There I was, it was a perfect early morning. Everyone in the house was asleep and when I woke up, even the cats were somewhere dozing peacefully and for awhile, all was right with world. Coffee was brewing and the scent filled the house, with a wonderful smell. As I sat at the computer, an infomercial droned in the background, more for noise then anything else. With no interruptions, no cats climbing across the keyboard or jumping up and trying to grab my arm, I set about my morning routine on the computer. There was no indication that things were about to go horribly awry.
The source was innocent enough, a site that I had requested to receive periodic updates through email. As I read through it, I felt my eye twitch and my hand begin to shake. I let go of the mouse as if it sent some electric charge through the wireless object into my hand, and without realizing it, I let out a loud no, more of a sorrowful moan then a coherent word. And, as surreal as a Salvador Dali painting time stood still as I read over and over again…”sign up now for Food Network’s Fantasy Iron Chef Challenge”…
Waking up in a cold sweat, with my heart thumping hard in my chest, as one of my cats was walking all over me (I’m guessing I cried out in my sleep), I realized it was only a dream. A nightmare that was born from some dark recess in my subconscious. A psychologist somewhere may attribute it to post traumatic stress disorder, me, I’ll blame it on the baked beans that I had for dinner. And as I became fully awake, I sat for a moment pondering, which was more bizarre, this dream of the opportunity to choose Bobby Flay to lead my fantasy team, or the one where I was Mrs. Potato Head, recreating that commercial where she looses her lips (that one was brought on by a meat lovers pizza).
Okay, honestly, how can fantasy sports not invade my subconscious? Go to any sports site at anytime and you’ll see something about a fantasy draft or line ups, whether it’s football, basketball, hockey, etc. Rumor had it, there was even a competition for a fantasy curling team during the Olympics. And for professional football, with nothing else to really discuss except free agency, the draft and which quarterback was better (Manning or Brady), in a way, it’s logical for some to start looking at next seasons fantasy football draft, after all, there’s not much else to do until mini-camps begin and seriously, unless you’re a Saints fan, how often can you sit and watch SB XLIV highlights anyway.
Yet, somehow, I still scratch my head at the idea of fantasy football. It could be that, after actually having tried it for a season, I was a complete failure (trust me, the Rams did better then I did, despite having Drew Brees as my quarterback). Maybe because it’s completely stats driven, from the draft through the season and in a sense fails to take into account the intangibles. I mean, who’d have thought that there would be a game where Brees would rely on a running game and not put up stellar numbers for that week? And really, wasn’t Steve Slaton suppose to be one of last years fantasy stud at running back, yet it was Matt Schaub who surprised everyone in the position of quarterback.
I guess that’s where my issue comes in. Is it black and white, in regards to the stats alone when drafting? Certainly the analysis based off of the previous years performance is hit or miss. Example would be the 2008 fantasy football draft. Given stats alone, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was considered a hot pickup for his 32 touchdowns with 11 interceptions by the end of the 2007 season. Yet, even a homer like myself wouldn’t have drafted him as my quarterback in 08 given the defenses the Steelers offense was going to face. However, given his 08 statistics, he turned out to be (for most) a surprise by the end of the 09 season, having passed for over 4000 yds. (Yeah, I’m still kicking myself for actually trading him as my backup in exchange for a wide receiver). So going ito 2010, it may seem that the Steelers franchise quarterback would be a hot pick, however, gut instincts tell me that Ben’s numbers will go down as we see the Steelers go back to a more balanced offense. Not saying that he’ll be a fantasy bust, after all, Miss Cleo says that the Steelers offense will fire fast and hard until the 3d quarter and then go back to ball control to grind out the clock. Okay, I actually didn’t consult Miss Cleo on this, but from what Steelers President, Art Rooney III said at the end of the season about making the running game important again kind of leads me to believe this.
If it were all black and white, then of course I’d look at picking up Big Ben as my quarterback for next season. Then again, black and white would tell me not to take Roethlisberger as my fantasy team quarterback. Let’s face it, the scenario with Roethlisberger has too many shades of gray, I mean, an offense where the QB threw for 4000 yards with 2 1000 yards receivers and add a 1000 yard running back to boot by the end of the season. And yes, if you’re wondering, I traded away Rashard Mendenhall early last season too.
It’s no secret this coming seasons hot commodity is Tennessee Titans Chris Johnson, yet given Vince Youngs improvement last season, it’s very possible that we can see CJ have a season like the Vikings Adrian Peterson did last year. Not saying that Peterson had a bad year, after all he did run for over 1300 yards, but with the Vikings having a quarterback that was actually able to get the ball to his wide receivers, AP’s numbers did drop from the year before (In 2008, Peterson ran for over 1700 yards). I know, 400 yards less then the year before doesn’t seem like much but it does mean a lot in FFB. I’d be more apt to pickup whoever the Jets were starting, or go with Cardinals Beanie Wells because I see Mark Sanchez improving and Matt Leinart being better then what is being projected. Of course, I do that and my luck, the quarterback becomes a fantasy stud and my running back, a fantasy dud.
Now I’m not saying that there aren’t some sure things in fantasy football. Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers and, yes, even the Cowboys Tony Romo have consistently been sure things. However, the one thing I’ve learned is, that like regular football, in fantasy football one player doesn’t make a team (otherwise I’d have won the trophy last season with Brees as my quarterback). And that for me, somehow trying to incorporate the intangibles into a game based on stats wasn’t the wisest move. Yet, as much as I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the whole concept and have publicly sworn off of FFB (I just can’t bear to see my team die the slow death that it did last season), I understand the addiction.
Yes, I understand the addiction well. Because that nightmare I had mentioned earlier was more of a response to a small itch that surfaced at the talk of keeper leagues. Somewhere, in the deep, dark corners of my mind a little voice is going..come on Denise, give it one more try…you know you want to see if you can do better then last season…you know you had some fun with it…prove to them you’re not a loser. Logic would tell me that another season of fantasy football for me would be like betting on the 2008 Steelers to beat the spread. I’ll just remember that I’m old school. That football is as much about the intangibles, as it is about the stats. And to that little voice that is attempting to seduce me to give it one more try, to you I’ll say….get thee behind me satan…or quote Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, with “out, out, damn spot”. And if that fails…well….I’ll just commit myself to a 12 step program for fantasy football addicts anonymous and focus on the cookies.
I do leave this with one word of advice…if someone tells you, you can win with Drew Brees alone on your team, don’t believe them, I proved that theory wrong.