When it comes to fantasies and muscular, athletic men, I usually don’t involve coworkers. But today was my first foray into the world of fantasy football drafts.
How unprepared was I for this endeavor? Um… totally. I’ve done pick-em fantasy leagues for years – toss $10 in the game, pick a winner per week, survival of the winningest. This is a whole new… well… ball game.
Mind you, I love football. But the reason I don’t do fantasy drafts is because I don’t follow specific players if they’re not on the teams I support. So randomly picking a quarterback, wide receivers, running backs, a tight end, a kicker, a defense, a flex player and a bench? When there’s a very good chance that the guy I want in any given round will have been taken by someone else? Pfft.
Also evidence of a lack of preparedness: Turns out, you can’t do a fantasy draft on your smartphone. It’s high-stakes, sometimes rapid-fire picking and you need your finger to hit the right buttons at the right times, without fail, or you wind up picking the defense ranked 33rd in the league.
(There are only 32 teams in the league.)
(I do know some things.)
(I can name all 32 teams, too… but most people would do it by division, whereas I do it strictly by geographical location. Because I’m not most people. Also because if I tried to do it by division, I’d get about three divisions in and then start getting confused, and I’d be mocked for having my divisions all screwy instead of praised for knowing there are 32 teams and knowing where they are and what they’re called. So geography.)
Anyway, our design director took pity on me and my little smartphone and uprooted a Mac from another designer’s desk, lugging it into the conference room and hooking it up for me, then getting me reacclimated (I’m a PC person) and into the draft page with ten seconds to spare before the first round of action. I was then ensconced behind a huge screen like it was a side-by-side set of Trapper Keepers propped up on my desk during a fourth grade quiz, while everyone else looked fervently at their little hippie tablet screens.
Alright. Let’s do this.
I’m picking ninth.
First round… the first co-worker to choose is on auto-pick and she gets Adrian Peterson, or as I like to call him, Double-Sided Scooby Snack (watch this to find out what the hell I’m talking about – it is seriously hilarious). I pick Calvin Johnson at WR. He’s Megatron. He’s The proverbial Man at that position: back-to-back leader in fantasy points for the last two seasons.
This, of course, very likely means he’ll be paralyzed in a late hit in game two. But for now, I’m all in with this guy and very happy to have snatched him up. Things are off to a good start.
Round two! I’m going to pick up Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, also at WR. He’s great! Oh, wait. He was great in 2011. Or was that 2010? Or 2009? Last year he kind of sucked. Ach. S’aight. He’ll pick it back up. His QB wasn’t doing him any favors last year and now he’s got Carson Palmer and a new coach.
*Squirms a little in chair*
Round three. I’m thinking it’s time to pick a QB before everybody’s taken. Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are already off the table. Yep. Here we go. Cam Newton.
I skipped Payton Manning. Mostly because – unlikely though this may have seemed three seasons ago – I didn’t realize he was ranked above Newton. But that’s alright because even though he is by far the smartest football player currently in the NFL and possibly ever, I still don’t think he’s up to par since his neck surgeries, and Denver just hasn’t gelled around him the way Indy did. Plus, Newton’s good with the rush – something the top four guys don’t really do much. Possibly because their OL guys protect them better. Still, I’ll take the versatility.
There. I sold it to myself.
Meanwhile I haven’t figured out why the gap between my picks is inconsistent. I pick ninth out of twelve. Why did only six people go between my first and second picks, and then there were 16 between my second and third?
Fourth turn. Lemme get me a RB. Scooby Snack is gone, and so are Ray Rice, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster (autopick and unfortunate, seemingly Nazi-endorsing name when said aloud), Alfred Morris, LeSean McCoy, Chris Johnson and Darren Sproles. I scroll… I scroll… My eyes scan the list of eighty gabillion players as my 1:30 time limit ticks down. I light on Reggie Bush.
Reggie Bush! Cool!
Wait. Isn’t he like 127 in-football-years old?
Oh but hang on, he’s with Detroit now. And this is a PPR (points per reception) league. He can catch, so that makes him a pretty decent PPR choice. I’m okay with this. I’m taking Reggie.
The 22-year-old league owner picks Kansas City WR Dwayne Bowe, the fourth-highest paid WR in the league right now. “I’m taking Dwayne Bowe so I can name my team Skittles: Taste Dwayne Bowe,” he says.
Unofficial points for clever jokes.
Finally, I work out that there’s a potential method to the madness. I see the positions I still need to pick (at roughly the same time that I see that both my WRs are in bye weeks at the same time, so that means I need a WR either as a flex player or on the bench). I see that I can search players by position rather than scrolling through every player available. I’m feeling a little less clueless for round five.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB. Boo-yah. Except for the foot surgery.
Round six: Vernon Davis at TE.
ESPN says: “Ranking Davis as a fantasy starter requires a leap of faith, because he was a disaster in 2012, catching fewer than two passes per contest in the seven regular-season games after Colin Kaepernick became the 49ers’ QB.”
But: “In the playoffs, Davis had two 100-yard efforts, disproving the cranky notion that he and Kaepernick can’t coexist, and he’s just too darned talented not to figure this out. No question, he’s a tough man to trust. But a bounce back to ’10 and ’11 levels feels like a given, and we’ve seen Davis’ monstrous upside before: He had 13 TDs back in ’09. He’s still only 29, and may be the fastest pass-catcher on his team.”
Combined with the defense, that isn’t bad.
Round seven: DeSean Jackson at WR. He’s an Eagle (my hometown team) but the QB situation is dicey. I’d have preferred a RB or even a kicker from that team, but you can’t hurry love.
Round eight: Time to pick a defense. San Francisco. Solid.
Round nine: kicker. Blair Walsh of Minneapolis. Only the #1 ranked kicker in the league. I congratulate myself, even though the difference between the #1 kicker in the league and the worst starting kicker in the league is probably three points. Good thing, because he’s the only kicker I’ve got.
At round ten, we’re into the bench. I need a backup QB in case something happens to Newton, and the best I can get is Jay Cutler. Meh. Bryce Brown as a backup RB. Now we’re officially into the names I can’t even be sure I recognize. Julian Edelman at WR because maybe he doesn’t start and therefore doesn’t get hurt too quickly. Throw the Ravens’ Jacoby Jones in there, too. Why not – he’s actually pretty good and would be a solid backup if everyone else falls. And finally, Justin Blackmon.
It’s after I make that pick that I learn he’s suspended for the first four games of the regular season for illegal substance violations.
I’m feeling okay. I’m feeling only slightly tighter than loose about it. Then I check the matchups. I’m a favorite over the co-worker I’m matched up against for week one, and sure, I have no idea why I’m matched up against him for week one, but I do know he was an autopick drafter.