As I just wrapped up my 32nd fantasy football draft of the NFL preseason, I’ve assured myself of these facts:
- I’ve wasted hundreds of dollars.
- I’ll miss at least one month’s rent.
- My kids will never get braces.
- My mistresses will never get breast implants.
- And I’m probably going to win one or two of the leagues that I’m in just by default, essentially breaking even for all of my league fees.
- Also, seeing as gambling is illegal, my league fees are baked goods.
In theory, I’ve sold my soul to the sports devil for the 11th straight year. Fantasy football is a sacrifice of a normal lifestyle, as 23 hours of my day will be preoccupied by statistics, bye weeks, injuries, matchups, domes, Astroturf, suspensions, humidity, rain forecast, alimony payments, and jokes about Peter King. My family becomes obsolete, hygiene is an afterthought and my social life consists of rambling on about RB platoons like a homeless Vietnam vet. And yet something like 90% of American male adults participate in fantasy football each year. The other 10% are coma patients, the Amish, soccer players and pedophiles.
I’m not going to pretend to be some expert who gets paid by a major sports media network to pretend to invent prevailing statistics for you to use in preparation. In fact, “fantasy football experts” are the biggest scam artists in the history of professional careers. There are cult leaders and televangelists who have more credibility than these guys. How people are paid to rank 200 NFL players with no regard to position and based solely on last year’s statistics is beyond me. Seriously, how hard is it to sit down at your computer and type:
- Chris Johnson
- Adrian Peterson
- Whoever the hell else you feel like typing in any specific order.
People get paid to tell us that Aaron Rodgers is poised for a breakout season. The guy threw for 4,434 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. What’s his breakout season going to look like, 6,000 yards and 104 TDs? But the demand is there for so-called experts as long as the casual football fan continues to jump into the fantasy arena, so I really can’t knock it too hard. In fact, I read the better majority of the expert columns and analysis articles. I don’t put any faith into them, especially their mock drafts, because fantasy football leagues are like boob jobs – no one is the same as another and some of them are really screwed up. Seriously, I’ve seen a kicker go in the first round (God bless you, autodraft).
But you have probably already drafted your team(s) for this season since most of us are so freakishly impatient that we’re more excited for football than we are the birth of our own children, I’m not going to sit here and lecture you on how to draft the perfect fantasy football team. After all, I’ve drafted absolute monsters in the past that haven’t made the playoffs. I guess that’s what I get for believing this year is Lee Evans’ year every year.
Instead, I’m going to give you my advice on how to dominate your league(s) week in and week out so at the end of the season you’ll be collecting a big fat check… er, I mean, plate of brownies and a whole lot of bragging rights.
Drafting the best available player is overrated
If you haven’t yet drafted, you’re clearly an amateur, but at least your time is certainly near. Every expert will advise one of the following:
- Draft two running backs first
- Draft an elite QB first
- Draft the best player available
Each of those ideas is terrible, because there are only a handful of RBs with absolute value anymore; the best quarterbacks are those who play for teams that have to fight to make the playoffs, so Drew Brees and Peyton Manning will likely be rested starting in Week 15 when you‘re playing for “Rice Crispies treats“; and best player available is a myth. The only truly great way to draft is to use your gut instinct. Look inside yourself and ask your heart, “Who is the player to take with this pick?” If your heart says, “Matt Leinart” then you should probably quit playing fantasy football.
The only games that matter are mind games
The ancient Roman philosopher Clement of Alexandria – or maybe it was Origen the Pagan – once said that 50 percent of fantasy football is your lineup and how it performs, while the other 50 percent is how you play your opponent. People don’t think that it’s possible to psych out their opponents in fantasy football because it’s as simple as 1) Set lineup, 2) Wait for it…, 3) Win. But between each matchup you have six days to be a cold, calculating, manipulating monster in the eyes of your opponents. In the days leading up to my Sunday games, I like to break into my opponent’s home and take pictures of me sitting at his computer, and then I send him the photos in a sealed envelope with no return address. Obviously he knows I took the pictures, but why am I trying to keep them a secret? And what did I do to his computer? More importantly, did I mess with his lineup? Are his kids actually mine? Nine times out of 10, my opponent will forget to start a kicker.
Keep your enemies closer, keep your roster moves closest
It should take you no more than 5 minutes to make all of your executive decisions for your matchups each week. Yet somehow 99% of men who play fantasy football spend their days overanalyzing free agent moves that have absolutely no bearing on their teams whatsoever. “Should I pick up Earl Bennett as my 6th receiver? I know I’ll never start him, and he had offseason surgery, and that so-called Vanderbilt connection between him and Jay Cutler has never materialized, and now he’s got Hester, Knox and Aromashadu inserted into Mike Martz’s system ahead of him, not to mention there wasn’t a single valuable offensive Bears player in fantasy football last year, but he adds depth to my roster,” is what a legion of morons will tell themselves each week. Could you imagine if we all collectively realized that it takes little to no time to set our lineups and make roster moves? The U.S. economy would be reignited as valuable work effort would be reestablished. I swear to Buddha, I set up an all-girls league for my woman friend and her crew of trollops, and they drafted in 41 minutes. Average time of my seven drafts? 2 hours and 45 minutes. But I digress. When it comes to setting your lineups, leave every spot empty until 10 minutes before first kickoff. That way your opponent will think, “Maybe he’ll forget” and then BAM! You pull the wool over his eyes. And for good measure, sleep with his wife.
