Flights of Fantasy (football) -- Games are the best things

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

People ask me why I love fantasy football, and it's simple, really. Games. I love games. Everyone loves games.

I saw all sorts of family this weekend, and it was the side of the family that could not possibly care less about football, or fantasy football, or stats, or numbers, or me (*sob*).

Okay, I was kidding about that last one. But my point is, I inevitably in these situations end up spending a lot of time explaining (a) what fantasy football is, and (b) why I like it. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you know the answer to (a). At times - like last week, when Stevan Ridley's fumble essentially ended my season in my main league - I don't know the answer to (b), but by and large, it's because I love games.

I live with my brother, which means I live with two nieces and have a nephew and another niece that spend every other weekend at the house. Finding something to do with four kids without going broke sometimes proves difficult, so we often fall back on board games. And I try to pretend that I play them for the kids, but the truth is that I love board games. I will sit around and play 12 straight rounds of Apples to Apples without getting bored. Like, we were sitting around the other day talking about Candy Land, and I briefly wondered if I could come up with a reason to buy that and play it. I haven't played Candy Land in 20 years; I have no idea if it would still be fun.

Anyway, that's what fantasy football is. It's a giant board game, with every football field as the board. Or the computer as the board. I don't know, it's a complicated metaphor.

I have played a lot of poker in my life, and I love the moneymaking aspect of it, just as I do with fantasy. But I would do both of them if there was no money to be made doing it.

I'll never play in professional football or major-league baseball. I'll probably never show up on Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. The highest level of games are not in my future. But still, games are games, and games are great. We should all play more games.

That's why I love fantasy sports.

Now, this is my running diary for Week 12. I thought things, and I wrote those things down. Now you read them. Pretty simple.

12:53 p.m. - We were in Florida for Thanksgiving, and drove back last night. Thanks in part to a middle-of-Tennessee, middle-of-the-night, total-standstill traffic jam, we didn't get back until about 3:45. Might get loopy today.

12:54 p.m. - Oh, for those of you that care (none of you), I was eliminated from the playoff hunt in my primary league last Sunday. So now I'm going to pretend that my No.2 league, in which I am 7-5, in second place, and far and away the league's highest-scoring team, is actually my primary. I'm great!

12:57 p.m. - Watching from my house today, and planning to completely forgo Sunday Ticket, because the Colts are on locally and yaaaaayyyy. Get ready to read my mockery of commercials!

1:05 p.m. - Also, I spent a lot of time in a car with my constantly coughing nephew, who, despite being 11, still coughs directly into his hands and touches things, so I'm headachey and throat-scratchy and eye-watery and just generally whiny.

1:06 p.m. - Andrew Luck already threw an interception, so I made a good choice paying more attention to my secondary team. (Looks at that matchup, sees my Tony Romo scored 12 Thursday while his DeMarco Murray scored 29.5, sobs.)

1:09 p.m. - For the record, Yahoo's StatTracker is a billionty jillionty percent better than ESPN's FantasyCast. I've said it before in other spaces, but ... if you could merge the best parts of ESPN's and Yahoo's fantasy experiences, that individual site would rock. (I've never really used other ones; are they better?)

1:13 p.m. - "The Colts know that's a big, big deal, on a big third down, a big pass to Fleener. That's big. A big deal." I really should pay more attention to which announcers are on each game, but whoever this is, he needs a *ahem* bigger vocabulary.

1:14 p.m. - It's like CBS read my thoughts, because they immediately popped up with a graphic that it is Steve Tasker. Big.

1:16 p.m. - Ben Tate rushes for an 8-yard touchdown, which exceeds his full-game production a week ago by ... seven yards.

1:18 p.m. - It occurs to me that, as bad as my draft and the like were for my primary league, I kinda crushed it in this ESPN league this year. After an awful season two years in a row, my keepers were Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, and A.J. Green. I have made zero trades with this team, because I drafted Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Knowshon Moreno, Danny Woodhead, Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon, T.Y. Hilton. I even have Randall Cobb stashed for if-he-returns situations. Like, I couldn't have done much better. Why is this my secondary team again?

1:23 p.m. - "We're willing to bet no kid ever grew up with a poster of a Passat on his bedroom wall." First off, Charger ad, I drive a Passat and I like it very much, goober. Second, "his"? Why are TV commercials the last vestige of blatantly acceptable casual sexism? Lookin' at you, Dr. Pepper 10.

1:27 p.m. - Ryan Fitzpatrick has the biggest beard in the history of Harvard, right?

