August 24, 2010 1 Comment
It’s finally here. Football is less than a few weeks away and that means fantasy football is even closer. From something that started as a novelty game has now grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. No offense to the other sports but when it comes to fantasy, football is king. Take it from me, I have been a fantasy player since 2000, and football is the highlight of my fantasy season.
Fantasy football has most definitely put football in the spotlight like never before. As seen by increased TV ratings, ticket sales, and more media coverage than the presidential election, football is back on top. Search fantasy football on Google and you get 108 million hits. Heck that’s more results than Justin Bieber (which is saying something). Nothing dramatic has changed in football since the 1960’s so the sudden spike couldn’t be from just the game itself.
Fantasy sports are more than just a game… it is a part-time job. From days and days of analysis, the mock drafts, even the TV shows, there is always knowledge to be learned. You could ask any fantasy player how long they spend preparing and researching their drafts and almost all of them will say more than a day (or at least for the good players.) It is every man’s dream to be a sports general manager, and fantasy sports makes that happen.
Just like poker, fantasy football success isn’t necessarily guaranteed. You may have the best odds, but the cards don’t usually fall as expected. Every year, new players make a name for themselves in fantasy, and there is hardly ever such a thing as a sure thing. Undoubtedly, a team’s third-string running back may emerge as the star of your team. Try saying that for other fantasy sports. Like most players, I have had plenty of experience with fantasy misfortune. Sometimes you just have to face the facts that you might be playing Chris Johnson the day he gets 300 yards… that’s just how it works.
But we know one thing for sure… fantasy football makes Sundays relevant again. No longer are they the day of rest. DirecTV anticipated this first. A few years ago, it didn’t make sense to get NFL Sunday Ticket. Being a Cowboys fan, why would I care if Tom Brady threw a TD pass in a 42-0 rout of the Dolphins? I’ll tell you why, in fantasy every point matters. I have had many weeks where a win or loss came down to the final plays of a game.
Also, Fantasy Football has finally hit the mainstream. In fact, it has gone so mainstream that Hollywood is even getting involved. FX’s new hit show, “The League”, evolves around the lives of middle-aged men and how their one bond is fantasy football. Folks, if you haven’t seen this show, I strongly recommend it.
This wouldn’t be a fantasy football article if I didn’t share my fantasy tips for the upcoming season. Entering my 10th fantasy season, I feel like I learn something new every year. For example, this year I would say it is best not to draft a Quarterback too high in your draft. Unless you have Drew Brees or Peyton Manning at your disposal, I wouldn’t use a valuable pick on a QB. In fact, this may even be the year that running backs are losing their value as well (except for the Petersons and the Johnsons). In a recent draft, I managed to snag five of the top 20 running backs and still have a decent team. It goes to show you how significantly things change each year when I’m getting Ladainian Tomlinson in the 14th round. Wasn’t this my first round pick last year (Yes, yes it was)? More than ever before, elite wide receivers are at a premium. With the abundance of above-average QB’s and RB’s available, if you have a chance to draft a top 5 WR, I would strongly recommend it. Another draft tip I would give is to draft the lone wolf. A lone wolf is a player who is “the guy” at their respective position. Despite my bias, drafting Felix Jones or Marion Barber isn’t a good value pick because they would end up splitting carries and touchdowns resulting in splitting points. I want the guy who could get 40 carries or 10 receptions a game. At least I know when his team doesn’t perform, he still is going to produce. And my final rule is don’t draft a tight end, kicker, or defense until all your other positions are filled (including backups). Don’t fall for the guy getting Dallas Clark in the fifth round, or the Jets Defense in the sixth round (its just a rookie move). These are the positions that you can pick up on a weekly basis and not miss a beat.
On to my sleeper pick. Last year I spent a good amount of time thinking of possible sleeper picks for the upcoming season. For a job interview, I was asked to give my sleeper pick and explain why. I came to a conclusion that Cedric Benson was going to have a breakout year, and 1251 yards later, he did (no joke). An improved Bengals offensive line, a change of scenery, and a good passing game was all I needed to make my sleeper pick. This year, I’m putting my money on Clinton Portis. Ever since Portis became a Redskin, his production has been awful. But I believe that with the addition of an elite QB (Donovan McNabb) and a run-first head coach (Mike Shanahan) that things are looking up for Portis. Portis has had his best seasons under Shanahan, and I believe he will exceed expectations this year. Portis isn’t going to cost you much in your draft… I just selected him in the 10th round in mine.
Like anything with success, there must be change every year. This year I am thinking of taking on the challenge of an auction draft. This is as simple as it sounds; instead of drafting players round-by-round, you just bid on each player individually. This involves a lot more research, but that’s how you play the game. Anyways, back to work, my team isn’t going to draft itself.