When the NFL season comes around every September, I’m reminded how much I love football, especially that of the fantasy variety. I love the fact that you can sit down and watch anywhere from 12 to 15 games per week and cheer on your players, while everyone else around you not in a fantasy league can’t understand why you are rooting for Peyton Manning and J.J. Watt in the same game, at the same time hoping for tons of touchdowns and yet tons of sacks.
As much as we all love this fictional game, I have to say that around Week 4 or 5 is when the downside of fantasy football starts to show itself, and the things I dread the most are revealed. The things I don’t like about fantasy football go well beyond being criticized by my comrades for the picks that I have made. It goes beyond being trash talked on the message boards for ill-advised waiver additions or for the fact that my team may have been blown out of the water in the first week (which thankfully didn’t happen this year as I am currently sitting pretty at 3-0, and about to be 4-0 thanks to Matt Ryan and the 49ers defense).
When I talk about things I don’t like about fantasy football, I’m talking about the performance of players, the impact of bonuses, and the shoddiness of point projections, sleeper picks and rookie outlooks. It’s not until Week 4 that these strong dislikes really start to impact a season, and for me it all started with the pitiful performance of Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta, who although he led the NFL in targets among tight ends going into Thursday's game against the Cleveland Browns (33), failed to catch a pass.
Now to be fair to Pitta it wasn’t his fault entirely. He was only targeted twice in the game by self-proclaimed elite quarterback Joe Flacco, and it was raining cats and dogs for most of the second half. As much as I would like to blame Flacco for the outcome, the Browns were on Pitta like white on rice and he wasn’t open most of the night. I do expect that Pitta will have the occasional bad game this season but if this is proof of anything it’s that fantasy experts featured on various websites really do have an impact on my pickups every week.
Listening to experts is the easy way out; experts are not the ones who have to deal with the zeros on the scoreboard and the corresponding overinflated confidence and cockiness demonstrated by my opponent when such things happen. I’m still confident in my team because I am favored to win by 20+ points coming into this week, but leaving Owen Daniels (six catches, 72 yards and a touchdown) on my bench to start Pitta didn’t exactly pan out.
My second biggest pet peeve is what I experienced in Week 3 when the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles went off for a 91-yard touchdown run against the New Orleans Saints. That score gave him over 200 yards rushing in the game and that one play gave him over 30 points thanks to numerous bonus plateaus. Now, I’m not saying that Charles isn’t a good player. He is one of the top backs in the league when he’s 100 percent. But to have all of my guys slug it out 15 or 20 points at a time and then have one opposing player almost beat me singlehandedly with 66 points is very frustrating. It makes my opponents’ teams look way better than they really are. Everyone knows I always draft the best teams (that’s just my humble opinion).
And now to the shoddiness of point projections. What's up with that? Why is it that the team defenses in my league are always projected for around 25 points and end up falling below 14? I swear it makes the total outcome projected so out of whack, it’s not even close. Secondly, when a player like RG3 surpasses all the expectations that fantasy experts could possibly place on him in the first three weeks of the season, it takes another full month for those projections to be properly adjusted.
This gives people like me false hope, thinking that our team is going to win because they’re projected to, when in reality Mr. RG3 and other players like him are about to send me home crying. I expect to take the occasional loss over the course of the 17-week season, but it would be nice if the projections could be realistic and at least give me a chance to get the Kleenex box ready.
Lastly, rookie and sleeper projections and the people that support them. Every season there are sleepers and rookies out there who surprise us and rise above expectations, but picking them and succeeding is like an old lady bragging about how she goes to the casino to play the slots and wins thousands of dollars. The old lady takes the five-dollar bus ride down to Niagara Falls every weekend and throws her pension plan down the drain, sitting in diapers so that she can skip bathroom breaks, hoping for the big jackpot that never comes. Every once in a while she pulls down the handle and wins $1,000 and then tells everyone and their neighbor that she won. Ask the same lady how much she lost in order to win that $1,000. For all the hundreds you picked that made you seem like you were on drugs during the draft, there’s one that worked out successfully and now the rest of us have to hear about it for the entire season. That’s my biggest pet peeve of all.
As much as I love to hate certain aspects of fantasy football, I have to admit I love this game. It gives me a reason to watch the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns, even though we all knew the Ravens were going to win (I’m not a Ravens fan just sayin’). Given that I’ll probably never reach my dream of being a general manager in professional sports, waking up every day to check on the latest pickups, injuries and top performances is the stuff that dreams are made of for the average Joe like me. That’s why they call it fantasy football.
If you would like to follow more of the sports stuff that I have been doing, you can follow me on twitter @jackchoros.