The 2016 season was the 11th year of The OIL. Fresh off an amazing 2015 season that began with a draft at AT&T Stadium, the league decided to "do it big" once again. But, first, there was some housekeeping to take care of.
It was clear during the 2015 season that PFC manager and former First Platooner Jon Gomez didn't care about being in the league. Cliburn started brainstorming replacements shortly after the 2015 season in case Gomez chose not to return. And that's what happened.
Hodge Joins the Fold
CLIBURN: Gomez had essentially done me a favor by joining in 2015 to fill out the newly-created PFC. But he didn't know anything about fantasy football and didn't care. He never participated in the league chatter, and he wasn't upset when I asked if he was okay with leaving the league. So the next question was who to take his place.
LEAL: I know I suggested we ask Hodge, but I don't remember exactly what the conversation was. When he agreed and Brick asked what his team name would be, I suggested Red Ball Express (seeing that Hodge was 158 supply). The Red Ball Express was a famous supply convoy that ran during WWII.
CLIBURN: I loved the idea. I reached out to Hodge to see if he'd be interested and if he'd take that team name. He agreed, and our empty spot was filled.
HODGE: I hadn't played fantasy football before, but I liked the idea of getting back in touch with some of the 158 guys. I didn't have a team idea in mind, so Leal's Red Ball Express idea seemed like a good one to me.
CLIBURN: I knew after the reunion weekend and draft party of 2015 that I couldn't revert to the league spending a few hours a Buffalo Wild Wings for draft day. Before the 2015 draft weekend was over, Zerger, Jessen, and multiple others were suggesting a cabin for 2016.
ZERGER: It was at the draft at AT&T Stadium (or the bus ride back) that we started talking about the next year's draft. I can't remember who suggested it first, but Jessen and I both asked Cliburn what he thought of a cabin in 2016.
CLIBURN: I was skeptical at first. My idea of a cabin was a small building out in the middle of nowhere. But then I started researching cabins, and, holy shit, did cabins get fancy! I found a lot of options for cabins that slept a dozen or so people with nice accommodations, but very few offered wi-fi . . . which we'd need for the draft.
JESSEN: I suggested one I knew about near Comanche, but Brick said it was too small.
CLIBURN: Then I found HomeAway.com and came across the listing for the Roberts Retreat Lodge. It was on a private lake, slept 32, and it wasn't four hours away like the runners-up in Broken Bow (which slept 15 or fewer).
LEAL: My impression of the draft location was it's gotta be pretty cool since it's out in the middle of nowhere. I thought the draft weekend was absolutely the best thing that could have happened.
MORGAN: Definitely. This draft location was definitely the best we have ever done. I liked that it was away from the city. It's nice to get out and enjoy the outdoors. My favorite part was all the stories around the firepit.
LEAL: That was the best part of the weekend, and I was asleep! I didn't even find out about it until I saw Brosh's videos later. Everyone was going around saying what they liked (and disliked) about everyone else. I missed that.
MORGAN: The guys didn't act too crazy until the last night, and, thankfully, we didn't break anything.
CLIBURN: That was the last night of the weekend. I was asleep when Brosh and Finch jumped on top of me and started spanking me while yelling that I couldn't sleep on the last night of the reunion. I ended up drinking with them, helping them wake up Leal and Morgan, and sitting around the campfire with them, Schuster, Jessen, Gray, and Pyle.
LEAL: The whole weekend was amazing. We played a lot of beer pong and drank a lot of beer. I would tell the other brothers that YOU HAVE TO BE HERE! I'm personally calling out Zerger, Neely (for the whole weekend), Brake (for the whole weekend), Mitchell, and everyone else that didn't come last year! And I hope everyone that came last year can come this year.
CLIBURN: My favorite part about the weekend was just being around the guys. Peacock brought his massive trailer smoker, Lynn engineered an impromptu shrimp and crab boil, and we all ate like kings all weekend. Also, no one drank anything but beer for four days. It felt like the old days.
MORGAN: Tannerite was by far the best, seeing Brosh's face after he shot it. Draft day was great, especially listening to Schu. I wouldn't change anything.
PYLE: When the draft location was announced, I was very excited. This was an opportunity for us to do something drastically different for the draft. I was a little unsure about all the technicalities of the actual draft, but I was very excited about the possibilities of the whole weekend. I liked the fact that only one draft was taking place at a time. Members of the other leagues were able to hang around and watch the other conference's drafts or just go hang out. I also liked the fact that there was plenty of room for everybody and we were kind of spread out across the whole room. My favorite part of the draft weekend was just getting to meet up and reconnect with a lot of my brothers. There were several guys present that I hadn't seen or talked to in a year or more. It is difficult to narrow it down to one single favorite, but I would say sitting around the campfire and just talking was probably my favorite.
LYNN: I think that was the most fun and memorable thing that happened while I was there. I liked the cabin much better than cowboys stadium, but I also like the idea of a new experience every year.
JESSEN: The cabin was an awesome idea. I was a great way for us to all get together and not have to worry about getting thrown in jail on the way home. It was also cool how we could spend time together as a group and also branch off into smaller groups and just talk about life.
"Well, there went the tree."
On the morning of Draft Day, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the cabin. Several hours later, a 5.56-caliber bullet shook it again.
CLIBURN: The shot heard 'round the world . . .
LYNN: Cliburn, I believe it's probably best if all those facts weren’t discovered and documented. “I don’t recall” works much better if there isn’t a record. You're a lawyer; you should know this.
CLIBURN: Armed with AR-15s, a private lake, and a dead "target" tree, the guys decided all they were missing was Tannerite . . . and went to town in search of the missing piece.
PYLE: The Tannerite idea belonged to Peacock. We went into town (Ada) Saturday morning to get some supplies, and, while at Walmart purchasing ammo, Peacock asks the store clerk if they had any Tannerite. They didn't have any so we ended up at a gun shop.
CLIBURN: How much was purchased?
PYLE: I'm not sure exactly, but I know Peacock asked for "all they had." I don't remember the exact cost, but I know it was over [redacted].
CLIBURN: How did you decide who was going to detonate it?
PYLE: I don't know if there was much planning at all. We started by filling tennis balls with the Tannerite, and while they worked, the sound and percussion of the firearms was more impressive than the exploding tennis balls.
