Real Life Applications Of Fantasies
It was six years ago when the boy I was dating introduced me to a whole new world of fantasy that changed my life.
Granted, our relationship didn’t even make it past the draft, but after that first season of playing Fantasy Football I was hooked.
The thing about Fantasy Football is that, as the name implies, it’s a fantasy. A way for football fans to get in on the action, beyond watching games on Sunday afternoon (and night…and Monday…and some Thursdays…) And I tend to play in leagues with some of my favorite guy…friends ever. It makes my NFL season that much more fun!
Not surprisingly, most of the enjoyment of Fantasy Football comes not from the standings and scores (I am currently in 1st out of 12 in one league, 4th out of 12 in a second and 14th out of 16 in a third) but from how you approach your league. It is not the situation or tool but how you react that makes the experience one that keeps you coming back.
You lose control at 1 PM on Sunday
Well, you TECHNICALLY start losing control on Thursday night, but Sunday at 12:55 PM EST is generally when the Fantasy hits the fans. If you accidentally left an injured player on your roster…too bad! If you forgot that your quarterback was on a BYE week? Sucks to be you. If your top running back suffers a concussion 2minutes into the first quarter…then you aren’t getting many points from his slot. If one wide receiver is on fire or his defender might as well lie down and let the receiver run over him into the end zone, the coach is going to play the bejeezus out of that player.
In the “real world” game of football, these things would obviously be addressed. If a running back is taken out of the game, the coach puts in a new one. The Patriots wouldn’t just show up at Gillette on a BYE week on the off chance someone wanted to scrimmage with them. But since you are managing a virtual list of names and statistics, the logic of the real world game does not apply. Just names and slots on a drag-and-drop roster.
There’s a BIG difference between Smack Talk and “I’m-A-Huge-Asshat” Talk
I love smack talk!
Especially because Fantasy leagues are usually filled with people who are friends or at least have enough in common (work, Twitter, favorite team, etc) that they can chatter amongst themselves and poke jabs in a pure manner of jest. As the only girl in many leagues, I’ve endured my share of “Woman, go make me a pie!” conversation and “You draft like a girl” comments. Or the night that my friend Ryan Knapp called and texted me three times til he finally got in touch to check in, see how life was, and totally rub my face in the fact that he destroyed me in our Pantsless Fantasy League match-up that week (In his defense, I totally did the same thing to Sean Ogle when I beat him in the Portland v. Portland Cage Match of Week One.)
But sometimes the good-natured ribbing just turns into hurtful and spiteful name calling and tempter tantrums. That just sucks. I’ve been in many league seasons where anger dominated and the good natured smack talk turned into malicious “I’m-Going-To-Make-Your-Fantasy-Life-Miserable” talk. I’ve never expected a league board to be warm fuzzy “Dude, too bad you lost, but your RB looked good this week. Better luck next week bro. Hugz!” talk, but it always sucks when it turns to a place people go to be jerks instead of tease their friends.
The more you worry about everyone else’s stuff, the less fun it is
The first few leagues I played in, I was still learning the rules and tricks and tips (you need to set your roster before your player’s team plays, in a PPR (points-per-reception) league a QB-Receiver match is like liquid gold, sleeper picks are like Italian Truffles, etc.) and it was frustrating losing week after week against folks that were more experienced and adept. So I started lashing out. Questioning trade agreements. Berating league commissioners for not fixing the problems. Commentating on how stupid it was that my points didn’t matter as much as my match-ups.
It made me almost quit a couple leagues.
Which probably would have been welcome amongst my other managers, cause I was a whiny bitch. I was unhappy with how my team was doing, so I figured it must be some sort of conspiracy. But you can’t control what anyone else is doing with their players/teams/messages. You can only control your own stuff. It’s liberating to realize that. Instead of spending hours scouring everyone else’s moves and strategies, you focus on your own.
When you start winning by doing that? Even sweeter.
Consistency is better than a couple big weeks
I’ve always played in head-to-head leagues (versus total points leagues) so the weekly match-up matters much more than how many points you are putting up. It’s like the New England Patriots 19-1 season. The New York Giants came out as 2007 season champions because that ONE loss the Patriots suffered happened to be during Superbowl XLII.
In many head-to-head leagues the person with the most points doesn’t necessarily win the title. Who cares if Kyle Orton got me 400+ points in a season? I still finished 7 out of 12. Didn’t even make the playoffs. Lame.
It’s SUPPOSED to be fun!
This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of the Fantasy leagues I’ve played in. Even when you are playing for money (unless we’re talking BIG MONEY which are leagues I totally don’t roll in!) you probably joined because you love football and like the folks you are playing with.
If it starts to get to the point where it ISN’T fun anymore, figure out why. And figure out what you are going to do about it. Sure, when you are in 14th place out of 16 teams in a league it would be easy to just throw up your hands and ignore your team, cause there’s no way you are going to win.
But that isn’t fun. For you or for anyone else in the league.
That’s when you know it’s time to man up.
Sure you are going to lose.
Fantasy Football is best played when you come screeching in at the end, disheveled and clinging to your beer mug and hot wings exclaiming “Whew! That was one hell of a ride!”