Midnight Snack: Happy to root for the Tim Tebow story

I'll check my biases at the door on this one. I'm having a blast with the Broncos story and the Tim Tebow story. Deal me in, save me a seat on the bus, pour me a glass of the Kool-Aid. Meet me in Mile High.

I know, opponents are screwing up every week and handing a lot of free stuff to the Broncos (reminds me of the 2010 Jets). I get it, you can't continue to win games in this improbable fashion every week (reminds me of the 2001 Bears). But I find myself entertained each Sunday, even if the entertainment comes late, and I find Tebow to be refreshing in a lot of ways (hard working, humble, team-oriented). Either that or he's the put-on of the century, but I don't think it's an act.

I don't hold his limitations against him. Maybe I like him because of those limitations, and how he nonetheless works to be the best he can be. You can't say that about the entire league, that's for sure.

But I do have one simple request: I'd like to see Tebow score a little better in our world of fake football. He's shown a decent floor in most of his starts, but we haven't seen the upside click for a while.

Tebow's late flurry against the Bears brought him to 236 yards passing, one touchdown, 49 yards rushing. Not a bad haul, but not a gigantic one either. He came in 17th in the Yahoo! basic scoring ranks for the week. If you won your playoff game, it was probably in spite of Tebow, not because of him. {ysp:more}

Let's pull out the red rank book and see how Tebow grades out in fantasy scoring for all of his starts, beginning in Week 14 and working backwards. I recognize scoring formats vary greatly from league-to-league; this is based off Yahoo's basic public scoring format:

-- Week 14 against Chicago: 17th
-- Week 13 at Minnesota: 13th
-- Week 12 at San Diego: 14th
-- Week 11 against the Jets: 15th
-- Week 10 at Kansas City: 11th
-- Week 9 at Oakland: 3rd
-- Week 8 against Detroit: 10th
-- Week 7 at Miami: 5th

Speaking strictly from a fake-football standpoint, that return has been mildly disappointing. If you had told me before Week 7 that the Broncos were about to go on a 7-1 run with Tebow, collecting three overtime wins along the way, I'd figure he'd have to be a Top 5 or 6 fantasy quarterback. But Tebow hasn't gone ballistic with the rushing scores (he only has two) and the Denver offense is never a good bet to score more than two touchdowns. The Broncos put up a big number against two struggling defenses (Oakland's front-seven sieve, Minnesota's joke secondary), and otherwise it's been a clinic in winning ugly, trying to 13-10 and 17-13 your way to glory.

We should learn a lot about Tebow's growth (if there's been any) in the next three games. The Patriots come calling in Week 15, with their high-powered offense and shaky defense. You can't imagine this will be a low-scoring, slug-it-out game. A trip to Buffalo and a home date with Kansas City will follow, two games the Broncos will be favored in. Shonn Greene and Mark Sanchez riddled the Chiefs in Week 14, while the Bills were spanked in San Diego. Good matchups if you can get them.

I'll probably have Tebow ranked in the Top 10 in advance of Week 15, and then I'll reevaluate going forward. But no matter how he plays, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the story, try to have some fun with it, send a silly Tebow Tweet (or five) on game day.

I think I understand the root of most Tebow angst: some of his early critics are defending their positions and waiting for the story to peter out (the "I told you so" column is probably saved in the drafts queue), while some other anti-Tebows are frustrated at how much credit he's getting despite his ordinary stats and inconsistent play. That last element shouldn't come as any shock to anyone; in the NFL, quarterbacks generally get too much credit when they win and too much blame when they lose. That's how the mainstream media is structured. It's been that way for 40 years.

No, Tim Tebow doesn't kick for the Broncos. No, Tim Tebow doesn't intercept passes and force fumbles and recover onside kicks and hypnotize opponents into making mistakes. There are 52 Broncos not named Tim Tebow that dress every week, and a lot of them are playing well. I get it. I understand it. I grasp that sometimes you win because the other team screws up, and sometimes you win because an oddly-shaped ball bounces towards you and away from the other guys.

But I'm not going to look an underdog in the mouth. I don't care if the wins are irrational, and I don't care when the bandwagon eventually runs out of steam. I learned very early in my journalism career to root for the story, and I've been happy to do so in this case.

I see a guy who works hard, I see a guy who's shown improvement (look at the sack totals, for one thing), I see a guy who doesn't quit, I see a guy who has a positive effect on his teammates. I see a city falling in love with a player. I see a scrappy underdog that's fun to root for. Save me a seat on the bus, I'm on board, wherever it takes us.

Football is supposed to be fun, right? I think it should be.

• Let me tell you another underdog I'll be rooting for next week: me. Despite being the No. 1 seed in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League (and the No. 2 scoring team during the regular season), I've got my work cut out for me in the upcoming semifinal game. Michael Gehlken has Philip Rivers, Ray Rice and Miles Austin rounding into form at the right time, while I just lost Greg Jennings and DeMarco Murray for the rest of the year (Jennings won't be back in time to help me). When I click the matchup page during the week, I expect the projection grid to be laughing at me.

But being an underdog isn't the worst thing in the world. For one thing, you can loosen up and relax a bit. If I lose, hey, what can I do? I just lost two critical players to injury. Laugh it off, move on to the next game. And if I'm lucky enough to win, it probably will feel sweeter than a normal victory would.

To be clear, I don't feel cheated by the fantasy gods in any way. The balls roll funny for everybody, kid; Eddie Felson told us that years ago. I had more than my share of good luck during the year. And if fantasy football were perfectly fair, the Andy Behrens juggernaut (easily the best team in the league) would have taken the No. 1 seed to open the playoffs. I didn't have anywhere close to the best team in the F&F Group last year, but I didn't mind when my team got hot at the right time en route to a championship. You'll never hear me complain about bad bounces here; I don't believe the dark clouds follow anyone around. Luck is a residue of design, anyway.

My job over the next week is to give myself a fighting chance in the semifinals. Maybe it's time to give Demaryius Thomas a play, matching him up with Tebow and hoping the Patriots can force a shootout. Maybe I can find something sneaky on the waiver wire. Maybe I can hypnotize Michael into running out bounds when I need him to. I'll have fun trying to come up with a plausible path to a possible victory, and I'll enjoy watching it all play out on the field.

Fantasy Football is supposed to be fun, right? I think it should be.

• Prefer a snack on game day? Follow me on Twitter: @scott_pianowski


Denver images courtesy of US Presswire