PEACOCK: For a bunch of Artillerymen, the tennis ball explosions just weren't big enough.
PYLE: So they did what any red-blooded American would do and added more. They got in the "skiff" and placed the charges around the lake and somebody put a charge in the tree. I was the one shot the charge in the tree, and it made a fun little pop. Then Peacock says, "we can fill up that Styrofoam cooler with Tannerite . . ."
PEACOCK: We filled up that cooler, and then taped a bunch of flotation foam around it to ensure it would float.
LEAL: Once it was tied to the tree, Brosh is the one who shot it. There was a smaller one that was put under a rock that I shot. The explosion was bigger than I thought it would be. Brake said when it happened debris was hitting the big window while they were drafting. Definitely one of the highlights of the weekend for me.
CLIBURN: It was. I was in the cabin conducting the PFC draft when it happened. I had no warning and then suddenly the cabin shook and debris was flying outside the windows . . . from a football field-plus away.
CLIBURN: What was your reaction?
PYLE: I heard somebody say something about Tannerite, so I stopped what I as doing and ran around back. I got to the bottom of the steps of the dock at the exact moment Brosh took the shot. Amazement, shock, and pure joy are the best ways to describe my reaction. I truly wasn't ready for that big of a boom, but I couldn't stop smiling for a solid hour. Despite the cost, I'm pretty sure Peacock felt it was money well spent. I know I certainly enjoyed it!
CLIBURN: Was it bigger or smaller than you expected?
PYLE: The boom was significantly bigger than what I expected! I mean, it was magical. It made the tree disappear!
CLIBURN: What would you do differently in hindsight?
PYLE: Record the boom from multiple angles and better quality cameras, including a few GoPros.
LEAL: I liked the way we did our draft. I liked having not only the guys from the NFC there but guys from the AFC and PFC there too. So you get to talk shit throughout the whole league. The only thing I would "try" to change is the internet access. Don't know that can happen but it would great if it could be done. I was happy with my starters. I knew I had bench issues but didn't know it was has bad as it was.
TADLOCK: I thought draft day was great. Very relaxing and comfortable atmosphere made the whole process stress free. And there was plenty of room for everyone that was there to be comfortable.
PYLE: I felt I was well prepared for the draft. I actually conducted about three more mock drafts the day of our draft since our conference drafted last. I had a pretty good idea of who would be available later and a good idea of whom I wanted to "reach" for. The "draft room" was plenty big enough for everyone to spread out, but still be able to interact. I also remember Finch grabbing the whiskey and hammering shots!
CLIBURN: What did you think of how it was conducted?
PYLE: I was happy with the way the draft was conducted with the exception of Brick trying to change his picks, lol... just kidding. Really the only part of the draft that was annoying was managers from other conferences (mostly Schuster) running their mouth the entire draft.
CLIBURN: What did you like about draft day? What would you change?
PYLE: I loved the actual draft day. I was fortunate to be in the NFC and we drafted last, so I was able to watch two other groups go before me. I paid particular attention to the managers in my draft position. Plus most of the technical bugs were worked out by the time we drafted. I enjoyed the inter-league banter and critique that happened throughout the draft as well. The only change I would like to see is to have all of our brothers in attendance. The place sleeps 36 comfortably, so six more would not be a problem. Besides, I think a few guys slept in the same bunk (Leal and Morgan). They completely missed out on a great opportunity to reunite, reconnect, and just enjoy each other's company. The food and fun were amazing, and the company was even better. I like that it felt more relaxed than sitting around a table. There were people on the sofa, the recliner, or wall-hugging like myself. I enjoyed the atmosphere and this draft was more fun than stressful. I don't think I would change anything about the draft day experience.
JESSEN: It was fun to set and talk shit to the other guys drafting from different conferences and hearing them talk shit to us while we drafting. It is also nice that you can holler across the room to have someone toss you a beer as opposed to having to wait on some waitress to bring you one while expecting a tip.
CLIBURN: What about the guys who were drafting remotely?
DUFFY: I hated it. For starters, I knew everyone was having a blast down there. I was unable to attend. Not only did I miss out on the fun of being there, I was the victim of having awesome internet while the spotty connection down there caused delays of which I was unaware.
CLIBURN: The wifi was to blame for that. The cabin was in the middle of nowhere, and it relied on satellite internet. Sometimes, ClickyDraft would freeze up and then you'd see a few autopicks populate at once.
DUFFY: Yeah, I got no mercy when Carson Palmer was auto-drafted. Those times when three or four picks would update all at once meant I suddenly had to recalculate. It was very frustrating.
CLIBURN: For the record, I tried to undo that pick because I knew you wouldn't draft Carson Palmer after drafting Rodgers in the third.
PYLE: I didn't have any of those hiccups and completed the draft very happy with my team. I felt confident that I had drafted a playoff contender immediately and couldn't wait to get the season started.
CLIBURN: I was pretty happy with my team, aside from taking Hopkins over A.J. Green. In the first round, I said, "DeAndre Hopkins . . . no, A.J. GREEN!" and the room went apeshit. No one would let me change my pick, and instead it went to Duff.
Whose team did you like best?
PYLE: I truly liked my team the best. I felt that I had good balance and that I drafted with good value at each position. Virtually every team has weaknesses, but I felt my weaknesses were minimal and could actually be strengths if players outplayed their expectations.
CLIBURN: I liked my team, but I loved Pyle's team. In the AFC, I liked Reed's team, and I liked Tadlock's team in the PFC.
LEAL: I felt really good about my draft. It was the first time I had really used mocked drafts and the Footballguys Draft Dominator app. But, after seeing how my team performed compared to how Pyle's team did (who drafted behind me), I feel like I should have kept it simple like I have in the past.
CLIBURN: Pyle was using the same app, so don't blame Footballguys.
CLIBURN: At some point during the draft, Schuster brought up the idea of relegation, which was met with mixed responses. I want to memorialize that conversation.
PYLE: I was involved in the conversation about relegation, but I'm not a big fan. I really like what we are able to do with our league through the Yahoo! platform, and in order to do relegation, major changes would need to be made. I propose that individual that want to compare themselves to managers from other conferences place "side bets." They can choose one week or all 13 weeks if they so choose, without interrupting the previous seasonal matchups and comparisons.
