|Has Fantasy Football Corrupted My Mind?|
|Written by Dave McMillian|
by DAVE MCMILLIAN
Today, I am confessing to the world or at least to our audience that I have a serious addiction to Fantasy Football and that I may need help. If you have journeyed to “The Barbershop” audio section of our website (You haven’t? Well, what are you waiting for?), then you are probably aware of my incessant fantasy football references. Currently, I have two extremely successful fantasy football teams (Let’s just say I’m good at what I do) and this pastime takes a huge chunk out of my daily life. However, my critics, Black and Mark Grey (from “The Barbershop”), tell me that my obsession with fantasy football interferes with my ability to make valid points and analyze the players based on their history in the sport. Believe it or not, all of the guys on “The Barbershop” are good friends, but some of our most heated debates are over individual player analysis. Look folks, I admit it, my mind is slightly (maybe more than slightly) slanted towards the fantasy world. But has it corrupted my mind? Well, the real question IS: “What’s wrong with looking at sports through a fantasy lens?”
During my adolescent years, Madden and NBA Live dominated most of my free time. As I got older and needed a new fix, the Internet became my new toy. As I reflect on this entire experience, I am reminded of the after school TV show in which little innocent Bobby is introduced to drugs by an older kid. Once Bobby gets a taste of it, he can’t put the pipe down. Fantasy Football had me hooked from the first time I looked at her. In my case the older kid who got my fantasy football habit started was my boy CJ. I don’t know if I should I hate him or thank him, for introducing me to the one thing that makes my “9 to 5” job halfway enjoyable. Regardless of culpability, my drug of choice has become a number one priority. I honestly spend a quarter of my work day reading fantasy football related articles and listening to weekly fantasy advice (I have mastered the “looking really busy, but really not doing a damn thing” look). As an elite fantasy football GM, my typical day is full of texting and emailing possible trades or waiver wire pickups, evaluating my current team and making fun of any “bone-headed” gaffes made by other so-called GM’s. Now I have a glimpse of the life of Jerry Jones or Matt Millen, depending on my record at the time.
I have become so obsessed with fantasy football it has even affected how I watch a football game. First of all, I cannot watch a game with people who do not understand the intricacies of fantasy football. I do not have time to explain the scoring rules of fantasy football in the middle of a back and forth game. Shut up and watch the game like a normal lame without anything on the line. Anyway it’s 2008, why don’t you understand the second most popular heterosexual male activity in the nation (We all know what number one is.)
One of the worst fantasy related experiences is trying to explain fantasy football to someone who doesn’t really know how the sport of football works. This discussion usually involves a good-looking girl, because I wouldn’t waste an agonizing second explaining fantasy football to someone I don’t plan on getting know a little better. Recently I had one of these discussions and if I had a pistol, I would have shot myself in the head. Not only are you trying to explain what is happening in the game (most women just don’t understand 4th down and special teams) but you are also trying to explain why you are cheering for the quarterback on the “red” team and the kicker on the “black” team. Trust me, it’s the worst.
Now that we are familiar with my love, habit or addiction (this feels like an episode of Intervention), ask yourself what’s so terrible about thinking about fantasy football 24 hours a day. Actual NFL general managers and owners spend the same amount of time wheeling and dealing their own team. Isn’t that what Vinny Cerato or Bill Parcells do? Fantasy football allows “Joe-Six Pack” to become an NFL GM. A good GM (real of fantasy) lives by one principle: What have you done for me lately? Take Torry Holt, for example, a legendary receiver who has dominated his position in the last five years. Have you seen the St. Louis Rams play football lately? Their offensive line is about as protective as a mall security guard with a notepad (How they beat my Skins, we’ll never find out). The Rams stink and because of their smell, there is no way in heaven or hell that Torry Holt could have been projected to have a productive season. So when the PLAYERSVOICE.COM top ten receivers list was being discussed, Torry Holt didn’t come close to making my list. Not because he had become a bad receiver overnight, but because he plays on a team that should be playing in Canada. Going into Week 7 Tory Holt had 210 receiving yards and one touchdown; Mr. Holt, I ask you: “What have you done for me lately?”
The one player who has caused the most contention among the "fellas" at “The Barbershop” is Larry Johnson. Any good fantasy GM will tell you that Larry Johnson’s best fantasy Sundays are long gone. Following back to back 1700+ yard seasons in 2005 and 2006, LJ was a top pick in most fantasy leagues and was hands down one of the top three running backs in the league. But along came the 2007 season. After LJ broke the record for number of carries in a season, it was almost inevitable that he would fall from the top tier of running backs, following a serious downgrade in his offensive line and a shiny new contract. My critics, who totally disagree with the last statement, think Larry Johnson should still be considered as top back and affirm that my fantasy view is unrealistic, blaming LJ’s lack of production on his dismal situation (playing for the Kansas City Chiefs). I agree LJ’s situation is horrible: Three dreadful quarterbacks, a bad defense and a coach who is an emotional motivational speaker who loves the camera more than his team. But when examining Larry Johnson or any other player from a general manager’s perspective, not as a fan or friend, one can only apply tangible evidence to determine how good he is. Meaning numbers don’t lie and LJ’s numbers have dipped below the average for the last two years. In Week Five he ran the ball 7 times for 2 yards…huh? And I have heard all of the anti-fantasy grumbles: If Larry played behind a decent line he would still record decent numbers, but he doesn’t play behind a decent line and no one plays football in the “Land of the Hypothetical.” I cannot judge Larry Johnson on what he is supposed to do; I can only analyze what he does. I’m not saying that Larry has become slow and has lost all of his toughness. I’m sure his “Forty” time is still above average. What I am saying is that his most recent stats are numbers that belong to a running back who is no longer considered to be at the pinnacle of his position. The fantasy mind only assesses numbers and statistics. It does not consider personal feelings or aspirations. The fantasy mind is the epitome of an objective sports mind. So the answer to my initial, somewhat rhetorical, question… Has fantasy football corrupted my mind? The answer is: No, fantasy football has not corrupted my mind -- fantasy football has unlocked my mind to an unbiased world that some sports people will never see.