Joining a Fantasy Football League; A Woman's Perspective
What I Knew About Football
When I was a little girl we lived close to the San Francisco Bay area. Most of the people in our town were either Oakland Raiders fans or San Francisco 49er fans. I remember watching Joe Montana #16 hit Jerry Rice #80 for winning touch downs. The kids in our neighborhood played tackle football in the street pretending to be these great players. Tackle football in the street often ended with bruises and scrapes. We didn't have a sand lot and most of us had boundaries that didn't include the park that was four blocks away. It was a magical decade for the 49ers.
In high school I was a cheerleader and learned the meaning of first and ten (do it again!). Then I grew up, had kids, got busy and quite honestly, I stopped watching football with the acceptation of an occasional super bowl. In my heart I was still a 49er fan. Coming back to football after a 27 year hiatus proved to be disappointing. I lived up in the Reno area where Colin Kaepernick went to college. Kap was considered a local boy and everyone in the area became a 49ers fans when he took over for Alex Smith (who just had a killer year). I was happy for Kaepernick who seemed to find a home with my team. Of course the controversy to follow would ruin his career and the team for years. I was pretty upset that he lost the opener in the new stadium. Occasionally when the 49ers would win a game, my middle son and I would do a jig that we did not rehearse, this annoyed my husband to no end. In reality I was still only casually watching.
The 12th Man
On June 4, 1974 the NFL created its 28th team, the Seattle Seahawks. I was only two at the time and had no idea how this would change my life. My husband is a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan. I call him the original 12th man because, I have a picture of him at six years old wearing a Seattle shirt the first year they were a team. He watches EVERY football game (not just the Seahawks), college and NFL. Sometimes when we were out with the kids (or at church) , he would seem distracted, he would sneak checking his phone for game updates. He’s not good at being sneaky. Living with the 12th man can be difficult sometimes when you want a life outside of football. I could never understand why he had to watch every game. During the winter months I would go shopping or clean while he watched games of teams that seemed obscure to me. He would passionately jump or move making noise he never made otherwise. I study him like an Ornithologist studies birds (only without binoculars). This strange behavior was a mystery to me. On some level I felt like I needed to understand this side of him. What turned my mild mannered husband into this wild eyed maniac?
Getting In The Game
In 2017, we moved back into a town where a good portion of our family was living. My oldest son decided to create a fantasy football league. All the men in the family were excited to compete against each other. It was about that time that I decided I was going to get in on the fantasy league. My husband made jokes about me choosing players by their jersey color or mascot. Now he says he knows how “all or nothing” I tend to be, so he knew this was going to get crazy. To my surprise my daughter in law (Patriots fan, don’t hate her, we can’t explain it) jumped into the league too. There we were, newbies in this male dominated Fantasy Football League, pioneers making our way through the mire.
What do you do when you don’t know anything? Research. Before the draft I read article after article about players and points. I stayed up late comparing stats and made a list of the best players (it was on my phone so my husband wouldn’t see it). My goal was to not end up last. No matter what, I wasn’t going to be LAST. I told my husband about my player list in passing and he made jokes about how I thought I was just going to get all the players I wanted. His constant teasing was starting to upset me. Under normal circumstances I have a pretty thick skin. I have a degree in statistical analysis; did he really think I couldn’t figure this out? Or was he worried? I mean no man wants their wife to beat them in fantasy league. Right?
I should explain that we are a PPR League (Points Per Reception). I found out later that most leagues are straight scoring. The difference is you get points for yards on completed reception in a PPR league. This makes a difference because if you have a good quarterback who is accurate at 40 yards you can clean up in points. In a regular league you only get points when your player scores. Men don't tell you this voluntarily, I had to ask before the draft. To be fair my husband answered all of my questions, which was a big help.
The Draft Party
My strategy going in; get a top three Quarterback and a couple of great receivers (uh… this is everyone’s strategy). Here is the funny thing about being a first timer in a fantasy league, everyone will tell you their strategy because, men love to talk about their strategy. If you pay attention, you can almost shut them down with their own strategy. Everyone was scouting players for weeks before the draft. You also have to pick a team name for your mixed up group of players. I settle on something funny “Westside Waterboys”. I used a picture of Adam Sandler as my team picture. What could be less threatening than a water boy?
