Monday, August 27, 2007

Fantasy Football 2007

Here's D.'s blog about our draft on Friday night, with my commentary attached - enjoy!

Fantasy football: Good AND bad for the soul

I can admit it, I'm a fantasy geek. I love the stuff. It can't be helped. I could try to fight it, but it's useless. I am a dork for it.

That's true enough. D. looooooooooves him some fantasy football.

That, in and of itself, may not give my opinions on the subject all that much weight. But given the fact I've been playing for 15 years now, and given the fact that until recently, I wrote a weekly fantasy column on the subject for, I feel comfortable sharing bits and pieces of knowledge for public consumption. Plus, I know that no matter what I write, someone will think I'm clueless anyway. That's comforting, in a way.

I really enjoyed reading some of the feedback he got on his weekly fantasy column at Sportsline/ Wow. Talk about your average rabid nutjob.

I'm not going to go on and on about the merits of fantasy football. By now, you either love it or you hate it (or you simply know nothing about it), so it's not like I can convince many of you that it is the end all be all. And truthfully, it isn't. It's a silly game that makes grown men obsess over things as pointless as who catches a two-point conversion and whether a player can score touchdowns or not. It doesn't really matter.

But then it does.

Funny, right? I never said it was logical.

So I approached yet another fantasy draft (my third thus far this summer) with that sort of mentality intact - I didn't have any grand expectations, but I did want to have fun. Would it turn out that way? Read on to find out.

The start (5:58 CT) -- Desperate to get home in time for my fantasy draft that would start at 6 p.m., I rushed through a last bit of work at the office (gotta have priorities!), shut down my laptop and raced down St. Charles. I walked through the front door, fed and let out the dog, changed clothes, fired up the laptop and looked at the time. Ah, still a couple of minutes to spare.
Now confident and relaxed, I get online and see that only two people are there. Hmm, there should be more than that. We have a small league, but not THAT small. Perhaps things aren't as peachy as first thought.

True to form, no one is there on time, no one is organized and no one seems to have any clue as to what they are doing. I'm about to chastise everyone else and then my internet connection goes out.

This would end up being a recurring theme.

While trying to get back online, my girlfriend appears at the front door. This year, like probably every year before it, we had some defections in our fantasy league. Graciously, she had offered to fill in. Even more graciously, she had ordered us pizza. Women pay special attention: There are few quicker paths to a man's heart than through fantasy football tolerance and the offer of free pizza.

Yeah, I know how you are, Gladow. But after the day I had, I was waaaay too tired to cook, and frankly, nothing says "fantasy football" like pizza. Mmm. Hooray for online ordering from Papa John's!

Unfortunately, upon arriving she is very quickly alarmed to discover that the painstaking notes and research she had taken so as not to be perceived as a clueless noob are not with her. She must have left them in the office. Intelligent enough not to say, "Forgetting your notes is the true mark of a noob!", I manage to keep my manhood intact. Hooray for small victories!

Unfortunately for D., I'm NOT a noob - I've played in plenty of fantasy football leagues over the year. But dating a fantasy football dork is another thing entirely - this league consists of his friends and family, and the last thing I wanted to do was to appear a complete moron in front of them. So I scoured (see, honey, a plug for your old stomping grounds!) and ESPN for hours upon hours, printing lists and highlighting players based on fantasy stats (not to be confused with actual season stats) and bye weeks. I had everything organized and ready to go, only to be thwarted by staying late at work on Friday.

Normally, this wouldn't be an issue. But I work FIFTEEN MILES from the house and I couldn't remember the alarm code for the office. So I was frantic, and ended up racing down the Earhart at 70 mph (a scant 20 miles over the posted speed limit), only to realize when I got home, pissed at traffic and greatly desirous of a glass of wine, that I left all of my copious and anal-retentive notes at the office. Hence the anger and piss offed-ness.

Still, she is distraught. She is even more distraught moments later when our bounding monster of a collie knocks out her wireless card, killing her internet connection. As she chastises the great beast and attempts to reconnect, I go to the door to meet the pizza delivery guy. I've now got pizza. Hooray for more small victories!

The presence of a large bottle of shiraz and the pizza cheered me considerably. Jake's attempts at destroying my wireless adapter with his considerable size so that I would pet him (he's needier than Britney Spears at a photo shoot), however, thwarted my happier mood. Four-letter words were quick to pour from my mouth by this point...

The actual start (6:43 CT) -- Well, we eventually get her up and running, and we even get most of the other participants ready to go too, less than an hour after the original starting time. That may sound awful to the average person, but I think it may actually be ahead of schedule for our league. Hooray for even more small victories!

