Aaaah....can you smell it? In the air? No, it's not the rain coming off of Peconic Bay, or the scent of giant slabs of brontoburgers on the barbecue. It's the distinctive whiff...the odeur délicieuse...of football. At last, I can ignore the ponderous death march of baseball to it's October anti-climax and focus on 11 men trying to behead the quarterback.
I'm in four fantasy football leagues, which, as Jason pointed out to me not long ago, is the equivalent of Dungeons & Dragons for sports fans. That would make me Grand Wizard Helcar Peredhel, wielder of the Staff of Timely Waiver Wire Pick-Ups and wearer of the Robes of Iron Trade Negotiation. Or, in other words, a fantasy nerd.
Tonight the first of my fantasy leagues held their draft. In three days, we hold the First Annual Blog Pound Fantasy Football Draft (which is in desperate need of a 12 team, since a certain Dad, who appears to have Gone quite Mad, bailed at the last minute...send me an e-mail if you're interested). For each draft I have spreadsheets, crib notes, mock drafts, and a player projections individually tailored to the scoring system of that league. There is nothing in my life--professional or personal--that I put this much planning and care into.
I need help.
If you're a widow (or widower) on draft night, you probably wonder what the hell the big deal is. So, for your amusement (or to your dismay, depending on your attitude) I thought I'd give you all a little taste of what it's like to be in the middle of a fantasy football draft.
7:15 - The draft was supposed to start 15 minutes ago, but the dumb-ass who set it up didn't pick a conference number that worked. We're still looking for a couple strays.
7:18 - The bastard who won last year is handed his trophy. The guy went undefeated by basically picking every stud who didn't get injured. I missed knocking him out of the playoffs by one freakin' point. He also happens to be the biggest trash talker in the league, and we all had to quietly suck it up while he paraded to the win. He's being remarkably gracious, probably because he knows I'm going to kick his ass this year.
7:22 - Larry Johnson, Ladainian Tomlinson & Shaun Alexander go down 1-2-3. All no brainers. You don't deserve a pat on the back for a lucky draft number.
7:25 - As expected, every RB I wanted is off the board when I draft at 9. However, this league gives a point per reception bonus to receivers, and the rest of the RBs are all about the same so I decide to suck it up and take an elite receiver now anyway. Torry Holt.
7:27 - The first Maurice Clarett joke of the night is made
7:30 - I love this league. All the guys (except me) grew up in the corridor between Chicago and Milwaukee. They have a ridiculous bias for players on NFC Central teams, which means (a) the #4 receiver in Green Bay will go sometime in the third round, and (b) I'm virtually guaranteed a play-off spot as a result. I submit as evidence: Chester Taylor is picked as the fourth pick in the second round. Dumb-ass.
7:33 - Marvin Harrison goes ahead of Steve Smith. Ah, nostalgia.
7:35 - I open my second beer
7:36 - The phrase "good pick" is muttered for the 13th time. It's the first two rounds, you douche-bags...they're all "good picks". Unless you picked Chester Taylor.
7:39 - Someone picked Antonio Gates right in front of me. DAMN!
7:40 - You can hear the pain in his voice when he says..."Terrell Owens". Good luck with that, buddy. Should be a cozy half-season for you.
7:43 - After watching every one I covet disappear in front of me (except two sleepers, who will be revealed later) I break one of my cardinal rules - I draft a Detroit Lions player. Kevin Jones...off the board. Pray for me.
7:45 - For the first of what may be 153 times tonight, someone says "there's a lot of talent out there."
7:48 - With the drafting of Dominick Davis, we enter the "muddled middle" of the draft, in which everyone is pretty much the same and owners wring their hands in faux concern about making a bonehead mistake. The draft is made or broken here...one of these guys is bound to break out, but it's all research and gut as to who it will be. I have zero confidence whatsoever in my cheatsheet at this point...they all look like garbage to me. I close my eyes and pray that Favre spends his last season desperately lobbing the ball towards Donald Driver.
7:52 - Immediately after this pick there's a run on quarterbacks. Last I checked they don't catch a lot of receptions (which I mentioned is a special bonus in our league) so I'm happy to let them. And, as predicted, the idiot Wisconsin bias kicks in and Brett Favre is the fourth quarterback picked. Thanks for your money, dude.
7:57 - Christ...it's taking people forever to decide. Just pick J.J. Arrington and get on with it.
