The 2018 Vultures won the AFC and OIL championships. Accordingly, they are entitled to both a championship helmet and jersey. While the jersey is still in production, the helmet, manufactured by HelmetNation.com, has arrived. It is the first to feature such a large decal, spanning the entire front of the helmet, and Helmet Nation did a great job reproducing it. Congrats to my old Baghdad roommate, Brosh, for winning the most coveted of OIL prizes.
Stephen Brosh drafted QB Patrick Mahomes in the 10th round and complemented him with a strong ground game, led by Adrian Peterson and Dalvin Cook, and deep WR corps. His Vultures upset the defending champions and second-seeded Cocks before defeating the now three-time runner-up Doughboys in the Thunder Bowl. In the Liberty Bowl, he faced two teams with higher OPRs, but he slayed them as well. The Vultures manager will now receive a bevy of prizes: the Killman Memorial Trophy; a custom team jersey; the Tenequer Memorial Trophy; and a custom team mini-helmet. Congratulations, Brosh.
The Vultures finished with a record of 12-4. They scored 143.28 points per game and an OPR of 1.034 (16th). Over the season, they made 19 transactions, ended the season with 10 drafted players remaining on their roster, and finished on a 10-game winning streak (including the Liberty Bowl).
The three conference champions will submit their Week 17 lineup to the Commissioner before the games begin. The conference champion with the highest combined score over Weeks 16-17 will be crowned OIL Champions, have their name engraved on the Tenequer Memorial Trophy, and receive a custom team mini-helmet.
CYRIL — Almost 111 days after the RateMyLeague.com crew ridiculed his drafting ability, Dirty Dogs manager Scott Buehre is the last man standing in the PFC. The Dogs defeated the upstart Xtreme 165.45-120.05 Monday night to claim their second championship in three seasons.
In hindsight, Buehre's draft was not that bad, aside from a horrible TE group and taking a defense too early. And he should get credit for drafting RB James Conner in the 15th round, keeping him away from the Le'Veon Bell owner. No, where Buehre's team faltered wasn't the result of draft whiffs; it was injury, as a whopping seven Dirty Dogs ended up on IR (including starting QB Andy Dalton, acquired in trade after Jimmy Garoppolo's season-ending injury, who ended up on IR himself shortly thereafter).
But what the RateMyLeague.com crew failed to account for is Buehre's in-season management. His 26 transactions were by no means the most in the league. But the effectiveness of those moves reiterated that what's important is making the right moves. Moments after clinching the championship, Buehre had a message for those that doubted him.
When reached for comment Tuesday, the Andy Goldstein of RateMyLeague.com had this to say:
The Dirty Dogs were carried by recent waiver-wire acquisitions QB Russell Wilson, RB Jaylen Samuels, TE C.J. Uzomah, and WR DaeSean Hamilton, who combined for 83.55 points. Samuels was filling in for season-long starting RB James Conner, who missed the entire playoff run due to injury. Most impressively, Buehre's optimal lineup was less than one point more than his Week 16 total, displaying Buehre's superior lineup management.
The Dogs went into Monday Night Football leading 149.45-119.05, but Buehre was not counting his chickens just yet.
"The game was neck and neck until the Sunday night game when I got a little lead," he said. "I felt pretty good going into Monday’s game but the week seven 32 points by Denver’s defense was lurking in the back of my mind."
But the Denver D/ST was nowhere to be found, and Buehre won his second championship in three tries as a result.
Xtreme manager Jason Bellar wasn't bitter and each manager made sure to congratulate each other on great seasons.
The victory lifted the Dogs to a franchise-best 12-3 record in 2018 and a 39-19 record overall. Buehre now leads the all-time series with Bellar, 3-2. With two championships in three seasons, the Dogs will have to be considered serious contenders going into 2019.
But Buehre wasn't the only manager proving RateMyLeague.com wrong this week. Xtreme manager Jason Bellar was roasted by the RML crew, having their draft ranked last in the PFC. And, whereas Buehre was forced to make two dozen moves to account for injuries, Bellar completed only eight transactions all season, with only two (TE Ian Thomas and WR Kenny Stills) post-draft acquisitions starting the Patriot Bowl. Yes, that indicates the Xtreme were extremely lucky when it comes to injuries, but it also shows that their draft picks were exceeding expectations.
