Chez Shaffner

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fantasy Football Terrifies Me

Everything about fantasy football intimidates me: the complexity of the scoring, the needing to pay attention to every game on the board, the ruthless trash-talking amongst friends, the constant monitoring of injury reports, the estimable risk of losing control and becoming obsessed.

For years, I have heard my friends talk about their fantasy teams and leagues and quietly stepped away, since the conversation did not pertain to me. One of my friends partipates in a league that has a physical draft in NYC, where all the fantasy owners fly in to be physically present for the draft. One friend establishes an annual fantasy budget; this year's allowance was set at $700. That's a lot of money, if you ask me, and I'm kind of a spendthrift.

Several weeks back, I made the mistake of mentioning off-hand to Ben S., one of my fantasy-obsessed friends, that I had never participated in a fantasy league. I made the further mistake of implying that I never participated because I had never been invited. Why I felt it necessary to make him feel guilty, I don't quite know.

After Week One, Ben s. decided to start a new low-stress league. Low stress because it has only six owners, which means everybody has good players. Various rumors permeated our group of friends as to Ben's motivation for launching this league, but the general consensus is that his existing teams aren't very strong and he wanted another chance at winning. In our new league, with its selection of less-experienced owners such as myself, he thinks he has an advantage.

Last Wednesday, I scheduled an hour for this draft. Keryn napped on the couch while I sat at the computer, picking players I hate from teams I hate. Some of my choices may have been suspect, though nobody said anything snide in the chat area. I was expecting somebody to say "a kicker in the first round?!? Shaffner, are you a @*&%!#@ IDIOT?" But they let it go, content that I wasn't going to compete for the "trophy."

(FYI: I didn't actually take a kicker in the first round. Even I knew that was dumb. You should wait until at least the 2nd round...)

I made my picks, including most of the players I had "pre-drafted" the day before, when I should have been working on my novel or updating this blog...

(Incidentally, blog fodder was one of Ben's selling points when I showed some hesitation at joining the league. I think he may be right, though there are already way too many fantasy blogs out there... I promise no more than one short posting a week, honestly...)

I am lucky to have a girlfriend who likes football, because we sat in front of the TV for three hours of it yesterday. Sure enough, I found myself saying things like "If the Bears can hold out, I'll get 10 points for the shutout, yeah!" and "68 receiving yards, that's 7 points, could be worse" and "Nice, Peyton threw for 400, my receivers must have had a great day!"

In esssence, as I sat on the couch, I felt fantasy seizing control over my brain and eating away at my soul. Was I really celebrating that Reggie Wayne (IND) had 135 yards receiving and cursing that he couldn't have caught one of the touchdowns? Those words of encouragement for Eli Manning, were they coming out of my mouth? In the sobering light of Monday morning, I am afraid of who I'm becoming and what this league will do to me...

For the record, here was my starting lineup yesterday:
QB Eli Manning (NYG)
RB Reggie Bush (NOR)
RB Brian Westbrook (PHI)
WR Reggie Wayne (IND)
WR Marvin Harrison (IND)
WR Keenan McCardell (SD)
TE Tony Gonzalez (KC)
K Stephen Gostkowski (NE)
DEF Chicago

Not awful, but not great...

I'll be back later today with something not related to football... :)

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