beer flight 450x299 Thoughts On Fantasy Football

There’s something profoundly wrong with writing about fantasy football at a coffee shop; not morally wrong, but wrong in the sense that the two thing are deeply incongruous— questions like “would you like whipped cream with that?” don’t belong anywhere near the gridiron. Simply put, unless you’re a senior writer at a major sports publication who looks like he’s in the second trimester of his pregnancy and gets his hair done by Dr. Frankenstein, you’re better off keeping your frappuccino and your draft plan separate and hewing to more testosterone-charged things like red meat, dark beer, and V-8 engines.[1]

That said, if you’re not sure what to write about, you do overhear some good material in a coffee shop.[2]

I find that the most difficult aspect of fantasy football writing lies in choosing from the plethora of options one has regarding which angle to take.

Option I: The List.

More versatile than the love child of Brad Smith and Tim Tebow, the list covers a vast range of content. For example:

A. The Homer Humor list:

The Five Most Repugnant Players In Football

1. Aaron Rodgers

2. Aaron Rodgers

3. Aaron Rodgers

4. Aaron Rodgers

5. Aaron Rodgers

(Guess what team I root for? [3]).

B. The “Hey-Hot-Mama Special”[4]:

The Five Players With The Most Beautiful WAGs:

1. Jeff Garcia/Carmella Decesare Garcia

2.Kellen Winslow/Janelle Winslow

3.Tom Brady/Gisele Bundchen

4. Scotty McKnight/Hayden Panettiere

5. Hank Baskett/Kendra Wilkinson.

                                                                                                                                                                                         

[1] While there is of yet no conclusive evidence, scientists are working around the clock to demonstrate the link between testosterone and fantasy football prowess.

[2] Today’s gem:

Frat boy 1: Would you hit that?

Frat boy 2: I’d hit that so hard that whoever pulled me out would become king of England.

[3] Hint: it rhymes with ‘scares,’ ‘airs,’ and ‘who cares.’

[4] All hail Johnny Bravo— love and respect, man, love and respect.

                                                                                                                                                                                       

C. The Substantive List:  

Most Underrated Players For Fantasy Football:

1. Matt Forte- He’s had 1200+ total yards and 50+ receptions in every year he’s played.

2. Alex Smith- 2012 will mark the first time he hasn’t had to learn a new offense in the offseason, and yet his total yardage, QB rating, and YPA have still increased every year since 2007.[5]

3. Titus Young/Randall Cobb- Both have great vertical speed, a dynamic ability to separate, and play in prolific offenses with top 5 QBs.

4. Darryl Washington- His 107 TCKL, 5 SCK, 2 INT last year weren’t a fluke.

5. Danny Amendola- A poor man’s Welker will be Bradford’s security blanket.

But maybe you want to mix things up, get away from beef jerky and beer, and class it up a bit, so chuck The List, and go another route.

 Option II: Go Scientific

Flaunt that brain! Offer up a typology of the different types of owner a fantasy footballer encounters in a dynasty league.

Type 1: The Mel Gibson: he’s great until he starts drinking, then it’s !@$#@%#$^$%^$%^!!!

Type 2: The Franklin Abagnale: Jahvid Best… he’s electric, averaged 4.6 yards per carry last year, I guess I could trade him to you for Denarius Moore and Jamaal Charles, though I don’t know… Charles only rushed for 83 yards last season,… maybe you should throw in Mychal Kendricks just to make it fair.

Type 3: The Mike Tyson: I’m $38 million in debt, what’s 4 1sts and six 2nds for Michael Turner.[6]

Type 4: The Don Rickles: he’s the one that told you he was going to call the Quarter Horse Association and nominate you for Stud of the Year after your last trade offer. Part genius, part jerk, you love what he does to twits and turkeys in online forums and the league thread, and pray he doesn’t set his sights on you.

Type 5: The Living Proof That God Takes Care of Idiots: yeah, I traded ADP, Beason, Best, Andre Johnson, and Charles for Cruz, Tebow, Steve Smith, and Navarro Bowman in my redraft last year, and won the league.