LEAL: I was opposed from the beginning. The only thing I was willing to do was to bring managers/teams up in leagues when someone left the league. So if someone leaves the NFC then a "senior" member of the AFC, like Peacock, could move in to take their place. I like the idea of teams moving up when teams leave from a league. So, if someone leaves the NFC, then a team from the AFC would replace them and someone from the PFC would move to the AFC and a new team would come into the PFC. But I don't like teams bouncing from league to league based on the previous year's record. I feel like you lose too much tradition that's taken 10+ years to make.
JESSEN: I was a big fan of the relegation idea during the draft but after thinking about it I'm not in favor of making that change. It would be nice to have some sort of inter-league play but there's too much history within each conference.
The tree wasn't the thing blown up on Draft Day though. Towards the end of the PFC draft, the downstairs toilet shook the cabin to its core.
CLIBURN: I'm not sure the mystery of who blew up the bathroom will ever be solved. I went in there and saw someone hadn't flushed, which was pretty gross. So I did my thing and flushed . . . and then it all started rising dangerously close to the rim. I came out of the bathroom and asked Pyle if he'd check it out.
PYLE: Thanks, Brick.
CLIBURN: I was commishing the PFC draft! Anyway, Pyle quickly notified the rest of the guys that we had a crime scene on our hands, and no one fessed up. There's no fucking integrity in this league. It's like the Army Values™ meant nothing.
LEAL: I think no one wanted to admit to it because they knew they'd be stuck cleaning it if everyone knew they were responsible.
MORGAN: I think it was Leal. It just seems like something he would do.
JESSEN: No, I bet it was Pyle. He was too quick to point fingers at other people.
PYLE: It it were me, I'd have been proud of it. Without a doubt, it was Nick Reed.
REED: No way. If it was me, it wouldn't have made me gag when I saw it. That was ridiculous. I have never in my life seen a bathroom murdered like that. No fucking way it was me.
CLIBURN: I think it was Brake. The bathroom was fine until he showed up.
PYLE: Or maybe it was Finch or Brosh.
CLIBURN: My favorite part was someone doing shit forensics and pointing the finger at the two guys who witnesses had seen eating corn on the cob.
ROE: Well, I don't know who it was, but I remember I was a person of interest because I was eating corn. Nonetheless, I still stand by what I said that weekend: I did not fuck up the toilet.
FINCH: I say whoever smelt it dealt it. Trust me if that was my mess I would've claimed it. Unfortunately for Pyle, I didn't even know there was a bathroom downstairs. Goddamn, that was gross. I'm surprised they are even letting us come back. Whoever that was, and I think I know (Roe or Gray), that's pretty shitty to shit and puke or puke or puke and shit all over the damn bathroom and walk away from it. And how in the fuck did no one hear that? It had to sound like a fucking circus in there. Hats off to the brave soldiers who went into that drop zone. And quit being a vagina and confess your sin to the group you nasty ass bathroom bandit. We won't be too hard on ya this year . . . but we won't be very easy either. [middle finger emoji] Pyle.
CLIBURN: Regardless, Schuster, a man of immense character and integrity, volunteered to plunge the toilet with the aid of homemade waders.
SCHUSTER: I was just tired of hearing you guys bitch about it. Someone had to do something.
CLIBURN: It should be noted that Pyle did clean that bathroom the next morning before barracks clear-out. Gotta give credit where credit is due.
JESSEN: That's because he's the one that blew it up!
"You're the worst soldier here . . . you got shot!"
Perhaps the best example of the gallows humor and special camaraderie that makes up the OIL was exhibited during the following exchange between Jessen and Schuster:
AFC Draft Results
NFC Draft Results
COBB: I received a D grade. Now let's address the theory that my draft was bad, but I made outstanding waiver wire picks and trades. Nothing could be further from the truth. I had horrible luck with trades. Two players I traded for retired, and my top scorers were drafted. In short, the fantasy gurus at yahoo are full of shit. I actually watch the games. They read the stat sheets. Fortunately I stuck to my draft game plan and did not get discouraged because Yahoo told me I sucked.
CLIBURN: Your draft did suck. You didn't even draft enough WRs to field a full lineup. Besides, the draft grades are based on projected starting lineup and bench points, so of course yours was going to get a bad grade . . . you didn't have a full lineup to project points with.
PFC Draft Results
For the second consecutive season, the podcast Rate My League previewed all three OIL conferences.
CLIBURN: I got a lot of great feedback on the podcast, but Fynch wasn't impressed:
CLIBURN: RotoViz started the Fantasyland podcast in the spring of 2016, and I was a big fan from the get-go. With so many podcasts devoted to the micro elements of fantasy (weekly rankings and waiver wire advice), it was nice to see a podcast focus all their resources on macro subjects (spreadsheets; women in the fantasy industry; the story of RotoWorld; and the zero-RB draft strategy, to name a few). So I shot the Fantasyland crew an email to let them know it was appreciated.
CLIBURN: By the following August, host Peter Overzet contacted me to say they were planning an episode on veterans who play fantasy football and wanted to follow up with us. That's how the OIL episode of the podcast started. Before I knew it, they were asking for names of guys willing to interview.
DUFFY: When Cliburn told me about this, I was pretty excited. After chatting with Peter prior to the actual interview, I could hear excitement in his voice, too. It would be hard to argue against the special and unique qualities of our league and its managers. We all know that within the project, but outsiders seem skeptical until they talk to us. I could tell Peter knew he had something special at his disposal for their episode.
CLIBURN: He was all-in from the get-go, and I had high hopes.
DUFFY: I was disappointed with Yahoo!'s interview the year prior. I felt like they focused less on football and veteran friends reuniting, and spun it into this PTSD chronicle . . . they tried way to hard to make it about PTSD. Peter wisely saw the bigger picture.
PYLE: I agree about the Yahoo! interview. The guys were great, but they did focus too much on the PTSD stuff.
DUFFY: After the interview, I was so impatient waiting to the episode to come out so I could hear what the other guys had to say. It was very cool. Peter did a good job. I was glad Cliburn found yet another chance to market our special experiment.
ZERGER: There were so many emotions involved in that interview. I thought it was great, all the way through. I love our league and I love our guys and some of these guys deserve that spotlight.
