I give Adam a lot of grief about his fantasy failings, but the reality is he's got me on the ropes right now.
The Trombone Shorties' 94-89 victory last week against Non-Gingervitis gives Rittenberg a 6-5 series edge with two weeks to go. If he wins this week, it's over. And since I'm also going to lose the picks contest, that would be a bitter pill to swallow.
The Shorties didn't have anybody score more than 20 points last week, but they had a balanced effort led by Taylor Martinez (20), Venric Mark (16) and the wise waiver-wire pickup of Minnesota's defense (18). My team was much more top-heavy, as I got 37 points from Montee Ball and 15 from Kain Colter but not much elsewhere. I took the calculated gamble of keeping Braxton Miller on his bye week, and it cost me.
My strategy was to sacrifice Week 11 in hopes of building a super team for the final two weeks. Let's hope it works, or else Adam might be celebrating two big victories in Indianapolis this December.
Rationale: I now have officially stolen the Shorties' original starting backfield. It was either Bell or Ohio State's Carlos Hyde for the top pick. Wisconsin's run defense is a little bit better than Northwestern's, though, and I've decided to spread out some of my risk in a must-win week. I'm hoping Bell's legs will be fresh after the bye weeks. How does 45 carries sound, Le'Veon?
Adam adds Michigan's defense and drops Minnesota's defense
Rationale: The Gophers got the job done last week against Illinois, but they face a much tougher task this week against Nebraska on the road. Michigan, meanwhile, should bounce back defensively against a shaky Iowa offense in the Big House. Jake Ryan, Jordan Kovacs and crew throttle the Hawkeyes.
Rationale: Yep, Gardner at wide receiver. That's where he's eligible in the ESPN game, so I'm picking him up and hopefully enjoying all his stats at quarterback this week. Fair? Well, it's no different than Colter earning points at receiver while playing quarterback. And everyone who has played fantasy sports successfully knows you have to use the rules to your favor when possible. Plus, the Denard Robinson injury wrecked my team, so I'm offering no apologies.
Adam adds Michigan's kickers and drops Indiana's kickers
Rationale: While Indiana could put up some points in State College, it's a riskier bet than thinking Michigan will score a lot against Iowa. Give me Brendan "brunette girls" Gibbons and the points, please.
Rationale: Edison probably has a better chance to put up points this week versus Illinois, especially since Wisconsin barely threw the ball last week. But with my back against the wall, I want proven fantasy superstars. I'll go to war with Abbrederis any day.
Adam adds Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde and drops Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Rationale: Abdullah has been great, but Rex Burkhead could be back this week to take away some of his carries. I expect a high-scoring game in Madison, and Hyde will find the end zone at least once for the Buckeyes.
Brian adds Nebraska's defense and drops Iowa's defense
Rationale: I had too much faith in Iowa last week to shut down Purdue, and while the Hawkeyes still managed a respectable nine fantasy points, I want no part of this defense at Michigan. Instead, give me Nebraska's Blackshirts, who have been playing well and should provide problems for Minnesota.
Brian adds Northwestern's kickers and drops Iowa's kickers.
Rationale: My Iowa purge continues this week. I'm going with the Wildcats' kickers, figuring Jeff Budzien might be needed a couple of times if the offense stalls against a tough Michigan State defense.
Our complete rosters for Week 12:
The Trombone Shorties
Penn State QB Matt McGloin
Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Northwestern RB Venric Mark
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Northwestern QB Kain Colter
Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
Michigan WR Devin Gardner
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis