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What I'm up against

By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network.com) - Let's get something straight. This article is about me.

Specifically, it's about my three fantasy teams playing in the championship this week.

To say I'm feeling the pressure would be an understatement. To quote the beloved zigzag t-shirt-wearing Charlie Brown, "my anxieties have anxieties."

But of course, getting to the fantasy title game is no small feat. Clearly I did something right to get my teams where they are now. So, there's that.

I'm a believer in the black jack theory of fantasy football: no matter the hand, you always play it the same way. If Andrew Luck got you here, that's who you're going with. End of discussion.

Now it's time to see what kind of cards I've been dealt. But first a quick obituary for the fallen Thunder Storks.

I told you that three of my teams made it to the finals. What I didn't tell you is how many teams I have. The answer is four. While the Anti-Denties, Urban Sombreros (I like Seinfeld. Maybe you've noticed.) and Mexican Fighting Beagles live on, the Thunder Storks bowed out in Week 15.

You left us too soon, Thunder Storks. We had some great weeks together (Josh Gordon's 40-point game in Week 13 comes to mind) but ultimately, we weren't able to finish what we started. And for that, I apologize. You deserved better, Marshawn Lynch.

That was difficult. Now let's focus on Week 16.

The Family League

Format: 10-team, standard scoring

Jesse (No. 3 seed) vs. Cousin Nick (No. 1 seed)

Season series: Nick, 2-0

Olive Garden's tagline is, "When you're here, you're family." Well, here we are. Pantuosco Bowl 2013 features the teams with the two-best regular season records. It also has four of fantasy's ten highest scorers including Jamaal Charles and Russell Wilson. Can you say instant classic?

My team (Urban Sombreros)

QB: Russell Wilson, Seattle

RB: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia

RB: Frank Gore, San Francisco

WR: Calvin Johnson, Detroit

WR: Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay

TE: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans

FLEX: Shane Vereen, New England

D/ST: Bills

K: Matt Prater, Denver

Nick's team

QB: Philip Rivers, San Diego

RB: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City

RB: Matt Forte, Chicago

WR: Josh Gordon, Cleveland

WR: DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia

TE: Julius Thomas, Denver

FLEX: Riley Cooper, Philadelphia

D/ST: Browns

K: Phil Dawson, San Francisco

Wow, you want to talk about two heavyweights. There's a lot of star power on display here. If that's considered tooting my own horn, so be it.

I'll be honest, Jamaal Charles scares the bejeezus out of me. I'm also hoping DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper will cancel each other out but you never know with Nick Foles.

Usually, I start Carolina's defense but they're playing New Orleans this week. That didn't turn out so well last time so I went with the Bills. They're playing Miami but the game's in Buffalo. Orchard Park in December doesn't exactly scream offense. I think it's the right play.

Josh Gordon is frustrating because I own him in two of my other leagues. So I need him to do well but not so well that he buries me in the championship. The good news is, Shane Vereen, Jimmy Graham and Calvin Johnson are all due for a big game after limping through Week 15. This one's probably going down to the wire and by that I mean the Monday night game in San Francisco.

What are the odds?

50/50. I truly have no idea how this one's gonna play out. ESPN's projecting 124 points for me and 123 for Nick. Either way, I'm looking forward to it.

The High School League

Format: 8-team, standard scoring

Jesse (No. 4) vs. Eric (No. 2)

Season series: Eric, 2-0

I shouldn't be here right now. Seriously, I started the year 1-6. It wasn't my fault though. I mean, what was I supposed to do with Steven Jackson, Doug Martin, Randall Cobb, Danny Amendola and Reggie Wayne all out with injuries? Brutal, I know.

Somehow I turned things around and got the final playoff spot by winning five out of my last six. The one loss in that span? It was to this guy.

I've known Eric since I was five years old. He's a great dude. But I want him to lose with every fiber of my being this week.

Actually, this league uses two-week scoring for the playoffs so I guess that contradicts what I just said. I want Eric to lose in two weeks.

My team (Anti-Dentites)

QB: Drew Brees, New Orleans

RB: Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh

RB: Zac Stacy, St. Louis

WR: Andre Johnson, Houston

WR: Josh Gordon, Cleveland

TE: Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta

FLEX: Pierre Garcon, Washington

D/ST: Rams D/ST

K: Mason Crosby, Green Bay

Eric's team

QB: Nick Foles, Philadelphia

RB: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City

RB: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia

WR: Brandon Marshall, Chicago

WR: DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia

TE: Charles Clay, Miami

FLEX: Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay

D/ST: Bills

K: Robbie Gould, Chicago

I guess this is the problem with playing in so many leagues. There's bound to be some overlap. Three of Eric's starters (Vinny Jackson, Bills D and Shady McCoy) are starters on my Pantuosco League team. So in theory, if that team does well, there's a good chance I'll lose to Eric.

I can't catch a break with Jamaal Charles can I? I guess it makes sense why these teams are in the championship.

I'm playing DeSean Jackson in two leagues this week so I really need the Bears secondary to step up. Maybe Alshon Jeffery's emergence will offset Brandon Marshall's production somewhat. Probably not though.

Oh man, this is not looking good.

What are the odds?

Having two weeks to work with would seem like a good thing. Unfortunately, in this case, it's probably just delaying the inevitable. Brees and Gordon give me a chance but not a great one. I give the Dentites a 30 percent shot to win the title.

The College League

Format: 10-team, 2-quarterbacks, keeper league

Jesse (No. 1) vs. Alex (No. 2)

Season series: Jesse, 1-0

Alex and I lived on the same floor freshman year at Syracuse. Junior year, we lived in the same house. And now, three years later, we meet in the championship. Where does the time go?

My team (Mexican Fighting Beagles)

QB: Tom Brady, New England

RB: Alfred Morris, Washington

RB: Chris Johnson, Tennessee

WR: Dez Bryant, Dallas

WR: Josh Gordon, Cleveland

TE: Vernon Davis, San Francisco

FLEX: Pierre Garcon, Washington

FLEX: Zac Stacy, St. Louis

OP: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati

D/ST: Rams

K: Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis

Alex's team

QB: Peyton Manning, Denver

RB: DeMarco Murray, Dallas

RB: Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh

WR: Greg Jennings, Minnesota

WR: Keenan Allen, San Diego

TE: Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati

FLEX: Steven Jackson, Atlanta

FLEX: Danny Amendola, New England

OP: Matthew Stafford, Detroit

D/ST: Panthers

K: Phil Dawson, San Francisco

Yes, this league's kind of weird. OP stands for offensive player, so really it's an extra flex spot. Usually it ends up being a quarterback.

Anyway, it looks like Alex is holding steady with Carolina in his defense/special teams spot. It's a bold move.

Stafford's been brutal lately but even on an off week, he can still throw for 300 yards. That scares me a little. So does Peyton Manning, who has far and away been the best player in fantasy this season.

My team is rock solid though. There aren't many superstars but all of my starters are productive. They're consistent too.

I benched the Cardinals' defense because they have a tough matchup in Seattle this week. St. Louis on the other hand gets Tampa Bay, an improved but still pretty lousy offense coming off a 19-point loss to San Francisco. That's the only tweak I made in my lineup this week.

Even if Wes Welker is healthy (he's on my bench with a concussion), I don't think I'm going to start him. I'll take my chances with Garcon in the flex.

What are the odds?

You never want to count your chickens before they're hatched but I think I should win this. Peyton's going to get his 30 points but I'm not too worried about the rest of his lineup. My money's on the Beagles. We'll say 70/30.

The hard part was getting here. The rest should be easy, right?

Let's hope so.

12/19 15:49:35 ET


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