I play fantasy football. So do millions upon millions of others.
I’m in two leagues this year, one that is legitimate and one that, in a bored state the other day, I joined online at espn.com. I wish I hadn’t done that. I didn’t draft a very good team, first of all. And it seems like anything more than one fantasy team is cheating life a bit.
Those of us who love football – and who play fantasy football – should not be allowed more than one team. It’s not right, for example, that my team in our Sports Daily fantasy league could be really bad, yet I would be able to gain some credibility if my other team, in the ESPN league, does better.
Anyway, the greatest thrill of a fantasy league is the draft, after which the fun diminishes at a rapid pace. I spent a good two days analyzing my draft choices and those of the rest of the players in our league. But after those two days, I settled back into a state of despondency over the shortcomings of my team and, if I were to take an unbiased approach, the very small chance it has of doing anything in the league.
I got stuck in the No. 9 draft position in a 10-team league. By the time I picked, the three marquee running backs – Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster – were off the board. So were quarterbacks Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, as well as receiver Calvin Johnson.
So I went with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Three picks later, I chose Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson. In the third round, I picked up Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green.
Not bad, except that I don’t have a running back. And I don’t get one until setting for the Atlanta Falcons’ Michael Turner in Round 4. Everybody now tells me Turner is washed up, over the hill and will never be the same back he used to be. Great. Just great.
One of my biggest problems with fantasy football is my competitive nature. I’m better at losing than I used to be, perhaps because I’ve had so much practice. But when I was a child, my mother wouldn’t play Monopoly with me because of the extreme measures I would take to win. And when I didn’t win, it wasn’t pretty. I was a spoiled brat.
I have never won a fantasy football league. I have never been in a championship game. I’ve made the playoffs a few times, but I’m never around for long. The so-called “fantasy experts” tell me there’s a science not only to picking a team, but to tweaking a team during the season. They say they know what to look for on the waiver wire, but I don’t notice those “experts” having much more success than a guy like me.
Fantasy has changed the way I watch football on Sundays. This will be my third year with DirecTV’s NFL Ticket, which shows me every game. I do a lot of flipping back and forth and tend to end up mostly on the games that have the most fantasy impact for me.
I do try and watch as much of the St. Louis Rams as I can, but when the Rams are out of contention (and when aren’t they?), it’s easy to just start flipping from one game to another. And DirecTV has a great feature that allows me to follow my fantasy team right there on the screen as I watch a game.
There are high hopes for the Wichita Witches (my team name, a nod to one of Wichita’s first minor league baseball teams) as we prepare to start the 2012 season. But I have no idea what to think about my chances. Last year, I had a really good team that was beset by injuries to key players like Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub. I have both guys back – Johnson as a starting receiver and Schaub as a back-up to Stafford.
I have San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis and Miami running back Reggie Bush, who had his best season in 2011. He might get all the yards for the young and inexperienced Dolphins this season, which might not be saying much.
My team is ready go play. And I’m essentially helpless to improve the squad at this early date. I’m not even sure it needs much improving, honestly.
I just know I’m nervous. I don’t want to lose this opening game because it would make me feel sad. And probably mad. I’ve grown up since I was a kid, but I’m not sure how much.