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Flights of Fantasy (football) -- A drinking game with a fantasy problem

Excuse the cliche headline structure, but, you know, that's what this week's running diary is about.

It was my birthday last week. My family decided to get together as a group and get me new tires for my car (because yes, that was very necessary), but my siblings and mom all wanted to get me something "small," as well, just to have something wrapped to hand me.

My sister gave me a bottle of wine. My brother gave me a bottle of bourbon. My mother gave me a bottle of bourbon. These gifts come on the heels of a theme that ran through many of my holidays gifts a year ago. Here, I have a picture:


I promise you, I don't have a problem. I just like decent bourbons. (And for those of you wondering, no, Red Stag is not decent bourbons. Remind me sometime, I have a story about Red Stag.) But I swear, the way this fantasy season has gone at times, I really don't see how you could blame me if I did. I have a fantasy team that has Aaron Rodgers, Jamaal Charles, Zac Stacy, Andre Brown, Josh Gordon, Larry Fitzgerald, Eric Decker ... and it missed the playoffs. I'm still not altogether sure how. In my main league, this is my first year as some sort of "expert" (aka, guy who writes words until someone tells him to shut up), and I missed the playoffs there, as well. You'd better believe that drew a lot of smack talk.

In my five leagues, in fact, I made the playoffs in only two. In one - a two-week matchup - I scored only 67 in Week 14 after averaging about 110 leading up to that. Of course, my opponent scored 48. And I swear, we were both trying. It's just ... Matt Stafford. Reggie Bush. Alfred Morris. Rob Gronkowski. Between the two of us, it was a disaster of a week.

And then there's this last league. I started 2-5 before literally having the league high score for seven straight weeks and entering the playoffs on a super hot streak. The playoffs start this week, and, as you'll read below, I'm terrified. Maybe some of these bottles are going to get opened. Maybe they'll deserve it, too.

Anyway, this is this week's running diary of my thoughts as I watched Sunday's early games:

12:51 p.m. - I have a season-long against-the-spread bet against Travis, with the loser paying for a night out. I'm up by nine, but that is because I got nine right last week (sad), and Travis just forgot to make his picks (sadder). I've made the allowance that we will wipe Week 14 from the record, but if I end up losing by nine or fewer, I will be so whiny, you guys don't even know.

12:58 p.m. - I was all about my Yahoo team earlier in the year, then it got eliminated. I turned my attention to my really successful ESPN team. I made the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, most-overall-points guy. And now Maurice Jones-Drew is out, and Knowshon Moreno and Danny Woodhead struggled Thursday. My receivers are Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, and Josh Gordon, so all is not lost, but Daniel is worried.

1:04 p.m. - I really wanted to start Matt Asiata today in one of my leagues, just so if he ends up scoring 30 or something I can be the guy who says "See?!" I didn't have it in me, though. Which means he really will score 30 or something.

1:07 p.m. - In preparation for my weekly Best/Worst/Sleeper Monday-morning posts, I always make a spreadsheet to track every notable player's scoring. I'm sure there's an easier way to do it, but my way involves plugging every player who I think could have a big game in, and then adding their point total in later. Which means I end up writing like 200 player names in the file, and every once in a while the brain just freezes. I just spent a full minute trying to remember Robbie Gould's name.

1:08 p.m. - "Cutler looks very comfortable." ... "And a dangerous pass is tipped and intercepted, returned 35 yards!" Welcome back, Jay.

1:18 p.m. - I have an inordinate number of Bears-fan friends, which means I've been subjected to about a million "Cutler or McCown?" debates recently. My answer is that I think, contingent on his health the rest of the way, you kind of have to keep Cutler around if at all possible. There's a reason McCown has been a backup for a decade. I don't think you can risk it.

1:25 p.m. - On the other hand, if the Bears let Cutler go, you know who could be a great backup option for next year? Kyyyyyyyle Oooooooortoooooon! He's the best.

