I started fantasy football in 2004, sat out 2005, and have been back at it since 2006. I found myself today thinking about how much more I know now than I did back then, so I made a list.
1. Fantasy Football, like life, is not fair.
In 2004, I was talked into playing my first fantasy league. I didn't like it, wasn't particularly good and quit setting my roster by week eight. Eventually, my friend congratulated me on winning a league in my first year playing the "sport." I gladly took the win, but I felt bad for my opponent, who actually tried. It's just not fair.
In 2007, Morgan didn't make a single transaction after the draft. By all accounts, he gave up early on in the season. Yet 2007 is the first and only time that his "Whackers" won an OklahomIraqis championship. That should not happen. People who do not manage their roster should not be allowed to win, yet it happens.
Pyle won the inaugural OiL Bowl in 2006. By 2008, he was back in the title game against Bruesch, but Bruesch won that year with a score of 85-85. After going back and re-calculating the points, Pyle would have won if the league used fractional scoring that year. We didn't use fractional scoring though, and the tie-breaker was number of passing yards. Bruesch wins his first of two OiL Bowl victories and Pyle hasn't made it back yet.
And while we're on the topic of Fantasy Football being a cruel mistress . . .
2. Week 17 is the worst week to hold a championship. In 2009, my "Arrogant Americans" were the odds-on favorite to win it all. We were the number one seed and plowing through the playoffs. Our championship that year was in week 17 and I was playing a number 8 seed that finished 7-7 in the regular season. Long story short: In week 17, MJD didn't play much; Welker tore his ACL and some guy named Arian Foster had his breakout game . . . while sitting on my bench. OiL alum Josh Hastings' "ThroatPunchers" won the OiL Bowl and I would have to wait another year for revenge.
3. The absolute best setup for a league is a 14-team league with a 13-week schedule. Everyone plays everyone else once. Beautiful.
4. Nothing can beat the experience of a live draft event with all the members in attendance. We use the Yahoo! live draft app online in our league because it is so hard to get everyone in one room, but it's just not the same.
5. Fantasy Football can sustain (or kill) friendships. Most of the men in the OiL were together during the 2006 deployment in Iraq. 13 out of the 14 were in the 1-158 FA, while the other was active duty. For most of us, this league is the main way that we keep in touch. In that sense, Fantasy Football has been the glue that has kept our friendships alive.
However, our love of this game has also caused us to lose a friend. There was never an official declaration that we were no longer friends with him, but when we kicked [Team Redacted] out of the DBFA for not trying, it effectively ended all communication with him.
6. There is no comparison between playing in a league such as ours and a public league full of anonymous users.
7. You can't win your league in the first round, but you can definitely lose it.
8. There is no better incentive to win your league than a traveling trophy. Neither money nor a keeper trophy can quite compare to seeing your name engraved on a trophy next to all the other former champions.
9. Timing and luck are paramount. Both of these principles went my way in 2010 and abandoned me in 2011. In 2010, I was lucky enough to draft Fitzgerald and MegaTron in the first two rounds and still end up with Arian Foster, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, C.J. Spiller and Mike Wallace. Timing and luck turned that into a team that won its first championship. When Duffy dropped Michael Vick that year, I happened to have the number one waiver priority when Andy Reid declared that Vick was going to start the remainder of the season. Again, timing and luck.
The following year, Ryan Fitzpatrick was a top eight QB going into week 8. I needed a QB and Duffy had Fitz and Matthew Stafford. I traded him Jabar Gaffney for Fitzpatrick and laughed all the way to the bank . . . for about a week. Fitzpatrick's numbers dropped each week thereafter, and he ended up out of the top 15. Timing and luck weren't on my side as I also had three top six RBs at one point, but lost all of them to injury.
10. There are no excuses in Fantasy Football. If Nathan Harrington can win the entire ESPN.com fantasy football challenge while being homeless and Bill Call can win a league while having the inconvenience of being dead, there is no excuse not to win a few games.
11. Finally, I've realized that you can't put a price on a Fantasy Football championship, but you can put a pain threshold. In January of the 2010/2011 season, I ended up in the hospital for eight days with a terribly abscessed tooth that turned into Ludwig's Angina. This was because I was so busy working three jobs and managing my roster that I kept putting off going to the dentist. I could have died due to the infection and the pain was unimaginable. However, it was a great January b I won the OiL that year. I realized this year, while watching the playoffs go on without me, that I would take that pain again for a week if I got another Harrington Trophy entry in return. Pain is temporary, but glory lasts forever.
That's what eight years has taught me about the game. What about you?