The Fast and Fantasy: Tokyo Draft

Written by :
Published on : September 2, 2017

 

 

Welcome fantasy football fans and anyone else who wandered here. Currently, it’s NFL preseason, which means two things: real football is very close and many fantasy leagues are having their drafts. As we all know, the draft is a huge factor in determining success for the season. It’s the single biggest element in regard to who makes the playoffs. But this isn’t a draft guide, it’s a journal entry of a man who just went through the ringer. This is my 2017 fantasy football draft story.

 

I’m in two leagues. Which isn’t that wild. At my worst, I was in five. But that was way back in college. Crazy times. Back to 2017, The Prison League (12 team, non-ppr) where we base our team names on all football related run-ins with the law. In the last few years I’ve been:

  • Ray Lewis Killed a Guy
  • Larry “Choke out” Johnson
  • Titus “Twice in a day” Young
  • Don’t Jim and Drive Irsay
  • Bad Cellmate Phillips
  • Aqib “Shot myself” Talib
  • Jerry Sandusky’s Kids (current team)

 

The funny thing is, we never run out of new names. It’s like the players and coaches know about our group and get in trouble just to help out. Then, there is my new fantasy venture, the Dynasty League (10 team superflex, ppr, 5 year keeper). I’ve never done a keeper league before. But it is the closest you can get to running a real franchise so it should be fun. The two draft dates were one week apart, on consecutive Sundays.

 

 

The Dynasty draft came first. I met with my two buddies here in town and we face-timed with a crew back in Michigan. All 10 of us were connected via wifi from different places and devices. Pretty cool experience. Would still love to do a full on live draft with all owners in one place someday. The original plan was to pick the first 10 rounds (of 27) then do the rest over text. We had some convoluted way to determine draft order and I got the short end of the stick with the #9 pick. At least the last player gets to pick twice in the snake format. Needless to say, I was a little salty. My petty super villain brain started turning. What could I do to the rest of the league to show my displeasure?

 

My first idea was to slow everything down. Drag my feet whenever possible and make the whole process as little fun as could be. As outlined by the commissioner, each owner is entitled to 6 minutes for each pick during the draft. My plan was to use every second. Make it slow and painful. Make the others feel my anger. Your classic spite-based filibuster. This plan backfired because the draft took place at noon on the west coast and I had closed the restaurant the night before. That means I wasn’t home till 5am. So I was tired and hungover. Slowing down this marathon was going to kill me. I just didn’t have the intestinal fortitude for it. I am weak.

 

As the rounds continued, a new plan came to mind. Try and use the insane depth of the bench (16 spots) to create an imbalance. What I mean to say is, how can I exploit the numbers to invent an advantage? The idea was to waste 8 picks on the top defenses (D/ST) which would force owners with good rosters to potentially start a sub-par unit. The scoring is setup that defenses are some of the most likely units to post a negative score. What if you could make an opponent to start a shit D/ST and maybe even negate some of their own offense? That would be huge. Even if the other owners smelled the ruse and stocked up, then at worst everyone is back to even (in terms of this scheme).

 

 

I picked the Broncos, Chiefs and Cardinals in consecutive rounds. A few owners took the cue and grab one of the other top 10 defenses. My turn came back around while I was digging through my handwritten draft notes (in it’s own special notebook) and I discovered a number of quality players had gone undrafted. Gasp! How did no one take Darren Sproles? It’s PPR. That changed everything. Finding great talent, late in the draft is a REAL advantage. Not the joke defense short I was trying to manifest. It’s the most Wall Street thing I’ve ever done since I did blow in the bathroom of that trendy joint in American Psycho.

 

The Dynasty draft started Sunday then continued on a group text for the last few rounds. But there were so many damn rounds that it went all week. It went until the Prison League draft started the next Sunday. That’s just crazy. And kind of awful. For perspective, in that week, one owner welcomed two new members to his family. Their births were technically mid-draft. FYI, getting twins in the 21st round is a total steal.

 

The Prison League draft had its own issues. Mostly technical. The draft was 3pm Los Angeles time, so I set my alarm for 2:57pm. Woke up, after a dozen chirps from my iphone 4S, rolled out of bed and opened my computer. I try and launch the “Live Draft” window on ESPN’s Fantasy Football site. But I get some bullshit flash plug-in bullshit error message. I launch “Diet Draft” or whatever and login to see it’s my pick and there are 4 seconds left. AutoDraft has me taking Odell Beckham Jr. Good enough for me. Rough start but I’ll take OBJ all day at #7 overall. That overall draft went pretty well. A the Dynasty madness, it felt like smooth sailing. But everyone thinks they have a good team right after the draft. I believe the term is roster-bate or rosterbating.