Track your injury reports with precision and detail
Everyone knows that the NFL injury report was invented for gamblers. We have the 1991 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Last Boy Scout, to thank for that tidbit of knowledge. Wait, what? Last Boy Scout didn’t win Best Picture? Well it should have. That’s a gosh-damned tragedy. Anywho, you can never – NEVER, I SAY! – count on any of the major sports web sites for timely and accurate information regarding your injured players. A person who wants to half-ass his way to the playoffs is content with “Pierre Thomas is a game time decision, according to team doctor Jeremy Schwartzbaum.” The man who wants to dominate and win it all calls that team doctor every day – morning, noon and night, at home, on his cell and at his office. If he doesn’t answer, find out where he is. You stalk that doctor until you are attached to him better than his own shadow. Worst case scenario, he gets a restraining order on you and you serve some time in jail. Best case scenario, you win your league like a real man.
Gamble on the side to make extra money
Obviously, unless you’re an IRS agent, we almost all play fantasy football for money. But not me, just so we’re perfectly clear come tax season. Whether you play for $200 or $500 or $3,000 jackpots, you want to get your hands on that cheddar, as my good friend Jay Z refers to U.S. currency. But why limit yourself to a jackpot? This country was founded on side bets. When Paul Revere rode his horse to warn of British arrival, John Henry and Ben Franklin bet $100 on how quickly he’d arrive. When John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence, Josiah Bartlett and John Penn bet a sixpence and a bushel of tobacco that he’d sign the largest, because as they famously noted: “He’s just a d*ck like that.” When you’re prepping for each matchup, make bets with your opponent like “I’ll bet you $50 that my RBs outscore your RBs” or “I’ll bet you my car that Matt Prater misses an extra point like he did in the Hawaii Bowl to screw UCF out of the school’s first-ever bowl win.” I DON’T FORGET THESE THINGS, MATT.
Use threats of violence and extortion to intimidate
One rule holds true to the Internet – everyone’s a badass with a keyboard. I mean, let’s say you write a 4,000-word opus on the decline of quality in vampire cinema and you choose to omit a 600-word segment that praises Near Dark for being awesome, because the point of the piece was to focus on the terrible films. Every Tom, Dick and Jane with the ability to type shows to call you an asshat, simply because they can. But whereas Internet trolls are just whiny, cowardly sissies with no friends, you can talk trash to the people in your fantasy league and actually mean it. From the moment your draft begins, you have the opportunity to establish yourself as the league’s badass. Wear a sleeveless denim jacket to your draft and drink Budweiser from an ash tray. Then when the person is drafting right before you, stab him in the hand. You should easily be able to intimidate your way to the championship.
Have your female seduce your opponents into trades
Chances are if you win your fantasy league you’ll spend the money on something awesome like a flat screen TV that attaches to a power saw or one of those Japanese sex robots. But if you’re a sissy you’re probably going to spend some of the winnings on your girlfriend or wife. If that’s the case, then you need to at least make your woman earn her keep. By week 4, you’re probably going to realize that you drafted a super turd and you need RB help. And there’s almost always a guy sitting on top of four quality starting RBs, but he won’t trade any of them unless you’re willing to part with a top tier WR, which is just absurd because there’s no reason you should trade Andre Johnson for Michael Bush. So have your wife dress up in a shredded tank top and jean shorts so short that it looks like her butt is flossing with denim rope, and make her seduce that frugal owner. Best case scenario? He gets her pregnant and you sue for child support. Double bonus.
Trade future draft picks and considerations to be named later
One strategy that I don’t see employed in fantasy football nearly enough is the trading of future draft picks. I mean, if your league has solid retention and people stick around for many years, and you’re crapping along with a one-win team by the 10th week of the season, then why wouldn’t you try offer up Maurice Jones-Drew for a second rounder next year? Of course I’ll admit that a person would be insane to sacrifice the upcoming season for winning now, but real life general managers do it every year. But let’s say we all agree that trading future picks is stupid. Fine. What about special considerations like percentages of season earnings, straight up cash, bar tabs, and first-born infants? If someone wants to promise me a kidney transplant for Cedric Benson, I’ll make that trade all day. And I’ll order another round of Manhattans.
Select a team name that is unique and offensive
So far this season I’ve seen the standard fantasy football team names – Kings of Leon Washington, Nobody Puts Brady In A Corner, Big Ben’s Bathroom Habits – and it’s pretty much spot on for what the average person should be looking for in a fantasy team name. You want something that’s cute and funny, maybe a little edgy, but mostly just something that’s better than “Team Joe.” But why stop at cute and memorable? Go for the damn jugular with your team name, and change it weekly to reflect the people that you’re playing. Make it personal, like “Your Son Aaron Is Going To Grow Up To Be A Meth Addict” or “I Never Told You This But I Gave Your Wife Crabs When We Were Back In College.” Granted those examples are probably a little longer than most fantasy sites will allow, but you can make them a little more concise and still get the point across. Also, make sure your team’s logo changes accordingly. For instance, find a picture of a homeless man and write “Your son in 20 years” on it. It’s funny, because as that person’s child grows up, you can secretly interfere in his life to make sure that he ends up homeless. Wouldn’t that be funny to reflect on at your league’s 20th annual draft?
When all else fails, take matters into your own hands
Last year, there was no greater fantasy disappointment than Matt Forte. I’m sure the 6.2 million people who read my posts every day have their own war stories from fantasy football last year, but Forte without question caused more head-scratching than any other player available to be drafted. There is something we can do, though. If your stud RB or WR ends up being a dud, purchase a bulk shipment of human growth hormones and break into the team’s daily practice facilities and slowly administer your supply into the team’s food and drinks. Within days they should start performing collectively better, thus ensuring that your investment will be well kept. Unless the whole team is suspended for drug use, of course, but you’ll just have to cross your fingers.