The Paradox of Fantasy Football

I believe the term “love-hate relationship” was invented for fantasy football.  I also believe that, even though I just made up the preceding sentence, it would have been more appropriate.  Oh, how appropriate.

Fantasy football, you devilishly addicting scoundrel…you’re like a drug that can’t be quit.  Except this drug is mind-alteringly amazing half of the time and turns your brain into microwaved mush the other half of the time, and you never know which is which.  I’d estimate that I spend more time worrying about fantasy football than I do worrying about the following things:

– Politics

Granted, I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy worries about fantasy football, too.

– Global Warming

– My economic future

– The meaning of life

– Religion

– Why the refrigerator downstairs isn’t working

People may believe that I’m currently single, but in fact, that’s not entirely true.  I’m in a committed relationship, and it’s with fantasy football, and it’s complicated as hell.

I find now is a good time to give an overview of my life with fantasy football, because I’m currently on the greatest fantasy win streak of my life.  I’m in a type of fantasy zen, a spiritual hot spot with decimals and receiving yards and defensive touchdowns that simply can’t go wrong.  My main team (and yes, I have two), “I Just Had Rex”, has won eight consecutive matchups en route to a 9-3 record, best in my 12-team Yahoo! league.  I’m one win away from a regular-season title and corresponding financial prize.  My team hasn’t gone below 118 points in a game this season.

I’d like to acknowledge that those of you who don’t play fantasy football probably have this look on your face right now.

It’s fantasy nirvana, where any wrong move is balanced out by the soothing presence of another, better one.  What’s that, you say?  Marshawn Lynch is going to be held below five fantasy points this week?  Not to worry – St. Louis’ defense, plucked off the waiver wire, will run a pair of interceptions back to the house.  New free-agent signee Donald Jones can’t get to 20 receiving yards?  Never fear – Tom Brady’s near-40-fantasy-point shredding of the Jets shines like the brightest star in the sky.  Percy Harvin’s out again?  There’s a Malcom Floyd touchdown to take care of that loss.

I’m a basketball player who can only visualize the bottom of the net.  I’m a baseball hitter who thinks every pitch is a batting practice fastball.  I’m a guitarist creating riffs that have never existed before.  This is art, folks.  Majestic, glorious art.  I gambled on Adrian Peterson, coming off knee surgery, in the third round.  I snagged Randall Cobb, initially fourth on the Packers’ wide-receiver depth chart, in the 13th.  I rolled the dice on Percy Harvin as my top overall receiver in the fourth round.  Everything’s worked.

And yet, I know it’s bound to come crumbling down.  I know that my group of players can’t play this well for this long, that at some point my extraordinary luck’s going to run out.  It happened that way in Weeks Two through Four this season, when I Just Had Rex suffered a calamitous three-game losing streak.  There was the two-point loss in Week Two to the league’s supposed worst team, when I would have won with four more yards from the Lions against San Francisco’s defense.  There was the Week Three seven-point defeat, thanks to Jamaal Charles’ 91-yard touchdown run for my opponent.  And there was the Week Four shellacking at the hands of the best single-game performance by any team in the league this year.  33.8 points from Drew Brees.  23.26 from Andy Dalton.  23.00 from the Houston defense.  And worst of all – 35.3 points from Brian Hartline.  (THIRTY. FIVE. POINT. THREE. BRIAN. FREAKING. HARTLINE.)

Brian, if you’re reading, I truly mean no offense. But THIRTY FIVE POINT THREE?! I mean, come ON, brother.

I was doomed after that 191.20-118.34 setback, a fantasy journeyman destined to wander in the desert of Yahoo! forever.  And at that point, I’d had it.  I was ready to drive the dagger of sanity through my money-wasting, statistic-obsessing heart.  I told my league’s commissioner to start seeking out replacements for next year.  Burning a stack of Hamiltons seemed like a better alternative to throwing away money while screaming at the television, yelling for Philip Rivers to throw only to Malcom Floyd, hoping for the Seahawks to run the ball at all possible points, rooting for whatever team had my kicker of the week to stall at the 23-yard line.  (40 to 49-yard field goals, of course, are an extra point.)  It was pathetic – the lowest form of sports-watching.  Why should I subject myself to this misery week after week?

Two months later, and everything’s changed.  I’m in the driver’s seat for our league’s grand prize, and Sundays seem a little less stressful.  I’ve already clinched a first-round bye, and next week, I’ll get to just enjoy the games on their own, without worrying about what individuals hit what bench marks.  The thought alone is a wonderfully soothing feeling.

Well – so long as none of my players get hurt, that is.

I just can’t quit you, fantasy.

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