[Business Day One] Fantasy Etiquette
Baseball’s not over yet. Not by a long shot. Most teams still have around 40 games left, and the divisional and wild card races aren’t buttoned up. Plenty of baseball left, to be sure. Oh, and Beckham fever is going strong. ESPN reported that 66,237 showed up for Saturday’s Red Bulls/Galaxy game. And the Little League World Series is as compelling as ever, with plucky kids from all over the country playing their hearts out for a shot at glory. Truly, a wonderful time to be a sports fan.
And all of this great stuff will be waiting for you when you get back. You see, you all are going to be busy for the next couple of weeks. It’s fantasy football draft season!
With fantasy football being as prolific as it is nowadays, I work under the assumption that everyone I know (including you the readers) is going to be drafting sometime between now and the start of the season. I also assume you’re already researching your late-round fliers and trying to figure out which non-LT, non-Steven Jackson running back is worth reaching for in the first round. As such, I’m not going to kick down your door and give you a sure-fire draft strategy that will win you a championship. You already have one, in theory. (Unless you plan on drafting wide receivers early. If that’s the case, I’m sorry. No one can help you.) No, what I’m here for today is to help you marry your fantasy football draft into the rest of your life. To let you know that it’s ok to be doing this, and to not do other things in order to do this. To put my hand on your shoulder and say “Hey, buddy. You can avoid a child’s soccer game to do a live draft at your old frat brother’s condo.” I’m like a modern day Miss Manners. If Miss Manners was a bald Italian that comes up with inspirational nicknames for all of his players.
So below is a list of commandments and suggestions that will help you navigate the tumultuous non-draft parts of your life during this most sacred draft time:
Your girlfriend will not understand why this is so important, so don’t explain the specifics. What you do need to tell her, however, is that you have absolutely unbreakable plans on the day of the draft. If you go into the “whys” and the “hows” and the “take a look at my Defense/Special Teams projections,” she’ll lose a lot of respect for you and lament how you “always waste your time on s#*t like this instead of taking me out anywhere nice.” So don’t get into it too much. Just tell her that it is a yearly get together that can’t be missed, and that you never get to see these folks all together at the same time. Do not tell her who these people are, because she can argue (correctly) that you see these folks all together at the same time all the time. Be vague, but be firm. This is the highlight of the late summer for a lot of people. Act accordingly around your girlfriend or wife.
Do not be ashamed to stay in on a weekend or the night before the draft to do research. The results of the draft will play a significant role in your life for the next four months. There’s probably money riding on it. There’s bragging rights. There’s the fact that every NFL game on television is now more significant to you. You will spend entire days talking to coworkers, son-in-laws, and random folks in line at airports (let alone your friends and fellow GMs) about your league. The draft is a big deal for a lot of reasons, so don’t feel like a loser for taking a Friday night off from drinking to get your Quarterback rankings together. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do.
Past victories exist only in the past, so don’t go bragging about them before you draft. Don’t you love it how every single person you talk prior to draft day has apparently just won their fantasy league last year? There are clearly more one team leagues than I had originally thought. Or most people are just lying to you. Unless you’re trash-talking folks in your league that have seen you actually win it all, don’t go talking about your 2005 championship. No one will believe you. And they shouldn’t, considering you don’t believe them when they tell you about their victories. “I won my league last year” is this decade’s “I have a girlfriend, but she’s in Canada.”
It is alright to avoid sharing your draft strategy, but not alright to give false information. There’s a fine line between protecting your secrets and being a jerk. You know that Frank “The Inconvenient Truth” Gore is hurt. So when your buddy (whose home internet is broken) is sitting next to you on draft day asking you if you heard anything about him in the past 24 hours, don’t say that he’s healthy and then justify it to yourself with the age old “well, he should’ve done his research.” That’s just not cool. Tell the truth and respect the friendship. If, however, that same buddy is wondering who the best tight end on the board is, and who you would pick in his draft spot, then you can gently deflect his question aside with a “honestly, they’re all pretty crappy this late.” You’re not lying, or withholding season-dooming information, you’re just not offering an opinion. You certainly can talk to your friend about who you’d pick, especially if you’re all full up at TE anyway. But it’s not at all gauche to avoid the question.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, bring food and pay up front. There’s nothing a fantasy football league chairman likes to see more than one of his managers showing up to the draft with a registration check in hand and a tray of boneless buffalo wings. Fantasy football, for all of the smack-talk and macho posturing, is an excuse to get together with your buddies and have a good time. So be a good guest at the draft headquarters and have your cash with you.
Happy Drafting, Everybody.