Fantasy Football, A Blessing and a Curse

By Elliott Strauss

I’ve been an avid Atlanta Falcons fan my entire life.  So why did I find myself last weekend letting out a massive groan when Roddy White scored his second touchdown of the night against the Panthers?  Normally, I should be celebrating the touchdown and giving high fives to my friends watching the game.  Instead, I exclaimed, “You need to pass it to Julio, Matt Ryan!!”  The reasoning is actually quite simple, as contradictory as my behavior may seem.  I was playing a guy who had Roddy White on his fantasy squad that week.

Obviously, there are plenty of reasons why I take part in this phenomenon that most NFL crazed males enjoy on any given Sunday.  It’s fun.  The thrill of competition is there, and it’s entertaining to me to set my roster every week and feel like a General Manager who figures out the right starts to make.  I want to be able to prove to my friends that I’m the smartest; that I’m going to have the players week to week who put up the most points by throwing for touchdowns, running for yards, and kicking long field goals.  Oh, and of course the monetary incentive is nice as well — I’d love to take 10 dollars from each of my buddies while getting bragging rights for the next year.  It’s that innate competitive nature that makes any red-blooded American male yearn for the chance to have Arian Foster as their RB and Tom Brady at QB.  Further, it makes normally meaningless games much, much more important.  Typically I couldn’t care less about the Buccaneers vs  Chiefs game.  But as long as Vincent Jackson remains one of my starting WRs, you better believe that I’m going to be following the statistics for the showdown between two mediocre teams like it’s the Super Bowl.

I’ve expressed the various benefits of owning a team some sort of clever, football related pun as the name (Over D’Wayne Bowe?), but unfortunately it isn’t always such smooth sailing.  My introductory anecdote expresses the strange behavior that many fans will take part in on gameday; one minute you’ll be rooting against your favorite team, and the next you’ll be encouraging your hated rival to score another touchdown (it’s cheering on the Saints, but Drew Brees has gotten me so many points that I can’t complain).  And sometimes you’ll just be yelling loudly at the TV over a meaningless play.  The Bears are leading 34-3 and they get one more defensive touchdown? My head is in my hands and I’m muttering expletives, although the players don’t seem to care.  I’m playing someone with the Bears Defense, of course.  And that feeling of losing a close fantasy match-up can certainly ruin an otherwise great Sunday.  As the Falcons celebrated a dominant win over the Chargers a few weeks ago, I banged my head against the wall maligning my decision to start Demaryius Thomas (1.4 points) over Danny Amendola (6.8 points) in a 1 point loss.  One week your decisions as a manager will make you look like a genius.  The next week, you’ll look like someone who thinks “football” refers to soccer.

Even with the “extreme” stress that comes with painstakingly monitoring the action of the 5 or 6 games going on at 1 and 4:30 on Sundays, it’s a fun process.  It gets me through the season.  Seeing your team doing well and blowing the competition out of the water is rewarding and tends to make gamedays that much more enjoyable.  I’m just hoping that my squad is championship-caliber this year.  But if Drew Brees and Marshawn Lynch are scoring touchdowns, you’ll find me in a good mood by Monday.

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