IFFL – The critics of fantasy football say that it’s just a game of luck, but anyone that’s ever snagged a surprise top 3 player from the 7th round, or made an unlikely start/sit decision that netted us 20 points and a win know otherwise. Luck plays a role, for sure, and depending on who you ask, luck’s influence will vary in ff player’s opinions from 50/50 to 90/10 and anywhere in between. All Associated Fantasy leagues are set up with the goal of minimizing the influence luck has on a fantasy season in every way possible. From the scoring rules to the playoff formats, AF strives to remove luck from the fantasy experience to the greatest extent possible. But sometimes, you just can’t beat luck. Sometimes, luck is against you so surely that an entire league cannot beat an unmanned team.
Charleston’s Franchise Playerz were a charter member team of the IFFL in their third season, carrying a 6-21 combined record over their first 2 seasons. The 2016 campaign did not look like it would be much better, sitting at 3-5 after the first 8 weeks of play. Then in Week 9, Charleston came up with a huge win, 209-180 against the league number 1 and eventual North Division Champion Cardiff Crusaders, and then followed that in Week 10 with another huge performance, 244-163 over the Mexico City Warriors. In Week 11, they narrowly missed a victory, falling 184-186 to the Scottish Claymores, and their record stood at 6-5.
On Tuesday, at the start of Week 12, the transaction logs show that Charleston set their Week 12 lineup and put in waiver claims for Matt Prater and Adrian Peterson; two days later, they claimed those players from waivers, but they never made it into the Franchise Playerz lineup, despite the fact that they were now without a starting kicker, having dropped theirs to claim Prater. Charleston didn’t make another transaction or line-up adjustment for the remainder of the season. For those of us who play anonymous online fantasy football, it’s not the first time we’ve ever seen a team abandoned, but it seems particularly odd for it to happen to a team in their third season that was appearing to get hot. In a circumstance like this, one can only jump to the conclusion that something sudden and tragic must have happened, preventing the Franchise Playerz coach from proceeding, a particularly poignant reminder of the fleeting interaction we have with each other in these competitions, especially in a league like this: ten human strangers, stretched across a planet of 6 billion from Scotland to New Zealand.
Lady Luck and the Fantasy Gods seemed to take over the Playerz squad from there. In week 12, Charleston faced the defending 2015 champion Venice Killerwhales, and the match was a barn-burner. The 263-256 shootout was the highest scoring game in league history with the Franchise Playerz coming out on top, their 263 points being the 3rd highest score of the season, while the Killerwhales’ 256 was the 5th highest. In the Week 13 season finale, they lost 153-204 to the expansion Chicago Red Stars, though the two would meet again. Their 153 points in that final regular season game were enough for them to edge out Venice for the Points Wild Card slot by just 5 points, the two teams finishing as the 2nd and 3rd highest scoring teams of 2016 with 2498.00 and 2493.00 total points, respectively.
In the semi-final round of the IFFL playoffs, Charleston faced the team with the best record in the league, the 9-4 Perth Panthers, South Division Champs. The Panthers went ahead early in the two-week, cumulative points match-up, leading 143-105 at the break, but, again, the Fantasy Gods took over and Charleston exploded in the second half, gaining the lead and fending off a late game comeback attempt by Perth to win the game 198-197, advancing to the Championship. The underdog Red Stars rolled over Cardiff 320-260 in their semi-final match to advance as well, and the title game was set. It would be the third meeting between the two teams, and they were split 1-1. Charleston went ahead early in the match, another two-week cumulative game, leading 238-176 after the first half. the Red Stars never caught up, and the Franchise Playerz took the 2016 IFFl Championship, 373-349. Completing the unlikeliest of seasons for the title, going on autopilot and beating 4 of the best teams in the league while completely unmanned, they proved the old adage that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.