The fantasy football season has ended. Like Tom Brady’s breath in Foxborough, the season rose up, crystalized in a beautiful plume, and disappeared before we knew it. A dark shroud—darker than the Oakland Coliseum on a Sunday night in January—descends upon us and we are left cheering for teams that are not truly our own. Gone are the Sundays of smashing remote controls and cursing the lack of Jordan Cameron targets.
As my version of the King James Bible states in Gronkeronomy 6:9: “And in the sixteenth week of the NFL season, droves of people around the world shall lament, for the fantasy football season has expired and with it we abandon all hope and prosperity.”
We are left with only memories. We must sift through the rubble as they did in 1945 Dresden, searching for meaning in the chaos. I’ve compiled some thoughts on this fantasy football season, a sort of dirge to the ’13 season, one of mountains and valleys, joy and sorrow, and enough desperation to dwarf even the city of Buffalo.
Twitter spends most of July and August arguing about whether the term “sleeper” still exists. Based on the amount of information available—the white noise scratching from every corner of the internets—the old days of hiding names for the 12th round have long disappeared.
You want to own Julius Thomas? You better have read the Denver Broncos beat writer during preseason. And you better be prepared to spend a 13th-rounder on him. He was drafted in four out of the nine leagues I was in this season. The very idea is astounding, considering he had missed most of two seasons with injuries. What I’m getting at here is that fantasy footballers are getting smarter, due in large part to the popularity and the amount of folks writing about it. Mark that down for next year.
Thomas is obviously tops my list of “sleepers” this season. His numbers, outside of the few games he was nicked up with the ankle injury, helped carry teams. Here’s a quick list, in no particular order, of guys that were as close to sleepers as you can get, followed by the busts:
Philip Rivers – After a forgettable 2012 campaign, he bounced back this season, owing perhaps to the campaign to #FireNorv. He created another mild sleeper in Keenan Allen, though he was also drafted in a lot of leagues. I suspect Rivers to be a hot choice next year and will likely drastically underperform his average draft position (ADP). If you think owning him is painful, imagine how his wife feels corralling those eight demented spawn he created.
Knowshon Moreno – If you didn’t believe that John Fox likes veterans, you should now. He puttered out near the end, but what a tremendous reward for those who landed him. The only thing bigger than his upside are his tear ducts.
Kendall Wright – This guy churned out some solid PPR WR3 numbers all year. He could be a constant in this offense for the next several years, especially if they can get someone besides that Jeremiah Johnson look-alike to throw the ball.
Tony Romo – Because he’s always a bust, no matter what he does.
Trent Richardson – The only bigger bust than Richardson was Jayne Mansfield. Watching him run is like watching a blind kid look for marbles in a cornfield. I can’t tell you how painful this guy was.
Hakeem Nicks – The only thing more constipated than the New York Giants offense this season is Eli Manning’s face. I hope Nicks recruits Miles Austin for his traveling comedy show and both of these guys disappear into obscurity. Good riddance, you clowns.
Zach Sudfeld– The fantasy genius @Dexters_Library wrote an article telling everyone that this guy would be a dud. Sudfeld is exactly what happens when hype meets up with desperation. Fantasy footballers will look nearly anywhere to find the next Priest Holmes. In Sudfeld’s case you only needed a priest for last rites. I hate myself for this joke and for drafting Richardson in two different leagues.
We say it every season, but perhaps no season had this many potential top-10 wide receivers lost to injury. Julio Jones, Reggie Wayne, Randall Cobb, and Justin Blackmon—though the latter is more a case of mental injury.
It is a broken record, but if your team can’t avoid devastating injuries, your goose is probably boiled. Doesn’t boiled goose sound like something that hillbilly Peyton Hillis would eat? Seriously, though, if you lost one of those receivers and still somehow made a go of it, congratulations.
The key in these situations is to not play on tilt. Lose Julio or Cobb and the initial reaction is either to trek to the Golden Gate and Greg Louganis into the waters below or sit it out and try to strike on a free agent. This is when a guy like Michael Floyd, Keenan Allen, or Terrance Williams become so important. You have to hit some home runs when you strike out horribly.
