“It just didn’t feel like it should end like that.” These were Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins’ words at the end of the Netflix documentary Quarterback. This docuseries followed three NFL quarterbacks throughout the 2022 season- Cousins, Patrick Mahomes, and Marcus Mariota. Cousins and the Vikings finished with a record of 13-4 and were the NFC North champions for 2022. They unfortunately lost in the Wild Card round to the New York Giants, cutting their Super Bowl dreams short.
This 2023 season, the Vikings started out with an abysmal three-game losing streak. In Week 6, the Vikings got on a three-week winning streak, starting with the Bears, then the formidable San Francisco 49ers in a tough Monday night game, and then a win against the Packers in Week 8. In the 4th quarter, however, Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles tear. Cousins previously had not missed a game due to injury. Now, Cousins is out for the season, and the Vikings’ 2023 aspirations are once again cut short. A devastating blow just when the team was getting in their winning mode and everything seemingly was lining up towards making a playoff run. Those dreams shouldn’t have ended like that.
On 10/31/2023, the Vikings organization completed a trade with the Arizona Cardinals that sent quarterback Joshua Dobbs plus a conditional 2024 seventh-round pick to the Vikings in return for a 2024 sixth-round pick. Is this a trick or treat? That remains to be seen. But it’s clear the Vikings decided against tanking the season and aren’t giving up trying to make a playoff run.
But without Cousins, how plausible are these aspirations now? I can’t speak for other Vikings fans, but my feelings towards Cousins through the years have been a mixed bag. It’s incredible to watch him in the wins this year and last year. How he can rally and come from behind with vigor and grit is amazing. Last year, we saw Kirk Thuggins on several occasions. But then, on the flip side, it’s maddening watching him in games that the team assuredly should win, yet they do not. Dumb mistakes are made.
My biggest frustration is Cousins’ hesitation in the pocket. He is so analytically minded that he always waits and evaluates for the perfect pass, but this ends up being costly. As a result, he gets sacked or has to throw the ball away due to incoming pressure. So many times, I sit there wishing he could be more aggressive and react quicker. More often than not, I yell at Cousins through my TV. My cat Grayson knows well enough to go upstairs if I’m watching Vikings football. He is not a fan of the yelling. Lol
I wasn’t watching the game when Cousins got injured, as I was away for the day. As soon as I saw the news alert about what happened, I felt immensely gutted. I felt guilty for all the times I gave Cousins grief through my TV. I felt guilty for not showing enough appreciation for Cousins. And I felt helpless, realizing the Vikings season and the team’s aspirations were likely doomed. I worried about the unimaginable pain he must have felt, and I just wanted him to be okay. Everything about it HURT. Even though I’m hard on him, I love Kirk Cousins. I know he’s such a good guy who brings unrivaled leadership to the team. With Adam Thielen gone, this team needs Cousins and his veteran leadership more than ever. So, what now? Is that just it?
Coming to an unwanted and unexpected ending also happens in fantasy football, especially in eliminator and guillotine leagues. In this 5th year of my fantasy playing, I’ve been trying my hand at various different formats. Back in May, Fantasy Cares announced their eliminator leagues, with various celebrities and top fantasy analysts hosting each of them. I have too many favorite people in this community that I couldn’t limit myself to just one league. I joined a total of six. If you know me by now, you’ll know that it was a no-brainer for me to join Kate Magdziuk ’s league. She is and forever will be my 1.01 of fantasy analysts. Then I joined Lindellions’ league. This was followed by a league hosted by Marcas Grant, then one by Scott Fish, one by Tom Everett Scott, and finally one by the legendary Bob Harris.
These leagues were Best Ball types that also included the option to draft coaches and punters, along with the usual offensive positions. We completed the respective drafts and then waited to see how the chips would fall over the season. There is no in-season management for these. Whatever I drafted back in May is how my team will be for the season. And you know a lot can happen with NFL teams and players over the summer and into the season.
When the points were tallied after Week 1, I was stunned to find that I was unexpectedly eliminated not just in one league but two right off the bat. I was eliminated from the one with Scott Fish and the one with Bob Harris. In Week 3, I was eliminated from the one with Tom Everett Scott. Then Week 4, I was eliminated from the Lindellions league. Of course, I wanted to go all the way in each of them, or at least go very far. Losing out early on in these four was a tough pill to swallow. The ending was abrupt. That was just it. There was nothing I could do to rally a comeback. I was done.
Week 8 has just concluded, and so far, I am surviving in both the league with Marcas Grant and the one with my 1.01, Kate Magdziuk! But not only surviving, I am dominating in the one with Kate. I am ranked 6th place overall on the Fantasy Cares Eliminator Leaderboard currently. It excites me all the more, knowing it’s in a league with Kate- my absolute favorite. She is the reason I continued playing and learning about fantasy football. Listening to her insights early on helped me gain the confidence that even a person like me could be successful with this game.
Similar to eliminator leagues is the format called Guillotine. I was hesitant to try this type of fantasy football but decided to give it a go this year. In August, I joined In-Between Media as a staff writer, and our staff league is a guillotine this year. I am co-managing a team with my ride-or-die friend Trashsandwiches. And not to brag, but we are slaying.
Each week is intense with putting in FAAB waiver claims and hoping to win the bid. Luckily, this league is run in the Best Ball style, so we don’t have to stress about setting a lineup each week. Initially, I wondered how it would be to co-manage a team as I had never done it before. I have to tell you- this experience has been beyond incredible. Collaborating with this amazing fantasy player is only making me level up my own skills. Not to mention, it is an absolute blast playing with her. Combining the two of our fantasy football brains together- we are gonna be unstoppable, right?
I also joined a public league on GuillotineLeagues.com to fully immerse myself into trying guillotine. And beyond my belief, I am surviving. There is an additional strategy required with these, including setting the lineup each week. When a team is eliminated, those players go into the waiver pool, so then even more strategy is required. Only a certain amount of FAAB is allotted for the season, so it’s a balancing act. The fantasy player needs to ensure the FAAB stretches as far as possible while also trying to outbid their league mates, claiming the best players available to optimize their respective rosters.
In both eliminator and guillotine leagues, each week, a fantasy player is faced with the stark reality of being eliminated. And then that’s it. There is no coming back. I am hopeful that I can continue to survive in these two guillotine leagues and the two eliminator leagues I am still in. It’s a dream to go all the way. It’s the dream to be the top competitor. The one and only winner.
This is the dream of every NFL team each season: to go all the way, and to be the one and only winner. Every team dreams to be crowned Super Bowl Champs, including the Minnesota Vikings. This was the dream with Kirk Cousins at the helm as quarterback. It’s still hard to comprehend his season-ending injury and how it’s all over for 2023. The team was just getting things together and finding their groove. It just didn’t feel like it should end like that.
I do hope the team can find success despite it. I hope that Kirk Cousins’ strong and steady leadership transcends any physical injury. Whether it’s Joshua Dobbs or Jaren Hall leading this team going forward, it is still my Minnesota Vikings. I am not ready to say “and then that’s it” on this year’s story. Let’s go. Skol.