 

I wish everyone a good season and for some reason, if someone slights you then try and get petty revenge. Or better yet just win the whole damn thing and then gloat like a teenager.

 

Make believe.

 

 


The Route Less Run – An Appreciation of Alternative Fantasy Football Rules

Written by :
Published on : September 3, 2016

 

In terms of being a football nut, I haven’t actually been playing fantasy all that long: only the last five seasons or so. I can’t really remember why I decided to jump in when I hadn’t before, but I’m sure it was something as simple and uninspiring as getting an invitation to join a league run by a friend. “Why not?”

 

It was pretty apparent from the get-go that I was hooked, but it wasn’t until the end of the first season or the beginning of the second season that the league I was so dedicated to, and eager to come back to each year, was very different from the leagues my other friends and coworkers were playing in and talking about.

 

As time has gone on, it’s only become more apparent just how far off the reservation this league’s rules are, and how much fun it is to play against this dedicated collection of lunatics, psychotic geniuses, and unhealthy obsessives like myself.

 

The league at a glance:

 

– Draft type: Auction with $1,000 worth of funny money

– General: PPR Scoring / IDP

– Positions: QB – RB – RB/WR flex – WR – WR/TE flex – TE – LB – DL – DB

– Bench: Four slots

– Roughly sixteen members per season

 

So it’s an auction league with PPR, which is a little unusual, but what really stands out is the use of actual defensive players instead of a team defense. I sat down with my friend, who for purposes of this story we will call “Professor Evin” to get some of his thoughts on alt fantasy options and his league:

 

professorevin

 

“I began Fantasy Football in 2006 and I was in two leagues. One Yahoo and one ESPN. The Yahoo league was begun by a friend of a friend and had a good number of people I knew personally, but the league was as standard as standard could be. There might not have even been a flex position. The ESPN league was by many measures, the polar opposite: PPR, IDP, league dues, home team advantage etc. From the beginning, I remember finding the ESPN league more fun, but that fun was limited because I didn’t really know the guys I was playing with.

 

When I began Members Only Goal Football Club in 2009, I wanted to combine the fun of the ESPN league with a group of owners who knew each other and enjoyed the playful competitiveness of fantasy football.  This was especially important because looking back, I had just become a father, a large number of my close friends lived far away, and I wanted something as fun and intimate as when we were all living closer to each other.”

 

“My first experience with it was identical to that of many people’s with auction. It was long, confusing, with a significant learning curve, but it was undeniably exciting. The auction draft allows for the human element in a way that snake drafts don’t. You enter a snake draft with your rankings. When it’s your turn to draft you take the next player available on your list. While you enter an auction draft with rankings, the team you end up drafting can be wildly different. You find yourself drafting players you never thought you would because they are undervalued and you can get them at a discount. Similarly, if you are too committed to your pre-draft rankings you can risk your whole team because you overpay for a player, cutting into the money your budgeted other positions.”

 

American football field

 

“As far as the rules of our league, they are definitely unconventional, but as fantasy becomes more popular I can’t believe that they are rare. Roster wise IDP and no Kickers are definitely less popular than team defense, and kickers. No one really enjoys picking kickers, if they are on a team, they are usually cut every week, and often their points feel arbitrary. The spirit behind the IDP is to have owners, put more thought into their roster than simply “this is a good defense.” The league is full of good IDPs and if you were doing team Ds you would just be drafting that team for that one player (JJ Watt).

 

IDP gives you more ways to tweak your team week-to-week. But in a way that is more thoughtful than, ‘pick up the D playing the worst team.’ One big weird thing about our league is we have two flex positions RB/WR and TE/WR, as two TE formations become more popular in the NFL it was a way of reflecting that in the league. And finally, I think we value pass TDs equal to rush TDs, which is unique, but I think important considering over the last five years (and before) RBs are less reliable in fantasy and the NFL is a lot more pass happy.”

 

“I think that email I sent about the balance between competitive fun and dickish behavior speaks to the challenges of being in the league and finding new owners. Like I said in that email, at its heart this is just a way for friends to connect over distances. Because of that, when friends decide they don’t want to do the league anymore, it’s a little heartbreaking. Sometimes they give reasons, sometimes they don’t. If they do, it might be because they are busy or don’t have the money, but in the back of my head, I always feel like it’s because they didn’t have fun. I take it more personally than I should but I do my best to run the league like you might host a party, doing my best to ensure everyone is enjoying themselves. I think that’s probably why I do the weekly updates. One of the big challenges with losing and keeping owners is that the league is large. Part of the competitive spirit of the league comes from the fact that is has 16 teams, we could easily run a season at 12 or 14, but I do my best to keep it at 16. But it can be hard to find new owners to keep it there.”

 

Thanks to my buddy, the professor, for answering some questions and for running such a fun league.

 

 


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