Mikey Vick really screwed up my cheat sheet this year.
Say what you will about dogfighting, gambling, and the special stratosphere of untouchableness reserved for our athlete and celebrity ilk (Linsday Lohan got how many hours of community service? Are we just waiting for her to off herself via overdose or fiery car-crash so we can all get a few extra hours of THS under our belts?), but for fools like myself, and millions of others in my geeksport army, one thing is clear. It's just nice that he had the common decency to come clean before my fantasy draft.
I never meant to start an annual fantasy football preview column. I used to wear this passion way under the rolled up sleeve of my black T-shirt, which, much to my embarrassment, was a fashion stand-by that I had to be told to remove from my arsenal during a particularly brutal intervention which also saw all my sleeveless T-shirts confined to "workout only" status with a yardwork rider clause.
Especially those that got "made" sleeveless.
I can wrap up fantasy football geekdom in one anecdote. A few weeks ago I attended a wedding shower for the awesome coupling of Intrepid staff writers Mike Julianelle and Heather Millen, which will happen later this month. I hadn't seen either in a while, and there were many Intrepid members in attendance. There was so much catching up to do, not to mention the celebration of what would be the first of hopefully many Intrepid Media related marriages (we're like eHarmony, but with more wiseass!). However, maybe ten minutes into it, the groom-to-be pulled me aside because he had something really important to talk to me about.
Thanks for my small part in bringing this wonderful couple together?
Appreciation for my guidance and shaping of his hate-meets-hilarity writing style?
No, he needed to talk to me about a potential draft position trade and whether it was worth it snag Ronnie Brown at #8.
And of course, I jumped in with both feet, because it was a good question and because I had exhausted all my duplicate toaster and sharing a bathroom sink jokes in about five minutes. I don't have much love material.
"I had a feeling about you two! It was a bad, awful, disturbing feeling, but it's a privilege to watch you ignore the obvious."
No. Come on. I love these kids.
Two things stand out in fantasy land this year.
The first is that for the first time in a long time, there is nothing obvious about this year's draft. Once you get beyond Ladanian Tomlinson and maaaaybe Peyton Manning (no disrespect, it just smells like a letdown in Indy), there are no locks. LJ showed up late for camp and just got paid (a definite signal of the potential phoning-in of a season), the next 5 or 6 quarterbacks behind Manning are playing for middle-of-the-road potential teams plus one of them is Jon Kitna, who I thought was dead. And wide receiver is all over the place, with the pack being led by geriatric Marvin Harrison and suspect Steve Smith. Only one of the experts I saw had the sense to rank Terrell Owens first because everyone hates him, especially when they pass him over for altruistic reasons and he puts 2 or 3 touchdowns on them four weeks later.
Damn you, Larry Fitzgerald! You had UPSIDE!
The second is that my column will go up long after the drafts are over, the beer is drunk, the pizza rolls have hardened, and the tears have been shed. So I can only assume that your draft landed in one of two categories, as it does this for every fantasy player who has ever uttered the phrase "Amp Lee? Who the hell is Amp Lee?" You either had the best draft known to mankind and the championship, the trophy, and the all important "return on league investment fee" are yours as soon as this 17-week formality is cleared up, or you had the worst draft known to mankind, with plenty of heart-over-head decisions, third-guessing, and a crack in your focus made over your controversial choice of Joey Galloway in the 3rd round, a crack that turned into a gaping hole and made you question every single decision you made afterwards. This is the kind of draft I have every year.
I choke like Sprewell!
And by the way, I just sort-of cozied up to Vick, Owens, and Sprewell in one column. Right now I should just promote OJ's book and end it.
But I can't do that, because the next 17 weeks are going to be spent with my eyes bleeding over email alerts, injury reports, Monday morning box scores, and Wednesday night waiver wires. Fantasy football has officially gone from ex-jock pastime to NASCAR style cusp runner to full-fledged thing. It's like the DVR, we can't remember when we didn't have it.
So let me speak to those of you who haven't the foggiest clue why this is so important.
We're terribly, dreadfully sorry. We don't mean to be this way. We're not trying to ignore you. We know we're always in a bad mood on Sunday afternoon.
Just let us have this.
Seriously, we know you don't get it and we understand. We don't much get it ourselves, but it's there, calling to us, like the Van Halen reunion, Balls of Fury, and the deep fried Twinkie. This isn't something that's good for us, we know it's terrible and we know what it says about us. And it isn't something we want to do, necessarily, but it's something we have to do.
Fantasy football is that perfect mix of gambling, sports, numbers, and proving you know more about something than all of your buddies that makes it as tempting as... I don't know... Death by Chocolate after a long day of 80%-off shoe shopping. Whatever it is that you're doing while we tell you that we're checking our mobiles for "scores" but we're really looking for "statistics" but we don't say "statistics" because it feels too nerdy.
It'll all be over in December (well, November for 75% of us when we realize we're not finishing in the money and we start mapping out our brackets for March Madness). And we promise that by then we'll stop obsessing over 3-4 defenses and the insanity of the early 2-point conversion and head right back into obsessing over work, movies, cars, and whether or not David Lee Roth should kick the crap out of Sammy Hagar if they ever meet and how much we would pay to see it happen.
Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
9.4.07 @ 9:47a
Oh Joe Noooooo! Fantasy Football? it's just Dungeons and Dragons in sheep's clothing.
9.4.07 @ 10:17a
Don't steal my jokes, Brooke.
It’s like Dungeons and Dragons except I’ll kill you if you say that to my face.
9.4.07 @ 10:21a
Wow, way to blow my cover, Joe. And for making me look stupid, because by the time I had my (first) draft, Ronnie at 8 was an absurd notion.
P.S. That "ignore the obvious" line pierced my heart.
9.6.07 @ 5:34p
Ronnie at 18 is kind of absurd. And I'm sorry I blew your cover but then I turned right around and apologized for you and all of the rest of us. I think I did a fine job.
This is it. I've got Addai AND Brees going tonight. My whole season will be made right here. Can you smell that? That's the smell of desperation and ecstasy.
9.8.07 @ 3:18a
Lemme ask a question - I was overhearing a guy explaining the fantasy draft to a girl on the subway yesterday and one of the two of them happened to point out that literally one stand-out player could win the whole season for someone. Specifically, of course, LT. I mean it might and it might not happen, but my question is this - how often does it happen? I remember a few years ago when a friend of mine won his whole season based primarily on Marshall Faulk. Thoughts?
9.8.07 @ 8:52a
Your friend is exactly right. Two years ago it happened with Peyton Manning as well. However, there needs to be some balance. My goal, when drafting, is to try to beat the other guy position by position. This year there were two areas where that stood out. Quarterback, where there are a few sure things and nothing behind those three or four guys, and Tight End, where there is Antonio Gates and then a huge void.
LT is a stunner for sure, but once you get past him, there's really no difference between the number 2 and number 10 best running back. And those guys are all slightly behind LT, but we'll see how it plays out. I could be wrong.