Type 6: The Peewee Herman: Any judge would call it justifiable homicide if you killed him.

Option III: Go Meta

Write about fantasy football as an arena in which GOOD (patriotic, red-blooded, gut-following football enthusiasts who understand the importance of intangibles) squares off against EVIL (stat-quoting, pocket-protector-wearing, football-hating, killjoy, communists) in a battle for the souls of football fans everywhere.[7]

                                                                                                                                                                             

[5] Smith did not play in 2008. Cf., Vincent Frank’s article, “A Closer Look at Alex Smith’s Stats and What They Mean.”

[6] This owner only makes deals with your division rivals, never with you.

[7] My friends call me Darth Stalin.

                                                                                                                                                                                               

Option IV: Go Trendy

Take on the issue of the changing importance of running backs in an age of pass-happy offenses and RBBC’s[8] by demonstrating that the question, while pertinent to any discussion of the NFL is irrelevant to fantasy football and draft strategies because THE ONLY LEGITIMATE STRATEGY is and has always been VBD,[9] a strategy that prioritizes statistical output above the positional mean without ranking the relative importance of the position.

Option V: Throw down some Sabermetrics

Analyze the relative value of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. Oh, wait— that’s already been done. By everybody.[10]

One angle that hasn’t been taken: a hypothetical competition in which Graham and Gronk compete in Dancing With the Stars, America’s Next Top Model, Survivor, Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, Hell’s Kitchen, and The Price Is Right, with the victor being decided by readers’ tweets.

Option VI: The Finer Points

Give your readers a list of facts, definitions, and concepts central to fantasy football.

Outlier, n.:

1. The highest/lowest number in a set. Ex. If you remove the highest outlier, Demarco Murray’s Avg. YPC in 2011 falls by a yard.

2. A deceitful man. Ex., That %**!! outlier told me I’d be able to draft  T-Rich at 1.04, so I traded with him.

Points Above/Below Replacement, concept:

1. A means of calculating the value of a player based on the average number of points he scores above a generic “replacement” player.

2. A means of calculating the value of your wife/girlfriend based on the average number of times she nags you about the amount of time you spending playing fantasy football above/below a generic “replacement” wife/girlfriend.

Keeper, n., concept:

1. A player of such value that you choose to keep him at the cost of letting other players go.

2. A wife/girlfriend who embraces fantasy football.

Overrated, n., adj.:

1. A player whose reputation exceeds his performance (see Jackson, Desean, and Bryant, Dez).

2. Marriage, financial solvency, sex, children, and holding a job (as compared to dominating your fantasy football leagues).

3. Trading players for draft picks.[11]

Cost of Doing Business (CDB):

1. The 4th round pick you include to seal the deal.

2. (related) next year’s first for this year’s second.

3. Your social/professional/sex life (re. fantasy football)

Stud, n.: 

 1. A player one builds a team around.

2. One who dominates his fantasy football leagues.

3. (related) über-stud, one who successfully mollifies wife while watching football, playing fantasy football, drinking beer, and eating beef jerkey.[12]

All things considered, though, the next article I write will offer the following thesis: fantasy football has little to do with the game of football itself, and a lot to do with the ability to compile, analyze, and interpret numbers. I’ll argue that the most successful owners are those who are able to divorce themselves from the game and its stories and emotions.

In the world of fantasy football, Stephen Hawking would slaughter Jon Gruden: discuss.

                                                                                                                                                                       

[8] Running Back By Committee

[9] Value Based Drafting

[10] Yahoo, Bleacher Report, Football Outsiders, CBS, Fantasy Pros, YouTube, etc…

[11] The bust rate of second round picks in a representative sampling of drafts from 2004-2010 was 64.3%. Cf., “Inside the Numbers: Fantasy League Draft Analysis”

by Jeff Haverlack.

[12] This takes years of practice, and the daily execution of hand-eye coordination and special swallowing drills. DO NOT ATTEMPT without a spotter.