So my girlfriend is up first and gets the unique honor of selecting LaDainian Tomlinson in a keeper league. I have no idea how she managed to pull this off, given most decent players with a pulse should have been off the board, but she did it anyway. Perhaps it speaks to the stupidity of everyone else in our league (or more appropriately, to the nimrod who quit our league despite having L.T. in tow), but soon, she is sitting pretty with Tomlinson, Drew Brees and Marvin Harrison. I shake my head in disgust at my own lame trio of players and wonder why I even play this stupid game to being with.

It must be the free pizza.

Oh, please. Wah, wah, wah. Weren't you just calling me a noob, you big goober? ;)

Plus, Drew Brees is my NFL crush of choice. This you know, Gladow. That said, I struggled with the choice between Harrison and Marques Colston. But Harrison is Peyton Manning's favorite target, and he's certainly the workhorse of the Colts' offense, so I felt fairly safe in choosing him, and just hoped that Curtis wouldn't pick up Colston immediately. Unfortunately, he did, and he also took my other big choice - Adrian Peterson, who is poised to have a HUGE rookie season with the Vikings.

But that pizza WAS good. And I DID pay for it. ;)

The early rounds (7:04 CT) -- I hear swearing and I know she's lost her connection again. I feel sorry for her, but at least my connection is still great ... son of a batch! Never mind.
I now begin to get frustrated. Three of our members couldn't be there the whole time and two of them had been filtering picks through me, so essentially I was drafting for three people. One of them eventually did show up, but he also developed a habit for continually getting booted from the chat room. The moderator must not have liked him. Perhaps it was all the "UF is great" talk. Regardless, I'm soon back to drafting for three people.

Without an internet connection.

This presents challenges.

At least everyone else seems to be having trouble too (misery loves company). One guy can't get his signal to work consistently and another had to leave work because he was getting blocked. It just goes to show you that you need to plan these things out well. Or not do them. That's the route I'd generally advocate anyway.

Still, my draft seems to be going well. To go along with my keepers of Shaun Alexander, Travis Henry and Carson Palmer, my first two picks land me Torry Holt and Marshawn Lynch. That looks pretty good until I see my girlfriend with Anquan Boldin and Deuce McAlister. I shake my head again. Perhaps I should give fantasy football up.

C'mon, you've seen my roster. I took 4 Noles and 2 Saints. D. even pointed out that the goal of fantasy in this league is to be somewhat competitive, but to emphasize the fun.

Weirdest choice yet? Brandon Jacobs over the likes of Edgerrin James, Terrell Owens and Holt. Now, Jacobs could be great, but he could also be Ron Dayne. I wouldn't feel comfortable about that.

Another person went to great lengths to pair Tom Brady and Randy Moss on his squad.

Interesting, to say the least, but perhaps too trendy a choice? I'm not convinced it will work out.

Moss is too much like T.O. for me to feel comfortable drafting him. Too much drama, too many promising flashes of brilliance undermined by off-the-field idiocy, and a penchant for inserting appendages into the mouth. Take that as you will.

The middle rounds (7:55 CT) -- More draft picks, and more computer issues. It's become a test of wills between us and the wireless connection. The wireless is winning. Regardless, my girlfriend is up next, and so we phone in her two picks, Jamal Lewis and Todd Heap. I'm about to tease her for being a closet Ravens fan and then I realize that Lewis now plays for the Browns. Man, it's becoming harder and harder to keep up with all the player movement in the NFL.

By this point in the draft, I can tell we've made some real progress. Not by looking at the number of players selected, oh no. That's still painfully shy of where it needs to be. Rather, I know we've put in some significant time because my bum has fallen completely asleep. So we've accomplished that much at least.

This is why I moved to the floor, D. There at least I could feel the solid wood underneath our area rug.

One person, a huge Eagles nut, takes Kevin Curtis in the third round. Now I think Curtis is a great sleeper choice and a guy with a huge upside, but taking him in the third round? With Reggie Brown sitting there? That was a real head-scratcher. If he outperforms T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Andre Johnson, Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress, Deion Branch, Brown and Donald Driver (receivers chosen directly after him) however, I may have to concede that I know nothing. Heck I conceded that long ago.

The fun part was watching people avoid Driver like a pariah.

My brain, like my posterior, is beginning to turn into cheese.

Oh come on...D.'s brain was like cheese after the third Diet Dr. Pepper and the fourth slice of pizza. By this point I was comfortably into my third glass of wine.