1:31 p.m. - Underrated fantasy-football pet peeve: When your quarterback and your opponent's quarterback play at wildly different times. Like, if my RB2 and the other RB2 play at 1 and then at 8:30, oh well, there's a reasonable cap on RB performance. But, for example, if I had Matthew Stafford on Monday and my opponent had Philip Rivers on Thursday, it just becomes that much harder to get a real idea of where you stand. There's no fix for that, but still, it bothers me.

1:40 p.m. - Aw, Eli Manning was intercepted. So surprising.

1:47 p.m. - I'm watching at home today, which means my non-football-fan brother is around. He got it in his head about an hour ago that he wanted to clean everything in the world today, which means he keeps hollering for me to help him. It's like he expects me to get up or something.

1:52 p.m. - Related to my earlier pet peeve: In my playoff matchup, my opponent has everyone except Dwayne Bowe and Giovani Bernard playing an early game; I have to wait for Tony Romo, Chris Johnson, Antonio Brown, and A.J. Green later today. I'm not going to have any clue how I'm doing for hours.

1:53 p.m. - Over/under on number of Enlisted ads FOX runs between now and it's January debut: a billionty hundred.

1:54 p.m. - I have never seen A Christmas Story.

1:55 p.m. - "Two very impressive possessions for Chicago ... and that is intercepted!" Thom Brennamen, your jinx powers are legendary.

1:57 p.m. - Oh! Another pet peeve! I'm complainy today. But here's the thing: Fantasy football is fun. It's even more fun if and when you're winning money, but it's a game, just like Monopoly or Settles of Catan or Parcheesi or whatever. Even if you're eliminated from the playoffs, if you're in the consolation bracket, whatever ... if you have a matchup, you should try. In one consolation matchup, my opponent started Wes Welker. In another, Maurice Jones-Drew. I bleedin' hate that nonsense. Play the game to play the game. Not for the little prize at the end. That's a reward; it's not why you play to begin with.

2:01 p.m. - Funny story: The guy I'm facing in my playoff matchup is Brady, my brother Heath's best friend. When I was 6 or so years old, Heath and Brady were high school baseball teammates. I went to all their games as the little wannabe mascot kid. And I was a math nerd from an early age. So the team's way of messing with me was to force me to learn square roots - they would ask what the square root was of, say, 81. If I got it right, yay me. If I got it wrong, they'd hit me. Not hard, but hard enough for a 6-year-old. So you kinda have Brady to blame for my math nerdness. Also, for my extreme fear of being wrong.

2:04 p.m. - Here's a question: You always hear weather reports given with a wind chill (or, in summer, a heat index). Basically, they tell you what temperature is it, and then what it feels like. Does it matter at all what the temperature actually is? Other than the small window of freezing temperatures vs. not freezing temperatures, why should I care what temperature it actually is? Is there some consolation to it being 0 degrees but feeling like negative-5 versus just being negative-5? I think we should just report on the wind chill and heat index and ignore the thermometer.

2:07 p.m. - The Bears just went from 4th-and-inches to 4th-and-16 on back-to-back penalties, and transition from trying for a first down to trying for a field goal to punting. Not an inspired sequence.

2:24 p.m. - A fun thing to do is search "Trent Richardson" on Twitter after he scores a touchdown. All the jokes.

2:27 p.m. - Let's just say my fantasy teams are not happy with Josh Gordon's zero first-half yardage. Not happy at all.

2:34 p.m. - Also, I decided to pick-up-and-start Brent Celek at tight end instead of using Martellus Bennett, who I've ridden all year long, under the thinking that the Vikings are bleedin' awful against tight ends. So thanks for a zero there, too, Mr. Celek. *sobs*

2:42 p.m.-Hey, Josh Gordon caught the football! Things are happening! Things!

2:43 p.m. - ... Followed immediately by the Browns turning the ball over. It is really hard for Gordon to get points when you don't have the ball, guys.

2:46 p.m. - The Vikings, with Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart out, are beating the Eagles 24-9. I ... nope, there's no explaining that.

2:51 p.m. - Got up to grab a bottle of water, somehow got roped into helping my brother move a desk. Why can't that wait until March? There's no football in March.

2:52 p.m. - The Browns are running a very unexpected "Don't give the ball to Josh Gordon" offense. Let's see how that works for them.

