My fantasy football reality: I’m terrible at it

Posted: August 12, 2011 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

On Friday night, 10 or 11 or 12 people will gather in little Atwater, Minnesota, for the F-Jon fantasy football draft. I’ve been a part of the F-Jon league for about a decade. Only once have I ever actually attended a draft, and that was because we held it in Janesville and I happened to be taking a break from the working world at the time and was convalescing at my parents’ house.

The league is primarily composed of Luther graduates, specifically grads from the class of 1997. My cousin and best friend Matt graduated that year and I gained entry into the league through my blood connection. Each year the draft becomes a two- or three-day event, with the highlight being the pickup baseball game that always takes place at a local diamond. The guys in the league possessed varying levels of athletic skills during their younger days. Now, as older, balder, fatter, slower, grayer, shorter, weaker versions of themselves, the game probably looks more like the final scene in A League of Their Own than anything resembling a normal baseball game. But it’s a hell of a good time.

I always regret not making it to the draft because I’d love to play some ball. And I’d still – I hope – be able to show off my good glove-no bat game.

The draft? The fantasy football draft? Can’t say I ever regret missing that. And the reason is simple: I’m not any good at fantasy football.

I’m not the guy who talks your ear off at work with a story about how a last-second sack of Michael Vick cost me a victory, or the drunk at the Christmas party who brags about how a last-minute decision to start Marion Barber gave me a league championship. No, I’m the guy who starts a wide receiver four weeks after he suffered a gruesome, season-ending – and career-threatening – knee injury on Monday Night Football. I’m the guy who remembers to update his team’s starting lineup – at 6 p.m. on Sunday night. I’m the guy who doesn’t make any trades to improve my lineup during the season, clinging to my players like a real-life small-market GM who can’t take on any additional cap room and refuses to deal for the starting pitcher who could put them over the top.

In short, I’m the guy you like seeing on your fantasy football schedule, although I’m the guy you dread seeing if you need me to knock off one of your divisional rivals.

It’s not that I’m really a pathetic fantasy football player, simply an apathetic one. My teams somehow usually manage to claw their way to a .500 mark, sometimes even better, owing to dumb luck and the occasional smart pickup. Usually I remember to bench a player whose team is on a bye-week, but I don’t do it 100 percent of the time. Does anyone? Oh.

And it’s not like I’m an anti-fantasy sports guy. I actually do like hearing co-workers talk about their teams, the heartbreaking defeats, the baffling trades and the oddly emotional victories. I follow the game just as much as I did when I was a kid, even if I’m no longer as emotionally invested in the outcomes. But for whatever reason, my peak as a fantasy football owner came in high school, when a small group of us started a ragtag league that I won simply because I knew more about the NFL than any of my friends.

Now, I can’t take all the blame if my roster is littered with over-the-hill quarterbacks and underachieving running backs. But I also can’t take any credit when I do end up with a loaded squad that can coast to 10 victories, even if they’re led by an owner who makes Donald Sterling look like Jerry Buss. I never participate in the draft, not in person, on the phone or online. My cousin usually picks my team in my absence. If he’s not available, someone picks teams for both Fury boys.

In fact, if email didn’t exist, I would have dropped out of the league eight years ago or been kicked out of it five years ago. Email is the reason I stay and it’s the reason I still enjoy every fantasy football season. Between June and August each year, the league owners exchange dozens of emails, the vast majority of which include over-the-top boasts or subtle insults. As an owner, I live for those emails. Because I don’t get to play baseball or draft with the guys, this is my chance to interact with them. Although I didn’t go to school with any of them, I’ve met most of the guys, usually on visits to Luther. We have 10 years of fantasy football experience together and most of the owners have nearly 20 years of friendship. The emails continue during the season, although they taper off as a handful of other owners follow my lead and gradually lose interest in the league as their team loses ground in the standings. My role in the league is to blast out 500-to-1,000-word missives, defending my team and leadership while ridiculing fellow owners and the beleaguered commissioner. I’m more court jester than owner; it’s more like I have pen pals than rivals.

Like any owner, I curse at a kickoff return that leads to an improbable defeat. I take too much pride in a backup quarterback who throws for three TDs. But I also know I’ll almost certainly lose more than I’ll win. I’ll forget to start the right guy and I’ll bench the wrong one. When February rolls around, I’ll pretty much forget about the league, but will perk up again when June approaches and our league slowly emerges from its hibernation in preparation for another season. This is how it’s been in the past, and that’s how it’ll be in the future.

By the way, the league is free – no entry fees.

If we played for money? I’d totally kick ass.

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Comments
  1. hawk says:

    Free? You could’ve mentioned that at the beginning and saved me 27 minutes.

  2. […] to being terrible. The worst combination, for my team, and my league rivals). I wrote about my fantasy football ineptness here. Terry, a fantasy football virgin, wrote about his own experience […]

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