Monday, September 8, 2008

Life is just a fantasy

[No poker or bridge content.]

I've been involved in fantasy baseball and football (fantasy sports) for about 20 years. I lived in Raleigh NC and a group of us had heard about fantasy baseball and began playing. We didn't know all the rules, so we made up our own along with our own method of scoring (it was points based, so many points for a single, so many for an RBI, so many for a HR, etc.) Scoring was done by hand. We had weekly prizes and our week ran from Tuesday to Tuesday because that was the day when USA Today newspaper listed the composite stats (for the National League) that you could use to see how each team in the league did for that week.

In the early Nineties, the Internet came along. You could get the same composite file (again on Tuesdays), but what to do with it? I wrote a series of computer programs (in a language called QBasic, don't ask!) that pulled off the data, parsed out the information for each category we were interested in and built the files to do the reports for each team and to create the league standings. The other players in my league thought I was god -- no more figuring it with a pencil. Now, of course, you can get it free on Yahoo! or for a modest fee on CBS Sports and many other sites. Times change, but it was nice being a god for a couple of years.

We began fantasy football a little later than baseball, maybe 1989. We made up our own rules with football too and have kept them to this day with very few changes. Oh, we tried having a team defense, but nobody liked it. We tried some other stuff too, but mostly kept it the way it is now. We meet every year in Raleigh. Players who move away are expected to return for the draft and the good food and the fellowship.

One guy moved to San Francisco, but he almost always came when he was still an owner. I live in the Memphis area (and for a time in Wilmington DE) since leaving Raleigh, but I go for the draft almost every year. The standard joke in our league is someone will say that their second-favorite day of the year is when they hold the fantasy baseball draft. Then someone asks them what's your favorite, Christmas? and they just shake your head and say oh no, it's the football draft.

Each owner chips in $75. There are weekly prizes, a money prize for the leader at the midpoint and then prizes at the end. Sure the money is nice, but it's not about the money, not really. Two words: bragging rights! These people are nearly all bridge players and thus competitive -- winning is everything. Also, we chip in and at the draft the following year, the previous winner gets a nice jacket (appropriately inscribed), or a fake USA Today newspaper with a headline proclaiming them as a roto-god, or maybe a fancy plaque or something else fun.

This year was one of the rare times that I couldn't go (because of a family function in Illinois), but my ex-wife and I are co-owners of a team and she went and we kept in touch by cell phone.

In our league you draft three QBs (you draft a team QB and you get whoever plays, so the guy that took Tom Brady for instance now gets Cassel or whomever else they bring in), three Ks, two TEs and six each WR and RB. After you draft 60 RB, you are down to stems and pieces -- I'm just sayin'.

Each week you play two QB, two K, one TE and either three WR and four RB or four RB and three WR. Also a passing TD is six points, not four, so because you need two QBs and TDs count a full six, QBs are drafted sooner than in a regular league. There are other strategy differences. Each reception counts 1/2 point each, so RBs like Bryan Westbrook are more valuable than usual.

Obviously, you're dying to know, so here's my team:
QB = New Orleans, Jacksonville and Minnesota
[Comment: You play two each week. I love Drew Brees this year. I thought I liked David Garrard although his line has to protect him better than week 1 -- he has a great first name though!]

K = San Diego, New England and Tampa Bay
[Comment: You play two each week.]

TE = Chris Cooley and Donald Lee
[Comment: Cooley is middle-of-the-road for a 10-team league, but you're not ashamed to run him out there. Lee is for the bye week only.]

RB = Clinton Portis, Lawrence Maroney, Matt Forte, D'Angelo Williams, Sammie Morris and Derrick Ward
[Comment: I will play three each week. My RB are medium, but I sure liked how Forte looked last night. It's easy to overreact to one week. I believe they call that a small sample size, lol.]

WR = Braylon Edwards, Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, Donald Driver, Antonio Bryant and Derrick Mason
[Comment: I will play four each week. My WR are golden. I'll go as far as they take me.]

1 comment:

  1. Forte's stats were bolstered by a 50-yard run, but I guess most great backs pad their game stats by breaking off at least one big one. After pre-season and one game, he looks like a keeper -- certainly better than the wasted draft pick he replaced.