The last few weeks have been a pop culture/NFL mash-up of epic proportions. Dennis Pitta and Percy Harvin have proven Shakira right: “Hips Don’t Lie.” Aaron Hernandez is trying out for Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. Tim Tebow is trying to prove some new mystical realm with “The Third Coming” as the Patriots’ backup backup tight end in a story sure to be directed by Martin Scorsese. Aaron Rodgers is channeling 90210 and saying steroid head Ryan Braun lied to him and destroyed their friendship. Tony Romo said he WANTED to play in the Hall of Fame game to make up for the games he’ll keep the Cowboys from playing in January in, Kobayashi Maru-style. And fantasy football is less than a month away for most of us.
I’ll admit it: I love playing fantasy football. Maybe it’s the competition, or the camaraderie, or the fact that even a game between the N.Y. Jets and the Miami Dolphins on a meaningless Monday has importance. But here’s my mix of random observations as we head into another fantasy (er, NFL) season, from a “for fun” perspective, as well as some with a little bit more meaning.
A few of the fantasy points I find relevant to a draft, as I’ve been asked by a few people to share from my “wisdom” (i.e. obsession?), but I’ll leave the most technical stuff for this year’s draft until later.
About playing the game:
-Never draft a kicker before the last round, or for more than $1. This year’s sleeper for me? Randy Bullock, Houston Texans, who sat out last year with a ripped groin.
-Stick with your team, even when you’re not great. It’s not fair to the other people in your league who are playing well when you mail it in halfway through the season.
-You wouldn’t go to a job, or play a live game without preparing (at least stretching, right?) So don’t show up for the draft without having read a few experts’ thoughts, having talked out the season with a buddy (maybe not one you’re playing against), or having checked the latest reports on who is injured, retired, or in jail.
-Running backs still rule, even if it’s a passing league. But wideouts are climbing the ladder. There aren’t too many three-down backs anymore, but there aren’t too many wideouts who are “Revis-retardant.”
-You want to gain the advantage, but don’t offer trades that are insulting. There’s no better way to kill the league spirit, or to tick off a friend, than offering him two lame bench players for AP. (You know who you are.)
-A few people know that at one point, I had drafted fifty-plus teams, and yes, I managed them all the whole way through the season. That was several years ago (my parishioners can relax now), but it proves my first fantasy-as-life axiom: any good thing can be taken too the extreme and become a problem, or sin. Not only did my playing that many teams cause countless hours of sitting in front of the television, but it also begged the question: who could I have been spending the time with if I hadn’t been dropping backup TEs for a bye week defense? Too often, our “innocent” habits get in the way of our real relationships, with people and with God. Here’s looking at you Facebook, and Jewel Star, and …you know what yours is, don’t you?
-Anything can happen in life, a lot like fantasy. Tom Brady can roll his ankle with some help from a K.C. Chiefs lineman and ruin your season, or you can sleep through the draft and find out your buddies have bid up your auto draft picks. Life is like that: you think you have it all together, and then illness or layoffs or an act of nature, and suddenly our lives are in turmoil. In fantasy, like most sports, you can wait til next year. But what happens in life? Do you roll up and move on, recognizing a bigger purpose, or do you throw in the towel? (You can tell a lot about a person by how they manage their team when a main player goes down!) Don’t let the real moments in life pass you by; it’s fantasy heresy, but your kids’ birthdays, your wife’s attention, and your job are actually more important than your lineup.
-Everyone with any sense will tell you not to draft with your heart. It’s good advice. But at the end of the day, I’m not drafting any Baltimore Ravens or New York Yankees (baseball): I can’t stand to see those teams succeed and I don’t want them on my team. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with having A FEW players you’d like to see succeed, nice guys, people you know, etc. Just balance that with the previous thought: sometimes your heart won’t help your fantasy success but it will make it more fun.
-Life is a lot like a snake draft, but the kingdom of God is like an auction draft. In a snake, you take your place in line based on a predetermined (sometimes random) order and pick a player; in an auction, everyone has a shot at success because of the even team salaries. While life seems to find a way of force-feeding situations and we sometimes contribute to their negativity, God evens the ultimate playing field with the death and resurrection of Jesus. We’re all given a chance to be redeemed because “Christ died for us while we were yet sinners,” and all of us have sinned!
-Have fun*. Play with your friends. Don’t take life too seriously. I learned that one from fantasy. And my parents. And watching Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. When you lose, and you WILL lose, refer to *. It’s going to happen. It’s about the only thing you can bank on. Which is also why you shouldn’t invest large sums of your disposable income that’s not really disposable on this (I didn’t learn that from FF… but I could have). [By the way, there are no * in fantasy football. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, you either win or you don’t. So make sure you have fun.]
Want a biased opinion about your draft, your lineup, or something else I’ve said? Leave a comment here, or tweet me @Spider_Raven. I’m not an expert, but I could be.