It sounded like so much fun four years ago when I was asked to be in a Fantasy Football league. It included my oldest daughter and her husband, several of their friends, two of my sons and a nephew. It sounded like it would be something relaxing and entertaining, widen my horizons, put my football knowledge to good use and a chance to show the youngsters what an old man could do.
I was right about one thing.
Four years later, I have learned many lessons from Fantasy Football. Lessons learned. That sounds like a good thing. Something positive. But the problem is, none of them are good for my health or well-being or my self-esteem or my outlook on life or most importantly, my blood pressure.
Allow me to explain.
Fantasy Football is rather simple to start. Generally, there are eight, 10 or 12 teams in a league. At an appointed date and time before the regular NFL season begins, everyone drafts their team. You pick quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends, kickers and a defense. Depending on your league rules, players score points for you each week depending on things such as yards — rushing or passing — receptions, touchdowns and field goals. Your defense can score, too, with interceptions, sacks and fumble recoveries.
That, as I said, is the easy part.
Then comes the hard part: Deciding who will be in your starting lineup. You can only start nine players. That means, about half your team is on the bench each week. That means, some weeks, you might have a guy on your bench who rushes for 150 yards, catches 6 passes for 45 yards and scores three touchdowns, which adds up to a whole lot of points and often a win. But sadly, it won’t count for your total score because he’s not in the starting lineup. Instead, in a last minute switch, you started a running back who rushed for 9 yards on five carries and caught one pass for five yards, which is good for one point in some leagues and generally means you’re going to lose.
That’s the short version.
Back to those lessons I learned from Fantasy Football. These 10 lessons are, as far as I can tell, the complete opposite of all those books on the power of positive thinking:
1. You will second guess yourself and doubt all decisions.
2. You find yourself saying, “If only I had started …(insert star player on bench here).”
3. You will wonder why you are so stupid.
4. You will rarely be satisfied.
5. You will spend days anguishing about the past and wishing for a do-over.
6. You will slowly, but sure as the sun will rise, become annoyed with those who beat you.
7. You will waste hours reading Fantasy Football analyses online, reviewing weekly scoring projections and watching the waiver wire.
8. You will be passionate about a player you previously hated and suddenly care about a game that matters not a bit.
9. You will at the same time, when you lose, pretend outwardly it’s no big deal.
10. You will hope — and have those hopes crushed.
After four years of Fantasy Football, I would love to say I’m done. Really. I should walk away. My wife doesn’t care for me checking my phone during church to see how my team is doing. I’m tired of my daughter winning the league title. She’s the only woman in the league and has won three times. Winning three of our four years isn’t luck. She must know what she’s doing. I congratulate her. And perhaps, one day, I will ask what her secret is. Perhaps when my pride gets over losing every year.
She knocked me out of the playoffs this year, which drives me insane because I should have won. I had the better team. If I had just started Andy Dalton instead of Marcus Mariota, that would have given me the five points I needed. Or if I had played Jarvis Landry instead of Dontrelle Inman. I should have started…wait, time to stop this. Shoulda. Coulda. It’s done. Got to get over it.
So, I’ll be back next year. Despite the waiting anguish and heartache and disappointment. I’ll be back. Maybe next year, I’ll guess right every week. Maybe I’ll win the league. Maybe it will be one of those miracle seasons I dream about.
But there is one thing for sure out of all this: I will need years of counseling to undo the damage done by playing Fantasy Football.
Unless, of course, I win.
Bill Buley is the editor of The Garden Island and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.