Bellar was incredibly consistent (and incredibly mediocre) through his first four seasons, going 7-6 in each regular season from 2015-2017. But the Xtreme went 9-4 in 2018 before winning two playoff games to reach the Patriot Bowl. Unfortunately, when it mattered most, Bellar was let down by his top-three WRs (who combined for 3.60 points) and his special teams, as his K and D/ST combined for nine points. Regardless, even if all of those players met their projections, the Xtreme weren't catching the red-hot Dirty Dogs.
The loss dropped Bellar to 11-5 on the season and 32-25 overall. The Xtreme are now 2-3 all-time against the Dirty Dogs.
MARLOW — We have a new champion in the AFC, and his name is Stephen Brosh. His Vultures clawed their way to a 170.80-140.55 Thunder Bowl victory over the heartbroken Doughboys, who have now lost three-consecutive championship games.
The Vultures were paced once again by QB Patrick Mahomes, the 10th-round pick who was the catalyst for Brosh's squad all season. But, while Mahomes's 36.95 points led the team, the unsung hero of the game was RB Elijah McGuire, who signed with the team December 19th after RB Isaiah Crowell was lost to IR. McGuire's 23.50 points were second-most on the team, although no one disappointed with the lowest-scoring position player still putting up 9.20 points (WR Robert Foster, playing in relief of WR Josh Gordon, who left the team during Championship Week to focus on his mental health). No other position player scored in the single-digits.
The win moved the Vultures to 12-4 on the year and 41-30 overall. The championship is Brosh's first, a fact that isn't lost on him.
"Finally! I've been waiting to win a championship ever since I started playing fantasy football. Everything just came together when it needed to," he said. "But I do hate that Green had to lose [the championship game] for the third year in a row."
For Doughboys manager Nick Green, the loss was devastating. He overcame four draft picks going on IR, his top draft pick (Le'Veon Bell) holding out the entire season, and a difficult schedule to put up the fourth-most points and an 8-5 record. Sneaking into the playoffs with the sixth seed, the Doughboys scratched and clawed their way to their third-consecutive championship game after losing the previous two to the Redlegs.
But it was not meant to be. First, RB James Conner, who admirably filled in for Bell all season, missed the entire playoffs due to injury. Then QB Tom Brady disappointed. Many view Brady as Football Jesus. But, today, when Green only saw one set of footprints in the sand, it was then that Brady abandoned him, putting up a paltry 8.30 points when Green needed him most. Finally, Green was prescient enough to sign RB C.J. Anderson when it was clear Todd Gurley may not play. But he was not prescient enough to start C.J. Anderson, leaving his 23.20 points on the bench while starting RB Josh Adams posted a 0.10 line.
The Doughboys still had a chance, despite Brady and Adams, thanks to their WR corps, who scored a combined 78.35 points, and their special teams, as K Mason Crosby and D/ST New England posted a combined 23 points. But only 10.40 points from TE Travis Kelce (8.50 points below his season average) and 6.90 points from RB fill-in Kalen Ballage doomed the comeback attempt.
When reached for comment, Green was brief. "I hate losing," he said. "I broke my coffee table."
The loss dropped the Doughboys to 10-6 for 2018 and 47-29 overall. They will enter 2019 as contenders once again.
SHAWNEE — What a way to finish off a championship season. After a star-studded season that included a 10-3 record, Kevin Pyle and Lucky Enuf rode rookie QB Sam Darnold and free-agent signing C.J. Anderson to a championship Sunday, beating the Whackers 163.95-154.30 for their third championship in 13 seasons. The matchup was a re-match of the very first OIL Bowl in 2006.