GRAY: I felt really hung over and awkward when he was interviewing me. I think that's why I only had one sound byte.
SCHUSTER: I hated how I sounded on it, but I liked the final product.
One destroyed tree, hundreds of beers, dozens of pounds of smoked meat, three drafts, and two podcasts later, the season was finally set to begin.
AFC Weeks 1-2
CLIBURN: The Vultures and Cocks (Brosh and Peacock, respectively) were the only teams to start out 2-0. Meanwhile, the Apes sabotaged their season by dropping QB Matt Ryan in order to keep Eli Manning and Andy Dalton.
MUSSELMAN: That would be not looking closely enough during preseason training.This year Eli will be at the most my back up, if I pick him. Lesson learned, that is to study the players
CLIBURN: And you set up Peacock for a special season:
PEACOCK: This was the best move I made all year. Thanks, Muss!
Not two weeks into the season, it appeared that one team's quest for a title was over before it began when Sawtooths RBs Adrian Peterson and Danny Woodhead suffered season-ending injuries.
CLIBURN: I felt so bad for Reed. I loved his draft. I thought he was a real threat in the AFC, and then . . . BAM!
REED: Oh yeah. It killed me. I thought I had gotten Danny on a steal because of ppr points. Then it spiraled from there. I had no chance. I was going to be lucky to go .500 with both starters going down.
CLIBURN: In the PFC, Hodge had drafted Peterson and Tadlock had pulled the trigger on Woodhead in the fourth round, which I thought was a great pick.
TADLOCK: I took a hit with the Woodhead injury, for sure. To be honest, after that, I struggled at RB the rest of the year.
Just two weeks into the season, Zerger made a move he'd live to regret:
ZERGER: At the time, Arian Foster was the starter in Miami, and Cadet seemed like he could be a good PPR guy.
CLIBURN: To be fair, Ajayi averaged 3.25 points per game the first two weeks of the season.
REED: Knowing that Arian Foster is so fragile, I thought Ajayi was worth a flyer.
NFC Weeks 1-2
CLIBURN: Almost as soon as the draft ended, I wondered if Blake Bortles was going to be sufficient as my starting QB. So I sought out a team with a good backup QB and offered longtime OIL star WR Andre Johnson in trade.
COBB: On paper it looked good for both of us, but Andre Johnson got old really fast. He held no fantasy value this last year. He might be a hall of fame candidate though.
TROVILLO: I drafted Adrian Peterson in round one, and I was wanting to have the most explosive backfield in the NFC. So the idea was to pair Peterson and Le'veon Bell and have, what I thought to be, the most dynamic RBs in the field. I knew it wasn't going to come cheap, so I paired my second- and third-round picks with an RB2 in Latavius Murray.
CLIBURN: But this wasn't the first time you had Bell. This was the third year in a row Bell donned the Hippies helmet.
TROVILLO: That is very true. I had a bit of a soft spot for Bell, as he was my workhorse in 2014. Even though he was missing the first part of the season, I know all too well how special of a player he is, and how dynamic he can be, from a fantasy standpoint. I felt that the value that comes with his volatility is well worth it. Plus, how can the Dirty Hippies hate on a guy that gets in trouble for smoking the devil's lettuce?
CLIBURN: What was the idea behind Jordan Reed?
TROVILLO: I also felt that I had a strong need at the TE position, and I knew that Reed, while a boom or bust player, was talented enough to take a chance on him.
COBB: I went heavy on RBs and TEs in the draft, so I had some value to spare at those positions while I was in need at WR. On paper I would say he got the better end of that trade, but I benefited a lot from having Mike Evans and Bell was suspended at the beginning. Reed had battled injuries, and I had good TEs.
CLIBURN: What role did Bell's suspension have in your decision to trade him away?
COBB: It played a huge role. I wouldn't have traded him otherwise. In most leagues, Deangelo Williams was going earlier than Bell because of the suspension. That affected me. [Editor's note: I can find no evidence that D-Will was going ahead of Le'Veon Bell in "most" leagues.]
DUFFY: Having drafted Rodgers early, it felt right to handcuff Lacy. My logic was based on the fact that Lacy had demonstrated pass-catching ability in that offense, so his TD potential to me seemed higher than average. Secondly, I figured if Rodgers wasn’t throwing TDs, I could at least get the ones Lacy vulture in the red zone. I felt I was deep enough at WR to make this move. I think when I looked at Baldwin’s team, I saw he was very thin at WR, and this felt like an opportunity to make a move. I think I already had Starks too, which was RB insurance built into the trade.
YANCY BALDWIN: I had to work on draft day, and autodraft wasn't good to me. So I had work to do to salvage my season. Eddie Lacy had been disappointing the previous season and I thought two starting WRs was good value.
DUFFY: Schmidt’s team was terrible. His draft was just awful. I was stuck with Carson Palmer thanks to all the blue falcons in the draft room. I certainly didn’t need both Palmer AND Rodgers. I tried to move Rodgers simultaneously, but nobody took the bait (everyone overvalues their own players).
So I looked at Schmidt’s team and reached out to him and made the argument that half his team wasn’t even startable. Benjamin was useless on that roster as he couldn’t possibly carry that team. I offered him three guys he could start week one and at least put a more balanced and competitive roster out there, and whichever of his QB got hot first could be moved by him separately to further bolster his starting lineup.
CLIBURN: But Reed wasn't the only one affected by the early season-ending injuries. In the NFC, Trovillo lost Adrian Peterson.
TROVILLO: With him being my-first round pick, and using my second and 3rd round picks to trade for Le'Veon Bell, who was on suspension for the first four games, it was basically like my four top players were injured on the same day.
MORGAN: And I lost Danny Woodhead . . . I had a good feeling about this last season. I had a excellent draft and was ready to crush my competition. But my bad luck struck again with multiple injuries and I expected to finish last. I'll rebound though. Can't wait to see everyone for the draft.
PYLE: My thinking behind this trade was seeking depth. I felt I was thin at RB and Schmidt had recently lost Keenan Allen so he was thin at WR. I was very confident in my depth at WR. I also wanted to bolster my depth at QB, as both QBs on my roster had the same bye week. I was confident in Carson Palmer at the time and felt that not only could he be my backup QB, but if he performed as he did the previous season, I may be picking up a new starting QB. Hindsight is usually 20/20.