8:00 - Anxiety sets in. I'm starting to think I need to do a lot more research before the Blog Pound draft. Everyone on my draft sheet looks like a stinking, festering pile of dog dung. And my draft so far feels like the 2002 all-star team. I'm not going to sleep well tonight.
8:03 - Fred Taylor? BWAH HA HA HA HAAAAA
8:13 - I'm in a quandary. It's the sixth round, there's been a run on TE's in the last couple minutes, and the one I want is still on the board. But I need a solid #3 RB, too. Usually I go with that over a TE, but I've got a good feeling about him, and I know he won't be around next time my name is called. Crap. Looks like it's gonna be a back-up heavy draft for me. Ben Watson...off the table.
8:15 - The first intensely loud belch of the night is heard over the phone.
8:19 - Holy crap. The first kicker goes off the board, ahead of Donovan McNabb. The entire city of Philadelphia starts booing.
8:25 - Christ...if I hear "there's a lot of talent out there" one more time I'm going to jump through the phone and punch some testes.
8:26 - The calls for Drew Bledsoe have begun...
8:28 - Oh...those Bledsoe jokes were serious...my mistake...
8:31 - Oodgie brings me dinner and two beers. I don't deserve her.
8:35 - I get Matt Jones in the 8th round. Nice.
8:36 - A couple years ago I had Joe Horn on my team. He was having a monster game, and after catching a touchdown he reached under the goal-post bumper, pulled out a cellphone, and pretended to call his mom (or someone). The next day I sent a note to my opponent--who lost decisively because of that performance--and the rest of the league that went something like this:
Ring...ring...ring. Hello? KC, it's for you. It's Joe Horn. I can barely hear him over the crowd noise, but he said something about "nail in the coffin" of your playoff hopes. Do you know what he's talking about?
I bring this up because KC just picked him up, and everyone is giving him grief because of it.
8:50 - We're at the end of the ninth round and every. pick. is. dragging. on. and. on.
9:02 - After a ten minute break, we begin the longest, most boring part of the proceedings. It's all kickers, defenses, and fourth string WRs from this point on. Strangely, Rod Smith is the first guy picked after the break. Must have been the grey beard and cane...
9:04 - Lots of laughter in the background, as the alcohol starts taking affect. Also, someone's wife walks in and tells them to watch their language. Lots of laughter loooong after she leaves.
9:06 - Poor Todd had to repeat "Cedric Benson" eight times to be heard over the laughter.
9:12 - I have to pick between Kevan Barlow and Wali Lundy. Pathetic.
9:13 - The last pick was Priest Holmes. This same team also picked up Curtis Martin and Dominick Davis. Gonna be a loooong season, buddy.
9:18 - I think some of the guys have forgotten we're drafting. I heard "Scooby Doo AND Spider-Man?" and something about "baking ham."
9:29 - I just realize that the guy currently picking has a roster that has all of its byes in weeks seven and nine. Seriously...the whole roster. I sit quietly...let him figure it out on his own....
9:34 - In the silence between picks I'm beginning to panic about my team. Kevin Jones? What was I thinking? Why did I go for Torry Holt when a top four WR would probably be there the next round? Was there no one better at RB? And my depth...crap, where is my depth? AAAAAHHHHH
9:35 - Someone is getting a serious lecture from his wife. LOTS of profanity. 11 other people are laughing hysterically.
9:40 - You know it's late when Ron Dayne gets picked.
9:45 - Wow...not a single Minnesota WR has been taken yet. Things have to be pretty bad if you're 14 rounds into your draft and an entire passing game is unaccounted for.
9:55 - Someone on the phone is slurring very badly. He sounds like Arthur without the accent.
10:10 - I think I just took a nap. In my defense, I woke up to a conversation about Alabama.
10:19 - My advice to you is never to do a draft over the phone when more than six other guys are in a single room. Annoying as hell. I've never been so sober after four beers.
10:22 - With my last pick I get Josh Scobee as my back-up kicker. I immediately regret it when I realize that Matt Leinert is still on the board. Stupid. But whatever...the marathon is over.
Three and a half hours, and all I got was the realization that picking 9th is the worst place to be this year, and that I'm going to hanging around the waiver wire like Billy Bob outside Angelina's house. God help me.
And yes...the fourth and fifth receivers in Green Bay were drafted. Go Pack!