Remember a couple months back when Fury claimed that he was the worst fantasy football player in the Western Hemisphere? Well, it turns out that he’s at least the worst fantasy football player associated with this web site (if still the best writer, dammit).
Yes, my fantasy debut (Team name: Soo Foo Guru, a homage to the town where I live and the late rapper) was hardly the dumpster fire that I thought it would be. In fact, I’m a division champion at 9-5 and one of four playoff qualifiers. That record includes a win when I had three starters out due to byes (apparently, a fantasy faux pas) and breaking the 200-point mark in the regular-season finale. Do I get a banner to commemorate my division title? Maybe some poorly designed championship swag? I ask because I’m still not really sure how the rules work. That’s how little effort I put into my fantasy foray.
Basically, I’ve still got the same team I did on draft night, making only one or two transactions through the entire season. Perhaps I’d have taken a different path if I hadn’t drafted the NFL’s top passer in terms of yards (Drew Brees) and the top running back (Maurice Jones-Drew). Not bad for a rookie, huh? But one of the surprising developments was the sort of loyalty I began to develop for my players. I mean, I didn’t even ditch mercurial Eagles receiver Desean Jackson after he became a non-factor on the field and a cancer off of it.
And why did I stick with a headcase like Jackson? I think I began to feel a sense of responsibility for my draft picks. Like, this is my chosen lot in life, and I’m going to stick with it. While that makes little sense in fantasy football or real football, it is a philosophy that applies to life.
To that end, I’m not much of a risk taker, and sticking with my dudes took the second guessing out of the equation. That was nice. In fact, the only time I did second guess this was last week when I stuck with C.J. Spiller and left Ryan Grant on the bench. Even that turned out to be tolerable because I won in blowout fashion.
One thing I heard time and again in advance of the season was that playing fantasy football would change the way I see the pro game. And that turned out to be true – to an extent. I found myself more interested in scores that didn’t involve my beloved Green Bay Packers, watched more Sunday night games from the treadmill than I have in a long time. Admittedly, it was fun to cheer for my men, especially Brees, who is an exciting player and purportedly respectable leader. (Side note: This concept is going to kill me if I play again next year; I’ve formed an emotional bond with some of these guys, for better or for worse.)
But it didn’t turn me into some sort of stat-obsessed robot, a nerdy version of Pimpbot 5000, as my wife predicted it would. Yes, I received scoring updates on my phone and would sometimes blurt out things like, “Yeah, that’s my kicker!” That’s hardly over the top, if we’re to take what we see on The League or hear in The B.S. Report to be true. I hardly became the golfer who walk you through every shot in his round in excruciating detail.
In the end, I get it … I guess. I may retire for good as I get enough football and football study in my job as a sports writer, but I see the appeal. Fantasy football is a lot of things to a lot of people – sports, numbers, competition, camaraderie, television, beer, testosterone, gambling, jokes, escapism.
If any or all of that makes you feel good (or stops you from going crazy), more power to you. It’s your fantasy, not mine.