PFC Weeks 1-2
CLIBURN: Coming out of week two, Gray (Great Plains Drifters) and Pennington (FDC Chiefs) led the pack at 2-0.
GRAY: I learned in my first season last year, just because you start out well doesn't mean you'll end well. I really need to work on my post draft roster adjustments. I think that's where the other, more experienced managers have a leg up on me.
PENNINGTON: I was feeling pretty good about my team at this point and was fully expecting to have a repeat appearance in the title game.
AFC Weeks 3-4
REED: Immediately after losing Peterson and Woodhead, it was clear what kind of effect it would have on my team, losing two in a row.
CLIBURN: The Sawtooths weren't the only team disappointing though. Perennial contender Green was sitting at 1-3, even with a roster that boasted four top RBs: LeSean McCoy; Tevin Coleman; LeGarrette Blount; and Jeremy Hill.
DUFFY: How did the AFC let Green amass so many RBs in a 14-team league? And why did Green spend so much capital collecting five starting RBs when he could only play three?
PYLE: I have lost my top RB midseason or later the last two seasons, so I could see justification for carrying that many RBs, or at least close to that number. It really boils down to luck. You could use those RBs as trade bait as long as you trade the "right" one, and the fantasy gods don't jack with you. If you have a solid WR corps, I don't see a need to keep that many RBs though.
GREEN: I most likely wouldn't have went RB-heavy had I been at the draft, but I was working. And autodraft had other plans for me.
CLIBURN: That makes sense. Every year, more and more managers go WR early, so autodraft sees highly-ranked RBs available in those middle rounds and picks them.
GREEN: My RBs looked great, but that left a lack of depth at WR.
CLIBURN: But not a lack of talent. Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and Michael Thomas were a great trio.
Just Say No
NFC Weeks 3-4
CLIBURN: I was actually in New Orleans for this week, at the Monday night game against the Falcons. It was pretty awesome seeing Michael Thomas attempt to win the game for me in person.
CLIBURN: That's probably why she tried to be nice. She was thinking, "these poor boys are going to war; the least I can do is brighten up their morning."
COBB: No good deed goes unpunished.
The Hits Just Keep on Coming
MORGAN: It wasn't even week five, and my season was over.
PFC Weeks 3-4
Standings After Four Weeks
AFC Weeks 5-6
CLIBURN: Jay Ajayi averaged 15 points per game to this point after being added by Reed in Week Three. So it was a surprise when Reed dropped him in Week Six. What was the reasoning here?
REED: I don't remember why I dropped Ajayi, but I know that Meredith was showing promise.
GREEN: Sims had been a disappointment to this point, so I was more than willing to take a chance on Ajayi.
NFC Weeks 5-6
CLIBURN: In weeks five and six, it looked like 2011-2012 Jessen was back. He made it to two OIL Bowls then and crushed folks in the regular season.
Pyle Unveils Lucky Enuf Team Cooler
CLIBURN: I had bought this cooler at Sam's in OKC. It was the only color they had. At the end of the draft weekend, Pyle commented on it being Lucky Enuf colors.
PYLE: The cooler idea came about when I was walking through the cabin and a I saw the cooler just sitting there in the floor. I said, "Hey! Who brought the Lucky Enuf cooler!?" Brick replied, "I did." So I, half joking, half serious, said, "how much do you want for it?" Brick said, "I don't know how much I'll use it. I really just bought specifically for this weekend. 20 bucks." So I said deal. I know of a local company here in Anadarko that does custom signs and graphics so I called them up and told them about my ideas and plans and they said they could do it.
AFC Weeks 7-8
CLIBURN: This is when Zerger became a clear favorite. His choice of Ezekiel Elliott was crushing folks left and right.
ZERGER: I just liked the offensive line of the Cowboys. I couldn't pass up an automatic point maker like Zeke.
Keeping it Real
The trade in question:
ZERGER: I don't even have any words, Hillier quit playing after it was vetoed.
REED: I was only trying to better my team. And he didn't care much about his at the time. I was in a bad way and Rudolph was a better TE than he had and Charles hadn't played a snap yet.
GREEN: I think Nick Reed is an upstanding guy and would never cheat. I think the trade was fair. Us Nicks have to stick together.
NFC Weeks 7-8
In October, something strange and foreign infiltrated the GroupMe chat: baseball talk. Cubs fans Pyle and Zerger blew up the chat about the Cubs' World Series win. It even snaked its way into discussion of Pyle's first loss:
CLIBURN: Finally, someone knocked off Pyle when the NARCS beat Lucky Enuf in week eight. I particularly enjoyed it because I was afraid Pyle would break my record and become the first team to go undefeated.
PYLE: I was dealing with my most impacted week as far as byes were concerned. Plus my backup RB (Tevin Coleman) was out due to injury. I had Week 8 circled at the beginning of the year as a week that I would struggle, which is why I made some of the trades and moves a few weeks earlier.
HENDERSON: It was just one game. I didn't get too excited about it.
PYLE: My goal every season is to go undefeated and I'm a sore loser. I was not at all happy my team decided to shit the bed. I'm not saying that I was surprised because the bye weeks really hit me hard week eight. Despite the loss, I was still confident in my squad.
PFC Weeks 7-8
BUEHRE: I don't remember this one exactly but I do remember struggling with my running back choices. The ravens and saints wouldn't stick with a main back even after a good performance the week before. Miller was also very streaky and the coaches wouldn't always give him a full load every week. It seems like whichever ones I picked the others would get the work and points. I did try making a trade with Pierre to help out my RB situation since he had 3 good backs but couldn't get him to trade.
Standings After Eight Weeks
CLIBURN: With about two thirds of the season over, the favorites were Zerger in the AFC, Pyle in the NFC, and Gray in the PFC. Meanwhile, the three commissioners didn't look too hot. I was 5-3. Reed was in 11th place in the PFC.
BUEHRE: And I was in ninth place in the PFC. If i wanted to make the playoffs, I needed to make a big move.
Bad Trades Get Even Worse
At the end of October, two newly-minted Dogs of War decided they'd rather retire than play for Cobb, who had traded for them.