(I'm going to interrupt here for a moment to tell a story. It might not be my place to tell it, but whatever, it's been two years. My buddy played ball at Coastal Carolina, and as such is friends with CC alum Tyler Thigpen. A couple years ago, Coastal forced out their longtime head football coach amid some controversy, and Thigpen - and many others - were rather peeved by it. Thigpen sent a long, open letter to the university in protest, and my buddy showed it to me. After I read it, he said, "Yeah, there's no way Tyler actually wrote that; he's not that good with words." Well, at the time, Thigpen was the backup quarterback in Buffalo, who had as its starter ... Ryan Fitzpatrick. Who, you know, went to Harvard. That occurred to me, so I mentioned it to my buddy, mostly as a joke. But he texted Thigpen and asked. Yup, Fitzpatrick was Thigpen's ghost writer. I mean, it was still Thigpen's thoughts and sentiments, so nothing changes, really, but I've always thought that was hilarious.)

1:40 p.m. - For the record (not that anyone asked), I can't think of a single reason Budweiser won't bring back the frogs as an ad campaign. If a commercial came on during the first Super Bowl break or something that was just three seconds of a black screen with a frog-croak of "Bud..." at the end, are you telling me the entire Internet wouldn't explode? Then a later ad with the whole crew? I'm telling you, I shoulda gone into advertising.

1:42 p.m. - Hey, remember that this is on a fantasy football site? Maybe I should mention it. I have Josh Gordon on three different teams, which I think is, like, half the number of teams Brandon Weeden has him on, just judging by sheer number of targets.

1:45 p.m. - New best tweet of the day:

Very optimistic, fellas.

1:49 p.m. - Aw look, Josh Gordon already has 111 yards and a touchdown. It's three minutes into the second quarter. Go get you some 400 yards, Josh.

1:53 p.m. - It's actually really cool that the Honda Odyssey has a built-in vacuum, but where does the vacuumed stuff go? Do you have to buy Honda Odyssey vacuum bags? I have questions.

1:54 p.m. - Yeah, I definitely need to write for SB Nation's Fantasy Commercial site. I also need SB Nation to start a Fantasy Commercial site.

1:55 p.m. - The Browns gameplan: "Okay, Joe Haden, you intercept the ball, then Brandon Weeden throws it to Josh Gordon a billion times until he scores, then repeat."

1:58 p.m. - We spent the early part of the season talking about how the NFC East was super-awful (and it was, and it is). But now the AFC South and NFC North seem fairly awful, as well. The AFC East is the Patriots and awfulness; the AFC North is pretty bad other than the Bengals. Only the NFC West solidly has more than two decent teams. Maybe we should re-evaluate how we define awfulness? Seems like a lot of parity, actually.

2:02 p.m. - To this day, I can't see Adam Vinatieri (three field goals already today) without remember the ESPY commercials from years ago with Mike O'Malley as "The Rick" singing "I am Adam Vin-a-tear-air-i. Vote for me, vote for me, I want the ESPY." I sing it every Colts game.

2:07 p.m. - At this moment, Josh Gordon has 111 yards, and Ben Tate has the second-most yards from scrimmage in the NFL today, at 61. I just want to find fun Josh Gordon stuff all day. You guys don't mind, do you?

2:07 p.m. - The kid in the Santa Fe ad who is carrying the guy out of the burning building is directly based on Josh Gordon's childhood.

2:08 p.m. - Chuck Norris is scared of Josh Gordon.

2:09 p.m. - (The biggest one) Josh Gordon makes Brandon Weeden look ... competent?

2:13 p.m. - ESPN's FantasyCast apparently abbreviates "Houston" as "HST." Come on, guys, that's just dumb.

2:21 p.m. - If I had to pick one NFL team to still be scoreless at this point in today's games, it would have been the Jets, and lo and behold! (I can't decide if I'm happy to not be watching with Heath today, as he'd be whiny, or happy, because I could mock him.)

2:25 p.m. - Halftime: Dolphins, 6; Jets, 0; attention paid, 0.

2:31 p.m. - The Browns have the ball on their own 20 with 48 seconds in the half. That sounds like Josh Gordon's sweet spot.

2:32 p.m. - Feels like we should all be freaking out a little more about the Texans being up by 10 on the Patriots at the half.

2:35 p.m. - Speaking of team tweets, the Browns account is just picking on Brandon Weeden:

Seems pretty mean to actually tag him in that tweet, guys.

2:41 p.m. - If Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Robin Thicke, and LL Cool J are doing the Grammy nominations concert, who the heck is performing the actual Grammys? Reanimated Beethoven? Also, how many awards shows and awards show-related shows are there per year? Are we up to an average of one a week? We've got to be.

