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The 15: Fantasy Football Horror Stories

August 15, 2016
If you play fantasy football (or if you've ever played fantasy football), it's happened to you. At some point, a win seemed inevitable but was snatched away in the final seconds. Or perhaps, a player you traded for on a Tuesday showed up on the injury report Wednesday as a limited participant in practice, only to never play again that season. 

They're fantasy football horror stories, and they're as common as someone in your league drafting Baltimore's Justin Tucker in the eighth round because he's "a really good kicker and seems like a good dude."

For "The 15" this month, PressBox readers and contributors shared some of their own horror stories. They are most certainly harrowing. 

1. "There's nothing worse than having the No. 2 overall pick. In 2013, I agonized over a number of options before finally going with then-Bills running back C.J. Spiller. After the draft ended, we all received an alert to our phone saying Spiller got hurt during a preseason game the same day. He was OK, but his season was so bad he didn't even remain the starter the entire time. I wish I could say it was my worst first-round pick, but a year later, I selected Adrian Peterson, who lasted all of one game before being suspended." -- Glenn Clark, host of Glenn Clark Radio
At this point I don't even want a first-round pick in the draft. 

2. "I was once headed for my championship title.  ... I needed one more yard from running back Edgerrin James ... and they took him out of the game never to return at the half! I lost by .9." -- PressBox fantasy football expert Ken Zalis
Man, we've all been there. "Well all of the other running backs could get hurt, and then James would have to go back in!"

3. "Three years ago, I lost in the championship in Week 16. I had Marshawn Lynch, he had Andre Roberts, and the game went to overtime. We tied. He got the win because he had a better record during the season." -- Nick, Bel Air, Md.
Can you even imagine the cockiness Nick felt when he knew it was down to these two players? One of the best running backs in football versus a receiver who, with a gun to your head you still couldn't name what team he's currently playing for. That's brutal. 

4. "I once had former Ravens quarterback Tony Banks auto drafted for me. With the first pick in the first round." -- John, Kensington, Md.
Look, this one is totally on John. What's the point of a fantasy football league if you're going to auto draft? The only part of the league that's any actual fun is the draft! What? Do you just really love gnawing at your fingernails every Sunday but hate the joy of hanging with your friends and eating delicious fried foods every Labor Day weekend?

5. "It was Week 17 of the 2007 season. Titans vs. Colts. I had LenDale White left to play in the championship game. During the third quarter, he lost a fumble when I was up by one -- costing me two points. He never got another point the rest of the game, and I ended up losing the championship by one point. Brutal. And nine years later, I'm still without a fantasy football championship." -- Christian, Abingdon, Md.
It hurts just to read that. But again, this is kind of on Christian. Who plays fantasy football during Week 17? That's terrible. 

6. "I don't remember how long ago or the specific players, but it was the championship game in a money league versus my brother. I tweaked my lineup going into the Ravens game. Reception [at M&T Bank Stadium] is so frigging (bad), it didn't save. I lost by two points and whoever was on the bench I wanted to start had three. It was so upsetting. I have blacked out on everything." -- Gina, Baltimore
I think we all would. Also, I think the reception issue is clear collusion on the part of Gina's brother. She should probably take it up with the commissioner. 

7. "My worst dynasty league story was trading several rookie picks for Ricky Williams ... a couple of months before he retired (the first time). The team fell apart after that, and the owner, who had my picks, got the No. 1 overall rookie pick the next two years!" -- Steve, Dundalk, Md.
Welp. At least Mike Ditka can feel your pain, Steve. 

8. "[Daunte] Culpepper sets all kind of records; the next year I get the first pick (2005). Boom! He's out early in the season and would ultimately last only a few games before being shut down for the season. Then [Tom] Brady has this huge 2007, and I get the first pick again in 2008 -- in a league where quarterbacks were the most valuable -- and I take Brady. That lasted about a quarter until he was shut down. I wanted to charge opposing NFL teams to hire me to pick their opponents' players. It was like anyone I touched would be out for the season almost immediately." -- Elie, Baltimore
I've had similar luck with basically every first-round pick I've ever had. Welcome to the club. 

9. "I once lost a title due to a stat correction. I drafted Tom Brady the year he went out during Week One, and I have also retired several running backs. My team name is 'Legend Killers.'" -- Tim, Woodbine, Md.
Brady was a popular early pick in 2008. I actually selected him in one of my leagues myself. I remember trying to enjoy Joe Flacco's NFL debut only to have the murmurs start spreading throughout M&T Bank Stadium. I couldn't enjoy it anymore. 

10. "I went 0-14 last season. In one game I lost by .01 points." -- Eric, Laurel, Md., "Barstool RDT" from
But it's still better than finishing in a tie, right? Also, once you get to 0-8, you're kind of trying to go winless, aren't you?

11. "In our league, the punishment for finishing last is significant. I was playing in the Toilet Bowl and going into Monday night, we were tied. I didn't know what the rules were if we finished in a tie, so I played my defense that night. They got me negative points, and I lost. As it turns out, a later stat correction occurred for his team, and I actually could have benched my defense and still won." -- Mark, Perry Hall, Md.
Which is a reminder that if you're winning, you always bench your Monday night players. You just never know when disaster might strike. Which wouldn't have helped Mark much here. 

12. "Eight of my 16 draft picks were busts one year. Then I traded for Philip Rivers, totally forgetting he sleeps through the second half of every season." -- Brandon, Parkville, Md.
If only they gave you fantasy points for the best doofus-face. Rivers would be the goat. 

13. "I lost to my best man on the day of my wedding because the venue had no cell reception. It was still a wonderful day." -- Jon, Baltimore
Good save, Jon. 

14. "Last season, I lost three games by a total of less than two points -- including one by .04 points." -- Chris, Perry Hall, Md.
That's definitely heartbreaking, and probably worse than no-win Eric at No. 10. But we saved the worst for last. 

15. "In the Denny Green, 'they are who we thought they were' game (Chicago vs. Arizona 2006), I was up by 5. He was done for the week. I had Rex Grossman, and he scored -12 points. I lost by seven. Four interceptions and two lost fumbles by Grossman." -- Eric, Baltimore
Yep. That's officially the worst. And RIP, Denny. 

Issue 224: August 2016