Every year the hope is to avoid that one big injury. Here’s hoping next year the wide receiving corps doesn’t look like Antietam at the end of the year.[ref]I would’ve listed Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Jarrett Boykin here, too, considering Aaron Rodgers getting sacked by the fringe-football player Shea McClellin ruined lots of seasons; but there’s a chance Rodgers saves some seasons.[/ref]
Of course, injuries can also open the door for guys to emerge. Rashad Jennings might have bullied his way into a starting position next season. And Harry Douglas, long the third fiddle, took advantage of the casualties in Atlanta. Those who heeded the warnings about running backs coming off 300 carries, namely Arian Foster, Doug Martin, and Alfred Morris,[ref]His season wasn’t terrible, but I doubt he won many titles.[/ref] made the right choice. Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson, the other two backs who had 300 carries in 2012, rewarded their teams with solid seasons. Though Peterson missed the entire playoffs so owners probably aren’t thrilled with that assessment.[ref]The way it looks there likely won’t be a 300-carry back in 2013. Somewhere a stat nerd is crunching the numbers on that one.[/ref]
I suppose there is one other injury of note, but I’ll leave those Rob Gronkowski owners to their Abreva and Valtrex.
This time of year, as I said above, is more vicious than Ronnie Lott after losing a finger. The depression moves in and football fans are forced to act like they enjoy college basketball or feign interest in baseball, which is sort of like soccer only with more amphetamines and Dominicans.
But there’s comfort to be found for those who take part in dynasty leagues. And for the truly afflicted, Twitter provides year-round coverage, from deranged draftniks to TMZ reports of DUIs and domestic battery arrests of all our favorite players.
And if all else fails, here are some tips for things to do this offseason:
1. Learn to bartend – In fairness I already know how to do this. With that said, I’m always shocked how much people enjoy drinking. This is a pretty easy task. As I do this for a living, I’ve always maintained that I could train an orangutan to bartend. So get out there primates and make some cocktails.
2. Read “War and Peace” – You rock up to a party and you’re making small talk and you say, “Yeah, I’m reading ‘War and Peace’ right now. I absolutely love Prince Andrei’s character. You got any whiskey left? I was going to make some sours for us with egg whites and Angostura bitters. Tolstoy would love that, I bet.”
3. Take up a new language – My Spanish, French, and Japanese are so bad, I can barely say hello in any of them. I could probably use lots of Spanish at my workplace, but mostly it would be curse words. When I think about it, I guess that wouldn’t be much different than the English I speak. “Hola, comi caca, Tom Brady.”
4. Watch all of “Cheers” on Netflix – Woody, Coach, and Mayday Malone? The only reason not to do this is if you still had to cheer for the Cowboys to target Dez Bryant—and since you don’t, queue it up.
5. Visit a different continent – I’m just one continent away from having stepped on all seven. How fucking awesome am I? I’m like Jay Cutler only cooler. Seriously, though, travel will open up your mind and show you that maybe Julio getting hurt wasn’t the most devastating thing to ever happen. Actually there’s not enough continents in the world to erase that memory.
6. Make mixtapes for your friends – Your friends deserve good music. Give it to them. Some of my friends still only listen to what they liked in college. It doesn’t seem fair not to push my tastes on them. They’re gonna love this new Miley Cyrus track.
7. Climb a mountain – It sounds really daunting, but trust me it’s mostly just hiking upwards for lots of hours. I did Mount Rainier and that’s expensive and more difficult, but there’re plenty of peaks in Colorado that you can do on your own. It’ll be another great thing at the party after you recite some French poetry and talk about what Norm Peterson said on episode nine, Season 1.
8. Write a short story – Another thing you can accomplish with a little discipline. Sit down everyday for a week and write 500 words. That’s your 3,500-word short story. I’ll give you an idea: a football coach of a small school in Texas has players who keep mysteriously disappearing. In the shadows lurks a creepy old man named Jerry who is made of plastic and is beyond wealthy and needs human blood to stay alive. Eerie, right? You take it from there.
9. Go ice-fishing – I love fishing but I’ve never done this. They have guided tours in Wisconsin for about 200 bucks. Walleye and pike and drinking cheap-piss beer while sticking a pole in ice sounds like the greatest thing since Brian Hoyer was healthy and throwing to Jordan Cameron.
10. Prepare cheat sheets for your 2014 fantasy football draft – Because it’s never too early to prepare.