After winning the inaugural OIL Bowl in 2006, Pyle had to wait until 2012 before learning he'd been recognized as a co-champion for 2008. Lucky Enuf and SoonerJack famously tied in the 2008 OIL Bowl, but the passing yards tiebreaker gave the title to Bruesch. Four years later, a re-count using fractional scoring showed Pyle would have won. In the years since, Pyle has been cursed by that asterisk: ridiculed by fellow managers and snakebitten in the playoffs. But, as he put it on Twitter, he finally has that monkey off his back.
Lucky Enuf had seemed a cruel moniker in recent seasons, as this season marked the fourth in a row that he lost players to season-ending injuries during the playoffs. This year, Pyle lost QB Carson Wentz and RB Todd Gurley to injury and WR Josh Gordon to imminent suspension. But Pyle shrewdly started rookie QB Sam Darnold in relief of Wentz and off-the-street free-agent RB C.J. Anderson in place of Gurley. Lucky Enuf was rewarded with 35.45 points from Darnold and 23.30 points from Anderson. Rookie WR Robert Foster started in place of Gordon and posted a respectable 9.20 points.
The win brings Pyle's career record against Morgan to 9-5. He ends 2018 at 12-3, lifting his 13-year OIL record to 107-76, with three championships. But Pyle isn't forgetting the heartbreak of the past. "I'm genuinely about to jump out of my skin with excitement, but the previous three or four seasons are keeping me humble," he said.
We'll see how humble he feels when he sees his name engraved on the Lawson Memorial Trophy again.
Morgan, the 2007 champion, was in the title game for the third time. He has now lost the OIL Bowl to Pyle twice. The Whackers were led by 27.60 points from fill-in RB Jamaal Williams and 26.50 points from first-round RB Alvin Kamara.
When reached for comment, Morgan was not bitter. "I thought I had it, but that's why they play the games," he said. The Whackers end the season at 10-5, dropping their 13-year OIL record to 85-96-1 with one championship and two runner-up finishes.
Six teams. Three trophies. Three previous champions. Three managers seeking their first title. Welcome to Championship Week 2018.
Click on the team logos above to view each team's roster. Analysis after the jump.
Multiple first-round games came down to the MNF wire, and I'm hoping for similar drama this week. One thing is for sure: there will be no back-to-back champions in any conference. 2017 AFC Champion Zerger's Redlegs lost, as did 2017 NFC Champion Cliburn's Arrogant Americans. 2017 PFC champion Brake and Boomtown Brawlers just missed the playoffs.
The six-seed Doughboys trounced the Warm Bodies, as Nye was betrayed by Jordan Reed and Jared Goff (despite a whopping 31 points from Ezekiel Elliott). Meanwhile the Redlegs underachieved at every position except for QB, where rookie Lamar Jackson did more than his part. The Vultures moved on with big games from Patrick Mahomes and Julio Jones.
If Green's Doughboys win this week, they'll be heading to the Thunder Bowl for the third time, although they've yet to secure a championship. If Melvin Gordon plays for War Pony, I think it'll be enough to push Venable's team over the top. But, if not, this is the epitome of a toss-up.
Of 18 playoff contenders, eight of them (almost half!) account for 15 previous championships. They are:
Click on the matchup title to view the game on Yahoo!.
Venable and Peacock enjoy a first-round bye this week, while last year's championship participants (Zerger and Green) join Nye and Brosh in having to fight their way to the semifinals.
The early game Sunday pits Green against Nye, who seems perpetually underrated. The Doughboys lost James Conner to injury this week, but their team is solid. It will have to be if Green wants to move on to the semifinals for the third-straight season. I don't think he does, although his team is arguably superior.
Congratulations to all 18 playoff contenders. There were some incredibly tough breaks (such as Duffy losing two games by a combined 0.15 points or Tadlock missing the playoffs despite having the second-most points in the PFC), but that's the way the cookie crumbled. Pennington set the record for most points in a season while Rogers sadly broke the record for most losses (with an 0-13 record).
The final OPR rankings are below. Pennington topped the league but fell just short of setting the record for best OPR (1.297 in 2010 by the Arrogant Americans). The top 10 is comprised of four NFC teams and three each from the AFC and PFC.