It came to the attention of one of the editors in our sports department Monday, during our daily morning meeting, that he was trailing in his fantasy football game by 0.4 points heading into the Steelers-Bengals game that night.
He had no players left, while his opponent still had one to play: Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Game over, it seemed. But on the site that tallies scores, it only showed his opponent with a 99.6% chance of winning. How as that possible, we wondered — until figuring it out: If somehow Smith-Schuster put up a negative point total, via a comically low output and at least one fumble, it was conceivable that our editor's team could still win.
Folks ... it almost happened.
At halftime, Smith-Schuster had 2 catches for minus-6 yards and ... a fumble. That meant he had minus-1 points, and our editor was suddenly ahead by 0.6 points.
It stayed that way INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER, as the Steelers — who are attempting to be both the 1972 Dolphins and 1976 Buccaneers in the same season — stumbled toward their third consecutive loss after 11 straight wins to start the year.
But Smith-Schuster caught a 21-yard pass with 10:14 left in the game, putting his total — in this league's scoring system — all the way up to minus-0.25.
That was all he did the rest of the game. But it was just enough to stave off what would have been one of the all-time bad beats in fantasy football history. His team owner won by 0.15 points.
Let this be a lesson: If you are winning by a very close margin, particularly in the playoffs, and you have a win secured ... de-activate any players who could wind up with negative totals.
And also always remember: Nobody cares about your fantasy football team, but everyone cares about excruciating fantasy football (and gambling) losses.
Here are four other things I'm thinking about this morning:
*We, as an industry, have reached new depths in the search for content: ESPN has a piece about Pro Bowl snubs ... during a year in which the Pro Bowl won't even be played.
They made a bunch of their experts weigh in on it. No, really.
At least one expert, former Star Tribune Vikings beat writer Kevin Seifert, had the good sense to call it for what it is: You want an honest answer? I'm surprised that so many people cared about the roster release. COVID-19 restrictions forced the game to be canceled, shifting the focus to how haphazard the selection process is. The NFL thinks it's fun to debate the "snubs," and though no team can be perfect, years of comical "snubs" diminish the credibility of this process to me. Bah humbug.
*Chip Scoggins was right on in his piece about Karl-Anthony Towns, and he used the stat that crystallizes where KAT is in his career: last season Towns ranked first among NBA centers in offensive real plus-minus and last in defensive real plus-minus.
Towns has the size and athleticism to be at least an adequate defensive player. For the Wolves to go anywhere, he needs to become a more consistently complete player.
*Looking for a silver lining to the Wild's placement in the ... yawn ... West in this year's ... sorry, yawn again ... NHL alignment? As a counterweight to a lot of late night games on the West Coast that will test fans' sleep habits, there is this offered by the Wild:
To which a fan quipped:
*There continue to be rumblings about some significant Twins offseason moves — particularly revolving around the middle of the infield.
It makes some sense. As much as the combo of Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez would be an offensive boon for years to come, both players are limited defensively. An upgrade at one of those positions to more of a complete player would strengthen the Twins.