Dear Mr. Fantasy

Just when you thought I couldn’t possibly be any dorkier, I’m back with a column about fantasy sports. And for once, the title isn’t a shameless nod to Led Zeppelin–which I’m sure has Gavin all verklempt.

But I digress. Fantasy football season is underway, and I’m currently positioning myself to make a serious assault on at least three different leagues. The Not-So-Great Northwestern Ontario FFL looks to be up and running for a third consecutive season; this is the league that drove Justin Hui and I to the brink of insanity last season and which I ended up losing when my “star” receiver Derrick Mason pulled up lame on a punt returned for negative yards. Meanwhile, Neil Scilley–progenitor of the Moneyball fantasy baseball league in which my team is currently kicking ass and taking names–has organized a FFL whose membership is, I think, comprised of me and eleven radical neocons. Good times, lemme tell ya–the league message board is already a flurry of activity and we’re still four weeks away from the draft.

I’m also part of a league of Tragically Hip fans. (If that statement didn’t seal an eternity in Geek Heaven, I don’t know what will. Of course, this begs the question: would Geek Heaven be a better place today if I was already there? Oh, but I digress.) Unlike those other two leagues, this one featured an autodraft–a format in which a computer picks your team and then leaves you to suffer the consequences. Except here’s the thing: Yahoo! actually drafted me a world beater. I landed the third overall selection, yet somehow ended up with LaDainian Tomlinson with my first pick (Brett Favre–Brett Favre!–went second overall). In the third round I got Marvin Harrison, even while the team in front of me selected Donald Driver of the soon-to-be-imploding Green Bay Packers. Speaking of the Packers, I got their actual #1 receiver, Javon Walker, in the fifth round…that’s three of the top twenty-five fantasy players right there. My quarterback situation is a little bit sketchy (Jake Plummer and Steve “I’m Still Alive!” McNair, with none other than Kyle Boeller backing them up), but the rest of my offence should have no trouble picking up the slack.

Which leads me to my defence. This league–called “The Inevivability [sic] of Death”, which I feel is some sort of reference to the Tragically Hip song “Inevitability of Death”–is one of the few FFLs in which I’ve participated that features individual defensive players (normally, you just pick a team defence). But the thing with Yahoo! is, they still haven’t figured out how to properly rank their defenders…which is how I originally ended up with a defensive unit comprised almost exclusively of backups from the NFC West. This morning, in a fit of procrastination, I searched the remaining available defenders; these names probably won’t mean anything to you, but if you’re one of the three people who reads my blog that actually follows the NFL, check out this team:

Ed Reed, Takeo Spikes, Rhonde Barber, Dunta Robinson, Julius Peppers, Kevin Williams (my token Viking), Donnie Edwards

Every single one of them was a waiver wire pick-up. Every single one. Even though Ed Reed had more fantasy points on his own than the original seven defenders I’d been given.

To recap: Yahoo! drafted me an offense that would shame the fantasy football gods, and then since it can’t find a way to prerank its defenders allowed me to pick up a veritable all-pro defensive unit via free agency. (It also helps that I’m one of two players in an eight-team league who’s actually made any transactions thus far; the inevitable championship will be a lot less sweet if everybody else forgets the league even exists.) I don’t know how I ever watched the NFL without the benefit of a fantasy team to guide my viewing; with one championship already locked up and two more teams still to go, it’s just one more reason I can’t wait for September 8 to roll around.


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