I have been playing fantasy football for over a decade now. I started in college, thanks to Matt, and there has been one consistent theme:
My team sucked.
Oh sure, I’ve had great players. Some of the best. Future Hall-of-Famers, even. But as a collective unit? Garbage.
And not all of it is the team’s fault; as Matt duly noted in his piece on the state of his beloved Eagles, a lot can fall on management’s shoulders. As it did in my case. Bad draft positioning and worse picks did my team in several years.
Of course, there were also years where I couldn’t make the draft and the app Auto-Drafted for me. That was a lot of fun. It’s like the rotating door of Lions’ GMs were selecting the team. And my first year or two I started out great and then would oversleep or forget to set/check the line up for a couple of weeks. I went from 5-1 to 5-5 and couldn’t make up the ground.
There were also years where I couldn’t make the draft and the app Auto-Drafted for me. That was a lot of fun. It’s like the rotating door of Lions’ GMs were selecting the team.
But not this year. No sir. This year, all the stars aligned. I followed my team and the NFL more closely than ever before. I watched the draft, selected some long-shot picks that turned out huge for me.
Everyone else went wide receiver first round. Not this guy. He took a shot on Alvin Kamara. Yeah, that Alvin Kamara. The one everyone had questions about before the season started. I knew he was solid and drafting where I was, he was a steal if he panned out. And aside from the Taysom Hill madness, he did.
I also reached for Travis Kelce. And reached really far for DK Metcalfe. Both of which turned out to be huge assets for my team. I picked up guys that got over looked, like Robert Woods, and took chances on rookies like Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy for my bench and they filled them out perfectly. I didn’t play them much, but knew the appeal and knew they could be packaged in a trade because of their potential. And I was able to grab Diontae Johnson in super late round (I drafted him 124th) and he turned out to be incredible.
The free agency portal helped me a ton, too. Did you know who Wesley Gallman was before this year? I didn’t, but he’s a great player in the making. What about Alexander Mattison? He may be Dalvin Cook’s backup, but the guy should be a starter somewhere. Jason Myers plays alongside the best offense in the NFC, and he’s an incredibly accurate kicker. Ryan Tannehill was terrible in Miami, but did you know he’s a top-10 fantasy quarterback with the Titans? I grabbed him to help back up poor, beaten up Matt Stafford. He’s been my go-to for forever, but this year the weight of holding up an entire franchise finally wore him down. Tanne was in.
If I seem incredibly pathetic to you at this point, bragging about armchair General Managing, I need to stop and explain why this means this much to me. Until this year, I have been the Cleveland Browns of every league I have ever been in. I may spoil a few games for someone. But I will inevitably be eliminated from playoff contention early. And should I make it, there’s The Fumble waiting for me.
If I seem incredibly pathetic to you at this point, bragging about armchair General Managing, I need to stop and explain why this means this much to me. Until this year, I have been the Cleveland Browns of every league I have ever been in.
And by our league (and NFL standards) both Matt and I are long in the tooth. We have eased into our thirties, I’m married, we both have jobs that require a lot of our time. We can’t stay up past midnight waiting on the waiver wire to open. We can’t play the game like we used to. The rest of our league is closer to Will’s age; early-to-mid 20s, and aside from Will, unmarried. Not as much responsibility. Just starting out in life. Young. Optimistic. Hopeful. I knew I had to play smart to overcome the disadvantage. Sure, there were times I got mad when someone stayed up till 12 to get Tua and the Dolphins’ D, and at one point I was 5-4 and not sure if the Tompa Bay Bustdowns (a great pop culture reference and while I did not get Tom Terrific himself, I did get their defense, which was great…most of the time) could finally get that elusive title. In a key matchup against the No. 1 team in the league, we came up six points short.
My team went on a tear, destroying everyone down the stretch and got stronger as everyone in front of me seemed to falter. It never lost again, took over the No. 1 seeding in the playoffs, and for the first time in my life as a fake GM/Coach, and the first time any incarnation of the completely unreal franchise I run, made it past the first round of the playoffs. The Cleveland Browns of a fake sports league you probably care nothing about, had made it.
The team that met the Bustdowns in the final was an upstart; the fourth seed had gotten hot late in the season. It was anyone’s game. After several very real teams decided to rest the superstars I had used all year long, it was close. Tompa Bay was not leading by the amount the so-called experts predicted. Would this be like the Bengals in ’83? The Dolphins in ’82? The Rams in ’02?
Not at all, thanks to Alvin Kamara. His 50+ point outing was enough to make the difference in the contest. The Tompa Bay Bustdowns held on, 293-267. to take their first title.
My completely imaginary team had done it. Let the party begin! The celebration was great. So many people (just me. really) happy, celebrating, at least one person at the parade in our living room, my wife shaking her head in disbelief at me, so many great memories I’ll cherish for the rest of my month.
But now, as the season has come to a close, the cold of winter settles in, and several months worth of work is done, I am faced with a decision: Do I line it all back up and go for a two-peat? Start a dynasty? Defy age and time like Tom Brady?
Or do I ride off into the sunset with my title? Call it a career. Appreciate the work it took to get to the mountaintop, and just enjoy the view for a bit before finding another mountain to climb? There’s always fantasy hockey, and even as a Kings fan, I’ve always wanted the Hartford Whalers or the Quebec Nordiques to come back. Can my body handle another season of the stress and pain that the beating a full season of fantasy football puts on it? I’ve just started a family; maybe my time should be spent enjoying the no money I’ve made in my career as a ridiculously fake member of the football world?
I’m leaning toward going out like Bill Murray did in his basketball career: on top. I’ve got nothing left to prove, and I don’t see the point in tarnishing my non-existent reputation. What’s there left to show after the greatest season of my career?
Like all legends (in their own mind), I think going out on top may be the way to leave this game.