By Josh Knust, Never Say Wombat
After this week, we will be halfway through the regular season, and teams are starting to feel the heat in the race for the six playoff slots. Who the top four teams are is very apparent (Haarig Holzfallers, Uncle Abe, Las Tortugas, and Phuket Rippers), and it looks like the only way they can be beaten going forward is by each other or by a brilliant performance from one of the also-rans (see: The Mirthmobile in Week 3). It is too early to start talking seriously about the playoff bracket, but we are getting to the point in the season where some teams are becoming locks to make it and locks to miss out. For the teams in the middle of the pack, the result of this week is going to go a long way towards determining their playoff statuses. Some owners can taste the playoffs already, some are fighting to not get relegated, and some are fighting to not get relegated all the way to the bottom.
#5 The Mirthmobile (3-2, ABAM) vs #12 Swamp Donkeys (1-4, TMAS)
The Mirthmobile is quietly riding a three-game win streak coming into this week’s game, and look to come back stronger this week after getting four players back off of byes. On the other hand, Masker and the Swamp Donkeys are struggling, only breaking ninety points once this season (Week 2). I don’t expect anything different this week and have The Mirthmobile winning in a rout.
Edge: The Mirthmobile (ABAM)
#9 Upper Decker (2-3, MSTE) vs #6 Dallas Dictators (1-4, JBAM)
This is a match-up of two teams who, in my opinion, are much better than their records show. Upper Decker passes the eye test and looks like a solid team that has underperformed or performed inconsistently early in the year. The Dallas Dictators have scored 114 or more points in three different weeks of the season only to be beat by great performances from their opponents in each of those games. The Dictators suffered a huge loss in Week 5 when Jamaal Charles sustained a season-ending injury. Bye-weeks and injuries are hitting the Dictators hard this week and they will be thin going up against an all-available Upper Decker team. This is a must win for Jameson and the Dictators, but I think Upper Decker pulls the minor upset, “going into the locker room” with a record of 3-3, while the Dictators drop to a brutal 1-5.
Edge: Upper Decker (MSTE)
#11 Arnie’s Pizza Shop (0-5, DKOC) vs #7 Never Say Wombat (2-3, JKNU)
Logan and Arnie’s Pizza Shop is last in the league standings and eleventh in the power rankings, and have not broken eighty points in the last three weeks. My Never Say Wombat team has had up-and-down weeks, and its status as a below average team is not something I would dispute. Injuries to key players and underperformance by other top picks have forced both of these teams to get aggressive on the waiver wire, and the two come into this game with the two of the lowest remaining auction budgets at $45 (T-Mike dropped to $43 after spending $33 on Charcandrick West and $10 on Knile Davis in last night’s waiver auction). This match-up is my pick for Pillow Fight of the Week, where I predict that the pattern of underperformance will continue for both teams, but NSW gets the win on the back of some players coming off of injury (I’m looking at you, Marshawn).
Edge: Never Say Wombat (JKNU)
#3 Las Tortugas (4-1, DTAY) vs #8 Duncombe Demons (2-3, TMIC)
It is a tired narrative to keep referring to the multitude of injuries that the T-Mike’s team has had this year, but it is proving to be too much to overcome and the Demons are 2-3 because of it. It is hard to predict how the Demons will show this week because they have the most inconsistent scoring of any team in the league by a wide margin at 35.7 points (the next highest standard deviation is 20.8 points by The Mirthmobile). He’s made some good pick-ups (Willie Snead and the aforementioned Charcandrick West) and has some pieces that could put together a good week, but it will not be enough to topple the Tortugas. Dave-O has himself a good squad.
Edge: Las Tortugas (DTAY)
#10 Backalley Bootleggers (3-2, DPAT) vs #4 Phuket Rippers (4-1, MSUL)
This one is projected to be the closest match of the week, with Denton and the Bootleggers projected to win 112.1-111.1 at the time of this writing. Sullivan and his Rippers have won the last three games and have put up some dominant scores during that streak (his 129.9, 128.0, and 133.4 points are the highest total in the league during that time period). I wrote last week about how the Bootleggers have been underperforming despite a solid record, but with Gronkowski back from a bye and DeMarco finally at full strength, the Bootleggers may have a shot. Projected score versus final output is not something I track, but I have noticed that the Rippers typically exceed their projected value, and I do not yet have faith in the Bootleggers to choose them over the streaking Rippers.
Edge: Phuket Rippers (MSUL)
#1 Haarig Holzfallers (4-1, ABIA) vs #2 Uncle Abe (4-1, NLIN)
And here we have it, the marquee game of the week, if not the year. Respectively, the Holzfallers and Uncle Abe are one-and-two in scoring, one-and-three in scoring consistency, and one-and-two in ceiling (the amount of points possible when retroactively setting a perfect line-up). The scoring projections for this one are modest, and have Bianchi’s Holzfallers edging Uncle Abe by a score of 107.7-102.0. However, these are two other teams that consistently blow their projections out of the water, so it is really anyone’s guess. I think Julio Jones is the x-factor in this match-up. We are fast approaching the Thursday night game, and if Julio can’t go or just isn’t his normal self, the Holzfallers take it comfortably. In the end, the only thing that this game will affect is how highly these two teams are seeded in the playoffs for which they will inevitably qualify.
Edge: Haarig Holzfallers (ABIA)
2018 Assist Raffle Tracker
T. Shannon - 24
J. Edwards - 1