Fantasy Football’s Evolution
I admit it. I love Fantasy Football. I still remember being asked by some friends to join a fantasy football league in Minneapolis. I had no idea what it was until I walked into a guys apartment to find out that we were going to 'draft' NFL offensive skill players from any team to build our own team. Wow was that a crazy concept in the mid 1980's! This was long before there were dozens and dozens of magazines at the stores. It was before the internet was everywhere and the constant information coming in from ESPN. This was watching the two football games we got each weekend (Minnesota Vikings plus a late game) and trying to catch information at halftime.
I remember taking Super Bowl hero Timmy Smith from the Washington Redskins with a #1 pick a few months after his record big game...and watched him disappear into oblivion. I also got the early buzz of drafting a kid in Cincinnati with a late round pick who had a weird name as the nation learned the "Ickey Shuffle" together.
From the first draft, I was hooked. The moans and groans and someone takes your guy a pick before you can get him. Openly mocking your friends on their picks. The camaraderie of the league when we got together for the draft and even subsequent Sundays to watch the games together, to sports bars popping up everywhere, to the internet and explosion of a game that 25+years ago, only a few of us knew about to a multi-billion dollar wagering industry that Las Vegas gets nothing from.
It's given all of us the outlet of yelling at the front office moves of our favorite teams a chance to prove that we're better managers. We have trophies for our leagues and rules have changed as the years go by to auction leagues, keeper leagues, scoring twists like PPR (points per reception) and more. The beauty of the game is that you can make it as intensive or as easy as you want depending on who you're forming your league with.
I've "limited" myself to two fantasy leagues over the past few years. Life has gotten a lot busier and I play to win so too much excitement isn't good for me haha. One league is made up of a lot of radio guys (and ex-radio guys) with a few friends mixed in. We still do an in person draft with the majority of us with our lists, magazines, pen and paper (and of course beer!) I joined my other league a few years ago with my nephews and their friends. I've never met the majority of the guys in that league face to face. We do the draft online (through Yahoo which has a very cool Fantasy Football set up and it's free to use!) All you have to do is click a guys name and the site takes care of the rest. And we can still give each other crap through the online chat, but the in person 'buzz' of a draft will never be replaced.
The friendships that I've made through this goofy game last to this day and the highs (and lows) of great drafts remain. Around this time of year, I break out the stories of taking Alfred Morris last year in the 14th round (I took him in the 1st round in the same league this year). Or the year I took Arian Foster in the 7th round and got the "who?" from the leagues and realized I could've taken him later. Or using my last pick on a rookie running back out of Oklahoma State named Thurman Thomas. Yeah, I've played the game a long time. And I can't imagine ever stopping.
And if you've read this far, you're a geek like I am, so I'll share my drafts. I did them back to back last night (August 29) The in person league followed by the online league. Both are 12 teams, snake draft, no keepers, fairly traditional scoring. I ended up with the #10 in BOTH leagues.
In my first draft, the quarterback run started early with three drafted in the first round. That allowed Alfred Morris to fall to me in the first round and Calvin Johnson in the 2nd. I took David Wilson (and learned when I got home that Andre Brown broke his leg in the game last night) I took a chance on Rob Gronkowski in both leagues in the 7th round figuring 10 games from him and whoever else I got was going to be a better value than Jimmy Graham who went in the 3rd round in both leagues. I took Matt Stafford in both leagues as well, hooking him up with Megatron.
In my online draft, running backs went with the first nine picks. I had nine backs I was willing to take a first round shot at. So I grabbed Calvin Johnson first. On the way back, I still didn't like any of the backs that high, so I drafted Julio Jones in a league that starts three WR's. I finally cracked the running back seal in round 3 with Frank Gore and was able to get DeMarco Murray on the way back in the 4th. Stafford in the 5th, T.Y Hilton in the 6th was a stretch, but starting three WR, you've gotta fill early! I went TE back to back in 7 and 8 with Gronk and Owen Daniels since someone has to start while Gronk rehabs.
A couple fliers I liked were Chris Givens in St. Louis, Andre Roberts in Arizona (speaking of which, Carson Palmer may throw for 5000 yards in the desert this year) and Giovani Bernard in Cincinnati. Ruben Randle with the Giants will see the field often as Hakeem Nicks always gets banged up, and Bernard Pierce in Baltimore who looked great spelling Ray Rice.
All we can do is wait until the games are played now!
Do you play fantasy football? How did your draft go?