It felt like Christmas morning. It was finally here, the single most important day of the year, the day I for which I had waited the entirety of an agonizing, regretful year. It was a day when dreams would be born and crushed, friendships broken, and dynasties created. It was a day for champions, for competitors, for legends, and it was finally here. It was draft day.
My high school friends and I do not see each other for most of the year. We go to different colleges in different states, and we struggle to find the time to visit each other. But we do not worry about falling out of touch, because we are a part of something greater, something that will always pull us back to each other: fantasy football. No matter where we are in ten, even twenty years, we will share the excruciating defeats and sweet victories. We will forever be a part of thrilling draft days, agonizing politics, and exhilarating victories.
So here are a few pointers, for both the self-anointed fantasy guru and the uncertain first-timer. This is not meant to be an exhaustive guide, but perhaps it can make these next couple weeks a little more exciting and a little less terrifying.
The Draft is the beginning, not the end.
Last year, I took CJ Spiller with my first round draft pick. Ahead of LeSean McCoy. And Peyton Manning. And a host of other players that don’t play for the fantasy football black hole that is the Buffalo Bills. I also drafted Aaron Rodgers, expecting a championship quarterback but instead getting a season-ending injury halfway through the year. But, being the championship-bred fantasy football stallion that I am, a couple of mid-season pick-ups landed me in the championship match just a few weeks later.
Knowshon Moreno, Eddie Lacy, Josh Gordon, and Eric Decker: all players who finished in the top ten of their given positions despite being projected outside the top 20. It’s easy to give up after the draft, to look at your roster with disappointment and call it quits, or to be satisfied and call it a day. But the truth is that the draft will only give you a rough draft of the team that will take you to the history books.
Sometimes it’s about fantasy value, not football talent.
Fantasy football is not the NFL. You don’t get any points for making a good block or returning a punt 96 yards to the 4 yard line. You get more points for a goal line touchdown than a 50-yard run. It’s why Chris Johnson finished in the top ten last year at the running back position. It’s why Andy Dalton was a more valuable quarterback than Matt Stafford. Sometimes, it’s not about the talent, but the opportunities.
A good team name is essential.
There’s nothing worse than opening your fantasy browser and seeing “Team Smith” as your opponent’s team name. It’s disheartening and downright sad. A team name should be creative, witty, funny, and culturally relevant. Ridiculous things happen in the NFL every day (the Pittsburgh Steelers’ backfield just got caught smoking weed together for god’s sake). Football players are in the spotlight because they’re entertaining on and off the field.
Don’t be that guy. Everyone hates that guy. Just don’t do it.
Have fun with it.
Fantasy football has become its own game and taken on its own identity as a national phenomenon. It doesn’t have to be a lineup you’re required to set every Sunday, or an annoying source of notifications on your phone. The beauty of fantasy football is that it can be anything you want it to be. It can be a source of bragging rights or a fun way to bond with your floor. It can be a chess game of politics and deception, an intricate duel of minds, or it can just be a fun way to spice up Sunday afternoons. Whatever it may be, have fun with it. Good luck and happy drafting.