Doctor's fantasy life pays off
Dr. John Lee is among fantasy football contestants vying for $1 million prize in Vegas
DR. JOHN LEE divides his time chasing a cure for cancer and figuring out the best fantasy football team to trot out.
As it turns out, the two pursuits have more in common than you might think.
Lee, of North Wales, Pa., has a chance this weekend to turn the meticulous nature of his occupation as a research scientist into $1 million by winning a championship sponsored by the website DraftStreet.com.
If nothing else, Lee already has earned himself a paid trip to Vegas. He was set to leave this morning.
"At work, I'm paid to study and analyze data," said Lee, who toils for Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Spring House, Pa. "Fantasy football is a welcome diversion. I still have to study data, but this is more fun."
Albert Einstein, meet George Halas.
Draftstreet ran weekly qualifying leagues during the season with entry fees ranging from $22 to $420. The higher the league fee, the fewer people allowed in. Lee won twice this year to grab two of the 40 bids needed to advance to Sin City for the championship.
Gambling on weekly fantasy leagues has been legal since 2006 because, the law says, winning depends more upon skill than luck.
In other words, you couldn't have bet on the Bears Monday night, but your fantasy team could profit when Josh McCown accounted for five touchdowns. Not sure how one involved luck and the other skill, but that's an argument for a different day.
Lee, 39, is fine with the legal semantics. He was down by 30 when McCown went off. But he rallied, and now has the two chances in Vegas to secure the $1 million first prize, which is 10 times higher than it was only a year ago. Total prize money is $1.75 million.
Rosters for this weekend are limited to the Sunday afternoon games. Players must activate two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers, two flex players, a tight end and a defense; no kicker. Contestants must adhere to a $100,000 salary cap.
Lee said he is considering going with Nick Foles and Riley Cooper. Double-dipping quarterback and wide receiver teammates is one of the common strategies. Foles' value is $14,676, Cooper's is $9,796 and the Vikings - the Eagles opponent this week - have allowed an NFL high 28 passing touchdowns.
Drew Brees is the highest valued player at $16,836 while LeSean McCoy sits just ahead of Foles at $14,820. The Vikings defense is the cheapest commodity at $1,161.
Unlike traditional yearly leagues, the weekly format prevents fantasy teams from being crippled by injuries to superstars. If you had Rob Gronkowski last week, just use Jimmy Graham this week.
Lee still plays in traditional leagues at work and with his family. But it's his weekly league that is taking him and girlfriend Libby Blackman to Vegas.
"She deserves this trip for putting up with me through the season," he laughed. "She's never been [to Vegas] and is really looking forward to it. So am I. But for a different reason."
Calvin Johnson's dismal Sunday turned into a victory for reader Joe Gontz, of Northeast Philadelphia.
Well before the snow rolled in, we asked readers to project how many yards Johnson would get against the Eagles. Gontz came closest with his guess of 60.
Johnson originally was credited with 49 yards, but that total was adjusted to 52. Gontz will receive a Daily News fantasy football shirt for his efforts.
Position watch *
Quarterback: Matt Flynn famously threw six touchdown passes in a spot start in the final week of the regular season when Green Bay had the No. 1 seed locked up. In seven appearances since, he has three TD passes . . . The next two games for Washington's Kirk Cousins are against Atlanta, which has given up the third-most passing TDs (25) in the NFL, and Dallas, which has allowed the second-most (26). Cousins is a sneaky QB2.
* Running back: While the numbers 52-26-31 might sound like the body measurements of this year's top Wing Bowl cheerleader, they actually are the rushing yardage totals for Washington running back Alfred Morris over the last three games. Morris closed last year with six TDs over the final 3 weeks, a feat that seems hard to fathom now . . . Rashad Jennings is the Raiders RB to play this week. Aside from last week's game against Washington, the Chiefs, Oakland's opponent, have been vulnerable against the run over last month.
* Wide receiver: Look for even more Julian Edelman with New England tight end Rob Gronkowski out for the year with a knee injury. Edelman averaged about 10 targets per game while Gronk missed the first 6 weeks recovering from a broken forearm. When Gronk played, Edelman averaged just seven targets. See the chart to the left for more details . . . Cleveland's Josh Gordon has eight touchdowns and leads the NFL with 1,400 receiving yards. If he wasn't suspended the first two games of the season , he'd likely have a legitimate shot at Calvin Johnson's record of 1,964 receiving yards from last year.
Brent Celek honorably forfeited a touchdown last week in order for the Eagles to run out the clock to secure the 34-20 win. The gesture wasn't totally lost on offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
"I guess if he was on your fantasy team . . . that would bother you," Shurmur said. "But I thought it was unselfish."
One other group it bothered was those (legally, and otherwise) who had wagered on the total of the Eagles-Lions game to go over 54. Poker players call that a bad beat.
Ed Barkowitz, who this week recommends playing Nick Foles and dining at the Bellagio, has been writing about fantasy football in the Daily News since 2001.
On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz