Fantasy Football Fun: Week 17

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin warms up

It all comes down to this.

Nine hopefuls have poured their very being into desperately trying to crack the code, fighting tooth and nail in search of a way to "Beat the Strick." Entering the final week, just one realistically still has a shot.

Josh Klein of the Riot Report trails me by about 10 points heading into Week 17. Fantasy football analyst John Halpin is probably out of the running some 60-plus points back, though if all of his players score four touchdowns this week as he claims will happen, maybe he's not out of it.

At the other end of the spectrum, fellow writer Bill Voth and Spectrum News sports director Mike Solarte are locked in an epic battle to avoid the embarrassment of finishing last. Voth, much like me, benefited from Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin's late-season surge to slightly increase his edge.

In the middle of the pack, Jourdan Rodrigue's resurgence continues. Since declaring she was tanking, the Charlotte Observer reporter has been steadily climbing the ranks. Once buried in last place, she's up to sixth and has a legit chance to finish in the top half of the standings – especially in light of our celebrity panelist's "strategy" this week.

"I concede victory to the worthy victor I would like to announce my all-star lineup for the week," former Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross declared before unveiling a doozy.

If special teams points were a part of the equation, then Karl Hankton and Rod Smart would be, well, smart picks. And if this were, you know, 2003. Gross is rolling with all former teammates this week. Who doesn't love a random Randy Fasani reference?

Bryan Strickland
Max Henson
Bill Voth
Jordan Gross
Jim Szoke
Total Pts (rank) 1,300.78 (1st) 1,142.56 (8th) 1,105.38 (9th) 1,197.54 (5th) 1,192.22 (7th)
Last week 75.44 (8th) 49.74 (10th) 87.28 (3rd) 90.66 (1st) 86.68 (4th)
QB T. Brady K. Cousins R. Wilson Randy Fasani N. Foles
RB J. Williams J. Williams D. Henry Jamal Robertson C.J. Anderson
RB P. Barber J. Samuels D. Williams Rod Smart D. Williams
WR Smith-Schuster M. Evans T. Lockett Walter Young R. Anderson
WR R. Anderson A. Jeffrey C. Ridley Karl Hankton C. Ridley
TE I. Thomas I. Thomas I. Thomas Jermaine Wiggins I. Thomas
Jourdan Rodrigue
Mike Solarte
Kelsey Riggs
Josh Klein
John Halpin
Total Pts (rank) 1,193.08 (6th) 1,101.74 (10th) 1,220.54 (4th) 1,290.54 (2nd) 1,236.60 (3rd)
Last week 87.76 (2nd) 84.54 (5th) 81.64 (6th) 69.66 (9th) 78.98 (7th)
QB N. Foles N. Foles N. Foles P. Mahomes D. Watson
RB C.J. Anderson D. Henry C.J. Anderson C. Carson D. Cook
RB D. Sproles J. Williams D. Williams J. Williams J. Williams
WR T.Y. Hilton C. Samuel D. Baldwin T. Hill R. Anderson
WR D. Baldwin J. Edelman S. Shephard M. Evans R. Foster
TE I. Thomas V. McDonald I. Thomas I. Thomas I. Thomas

Josh and I revealed our lineup choices to each other via text, one by one, and each SMS message made me Shake in My Shoes. He still has Pat Mahomes left? And Tyreek Hill? I try to answer his selection of Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans with Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber?

Clearly I have zero chance.

He's got me on paper, but I'm not going to fold. I need some good Juju from Smith-Schuster in a must-game for the Steelers against the generous Bengals defense. And anytime you've got Tawmy Brady on your side in the winter months (and the Jets defense on the other side), there's reason to hope.

Maybe, just maybe Jets receiver Robby Anderson will forgive me and play hero one week after Jourdan submitted her lineup and I asked her, "Who's Anderson?" Or, with the way the fantasy football gods always keep things interesting, maybe Evans will twice make catches just short of the goal line that Barber will cash in.

Whatever happens, it's been fun. That's not true. It's all ruined if I don't win.