Here is how the draft works: At a certain time you all get on a computer or phone and you take turns picking players. This happens very quickly, you almost don’t have time to think. Half the time the player you wanted has been picked and the other half the time you end up with some obscure tight end no one knows from a team like the Colts. I did get my quarterback, Drew Breese and my back up Ben Roethlisburger.
The draft was fun, tons of trash talking, people complaining about someone taking the player they wanted. It was great. I’ll admit I hung back a little getting a lay of the land. It took me three weeks to really understand the Fantasy Football ap on my phone. Teams have bye weeks where they don’t play so you have to switch out players. There are teams that have great defense and ones who are horrible (are we still counting the Browns as an NFL team or did we drop them down to the college league?) Anyway you figure these things out as you go.
When You Are On The Injured Player List
Here is what you don’t know about Fantasy Football until you play; the injuries make or break your team. My brother picked up Aaron Rogers who is an amazing quarterback, but he got hurt. I had several great running backs that ended up hurt and out for weeks. A few of my less popular players ended up starting half the season because of injuries to other players. You would think that getting awesome players would secure a top place in the league. As veteran Fantasy Football people will tell you that is not the case. So many things factor into the points, a good defense on a bad week can cost you a win by just a few points.
How I Did Against The OG's Of Fantasy Football
I didn’t know what I signed up for, but it was about to become a religion in my home. We are empty nesters, this football thing took over my life. Four weeks in I had a dream that my Fantasy football app told me all my players were hurt. We woke up on Sunday morning to Red Zone the Fantasy Football Television station that shows you all the scoring plays for the day. I would get up early and double check my roster for players who were out or injured (this can happen overnight so you have to be on your toes).
Here is how my season went:
Week 1 : Lost to my little brother by 48 points (I say little, he’s over 40)
Week 2: Beat one of my sons by 20 points
Week 3: Beat my son’s boss by 68 points
Week 4: Lost to my oldest son beat me by 5 points (he was letting coworkers pick his players)
Week 5: Lost to my middle son, he beat me by 3.60 Points (He went undefeated for 11 week and half his team was auto drafted because he had to work during the draft)
Week 6: Lost to my second to the oldest son, he beat me by 42 points (he’s a 49er fan too, very competitive)
Week 7: I beat my daughter in law by 23 points
Week 8: Lost to my sons best friend beat me by 14 points (this loss cost me 3rd place)
Week 9: BEAT MY HUSBAND BY 28 points (ha ha)
Week 10: Beat my brother in law by 68 points (this was kind of fun, he’s as into football as my husband)
Week 11: Beat my husband’s best friend by 1.55 points (I don’t feel bad he’s a Bears fan)
Week 12: Kicked the crap out of my little brother by 51 points (dancing around, trash talking him)
Week 13: Lost to the son who I beat in week 2 by 13.5 points (I’m not even sure if he was setting his players at this point)
Week 14: Lost to my son’s boss by 4.83 points ( I took this one hard I left Big Ben on the bench that week and he scored 73points)
Semi Final : Lost to my oldest son by 6.47 points (this time I had Ben in and Breeze did better)
FINAL: Beat my husband by 20 points ( That’s right, Mr football didn’t beat me all season)
I ended 7th in the league 8 wins-8 losses. My husband was eighth. Two of my sons were battling to the death right up until the final game when they were both taken out by my son’s best friend. It was interesting to see couples play against each other. Sometimes that dynamic worked against us. My favorite tactic was to wait until my husband went to bed Saturday night and switch out players. We trash talked on our Fantasy football board, gave each other a hard time for leaving points on the bench. It was a lot of fun.
In The End
By the end of my season I was calling games. I could have a conversation about the Raiders not using Lynch or attest to the fact that Kansas City was dumb for considering letting Alex Smith go. I even called the first coach firing (who didn’t see the Raiders coach standing on unemployment?) It was a great season. More importantly it helped me connect to my husband over something he loved, football. Now I understand when he gets frustrated that his team doesn’t use a certain player or when he gets excited because of the two minute warning on a close game. The draft is coming up, time to scout players.