I drafted my fantasy football team Sunday night. It was the usual sordid affair.
You love something, you’d think you know something about it. I might even venture to play in a money league one day, my wife fetching me pop and wings to get me through a nerve-wracking Sunday of football.
But the kid’s in 17 preschools right now collecting leaves and learning letters. So I choose to lose for free. Hell, my wife’s better than I am at fantasy football, and she insists on putting Browns and Eagles on her team every year. (And Vince Young. This stems from the 2006 Rose Bowl, the last game of football we watched before our wedding. Just imagine her thrill when Young briefly joined – and then started for – the Eagles.)
Our league is small. Eight teams. The guy who won it last year lives in the Ukraine now. He was online for the draft last night. 5:30 a.m. his time. Naturally, his favorite team is the Patriots.
I’ve used various strategies to pick my teams. One year I selected the Jets defense in the fifth round. That prompted queries of whether I’d secretly rigged the points scheme in my favor. I hit once on the Panthers’ Steve Smith as a receiver – that year he made the Bears’ secondary look like four midnight blue fire hydrants, just standing in the middle of the field, waiting to douse a fire – so I figured I’d get clever with the passing game. By week three I was combing for running backs through the scraps. And I never liked my teams much. I rode Eli Manning one year, and I don’t like that gangly, loopy-motioned guy.
So I swore to do two things this year:
*Two running backs to start.
*A team that appealed to me emotionally, if not intellectually. If I did win the league, I wanted to be able to throw my arms around all those blue drag-and-drop boxes and say: “My boys!”
Naturally, Sam’s Mouflons (that’s Rams in French, and I do not like the Rams, but Bears in French is Ours, and I do not like French either) quickly became a team worthy of grace. It’s a terrible team. Probably my worst yet. It’s a bunch of reprobates, malcontents and injured folks. Plus Cam Newton, Ray Rice and a kicker. I’m rooting for Cam Newton and his Panther bag of cash now, I guess. Here’s the guys, in order:
Ray Rice, Ravens: I like how Rice breaks long runs and gets a lot of work down at the goal line because Baltimore is challenged in the red zone. He “gets small” a lot, which in the NFL is a big deal.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs: My wife and I ate a late dinner of steak and grilled onions, and it must have put me in a meat fog, to sit here and draft two Chiefs. Charles had that one year where he ate alive NFC West defenses and the game where he put Kevin Cosgrove in the hurt locker. But the Chiefs signed Peyton Hills to steal all of Charles’ touchdowns.
Cam Newton, Panthers: My lone hope for the team really. Nobody in the NFC South plays any defense now that the Saints’ little bounty gig is up.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings: I have purposely avoided this guy for years out of fear for injury.
Mike Wallace, Steelers: He just showed up to training camp last week, and Pittsburgh’s new offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, is notoriously ridiculous about everything, but especially wide receivers.
Vernon Davis, 49ers: Tight end is the one San Francisco player most likely to start bizarre, enduring feud with head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs: It was a good steak. T-Bone.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles: Out of deference to my wife. Wait until you see which Brown I drafted.
Philip Rivers, Chargers: He started inventing new ways to throw interceptions last year.
Torrey Smith, Ravens: As Professor Ted Gilmore used to say, he’s on the come.
Philadelphia defense: I got caught in an auto-pick while sneaking a peek at my wife’s second-favorite show about hoarding. This was a terrible defense last year.
Greg Little, Browns: Look at this pick. Butter hands!
Tony Gonzalez, Falcons: My steak thought he was a Chief.
Mikel LeShoure, Lions: He’s sitting out the first two games because of a couple of pot busts, and he’s coming off a big injury.
Jason Hanson, Lions: Another auto-pick. What do I care who my kicker is?
Alshon Jeffrey, Bears: My lone Bear.
Pierre Thomas, Saints: I’ll be rooting for a lot of tackles of Jimmy Graham at the one-yard line.