I remember the first time I was introduced to fantasy football, back in 2007, when I joined a league on yahoo.com and ended up winning only one game that season. I had such studs on my team as Reggie Brown, Matt Hasselbeck, DeShaun Foster, Mike Furrey, and Chris Henry. I treated the fantasy draft as a chance to show my ignorance towards all things NFL, except of course for the Eagles. Coming from Philadelphia I had to be an Eagles fan from the womb, so I knew their players like my own family (the reason I also had Correll Buckhalter on that doomed 2007 fantasy team), but if there was anyone from another team I had absolutely no clue. That draft was an exercise in futility because: A) I hadn’t done my research; B) I was still unsure of the rules, and C) A and B were pretty obvious to everyone else in the draft.
It was such an epic failure that I wasn’t even going to play fantasy football that following season. The only thing that changed my mind was my wife’s cousin, who was a league commissioner on sportline.com‘s version of fantasy football. He needed another member for his league because somebody had dropped out, and I decided to join. I knew that time, though, that I was going to do things differently when it came time for the draft. I began doing research, which is when I realized I would have to pull things together from many different places. Yahoo.com had a comprehensive list of all players I could choose from, and I printed it out, even though it was 20 pages long. NFL.com had draft strategies and “kits” that I also printed out. And ESPN.com had average draft positions and “expert analysis” that I had to have as well. I was inundated with physical papers that nearly drove me insane in the month between when I accepted the offer and when the draft actually took place.
I dove into those papers, and round by round I chose the players I wanted. I had to admit, though, that I was still leaning heavily toward the Eagles players. I remember I had Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Kevin Curtis, and LJ Smith lined up on my personal draft board, and I would have been really pleased to get each and every one of them. I felt like I was supporting the team by doing that. I still had absolutely no clue how dumb it would have been to get every single one of them and play them every week. Luckily when draft day came I wasn’t able to get all of those players so I had to utilize my research. Unluckily, because I hadn’t actually watched football or really knew anything about the players on the field, I still made some horrendous decisions. I’ll save you from listing the players on that team, but suffice it to say, it wasn’t much more successful than my first foray. I ended up second to last in the league that season.
But, instead of giving up, I realized why I was doing so poorly. I had to get into the game, so I began watching. I took a break from fantasy football that next season just to watch as many games as possible. Having the DirecTV Sunday Ticket helped in that regard. I watched every single game in the NFL that season, and I learned so many things. The biggest was that statistics don’t tell the whole story. Rankings and projections only hint at what really happens in the NFL, and which players will get you points in any given week. I also discovered a whole other type of fantasy football, the pick ’em league. And that opened up a whole new world to me. But I’ll talk about that later.
When I got back into fantasy the following season it was completely different, because I had a new plan and a new attitude. Long before the season started I completed no less than 20 mock drafts. I had copied games from the previous season and I watched the footage over and over. But the biggest thing I did differently was to know the players. And no, I don’t mean we had dinner and drinks. I mean I was finally able to understand what transcended those statistics, and I was finally in tune with it. That draft was a thing of beauty as one by one I picked players not by their draft rankings but by what I knew about them and where I felt they were going that season. And it paid off as I won 14 games that year, and not only made the playoffs but won the entire league. Then I duplicated the feat the next season with almost entirely different players.
That’s when I knew I had found the secret to being a Fantasy Ace, and I haven’t lost it since. It was in the reimagining of fantasy football that I found the other side of me, and I haven’t looked back. Welcome to The Fantasy Ace, where I tell the story of my ongoing journey, and where I offer advice to both the fantasy novice and the experienced fantasy player who just can’t seem to get over that hump and get a league victory. Come in and stay a while.