2:53 p.m. - Edwin Baker with his first career touchdown for Cleveland in his first career game. Meaningless for fantasy, but you always like to see guys have their moment.

2:54 p.m. - Brady is beating me 67-33.5 It's depressing, but the "2x vs. x"-ness of it all is aesthetically pleasing, at least.

2:55 p.m. - I bet one of the most fun things about finally getting NFL playing time is having someone have to drape a giant parka over you after you leave the field. Going from "parka draper" to "parka drapee" must be delightful.

2:55 p.m. - I don't have a clue what 47 Ronin is about, but I feel confident in saying it will be terrible.

2:59 p.m. - Oh, hey, it's not 67-33.5 anymore! It's 67-32.5! Thanks for losing a fantasy point, Patriots' defense. This is going so great.

3:05 p.m. - I want to watch The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle back-to-back, then spend the rest of the day (I'm assuming) smiling. Such a good-looking pair of movies.

3:05 p.m. - Oh, cool, Brady got 4.5 more points, while I lost another one. 71.5-31.5 now. I wanna go home! (I am home.)

3:08 p.m. - I decided to start the Patriots' defense (vs. Miami) over the Browns' defense (vs. Chicago). Browns' defense has two touchdowns, three forced turnovers, 20 points. Can we just call it a week now?

3:15 p.m. - Hey, anyone who ever thought it would be funny to not wear a shirt at a game when it's really cold: You were wrong. Sorry.

3:15 p.m. - I'm now losing 83.5-31.5. Kinda curious if it can get to "3x vs. x."

3:23 p.m. - A pass to Josh Gordon. Yawn. We all know he's terrible.

3:27 p.m. - I know this is very George Carlin-y, but as much as I enjoy it, why on earth would you choose to play football over baseball? People running into you in winter, or people not running into you in summer? I don't get it.

3:31 p.m. - I hate the Patriots, but man do I want Austin Collie to be successful, It's a weird balance of allegiance.

3:36 p.m. - I stand by my advice not to use Matt Asiata. I don't care that he has two touchdowns. Dumb ol' guy.

3:40 p.m. - Alshon Jeffery with just the dumbest nonsense touchdown ever. I mean, that was awesome, but what the hell?

3:41 p.m. - I'm now down 97.5-37.5. Time to start wondering about my fantasy baseball keepers. Should I hold on to Eric Hosmer? Or Justin Upton? Maybe Elvis Andrus? Jose Bautista? These are my relevant questions now.

3:44 p.m. - The poor Giants haven't even scored yet. Like, no points at all. I feel like they were good once, but it's a distant memory.

3:50 p.m. - Hey, wait, shouldn't "Knowshon Moreno" have a sponsorship deal with the "Nissan Murano"? How has that not happened yet?

3:52 p.m. - We're getting closer, folks. 102.5-34.5. Brady gets one more point, and it's officially "3x vs. x." I'm literally the highest-scoring team in this league.

3:54 p.m. - My official test to see if Jon Bois happens to read these: Jon, I think I might be counting out Touchdown Tom. Tell me if I'm wrong.

3:56 p.m. - Brian Hartline has eye black on only one eye. It is weird.

3:58 p.m. - Boom! 103.5-34.5. He has triple my score. I hope Tony Romo scores 600 tonight.

3:58 p.m.-The Broncos lost! The Patriots have a chance! Then the Patriots lost! Football's weird.

4:00 p.m. - oh darn i have to go to work i cant monitor my awful awful playoff matchup that i am now losing 107.5-34.5 darn i guess ill catch you guys later bye.

POSTSCRIPT: Right after I checked out of this, Josh Gordon went for a touchdown. Then in the late-afternoon games, Chris Johnson and Tony Romo combined for 36, while Dwayne Bowe had only 3.5. Big games from Antonio Brown and A.J. Green, maybe a stinker out of Giovani Bernard, and I could win.

Brown and Green had decent days. But Bernard did, too, scoring 11 points and dooming me to what turned out to be a narrow loss. So my season's over in that league, too.

Where's that damn bourbon?

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