Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie
I’ve been playing fantasy football since 1998, when my friend convinced me to go in with him in a league starting up where he worked. That year, we drafted Terrell Davis in the first round, Steve Young in the second round, and Antonio Freeman in the third round. We honestly didn’t need any other players that year, because each one of those guys had career years. Davis with over 2000 yards, Steve Young with around 40 TDs and Freeman with 14 TDs and Favre throwing it to him. We rolled through the league and only lost one game all year — by 0.5 points when Jamie Asher caught a short pass at the end of a Monday Night Football game.
I was hooked.
The next year, I got my own team in the league and won the crown the next two years with the help of Marshall Faulk and then Eddie George. And that’s when the obsession started. I never wanted to be out-thought or out-researched by the other guys in the league, so I gathered in every scrap of information I could find and made list after list of player rankings and contingency strategies.
The addiction was completely out of hand.
Then I made the big mistake — I accepted the job as commissioner of the league. That’s when the tough times started. The bickering, the whining… the guys begging to be exceptions to the rules and then getting mad when I wouldn’t let them. I lost my taste for it pretty soon after that. By 2005 I wasn’t in any leagues at all. Thankfully. Fantasy football was really starting to become a problem.
But you’re never really cured.
It’s true. You’re never really cured of your addiction — you’re only in remission. And one of the things they tell addicts is that you need to be careful of who your friends are or else they can drag you back into your addiction behaviors. In 2008, the same friend who had gotten me into my first league was getting into a dynasty league at work and wanted me to partner with him again. I promised myself that I was only going to do this for one year.
Yeah, right. Worst thing I could’ve done. At least with a redraft league you get six or seven months off after NFL season ends. In a dynasty league, the obsession goes 24/7/365/Infinity. By the end of that first season I was already making trades for future draft picks — guaranteeing that I was back year after year. We scored the most points in our league and had the 2nd-best record that year but missed the playoffs because of a poorly designed tiebreaker hierarchy. And because we’d drafted a team of soon-to-be-irrelevant-but-still-productive players like Anquan Boldin, Marion Barber, Isaac Bruce, Willie Parker, Thomas Jones, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Torry Holt, Muhsin Muhammad and Tony Gonzalez, we were quickly in rebuilding mode.
So now the addiction rages again. But it’s taken on a different form this time. I’ve become less interested in the fortunes of my own team and more interested in the future stars of the NFL. Which means the addiction has really switched to an addiction for information rather than an addiction to fantasy football. Now I have to know WHY a player will succeed in the NFL rather than in just IF he will succeed. Which means watching days and days of college football game footage, all-star games, all-star practices, the Combine and all the other scouting events around the country, reading endless Twitter updates from guys who really know what they’re talking about, watching every preseason game, and — once again — making extensive lists of players and making my own scouting reports for hundreds of players. What makes these players tick? How quick is this QB’s release? Does this RB have the vision and burst he’ll need behind his offensive line? Does that WR get in and out of his breaks quickly enough? Hundreds of questions about hundreds of players.
But at least, because I write every one of my observations down, I can share them with others to maybe spare them the need to give in to their own obsessive tendencies. So that’s what this blog is for. I’m just a fan, but an obsessed one.