Gone Too Soon: Arian Foster Retires at 30
The OIL was shocked in week eight when two-time champion RB Arian Foster announced his retirement. From the OIL press release:
Two-time OIL champion RB Arian Foster announced his retirement today, halfway into his seventh season. Foster won championships with the Arrogant Americans and the Dogs of War. He's been added to the player almanac and is now eligible for the Hall of Fame.
Foster retired after putting up the following stats:
CLIBURN: I found it telling that Foster retired as soon as I traded him to Cobb.
COBB: And then Andre Johnson retired!
CLIBURN: It was pretty evident that players would rather retire than play for the Dogs of War.
COBB: Bullshit. Both Foster and Johnson were on my 2013 championship team.
Andre Johnson Hangs 'em Up at 35
CLIBURN: All jokes about Cobb aside, Johnson was a fixture in the OIL for its entire existence. He had clearly lost a step the previous two seasons, but he was a mainstay in the top-10 of WRs for nine seasons.
PYLE: He helped me win the 2008 title.
CLIBURN: I made it to my first OIL Bowl in 2009 with him on my roster.
CLIBURN: Johnson averaged 209.45 points per season, but that includes two injury-plagued seasons in 2015 and 2016.
Bringing Lutonsky into the Fold
CLIBURN: Halfway through the season, I knew it was time to replace Oglesby. He hadn't made a move all season, despite many attempts to contact him by text and email. But I needed someone to take his place, so I asked Zerger to reach out to Lutonsky.
ZERGER: I am glad he joined, I almost had him signed up before but he was nervous.
CLIBURN: I was too. He was in my squad during the SECFOR mission (or, rather, I was in his squad as I got added after everyone got to Baghdad). With his addition, that put four of my squad's guys in the league: me; Bruesch; Brosh; and Lutonsky.
LUTONSKY: It took a lot of recruiting from Z, but I finally took the plunge.
PYLE: I think Lutonsky was a good addition. I mean, he's a bit of a goofball and a big cry baby, but other than that, he should be a solid addition to the league.
Adding Team Ratings to Manager Pages
In November, Cliburn added a small wrinkle to each manager page:
CLIBURN: I've always been a fan of logos and uniforms. That's why I'm such a big fan of the websites SportsLogos.net and Uni-Watch.com. So I decided to emulate SportsLogos.net and institute a rating system beneath each team logo. I'm not sure anyone noticed, so that's why I'm including it here. I also updated the manager pages to use team-specific fonts and championship banners:
AFC Weeks 9-10
CLIBURN: This might have been the best free agent pickup of the season.
ZERGER: Picking him up helped me tremendously. My receiving corps was lacking, and he provided big-play potential. But then I talked a lot of crap about Joe Mixon and was thinking "I hope Pyle and Jessen don't look at my roster."
CLIBURN: But, immediately after, the Redlegs averaged over 200 points the next two weeks.
ZERGER: This was when I really started believing my team was special, but I was too cautious to get vocal about it.
CLIBURN: But the Doughboys were coming on as well. This was their sixth-straight victory after starting out 1-3.
NFC Weeks 9-10
CLIBURN: After losing Andre Johnson and Arian Foster to retirement, the Dogs of War still managed to win two straight. That was a surprise.
PYLE: But it shouldn't have been. It's not as if those two had been contributing for Cobb.
"Why Can't a Cooler Just be a Cooler?"
CLIBURN: After seeing Pyle's Lucky Enuf cooler, I decided I needed one. So I took a blue and white cooler we had and got to work. When my wife asked what I was doing to our cooler, I told her I was turning it into the official 'Mericans cooler. She said, "Bay-bee! Why does everything have to be Arrogant Americans-related? Why can't a cooler just be a cooler?" The only response I could think of was "but Pyle did it!" She was not amused, but it turned out great. I'm happy with it.
PFC Weeks 9-10
CLIBURN: Shortly after getting the shit kicked out of him by Buehre, Lutonsky traded away Antonio Brown to his former platoon sergeant, and I was suspicious:
CLIBURN: After Zerger's input and Lutonsky's explanation, the trade made sense and was allowed. So, just before the trade deadline, Buehre gained the fourth-highest scoring WR to that point of the season.
BUEHRE: I knew that, if I was going to have a chance at making a run for the championship, I was going to have to get either a top RB or WR. I tried trading with Pierre the week before for a RB with no luck. I saw that Lutonsky had Antonio Brown and not much else in his lineup. I based this trade off the one Brake did for Drew Brees, giving up multiple players for one with about double the point forecast in his favor. I Looked at Lutonsky's lineup and was able to give him people that were better than what he had on his roster, with the exception of Brown, while leaving me with players to start. We went back and forth a few times on players I was giving him before we ended up with the final four names. He was hesitant on making the trade, but I let him know that all trades were reviewed by Cliburn (the commissioner) before they would be approved (especially involving a top player).
CLIBURN: The defending champion Brawlers started to pick up steam as well. After 10 weeks, several teams were positioning themselves for a playoff run.
AFC Weeks 11-12
CLIBURN: Even the best teams need a little luck here and there, and Zerger had it with a 122.90-121.60 win against Lynn.
ZERGER: I really just happened to get lucky. I was on a hot streak. I had won quite a few games in a row and this was just something special about my team. We won close games.
Roe, Cliburn Unveil New Logos
CLIBURN: Roe's CafePress store kept getting suspended because George Lucas is an asshole with no sense of humor. So we decided to change it up while keeping the Jedi aesthetic.
ROE: I was very disappointed in this, fuck you Lucas Arts. So the decision had to be made to change, while I did like the old logo the new one is a better representation of me. Yes I am still pleased that I could keep something from the old logo. No matter the change, I will still beat the Redlegs every time!
CLIBURN: Over the course of the season, my logo had changed as well. Gone was Uncle Sam giving the world the middle finger. In its place was an A-centric logo with the Uncle Sam hat in the same roundel framing. But that grew old, and we simplified the logo by the end of the season to focus solely on the 'A' with a 'Mericans wordmark below.
CLIBURN: And the wordmark logo was updated as well.
AFC: Rivalry Week
REED: The third year of AFC Rivalry Week was up and down. Half of them were blowouts; half of them were legit matchups. For the ones that got stomped, they damn sure became a rival after that week.
ROE: This week is the best of the whole season. In the AFC, the matchups are like no other, and this is also the busiest week on our group chat. The amount of shit-talking is enough to make your head spin.
