Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Fantasy Football Team

It's no secret that I love television, or at least it's not a secret to anyone who has met me and spoken to me for more than thirty seconds. Over the last couple of years I have binge watched The League whenever its seasons come out on some kind of streaming platform, and while I have never cared much about football, I was drawn in by the ridiculous humor and passion of this strange group of 40-somethings and their Fantasy Football (FF) 'league.' I was particularly taken in by the character of Taco, a man whose marijuana consumption and loose grasp on reality and the principles of football entertained me to no end. I began thinking that I could certainly be the "Taco" of someone's league...the person who never is really paying full attention or totally understanding what is going on, but is still part of the group and can, from time to time, impact the outcome of a game. Unfortunately I can't find any especially good clips that really illustrate Taco in relation to his lack of FF prowess, but this will have to do.
So I started thinking that joining a league could be a good idea about two years ago. Then last spring I went to my 10th year college reunion and ran into J. (who was an acquaintance at best during the college years and now a Facebook Friend) and briefly mentioned that I had seen his call for FF participants the previous year, but I was afraid my lack of actual understanding of the game might not be as amusing to him and the other participants as it was to me. A few months later J. reached out and suggested I actually sign up and get in on the FF action. I once again communicated my Taco-like approach to the entire thing and he seemed to have no problem with it. And that is how I found myself, a few months back, getting ready for my first-ever FF draft. I had initially planned on picking my team solely based on who had the saddest life story, or who I found most attractive. But here's the thing: there are a lot of men playing in the NFL and I simply didn't have the time nor true interest in researching ALL of their back stories. So during the draft (which I took part in while eating chicken wings because that is what people who watch football do) I made picks based on players I found attractive, or that some random blogger somewhere had suggested might be good picks. All long-time FF dudes I've spoken to about the league I joined say that it is crazy. But since it's all I know, I can't really imagine any other way. The main craziness is that we basically play two to three of every position each week - three QBs, three WRs, two kickers, a defensive team and individual defensive players. It's crazy y'all. At least to anyone who is not me. So. My initial lineup was a mish mash of good ideas and less good ideas.

For example, RGIII. I really only knew that RGIII was beloved in D.C. I did not grasp at the time of the draft that he had been rather seriously injured at the end of the previous season and wasn't considered quite the miracle in this season. But, hey, he's not unattractive so I didn't feel too bad about having him be my first pick overall, third spot. In retrospect this was unimaginably dumb of me...but I simply didn't have any real idea of who was actually 'good'. RGIII was a bad idea on the whole. He has had a very messy season and was benched this week (and will continue to be benched for the rest of the season if I understand correctly). Oh RGIII, I had such higher hopes for you.
My other two QBs were picked on the basis of either their history of being good football players, or being rather attractive. I'll leave it up to you to decide just how that shook out.
   Kaepernick (left) has also not had the same kind of season as he did last year (and was my third draft pick). He's not terrible, but I probably could have gotten a better second QB had I even tried my hand at research. And Eli Manning (above)? Eli Manning is the worst fucking QB ever. I mean, not literally...but I think he is actually on the verge of hitting some kind of terrible record for the number of interceptions he's thrown this year. Twice other league members offered me a trade for Manning. And twice I refused thinking they were trying to trick me like the Taco I was trying to be. Twice! Let me just tell you something: I should have taken either of those trades. I would be in a much, much better place if I had given up my faith that Manning's former Super Bowl wins and abilities would resurface.

Another questionable decision I made was drafting New England's Rob Gronkowski. This was another situation where I saw he had been quite loved and impressive in the previous season, and totally overlooked that he was injured and not scheduled to start the first few weeks (which turned into months). Now this choice - and keeping him on the bench for so many weeks - could have all been worth it...if this hadn't happened two weeks ago.  He did have a a few good weeks, but really I don't think it worked out for either of us. Alas, poor Gronk. Bro is down for the season.
Another player who I had placed some faith in - even after some early fumbles - was the Giants' David Wilson. After making some bad plays in the opening weeks, he began to find his groove. Only to become a complete and utter idiot when he chose to celebrate a touchdown by doing a backflip...landing wrong...and injuring himself for THE REST OF THE SEASON. That's the narrative as I understand it, though perhaps the flip and the later neck injury aren't actually related. In either case, David Wilson, you make me sad.
So, yeah, I had some duds for dudes. I mean, compared to Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, or some other guys whose names I still don't know, all three of my QBs were not so wonderful. Though I do realize that their overall yardage was, compared to some, actually pretty decent. But on the whole, you should be able to rely on your QBs to give you 12+ points in any given FF match...last week Eli Manning gave me -10.88. Is all I'm saying.

But it wasn't all totally doom and gloom. I got some guys who were generally pretty good to me. For example, this sweetie pie. Steven Haushka was one of my two kickers from week 1 and could generally be relied on for a minimum of 10 points a game. Look at his cute little face. He also tried to tackle someone at some point, which was nice and brave of him. Squirt.
Luke Kuechly was another guy I picked up in the initial draft who generally did right by me as a defensive player. He looks like somebody who should play lacrosse (which may very well be why I drafted him in the first place). But here he is, playing football.
Another guy who did right by me on the whole was Knowshon Moreno. He and Peyton Manning had some good times together.
A guy I added to my roster in the second half of the season, who ended up being quite useful was Josh Gordon. He's got a nice smile too.
I had Reggie Bush too, but he wasn't quite as reliable or consistent as I would have liked...especially that week of the Eagles game where he got hurt before they even started playing. And from what I've read he's a big baby about snow and mud. I never dropped him, but I wouldn't bother with him next year I don't think. Another latecomer to the team (the Heizulbergs was the name of my team) was Jordan Cameron. In addition to playing some pretty good ball, he also likes to read apparently.
Yup. I made it to the playoffs but the double loss of Bush and Gronkowski was not good for me and my season is now done. I had a 7-6 record and came in fourth overall (out of eight) before the playoffs. Including the playoffs it was a 7-9 season. Rough stuff there at the end.

The one major thing that happened was that I almost immediately started to care about trying to have a winning team. The whole 'create a team based on completely useless metrics' just didn't work and I couldn't live up to Taco's level of absurdity at all. I began to tinker and adjust as I learned more about how match ups worked and what to keep in mind. I am not in any way now a football expert, but I certainly know and care about the sport a bit more than before. I recently had a back and forth email conversation with a friend from college, and he said that not in a million years would he ever have expected me to get into FF. I am entirely in agreement with him on that score. But, as we all know, things change, interests wane or fire up, and if you can't roll with it what can be done? I am already kind of excited about applying the better knowledge and understanding I have to next year's draft. I'm going to go all the way! Maybe.

Here is my overall roster for those who would like to know:
Colin Kaepernick
Eli Manning
RGIII (replaced by Fitzpatrick for the last match of the season due to benching)
Keenan Allen
Demaryius Thomas
Golden Tate (picked him for his name)
Knowshon Moreno
Danny Woodhead
Reggie Bush
Jordan Cameron
Josh Gordon
Jerricho Cotchery
Ryan Succop
Steve Hauschka
Carolina Defense
Eric Berry (chose him because of this of course)
Ryan Clark
Alterraun Verner
Major Wright
Luke Kuechly
David Harris
Duke Ihenacho (nacho!)
Adam Jones

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