2:44 p.m. - Wait, Geno Smith got benched for Matt Simms in the first half? There aren't enough HAs in the world.

2:46 p.m. - So Maurice Jones-Drew has attempted one pass, and it went for a touchdown, yet his passer rating is a not-totally-perfect 139.6. BE MORE PERFECT, MOJO.

2:49 p.m. - Jeremy left the house an hour and a half ago to take his son back to his ex. He told me he was just going to run Grant there (only a few miles away) and come back, so I asked if he'd grab me a Starbucks with the gift card I have. He hasn't returned yet. I'm tired, brother. I want my coffee.

2:56 p.m. - If we were redrafting for fantasy today, when would the first Dolphin/Jet go, and who would it be? Mike Wallace? Ninth round? I mean, these teams are tied for a playoff spot, so it's a real-football-relevant game. But for fantasy? Yawn.

2:57 p.m. - The Patriots are now up 21-17. Maybe that's why we didn't freak out earlier.

2:58 p.m. - Hahaha, I forgot Shonn Greene was a person.

3:01 p.m. - Josh Gordon hurt. I'm the biggest jinx in the world.

3:04 p.m. - Jeremy's back, I have coffee, life's okay. (Except for Gordon's injury, which makes me sad.)

3:10 p.m. - Yeah, Baby Owen's first word is definitely going to need to be Alshon.

3:11 p.m. - Checking in on my already-eliminated-from-it Yahoo matchup, I have 62.26 points out of my wide receivers today, and A.J. Green hasn't even played yet. That's ... decent.

3:16 p.m. - I absolutely hate the "time of possession" stat. in a vacuum, it's basically meaningless, and there are far more relevant stats to look at out of a vacuum. It's like pitcher wins in baseball. If all you can see about two pitchers is their wins, then sure, pick the one with more (just like time of possession). But basically anything else you can find out about the performances will help more. To wit, in the 49-20 "Nick Foles throws for seven touchdowns" game a month ago, the Eagles possessed the ball 22:06, compared to 37:54 for the Raiders. Give it up on that stat, guys. Dumb dumb dumb.

3:18 p.m. - While I was venting, the Colts forced a fumble and returned it a long ways, now only 32 yards from re-taking the lead, and real-football me is super excited.

3:18 p.m. - ... And then Darrius Heyward-Bey is tackled for an 11-yard loss on the first offensive snap. Sigh.

3:20 p.m. - I mean, it's cool that Adam Vinatieri has five field goals, but maybe score a touchdown, Andrew?

3:27 p.m. - Interception, Colts, in Tennessee territory. Save time, have Vinatieri kick the field goal now? No? Okay, we'll wait.

3:30 p.m. - Great, now I'm going to have Edward Norton karaokeing "If I Could Turn Back Time" in my head forever.

3:30 p.m. - Wait, a Darrius Heyward-Bey drop? I CAN'T BELIEVE IT.

3:36 p.m. - I drank my coffee, yet I'm still tired. Starbucks served me defective coffee.

3:37 p.m. - Ben Tate got benched a week ago. Today, he has 104 yards and three touchdowns. Football is dumb.

3:41 p.m. - Unmentioned notable thing about the AT&T "wait to eat your raisins" ad: the little dude next to the main girl, sitting there wearing a freaking cardigan. What is he, Baby Mr. Rogers?

3:46 p.m. - I get that Reggie Wayne was crucial for Indianapolis, but is it really as simple as "Wayne got hurt, so Luck is now bad"? He's been so awful lately that I feel like there's something else going on, but I have no idea what.

3:53 p.m. - This Intelligence show starring Sawyer-from-Lost is just Chuck, the drama, right?

3:53 p.m. - Josh Gordon with a 95-yard touchdown, now with 261 yards on the day. Seriously, I am starting both Gordon and Jeffery in my Yahoo league, and they have 81 points, 295 yards, four touchdowns.

3:58 p.m. - The Colts are now in one of my pet situations. They are up one, late in the game, driving for a touchdown. If they score, I would want them to go for two every time. Succeed, you're up nine, you win. Fail, you're up seven, worst-case scenario is overtime (since Tennessee will never go for two). Kick the extra point, it's the same worst-case scenario with none of the upside.

4:02 p.m. - For the last couple weeks, I've done a "best of the week"/"worst of the week" series. I just want to publish this weeks "Best" piece with "GORDON AND JEFFERY AND VINATIERI AND TATE" in 72-point font. Think my bosses would accept?

4:03 p.m. - Okay, real work to do. Toodles.

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