Representing the OIL on National TV
On December 2, Dogs of War manager and 2013 champion Aaron Cobb was part of the headline fight at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa. It was broadcast nationally on AXS TV, and Cobb came out rocking his 2013 championship jersey.
CLIBURN: I was at my wife's work Christmas party that night, so I was following along through the GroupMe chat.
COBB: Unfortunately it was by far my worst performance, having been inactive a couple years. Still a great experience, but a victory, or a more competitive fight, would have done the jersey more justice.
PYLE: It was awesome to see Cobb representing not only himself, but the OIL as well. I would have like to have seen a different fight outcome, but I was very pissed to learn how the promotion did Cobb dirty.
ROE: Unfortunately I had to work the night of this fight, but I think it was great that Cobb represented the best league in all of fantasy football.
GRAY: It would have been awesomer if they lost the feed after he took off the jersey. LOVE YOU COBB!!!
NFC: Rivalry Week
LEAL: Rivalry Week always seems to be pretty close, but there were a lot of blowouts this season.
FINCH: Man that week was nuts yo. Out of the 14 teams in our league, we went 7-7. Any league with a .500 weekly record is probably right about middlish in the fantasy world. So yea 7 teams won. And 7 teams lost. Turns out staying up drinking and running needles through my lil Yancy doll didn't pay off this year. Next year I'll try running him over with an 18-wheeler and then burn his ass in a barrel with 20-30 hairspray cans. Rivalry. Cool word. Let's get a deuce-and-half with our money this year. Or some hookers and cocaine. You know, something fun, but not over the top. Alright then. Hope this helps you out with your coloring book you're writing, clyburn. Ba bye [middle finger emoji].
PYLE: I didn't really pay attention during Rivalry Week since I already knew I had the number-one seed. My primary concern was my players making through the week unscathed, which they did not. My top player, Julio Jones, was injured right as I was heading into the playoffs. I got the win though.
CLIBURN: That's what you get for being so cocky and not respecting Rivalry Week.
PFC: Rivalry Week
CLIBURN: This was the second season of the PFC Rivalry Week. It's got its ups and downs as far as hate goes, but it's getting there.
TADLOCK: It's always good to beat your rival (especially since Pennington beat me the year before), but this victory clinched the number-one seed for me.
Every year, after 13 weeks of hard work, 42 teams get cut down to 18. It's not fair, but . . . actually it is fair. It's as fair as we can make it while keeping head-to-head matchups. When the music stopped on the 2016 regular season, only six teams from each conference still had an opportunity to win a championship.
GREEN: Honestly I expected to lose this game. I believe Moncrief was very questionable and I picked up Freddie Martino from the wire. It wasn't looking good receiver wise.
CLIBURN: Freddie Martino was a rookie WR from Division-II school North Greenville University. I am 100% certain he is the first NGU alum to start an OIL playoff game. He put up 0.00 points for Green, as did Moncrief.
GREEN: But Nye's team was even worse, so I lived to fight another day.
NYE: Melvin Gordon was injured in the first quarter, and no one else stepped up. That's what I get for trusting a Wisconsin guy.
The two favorites heading into the playoffs in the NFC were 12-1 Lucky Enuf and the D-Drafts of War. The 'Mericans were 9-4, but their third seed seemed lucky. DominationStation and the Hard Targets were contenders like always. And the Dirty Hippies snuck into the field after heading into Week 10 at 4-5.
CLIBURN: I wasn't confident heading into the playoffs, but I was confident in my ability to beat Trovillo. He limped into the playoffs and wasn't considered a contender all season.
TROVILLO: So this matchup, in particular, holds a special place in my heart, as Brick seems to be a special type of pain in the ass for me each year. (correct me if I am wrong here) I can't recall exactly how many times we have met each other, but I know that Cliburn had an advantage in the W column by a game or two, so I wanted to win this one really badly.
TROVILLO: It didn't start well, as my go-to WR put up 1.30 points. Throughout the day on Sunday I had to sit and watch as five of my 11 starters put up less points than they were projected. My highest scorer was the #3 receiver on the Falcons WR depth chart. I was down, at one point, by 45-50 points. But I still had Big Ben and Le'Veon "Hippies Mascot" Bell left to play.
CLIBURN: I was pretty confident at that point. But Brees only put up 7.05 points, and I knew that Roethlisberger and Bell were unpredictable.
TROVILLO: Roethlisberger failed me, putting up only 4.65 points. But Bell came out of the gate like he was riding an ATACMS. The guy is on FIRE. I watch as Cliburn's lead starts to evaporate into thin air. Fuck the Steel Curtain; Bell is Steel Rain! When it's all said and done, Bell put up the most fantasy points of the season (51!), and I walked away with the win . . . as well as Cliburn's pride and dignity, as I'm sure he'll tell you.
CLIBURN: I couldn't believe it. Fuck Le'Veon Bell.
CLIBURN: I always like seeing playoff matchups between original OIL members, and this is one of them.
FYNCH: I wasn't worried at all. I don't even remember who was on my team clyburn that was fucking months ago. I new crystal was going to blow it that week. Anywho about the matchup..... uh Jessen has been cursed with fantasy football since the day him and I created this league back in Nam. I always look forward to whipping his ass and getting the easy win. Actually this coming season I'm pondering the idea of trying my hardest to lose to his team. It's gonna be tough I know. His teams are usually some off the shittiest ones out there. I can try at least. Let's go back to konowa this year. Or are we banned from there? Maybe I'm just banned. That would be par for the course. Anyway yea fantasy football.... wait, it's June 1st. Get a fucking life, clyburn. Or play fantasy golf for fuck sakes.
With a First-Round Bye, Pyle Still Loses
After losing #1 WR Julio Jones during Rivalry Week, Pyle suffered another loss during his first-round bye when another star was injured for the rest of the season.
PYLE: While I was supposed to be enjoying my first round bye, Melvin Gordon was lost for the season. It goes without saying that weeks 13 and 14 were not very kind to me, which is why I was optimistic but reserved about my team most of the season. That is also the reason I had zero confidence in having a shot against the Dirty Hippies in the semifinals.
GRAY: This game just goes to show you, that having too many players on the same team can be a blessing or a curse. If the team does well, you win. If the team is shut down, you lose. This game was an example of the former.
