Commentary

FBO: Week 14 matchup analysis

In 2004, Drew Bennett and Billy Volek proved good matchups mean everything

Updated: December 11, 2009, 2:07 PM ET
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders

Billy Volek and Drew Bennett.

The Chargers' backup quarterback and a retired wide receiver? Sure. That's who they are to the uninitiated nowadays.

[+] EnlargeDrew Bennett and Billy Volek
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesBennett and Volek became fantasy legends in 2004.

If those names bring a smile to your face, though, chances are you caught lightning in a bottle and rode the unlikeliest two weeks in fantasy football history to your league's finals.

Before Week 14 of the 2004 season, the Titans' Volek and Bennett were about as anonymous as they are today. Volek, the longtime backup to Steve McNair in Tennessee, was finally getting some action thanks to McNair's bruised sternum. He'd been a borderline starter with McNair sitting, thanks to some big losses and the opportunity to fling the ball around 40 times a game. Bennett had three 100-yard games to his credit, but just as many games below 50 yards; he'd been markedly inconsistent during his first year as the full-time starter across from Derrick Mason.

As the fantasy football playoffs kicked off for most leagues, Volek and Bennett would've been controversial starts despite relatively easy matchups in Kansas City (27th in defensive DVOA) and Oakland (25th) ahead. Each had a pass defense that ranked among the league's worst, but Volek and Bennett were no-names playing out the string. Playing a veteran name in the middle of a playoff race, regardless of the matchup, was the safer choice.

What followed for those fantasy owners brave enough to start the Titans' combination was fantasy ecstasy. Over the next two weeks, Volek and Bennett became the most feared combination in fantasy football history.


To read the rest of Football Outsiders' fond memories of Bennett and Volek and the lessons to be learned from their performance, plus detailed Week 14 fantasy football matchup analysis, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.