He wins a copy of the 2016 KUBIAK fantasy football projections. The cumulative season-long winner is Dan Keys, owner of San Francisco Retirement System. He wins both the 2016 KUBIAK fantasy football projections and a copy of Football Outsiders Almanac 2016. Congratulations to both of them! Check out the Loser League results page to see where your team finished this week and overall.

Jim Tomsula Award

This used to be the John Fox Award, but we are officially renaming this award after multiple-time recipient Tomsula. No, he will almost certainly never get another NFL coaching job. No matter how much general managers love to find the most improbable retreads, Tomsula seems to lack even the single moment of competence that might help him get another shot. On Sunday, he went out with a bang for lameness and a whimper for aggressiveness. Facing fourth-and-4 on the Rams' 37-yard line with 1:39 left and the score tied 16-16, Tomsula punted. His last fourth-down decision came and went like so many others before it, a Ditka-esque square-jawed guy going all passive in a (sort of) big moment.

So Tomsula may be forever gone from the NFL as a head coach, but he will live on as the irredeemably awful strategic coach for whom this trophy is named. Mike Pettine might complain about being left off the trophy, but at least Pettine had some success as a coordinator. We're still pretty confused how Tomsula got to be an NFL head coach.

Keep Choppin' Wood

Teddy Bridgewater's inexplicable left-handed interception did happen to end with an obscene one-handed backhand pick from first baseman Micah Hyde. While Bridgewater's throw was one of the worst decisions of the year, Hyde's equally phenomenal catch gets this play a KCW exemption.

No such reprieve goes to Sheldon Richardson, whose offsides on fourth-and-3 in the red zone was emblematic of the Jets' no good, very bad day in Buffalo. Hard counts in those situations (fourth-and-5 or less) seem to work maybe once or twice a season, but maybe Richardson was just excited at the prospect of EJ Manuel being under center for the critical play. For the embattled former first-round quarterback, it's the little victories that matter.

Posted by: Andrew Healy and Sterling Xie on 06 Jan 2016

23 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2016, 2:59am by Sid


by blarneyforbreakfast :: Wed, 01/06/2016 - 9:25pm

I'm also a Seattle homer with very positive feelings about the Bengals and Chiefs. I wonder if there's something about those teams that appeals to Seahawks fans?

by Perfundle :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 2:11am

There are a lot of similarities. All three teams are led by QBs that have been criticized as game managers. All three teams are pretty run-heavy, and play at a very slow pace; Seattle has the 28th-fastest seconds per play, with Cincinnati at 29th and Kansas City 31st.

by RickD :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 12:32am

Not liking what your picks are leaving me as leftover. At QB we have Cincy, Houston, Denver, Green Bay, Washington, and Minnesota. Picking between Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning? Or perhaps Kirk Cousins? One of Cousins/Rodgers will get at least two starts. But only one of these three has a shot at the Super Bowl. I find myself adopting a strategy of going with the "longshot" #1 seed in the AFC.

QB: Peyton Manning

RB: slim pickings here, headed by an All-Pro who unfortunately has a terrible matchup in his first game.

RB: Adrian Peterson
RB: Gio Bernard

WR: even slimmer here

WR: Danny Amendola
WR: Pierre Garcon
WR: Richard Rodgers

K: Brandon McManus

TE: Owen Daniels

D: Denver

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 1:40am

Richard Rodgers is a Tight End.

by RickD :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 12:21pm

Better still!

QB: Peyton Manning
RB: Adrian Peterson
RB: Gio Bernard
WR: Danny Amendola
WR: Pierre Garcon
WR: Devin Funchess
K: Brandon McManus
TE: Richard Rodgers
D: Denver

by andrew :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 1:47am

ugh, okay... my best of the rest team:

QB: Kirk Cousins
RB: Jerrick McKinnon
RB: Giovanni Bernard
WR: Pierre Garcon
WR: Devin Funches
WR: Jericho Cotchery
TE: Richard Rodgers
K: Mike Nugent
D: Texans

by Inches424 :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 8:02am

QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB: Brandon Boldin
RB: Gio Bernard
WR: Danny Amendola
WR: Jaron Brown
WR: Marvin Jones
TE: Cooper Helfett
K: Brandon McManus
D: Broncos

As others have mentioned, A-Rod leads off with a shot to put up big numbers before running into the buzzsaw of non-NFC East opponents. On the plus side, if he survives Chez Snyder, he'll likely have a big, juicy deficit to overcome the following week - with the chance for a nice chunk of garbage time.

Bernard gets at least sixty minutes with a Steelers defense not into the whole tackling thing and frequently loses interest in coverage. Of course, he will need to actually touch the ball first, and who knows if that will happen with Hue Jackson running the show, a show that's featured Jake Fisher, OL, as Redzone Weapon and Andy Dalton running deep routes. But I'll take my change on a defense that made Ryan Mallett look good. Bolding is a Pats RB, which puts his range somewhere between 0 and 250 yards/game. According to my good friend Vegas, the Pats have three left, in which case Boldin should get one more turn at RB1. And at the rate the team's gone through players this year, by Super Bowl Sunday the rest of the backfield rotation will be Trent Richardson and Ray Rice.

Speaking of which, who knows how long Julian Edelman's encore will last. I don't see Brandon LaFell or Keshawn Martin suddenly turning into a reliable high-target option. Or a reliable anything, for that matter. That gives Amendola a sky-high ceiling, but even as a complement to Edelman and Gronk, his floor seems solid. Jones and Brown are WRs I've heard of on teams I can see making a deep postseason run. That is all.

Russell Wilson has shown he can turn spare parts into a fantasy monster for a day. An 8-120-2 line isn't out of the question for anyone not named Jimmy Graham.

McManus already clinched the thinnest air throughout the playoffs. I hear the Broncos defense is also pretty good.

by Jeremy Billones :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 10:06am

QB Cousins

RB Morris
RB Bernard

WR Garcon
WR M Jones
WR Amendola

TE Fells

K Hopkins


by justanothersteve :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 11:41am

QB - T Bridgewater
RB - M Tolbert
RB - A Peterson
WR - D Amendola
WR - S Diggs
WR - D Funchess
TE - O Daniel
K - B McManus
D - Denver

by Guest789 :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 12:18pm

QB Manning

RB Bernard
RB Starks

WR Amendola
WR James Jones
WR Funchess

TE Daniels

K McManus

DEF Broncos

by blarneyforbreakfast :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 1:06pm

Since this is hypothetical anyways, I'm going to "cheat" (and go all in on the Bengals)

QB - Andy Dalton/AJ McCarron
RB - Giovani Bernard
RB - Christine Michael
WR - Marvin Jones
WR - Pierre Garcon
WR - Funchess
TE - Darren Fells
K - Nugent
D - Bengals

by idembsky :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 2:27pm

All-in on the Packers. Surprised neither the Denver kicker or Defense got taken, especially the defense.

QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB: Adrian Peterson
RB: James Starks
WR: James Jones
WR: Davante Adams
WR: Marvin Jones
TE: Richard Rodgers
K: Brandon McManus
DT: Broncos

by Sid :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 2:52pm

Annual tradition. I've played this every year for a while.

QB: Aaron Rodgers (despite GB's struggles in the passing game, have to take him here. He could put up some numbers)
RB: All Day Adrian Peterson (maybe they beat Seattle?)
RB: James Starks (my wagon is tied to GB beating Washington)
WR: James Jones (receiver to pair with the QB)
WR: Devin Funchess (produced at end of season, Panthers don't have much after Ginn and Olsen)
WR: Danny Amendola (spread it around, Brady. Also, Edelman is a question mark)
TE: Richard Rodgers (another Packer!)
K: Brandon McManus
DEF: Denver

Steelers backup RB a possibility but no one even knows whether Todman or Toussaint would get the work, or if Williams will be available this week.

by fakdaddy :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 4:25pm

QB Manning
RB Artis-Payne
RB Toussant
WR Amendola
WR Funchess
WR J. Jones
TE Chandler
K McManus
D Denver

I wanna puke.

by Herr Gauss Markov :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 5:27pm

I'm more or less completely disregarding the identity/goodness of the remaining players and just considering how many players (units) are available per team, the historical average of each position, and how many games each team is expected to play, while trying to spread my picks across the fewest teams possible (and put off head-to-head elimination). The result is... odd.

QB: Kirk Cousins
RB: Christine Michael
RB: Giovani Bernard
WR: Pierre Garcon
WR: Marvin Jones
WR: Jamison Crowder
TE: Cooper Helfet
K: Dustin Hopkins
D: Cincinnati

by broncoholic2412 :: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 5:45pm

QB: Manning
RB: Starks
RB: Peterson
WR: Amendola
WR: James Jones
WR: Marvin Jones
TE: Owen Daniels
K: McManus
DEF: Broncos

by bedfordp :: Fri, 01/08/2016 - 8:23am

QB: Peyton Manning
RB: Mike Tolbert
RB: Gio Bernard
WR: Danny Amendola
WR: Devin Funchess
WR: Corey Brown
TE: Owen Daniels
K: Brandon McManus
D: Denver Broncos

by michaelinmelbourne :: Fri, 01/08/2016 - 5:33pm

QB Rodgers
RB Peterson
RB Bernard
WR Amendola
WR LaFell
WR Diggs
TE Rodgers
K McManus
DEF Broncos

by Alec B :: Sat, 01/09/2016 - 1:31am

QB Cousins (WASH)
RB Michael (SEA)
RB Toussaint (PIT)
WR Jones (GB)
WR Amendola (NE)
WR Nelson (AZ)
TE Willson (SEA)
K Boswell (PIT)
D Cincy (CIN)

by Alec B :: Sat, 01/09/2016 - 1:39pm

Can I change TE to Fells (AZ)? (Since Willson still concussed)

by Ryan D. :: Sat, 01/09/2016 - 11:12am

My entry:

QB: Aaron Rodgers (GB)
RB: Christine Michael (SEA)
RB: Adrian Peterson (MIN)
WR: Danny Amendola (NE)
WR: James Jones (GB)
WR: Devin Funchess (CAR)
K: Brandon McManus (DEN)
TE: Richard Rodgers (GB)
D: Denver

by surebrec :: Sat, 01/09/2016 - 4:54pm

QB Aaron Rodgers
RB Adrian Peterson
RB Gio Bernard
WR Danny Amendola
WR Pierre Garcon
WR Brandon LaFell
TE Richard Rodgers
K Brandon McManus
D Broncos

by Sid :: Mon, 01/11/2016 - 2:59am

almost got another game out of All Day

friggin' Blair Walsh