Okay this is going to sound weird coming from someone who earns a living as a sports reporter, but I’ve never participated in any kind of fantasy sports league.
Ever since the dawn of the Internet era, the idea of fantasy sports leagues has become a movement of its own. There are hundreds of web sites set up specifically to host a fantasy league, regardless of whether anyone doing fantasy hockey, baseball, basketball or the grand daddy of them all – fantasy football. You can play fantasy sports with friends, co-workers, bar mates or some randoms that you met on the Internet. You can play for money, a big shiny trophy (or one of those little plastic dollar store ones, I won’t judge), or bragging rights.
With how prevalent the game has become over the past few years, especially when it comes to the NFL, it’s hard to imagine that anyone hasn’t actually heard of it. If you haven’t, that’s what Google is for.
Earlier this month, one of my colleagues asked me if I would like to join a fantasy football league with him and a few friends. Personally, I’ve never followed the NFL that closely, but hey why not? I mean how hard could it be?
So, after hours of reading Wikipedia posts and countless columns along with hours invested into Madden 16’s Be an Owner mode, I present to you your all inclusive guide to fantasy football, written by a guy who has literally no idea what he’s talking about.
Step 1: Choose a draft strategy. Supposedly draft day is the most fun part of any fantasy football league season because it’s the day when you really get to build your team. This is in stark contrast to draft day in the real NFL where everyone watches the first round and then changes the channel to reruns of NBC’s Mike and Molly. The first thing that I learned about drafting a fantasy football team is that, somewhat counter intuitively, you don’t pick a quarterback first. Heck, unless you’re picking Cam Newton (a fantasy football God apparently), you generally don’t pick your QB until the fourth or fifth round.
This, for obvious reasons, hurts my brain because any real football team builds their offense from the QB outwards and now I’m supposed to ignore that and take Antonio Brown with the first overall pick. Why? Because math and numbers and things.
Step 2: Fantasy rankings are your friend. Pretty much every major sports network these days has a part of their staff dedicated to fantasy sports. These are people who are paid to sit and watch every game and write long articles telling fantasy owners exactly which players are going to have breakout seasons and which players are going to inexplicably tank this season. How do they know this? By comparing and contrasting various sets of data — *zones out and starts checking Twitter to see if the Habs have traded Carey Price to Colorado in exchange for Patrick Roy’s contract yet*.
Step 3: Late round sleeper picks can make all the difference. Apparently this is a thing. After all, if you take a seventh round flier on Browns’ receiver Josh Gordon and he goes onto put up 2,000 yards receiving you’re going to look like a freaking genius.
Step 4: Learn some new swear words. That way you won’t be left saying the same thing every time one of your best starters gets hurt.
Step 5: Check the waiver wire obsessively. Between this and Pokemon Go, I’m going to get my cardio this fall solely from the repetitive motion of removing my phone from my pocket every five and a half seconds.
Step 6: Trash talk everyone and everything, regardless of whether you win or lose. Hey, even if you end up 0-16 on the season at least you’ll feel a bit better about yourself if you had the best zinger of the year.
That’s it. I can guarantee that if you follow these six simple steps, you’ll win as many fantasy league championships as the Cleveland Browns have won Super Bowls.