The late rounds (9:20 CT) -- My girlfriend put Star Wars on the television because she apparently thought she may as well indulge me completely at this point. I'm spoiled and we both know it.

Indulging him? Please, it was a strategic attempt to distract him during the draft. ::innnocent smile::

Okay, maybe not. I do tend to spoil him. Yeah, so?

But seriously, I must have seen Star Wars and Die Hard at least 100 times each as a teenager (and that may be a conservative estimate). Is it sad I can recite this movie word-for-word? Wait, don't answer that. It's just too bad I can't use my knowledge to give me an advantage in the rest of the draft.

"These aren't the [draft picks] you're looking for."

I'm pretty sure we both made that joke as exhaustion set in and the draft went on and on. Last year, I sat on his bed as he went through his draft, being interrogated by his roommates as The New Girlfriend, Interloper of the Apartment. This year, I'm part of the draft. Crazy...

Anyhow, the draft is getting into its final stages, and that means Darren Sproles will soon make an appearance. You see, over 60 percent of our league in any given year is composed of Kansas State graduates, which means a K-State player or two will inevitably be chosen. In recent seasons, that player has generally been Sproles, who was such an amazing college player for our alma mater that none of us can seem to accept the fact that he's buried on the depth chart in San Diego. Big dreams die hard, I suppose. Seriously though, if you've never seen him play, just check out some of his highlight films. He's absolutely sick in the open field.

True to form, with three rounds still to go, one of my buds takes Sproles and basks in the glory of the selection. My girlfriend tries to inform me that it's a terrible choice, but logic will not win in this case. The K-State factor is too large to ignore. I remind her that we're all in this to have fun. She looks doubtful, but the draft continues.

I love Sproles. Really, I do. K-State, even before D., has always been my favorite Big-12 team - my dad and I used to make a point to watch K-State games, because we both thought Bill Snyder was such a classy guy. But that's a risky move - using a roster spot on someone coming off a season-ending injury? Granted, he has looked good in the preseason...

The end (10:42 CT) -- The final two rounds are always fun, because everyone starts to make wild, swing-for-the-fences swings or crazy homer picks, and this year was no exception. The guy who took Sproles also takes Michael Turner (corning the market on backup Charger running backs) and Devin Hester, a potential beast in our league because we reward points for return yardage. I take a flyer on Devery Henderson (I can hardly believe he's still there) and somebody else drafts Trent Green (now that is an oddball selection). The K-State factor nets someone Martin Grammatica. Finally, mercifully, the draft comes to an end with the selection of Mr. Irrelevant, Jerious Norwood.

Surveying the damage, I see that after the initial absurd delay, the actual draft lasted only four hours or so, which is downright speedy for us. We may have set a land speed record. All told, I drafted 11 players and a defense (after keeping three more), consumed six slices of pizza and four Diet Dr. Peppers, and managed to come out of the experience reasonably happy and content. More importantly, the girlfriend no longer seems to be annoyed or angry. Hooray for huge victories!

Note: I was not angry or annoyed at D. I was, however, annoyed with myself for leaving my notes at the office, angry at the collie for trying to destroy my laptop AND internet connection, and generally tired.

And oh yes, this draft was speedy in comparison to the 2006 draft, which lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of...oh...5 hours, was it?

Looking at the teams, I have a hard time picking a favorite. With only nine people in the league this year, everyone's team is now officially more roided up than your average major leaguer. What's more, the scoring has changed a bit this year also, meaning we can all expect to see 200-point games on a regular basis. Hey, we're a bit like the Saints then!

Here's what I ended up with: Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell, Shaun Alexander, Travis Henry, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Taylor, Julius Jones, Torry Holt, Andre Johnson, Darrell Jackson, Terry Glenn, Devery Henderson, Chris Cooley, Cowboys defense and Matt Stover.

Not fantastic, but not terrible either. My team should hold its own, but then again, everyone feels that way this time of year. The proof will be in the pudding once the regular season gets here.

I'm just glad the girlfriend came out of things so well. That is, until she kicks my teeth in for the fourth time in as many weeks with the LaDainian Tomlinson Express. Then I'll do my best to convince her that a trade for Michael Vick makes a great deal of sense.

Nice try, sucker. I'm on to your shenanigans!

Of course that would just get me in hot water, but at least I'd have a winner!

Remember, I'm ubercompetitive. Fear the short girlfriend. FEAR HER! ;)

(Yes, fantasy football is a sick disease. It's a fun one though.)

How could I not love this man beyond all reason? Wait, is that a sick disease, too? Hmmm.

No comments: