Leon Washington's been working behind the scenes since his season ended with a broken leg in Week 7 at Oakland. But Leon made an appearance at halftime of the final regular-season game to be played in the current Meadowlands stadium. He also starred in ****NFL PLAYERS Fantasy ’09***, winning the fantasy championship when his *"Jet Lizzle" squad scored a 59-point win over DeAngelo Williams' "Memphis MudSlingers" in the title matchup. Washington, whose Jets made the playoffs and who recently got married in addition to winning the fantasy title, spoke about the keys to his fantasy victory, his favorite part of playing and much more in this exclusive Q&A with Khalil Garriott of NFLPLAYERS.COM.
Congratulations on winning the league. First things first: The floor is yours to gloat, brag or rub in your championship to the rest of the league.
Thank you. We did a tremendous job of sticking with our philosophy. Like I said earlier in the draft process, our philosophy is to start players or play players that were consistent throughout their career. To all of them I played against, you guys were a worthy challenge, but at the end of the day I had the best record in the league and when it came to the playoffs, I was the champion. To Robbie Gould, Cato June and Roy Williams — all the guys that tried to talk smack to each other throughout the entire process — look at me now. It's really sweet, it feels really good and I look forward to it in 2010.
How much did the Colts benching Peyton Manning contribute to your win? He had only seven fantasy points for DeAngelo's team. Dallas Clark, DeAngelo's tight end, also had a quiet game.
You know what? I had the Jets defense and you have to look at it a couple different ways. You've got one of the best offenses in the league and one of the best defenses in the league. The Jets have the best defense and have been playing well all year long. So if you look at the score, I beat him by 59 points, I don't think Peyton Manning could have had enough points to win anyways. I was happy to see Peyton Manning get benched, but at the same time the Jets D did not give up that many points. What I'm saying is that we never know what is going to happen, but that is how the game is played and I came out with the victory.
If you give Peyton Manning 25 and then Dallas Clark 10 points, it would have made it more difficult, but I can tell you one thing: That week, I think DeAngelo Williams made an easy mistake by taking himself out of his own lineup. What that made me do is look at Jonathan Stewart and say, "Hey, DeAngelo took himself out. That means Stewart could get the boatload of the carries and have a big game." He played huge. He got me 27 points. I think that was the turning point in the championship matchup — when he took himself out and allowed me to pick up Jonathan Stewart.
Were you worried at all when your tight end, Tony Gonzalez, put up only one point vs. Buffalo?
I was kind of worried. I was at home watching all the games and I didn't make a move because he got injured almost when the game was over. It kind of got me worried for a second, because everyone's teams were doing so well. But having the Jets defense and Kurt Warner throwing well, plus my running backs doing extremely well, bailed me out. I was kind of worried because he was one of those guys that I said was going to be consistent all the way.
You finished in first place in the league during the regular season with an 8-4-1 record. In the playoffs, you kept your winning momentum going all the way through the championship. What was the key?
I think the key was to just trust my guys and not start a player if I don't know if he's going to play well that weekend. And to deal with when players get injured, like me or Michael Turner. Plus to just pick those players who have made plays throughout the season. I think that was the secret going into the playoffs, especially when my quarterbacks were playing — Kurt Warner and Donovan McNabb played really well.
When you tied Roy Williams earlier in the year, were you a little worried that tie would prevent you from winning it all?
Not really. I wasn't really worried about it. It was just one of those things where I believed in what I believed in, and when it came down to it, I was on top.
Your pickup the week of the championship, when you added Jonathan Stewart and dropped Derrick Mason, turned out to be a great transaction. What was the thinking there?
Mostly it was DeAngelo benching himself and knowing how well Carolina was playing. They came up with a big win against the Vikings, before they played the Giants. When they played the Giants, I knew that they were going to try to run the ball a lot. So I figured if he got the ball to carry, he was definitely going to get a lot of yards and a couple of touchdowns. And after he ran over 200 yards, that was huge for me.
Your 12.8-point differential was the greatest in the league this year. Which guys carried your team?
Our running backs did a pretty good stepping in, especially when Michael Turner went down. But I think it was Donovan McNabb and Kurt Warner who were two players that consistently got 15 to 25 points for me each week. Other players like DeSean Jackson made plays and did a really good job. But I think … most of our players were consistent. You have to think, I had one of the best tight ends in the league in Gonzalez and the best wide receiver in terms of points in Andre Johnson. Those four players consistently did well. They were four players who were good and healthy each week and worked out for me. Greg Jennings did a good job this year, but I had to sit him on my bench.
What was your favorite part about competing in NFL PLAYERS Fantasy '09?
My favorite part was the draft, up in New York, talking smack with the players — with DeAngelo Williams, Robbie Gould, Cato June and even the fan [Dave Stasinski]. In the end I was able to win the championship game. I look forward to talking smack with the guys next year.
As the winner, you will be back next year to defend your title. Let's hear why you're going to win again.
I'm going to win again next year because my coaching staff is one of the best in the league. I use a lot of my resources and I stick with players who are consistent. If you play good defense and you run the ball well, that's a great recipe for winning games. So, I think that is why I'm going to be back on top next year.