DEREK BALDWIN: I made the playoffs for the first time, but Ezekiel Elliott let me down, while Tom Brady blew up for Gray's team.
CORDES: I barely beat Brake in the regular season, but it wasn't close in the playoffs. I had several key players that either got hurt or didn't show up to play BIG! Things like that hurt my overall score especially when Brake's team was playing well. My hat is off to him on the great matchup.
BRAKE: I just couldn't believe I won with Drew Brees scoring single digits.
On the eve of the semifinals, the championship picture was clearer. There would be a new champion in the AFC, as Venable had failed to make the playoffs. In the NFC, there was a 75% chance of a repeat champion, while there was only one previous champion in the PFC semifinals field.
ZERGER: I didn't have a good feeling heading into this matchup. During the first-round bye, my team posted the least points of all playoff teams. So I was worried that my players wouldnt perform how they were expected to. But Zeke Elliot had another great game, and Matt Bryant, who was the number-one kicker that season, scored 14 points.
BROSH: Once again, I fell just short of the Thunder Bowl.
GREEN: I was surprised to be in the finals being receiver-deficient all year. McCoy and Palmer definitely came in clutch for this game.
PEACOCK: I guess the Cinderella season had to stop somewhere. The Cocks will rise again though.
Of the four remaining teams, three were previous champions. Lucky Enuf won in 2006 and 2008. The Dogs of War won it all in 2013, and the Dirty Hippies were just two years removed from their 2014 championship.
PYLE: My top two players, Julio Jones and Melvin Gordon were out for this game. I'd lost Gordon in the last week of the season, and Julio Jones was injured during my bye week.
PYLE: The rest of my lineup posted average production at best. Dirty Hippies picked up Ryan Griffin at TE, and he posted the best week of his career. Ty Montgomery posted his best performance of his career as well. I ran into a buzz saw while limping through the week. Extremely disappointing end to an exceptional season.
TROVILLO: Ty Montgomery! I couldn't' believe Ty Montgomery almost doubled Le'Veon Bell's production in the semifinals. I was on to the OIL Bowl for the second time in three years.
CLIBURN: Poor Pyle. He was the favorite all season and then:
The Wrong Foot
Semifinals weekend started out poorly for Finch. On Thursday evening, just after the Thursday Night Football game began, Finch text Cobb and Cliburn to say he didn't mean to start Lance Kendricks:
FINCH: I ended up losing by 40, so the lineup mistake didn't decide anything. For the second year in a row, I lost in the semis.
COBB: And, once again, Bilal Powell was our fantasy lord and savior, scoring 27 points. He always produces in the playoffs.
There were several big stories heading into the PFC semifinals. Gray, who'd never played fantasy before 2015, had a chance at the Patriot Bowl. Buehre was among the final four after finishing in last place in 2015. Tadlock was the clear favorite after locking down the number-one seed. And returning champion Brake had a chance to go back-to-back.
TADLOCK: The only two guys who showed up this game were Sterling Shepard and Robby Anderson. Everyone else threw the game or something.
GRAY: I was definitely surprised to be there because Tom Brady was hit or miss all season. And, surprise, surprise, Mr. Brady went and fucked me without even buying me dinner first. Shame on you Tom.
The championship came down to Green and Zerger, two managers who had never won a title. Zerger was the perceived favorite as the number-one seed, but Green was projected to win.
GREEN: I think my sheer will to win and determination reserved me a slot in the championship game. But, unfortunately, even winners lose. We lose to remind ourselves that we are still human . . . that and because Jeremy Hill can't manage 35 measly yards against Houston.
ZERGER: I was down, and the Cowboys had already pulled Zeke so I thought I was finished . . . especially when I saw the reverse play begin with Dez running the ball. Then the most unpredictable thing happened: he threw the ball to Witten for a touchdown, and that ultimately won me the championship.
GREEN: My team put up a good fight. Ultimately, Jeremy Hill lost me the title with his 0.8 points. I should have started Blount.
CLIBURN: Eight of nine offensive starters for the Redlegs were drafted by Zerger, with the exception being stellar free-agent pickup Tyreek Hill. In hindsight, it was a fantastic draft.
CLIBURN: And the Redlegs didn't make a single trade all season. I guess you can do that when your draft is so successful.
The OIL Bowl pitted the 2013 and 2014 champions against each other. It was the second championship appearance for both Cobb and Trovillo.
COBB: At one point during this game, I was projected to win by 99%. But Le'Veon Bell (who I traded to Trovillo while he was suspended) and Doug Baldwin just went on a tear and led an incredible comeback.
TROVILLO: It was the second comeback victory of the playoffs for the Hippies . . . the third if you count sneaking into the playoffs as a six-seed.
COBB: I hated losing, but I felt vindicated after my D draft grade.
CLIBURN: But 2013 OIL Bowl hero and 2016 semifinals hero Bilal Powell forsook you, scoring only 9.4 points. Did that affect your love for him?
COBB: He out-scored Latavius Murray, who is a starter, so I don't blame Powell. He fired up the team in the locker room prior to the game.
CLIBURN: In contrast to Zerger's championship blueprint, the Hippies only retained three drafted players by the end of the season. The rest of the team was made up of shrewd trades and waiver-wire pickups.
TROVILLO: I was constantly churning my roster after a lackluster draft. Then we got hot at the right time.
CLIBURN: Buehre had what turned out to be a decent draft. Six of his picks finished the year on his roster, although his top three receivers were waiver-wire additions or trade acquisitions.
BUEHRE: My biggest mistake was probably using up a roster spot on Adrian Peterson, but I thought he may come back from injury and be my hero.
The Liberty Bowl consisted of the NFC vs. the AFC, the Dirty Hippies vs. the Redlegs, as they were the two highest-scoring conference champions in week 16.
ZERGER: I tried to mirror his running backs and thought that I would win off of my receivers, but he picked up McKinnon and Burkhead, who both had great games. I still think that we need to have the week 16 winner take all score. Just my opinion though.
TROVILLO: With it being Week 17, I knew I had to make adjustments, and Alex Smith, Burkhead, and McKinnon (who weren't regular season starters for me) came through.
. . . and the league champion received a custom team mini-helmet from Helmet Nation, LLC.
The Rest of the Story
The final standings for each conference and each team's final roster.