Instead of making bold predictions about the upcoming NFL season, which starts in just a few days, kicked off by a very football relevant performance by Elton John (who, I hear, once watched half of a football game), I'm going to tell you all about my fantasy football draft from last weekend. The reason for this is because I have no idea what's going to happen in the NFL this year. I know that the Patriots will be good, I think. After that, I'm lost. If the Bengals win the Super Bowl, I won't even be shocked, unless they do so because every other team in the league gets trapped in an avalanche while mountain-climbing. So I'm not even going to pretend like I know how this season is going to turn out. But I DO know how my fantasy football draft turned out, because I was there, I was told.
For those who don't know, fantasy football is a game whereas people like myself draft real players (unbeknownst to the actual players) for fake teams, so people like myself can maybe win some money, which will hopefully earn people like myself back the $123 we spent on fantasy football preview magazines. Sounds fun, right?
Our league consists of 10 "owners," who are mostly my cousins and people they know from work, plus one guy who has a keg tap. If anyone out there has additional devices that will help us draw beer from a giant barrel, you are more than welcome to join our league. We are a close-knit group, except that one would think that we all hate each other if they were to see us on draft day, or any other day for that matter.
Some leagues do their live draft online, but we always decide to get together, because it is much more fulfilling to make fun of each other in person. And that's really what fantasy drafts are all about. It doesn't matter what players get picked, who does the most research, or even who wins the league. It's all about making fun of each other to the best of our abilities.
Jack is our fantasy commissioner, and he loves his job. In fact, he thinks it IS his job, and often misses his real job because he is busy contacting Yahoo! with regards to recent rule changes. Jack is the only member of our fantasy league who even attempts to maintain some semblance of rationalism as the draft wears on, mainly because he spent the previous night making unlimited charts and graphs that the rest of us eventually spill beer on. Without Jack however, none of us would even be in a fantasy league. We would just sit around and talk about it while we waited for Jack to come by and set it up.
As for the draft itself, we spent about five hours at my cousin Cara's kitchen table, flipping through newspapers and magazines with confused looks on our faces. I had the sixth overall pick, and decided to select a top tier quarterback, Peyton Manning, rather than a second tier running back. I did however, pass on Baltimore Ravens' running back Jamaal Lewis, mainly because he is awaiting a drug-related criminal trial beginning in November. Call me old fashioned, but I like my fantasy football players to be able to leave their house without getting shocked. (Just for the record, this is the second of my last three fantasy drafts whereas a star player dropped off because he was awaiting trial. And players don't earn fantasy points for being found "not guilty," but we may have to change the rules eventually.)
Some of the more interesting picks - and by interesting I mean horrible - involved Jeremy Shockey getting selected in the third round , Mike Vanderjagt getting taken roughly five rounds before any kicker should be, and Ron Dayne getting selected at all. Everytime the phone rang in the house, somebody would say, "That was Ron Dayne. He still can't believe he got picked. He wants to send a fruit basket" - or somethin to that effect - to a chorus of laughs. The Brett Favre selection set off a well-timed, "That was a good pick...in 1993." But the cream of the crop was Marvin, a die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan, selecting Corey Chavous in the eighth round. And if you don't know who Corey Chavous is, exactly. That pick actually left us speechless. For about 10 seconds.
(As a side note, after Larry Fitzgerald was selected, my cousin John screamed out, "He's the worst running back EVER!" which may in fact be true, although Fitzgerald plays wide receiver. John did not have a good draft.)
The good news for me is that my best running back, the oft-injured Fred Taylor, had an excellent, and injury-free 2003. The bad news is that it's 2004, and Fred Taylor probably just broke his leg while I was writing this. But that's okay, because I also have Travis Henry, who is currently injured, and may lose his starting job anyway to Willis MaGahee. But overall, I'm happy with my team. Then again, I was ecstatic with my fantasy baseball draft, and I may finish that league in eighth place, which will leave me with no money for the upcoming fantasy basketball season.
Overall, the draft was a success, except for the fact that I got sick from eating approximately 22 pieces of fried chicken. Jack was at the computer until midnight inputting all of the team information determined within the last few hours. We all helped him out by watching the USC / Virginia Tech game. Ron Dayne never stopped calling. It was a great night.