With the 6th pick of the 2000 fantasy draft, I selected Terrell Davis. That was my very 1st pick in my very 1st fantasy draft. I was 19 years old and I’ve played ever since. There were 16 guys in that league with each team selecting 16 players. The draft was done at my brothers friends house. Each owner had a plethora of magazines and stat sheets. I came over with a pen and a paper. I remember the draft taking several hours. This was done before the internet was widely popular and made everything as easy as it is today. If I wanted to pick up a player, I’d call the commissioner. Trades were made via phone calls and later told to the commissioner. I can’t remember where I finished that year, I’m guessing last, and I’ve been hooked ever since…. Till now.
I started playing fantasy football because I’ve always loved the game. It was also a reason for me to hang out with my brother and his friends. I’ve played in standard leagues where running backs are the best, in point per reception leagues, I currently play in a league where QB’s get a point per completion. I’ve played in leagues for free and I’ve played in leagues for over $100.00. I’ve played for trophies, $, and for someone having to do something embarrassing and ludicrous if they finished last. I once made over 30 trades in one season including making 60 different free agent moves. I’ve even played with individual defensive players. Currently I play in a “dynasty” format where we keep 3 players every year. We are also rewarded for drafting rookies who have great years as we are able to hold onto one if we’d like. Point is, I’ve played in just about every league you can think of.
Fantasy football taught me to pay close attention to the other 31 teams and their match ups. It taught me that my team isn’t full of the greatest skill position players in The League. It also taught me that if my RB was playing against my team, it’s “OK” for him to do well as long as my team wins. I’ve since been telling my now 13 year old son, “Reality before fantasy son”. Over the last several months, fantasy football has become less fun for me though. Yes, my team is still solid, so it’s not like I’m losing by any means. Here we are in week 5 and I haven’t made a trade and I’ve made less than 10 roster moves. So what happened that I’ve lost the love for something that I’ve enjoyed for so long?
In August of this year I was watching the HBO series Hard Knocks. Steven Jackson was mentoring the younger running backs with life lessons of life in the NFL. I thought that was pretty awesome. The next day I was telling some co-workers about it and the 1st response I got was “what’s he going to teach them? He did nothing for my fantasy team last year!” Have we as fans forgotten that there are more on a football field than just a QB,RB,WR,TE,K, and a defense/special teams? There are 22 players on a field at the same time. If that RG, or right gaurd, doesn’t pull and block the LOLB, or left outside linebacker, your running back doesn’t get you those 60 yards and a TD. Each position is just as important as the next.
Maybe I’m becoming my fathers son and complaining for the sake of complaining but I get excited about a 6-3 game. I’d like to come into work on a Monday morning and not talk about fantasy football. I would like to talk about how that team just got a big win and how they are going to improve their chances of hoisting the Lombardi trophy at the end of the year. I’d like to go over the X’s and O’s of how a play worked as opposed to “If I would’ve just started this guy instead of that guy I would’ve won my matchup.”
Also, no one cares about your fantasy football team just like no one cares about mine. No one cares that you drafted this guy in the 3rd round and I got that same guy in the 4th in a league that you don’t play in or even know anyone in for that matter. I don’t care that your team was auto drafted because you were having computer issues just like you don’t care that I made a trade for a guy who tore his ACL the next week. I do care about my team, my real life team, winning games in reality. I like to talk football. I like to read and watch things about football. I don’t like when fantasy outweighs reality. I don’t like scrolling through my twitter feed and reading how a guy from Idaho is telling the starting QB from a professional football team that he hopes he rots in eternal brimstone because that QB threw 3 interceptions. There are 32 guys in the ENTIRE planet that are starting QB’s in the NFL. You really think that QB is upset because you lost your fantasy football game? He may, but I doubt it. When did fantasy become more important than reality?
The reality of the situation is simple. There are millions of people playing fantasy football every year. It’s helped The League become the most popular sport in the United States. Ratings are up week after week as every “Joe 6 Pack” sits on the couch and cheers for “his” guy to throw a TD. I’m sure I’m in the minority when I say I don’t care for fantasy football anymore. I’m sure I’ll be criticized for saying I don’t care my teams star RB is struggling because the team is winning. I honestly don’t care if my teams QB throws 3 INTs and my team still wins. Fantasy football shouldn’t be the be all and end all of our Sunday viewings.
The sport of football is played with 11 guys on offense and 11 guys on defense. We talk about how this guy ran for 145 yards and two TD’s but why don’t we talk about that left tackle who had a pancake block that paved the way for that run? Why isn’t the blocking tight end celebrated for blocking his guy 20 yards downfield? Why isn’t the long snapper rewarded for making that perfect snap to the punter and allowing that kicker to make the 55 yard field goal that gave your fantasy team 5 points? I just feel like that fantasy is now outweighing reality and to me that’s a shame.
Last year I made it to the finals of my league. Winner gets paid $600. I played the matchup and benched my star QB who was on the road playing a stout defense. I lost by 10 points and if I had started that QB, I would’ve won. That star QB has no idea who I am or that I even exist. Should I not like the guy I started in his place because he didn’t perform like I thought he would? I don’t think I should.
While I know this post won’t be read by millions, or even thousands, heck, it probably won’t even be read by hundreds, I hope when you turn your TV on to whatever channel your football is on, you enjoy the beauty of the sport for more than just your fantasy team. Pass along the love of a 6-3 game with your children. Revel in the athleticism of a 6’7 340 pound man swinging off a block to set up a screen downfield. Love the actual game of football for more than your fantasy team. Take some time and read about the 46th guy that dresses on Sunday but doesn’t play.
With my rant almost over, I realize that everyone will continue to play fantasy football. My thinking isn’t delusional enough to actually think that fantasy football will ever stop. My hope is that maybe you’ll enjoy the game more for than just that 200 yard performance from your 1st round pick. Enjoy the game on Thursday, the games on Sunday, and the game on Monday night. May the fantasy Gods be in your favor and you win your game this week! Most of all, I hope your team wins this week, unless they’re playing my team!