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Friday, October 31, 2014

Fantasy Football: The only non-reality programming we have left

These days, everything is seemingly centered on reality programming. You know the common encumbrances of real life: driving an eighteen-wheeler down icy roads, having a family with too much money and not enough of an hour’s worth of programming to spend it all, and other troglodytic lifeforms hell-bent on grabbing ratings for the Bravo channel.

Thus, what a relief it is to occasionally opine on the fantasy side of things. No, what I’m talking about has nothing to do with the fantasies crafted by Disney: the Bavarian villages, Tinkerbell-inspired imagery, and, unless he has a vertical leap of over three feet, anything to do with Peter Pan. The make-believe world upon which I’m referring deals with something more unlikely for the typical sports fans: facing larger-than-life individuals and athletes who run the 40 in under 4.4 hours. It’s football. Fantasy football.

For years, fantasy sports have been at the forefront of sports fandom. Heck, even the NFL replacement officials have reportedly been caught up in the hulabaloo.

What began as a niche following among diehard baseball fans who followed Rotisserie with the same aplomb as they did its edible namesake now has spread to all corners of the sports universe — perhaps even fantasy bowling — in the process becoming a rather lucrative enterprise. Heck, the furor has even pushed a certain writer back into the ranks of the rancor, fueling a degenerate football jones in the process.

Last year’s go-around in fantasy football, my first in 8 years, left me bitter and miserable: pretty much status quo though I might have worn a hat with a propeller at some point during the offseason in my superstitious delirium. This year I approached the anticlimactic “Draft Day” with a different tactic. I decided that the experts be damned. Counter-intuitive would be the new intuitive for team Bowlful of Schmaltz.

When I realized I was left with the seventh overall pick, I was somewhat relieved. Last year, I had the first overall pick and ended up getting bounced out of the postseason after an injured hamstring, bad knee, hurt back, and steroid suspension. And that doesn’t even include the players on my team … therefore, team Deja Jew was left watching from the sidelines during the championship game.

Getting the 7th pick meant I didn’t have to draft an Arian (try explaining that to a Jewish family), as well as Ray Rice (I’m off of carbs) or LeSean McCoy (I was more of a Hatfield fan to be honest). Megatron sounded too robotic. I was worried about drafting Aaron Rodgers since State Farm does not insure me, and was worried that my carrier would drop me like a stale frank on Oktoberfest.

Being worried about all these potential conflicts led me down the path of snapping up Drew Brees from the now-ironically nicknamed Saints, Ryan Mathews who broke a collarbone in a car crash (you know how Southern California drivers are), and Maurice Jones-Drew, whose name endures about as long as his holdout did.

Sticking with the theme of trying to avoid winning the “Big One” — I was never big on truisms — I drafted one guy who was suspended for drug use (Fred Davis), another one of his teammates (Roy Helu, Jr.- senior must be pissed), and a kicker who spent last season in the CFL but won a spot on the roster since he went to my alma mater. Throw in a couple of guys named Toby, Anquan, Dez, and Ryan, and you have the makings of either a very sorrowful fantasy football team or the next pilot to be canceled by NBC.

At this point, it may be necessary to note that even though 15 lifeless schlubs made it onto the roster, I would be making cuts soon after with the voracity of a Broadway casting director. Well, maybe an off-Broadway casting director.

I sent Justin Medlock back to the Edmonton Eskimoes with one fell swoop of the “drop” button. The only reason I drafted Roy Helu was just so I could intonate his last name like Mrs. Doubtfire would. However, soon realizing that nearly two decades-old material, as well as two rushing yards in two games, would not sustain Bowlful of Schmaltz, he was dropped. The smiling visage of my team logo, the brilliantly mustachioed Gene Shalit, reminded me that I was doing good and doing well with the move, thus I continued.

Andy Dalton couldn’t carry a show tune. Gone. Same goes for the annual Phantom of the Opera, Ronnie Brown. Brent Celek? He sounds like he could be smart. Plus, his last name looks a little like Alex Trebek’s. Keeper. I couldn’t get rid of Nate Washington since the thought of cutting ties with Washington would lead me to be branded an enemy of the state by the other schnorers in my league.

Having lived in Los Angeles and not going to the school that is apparently the de facto representative of the city’s pro team by-proxy, fantasy football helps to ease a lot of the fall-time malaise that hangs in the air in L.A. (scientists call it smog). If nothing else, it allows me material for my weekly Wednesday filler. Otherwise, I can reprise my role as fantasy football’s John McKay. After all, I’m living the dream: just not mine, however.

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