Simulated Experts’ Fantasy League: Semifinals Recap

College Busters was the only playoff team with a player in the Thursday Night game, getting their matchup off to a roaring start with 12.5 points from Michael Turner. Ron Burgundy All-Stars and Worldwide Leaders each had a player in the Saturday Night game between the Bucs and Cowboys, but LeGarrette Blount had a disappointing day for KFFL, and ESPN took the lead on the back of the Cowboys defense 13-2.1.

Drew Brees only slowly caught fire to propel Swimsuit Issues in the lead by halftime of the early games, while KFFL and ESPN traded paint despite ESPN’s early lead and ESPN having more players in play. Cam Newton and the Dolphins defense helped KFFL stay competitive, while Jordy Nelson, Hakeem Nicks, and Neil Rackers had no score for ESPN after the first half. Brees eventually had an incredibly productive day (nearly 35 points), giving Swimsuit Issues an over 35-point lead heading into the late games, while Donald Brown keyed Worldwide Leaders to an eventual huge lead, thanks to his 80-yard touchdown run.

College Busters roared into the lead when the Eagles started their game out strong with two sacks, an interception, and a touchdown return. Suddenly Swimsuit Issues, which had been the dominant team all season, looked like it might very well miss the title game. Following the late games, Swimsuit Issues had a .04 lead over College Busters, and that mostly because LeSean McCoy managed to get a long run for a touchdown late. It would come down to Antonio Brown and the Ravens defense for Swimsuit Issues against Ray Rice and Michael Crabtree for College Busters.

The first round was Ray Rice against the Ravens defense, and it was an unmitigated disaster for Swimsuit Issues. Rice did pretty well, putting up 11 points, but the Ravens defense let Phillip Rivers march up and down on them. SI would need Brown to score 17 more points than Crabtree to move on to the championship game. Luckily, Crabtree had only 35 receiving yards on the day. But Brown only mustered 59, with neither making the end zone, and just like that Swimsuit Issues was out.

A strong day for Brent Celek pulled Ron Burgundy All-Stars into the lead, but not by much. All Worldwide Leaders needed was eight points from Alex Smith, a relatively trivial number for a quarterback, to make the championship game. Smith would end up going for 187 yards and a touchdown, setting up Worldwide Leaders for a championship game showdown with the surprising College Busters.

Worldwide Leaders will put out an impressive lineup: Chris Johnson and Donald Brown (fresh off a breakout 22-point performance) at running back, Steve Smith, Jordy Nelson, and Mike Wallace at wideout, Jimmy Graham at tight end, and Neil Rackers at kicker. The main weak spots, if you can call them that, are Alex Smith at quarterback and the Cowboys defense, and the latter is the only starter on ESPN’s roster not projected to score in double digits by Fleaflicker – and even then they’re off a double-digit performance.

But Fleaflicker also still projects College Busters to come out on top. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and running backs Ray Rice and Michael Turner are some of the best in the game, and Shonn Greene and tight end Aaron Hernandez aren’t slouches either. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski and the Eagles defense (interestingly, playing the Cowboys defense) are strong as well. YHOO’s weak spot is at wideout with Jabar Gaffney and Michael Crabtree. Will Worldwide Leaders’ wideouts win the day, or will College Busters get enough production from their studs to finish their Cinderella run? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, Swimsuit Issues isn’t expected to have too much of a problem with Ron Burgundy All-Stars in the third-place game. Commissioner’s Favorite managed to upset The SportsLine to set up a fifth-place showdown with Team Infograph, while Takedown Glaze managed to crush the higher-seeded Politically Incorrect to set up a showdown with an Indy Tea Party team that similarly demolished Wisdom of Crowds. Outside the championship game, the closest contest could be CBS’ seventh-place showdown with Inside Information, where both sides are actually expected to score more than either title game participant, with Arian Foster and Michael Bush keying The SportsLine (and Malcom Floyd the only starter not projected to crack double digits) and Michael Vick expected to have a big day alongside Calvin Johnson for Inside Information.

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