Archive for category Fantasy Football
Fall — my favorite season!! Temperatures so pleasant one can sleep with the windows open, change of season and football!! For those of you reading this that haven’t lived in Texas, let me explain. Football is the culture — an array of delicacies from the traditional fantasy football leagues to Friday Night Lights to Big 12 and SEC rivalries to The ‘Boys at Jerry’s House or JJ Watt and Company at the NRG. Fall is Texas football!
Friday Night Lights was born in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas, but it truly is every community in the state that has a high school football team. Many parents send their boys to football camps to help develop them into the next Colt McCoy or Drew Brees. The girls are sent to cheerleading camps yearning for a future as a Cowboy or Texan Cheerleader. Every small town hopes their community will be put on the map as a high school football dynasty like Smithson Valley or Lake Travis.
In college ball, two Texas schools started off where they left off last season — TCU at # 2 and Baylor at 4th in the national ratings. The University of Texas Longhorns are in uncharted waters beginning the season as unranked. Coach Charlie Strong is attempting to mesh his recruits with the remnants of the Mack Brown Era. Longhorn Alum scratch their heads wondering if this current roster can harvest another Earl Campbell, Vince Young or Ricky Williams.
The Cleveland Browns coaching staff holds its collective breath to see if Johnny Manziel has indeed cleaned up his act or if the power of being a celebrity will again cloud his judgment. I’m sorry but he should have stayed at A & M where he had a coaching staff that held him accountable and out of trouble! This is Johnny Football’s chance to make the Hill Country proud of the Kerrville Tivy alum. As poet Robert Frost penned, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Here’s to a year of better choices JM!!
My favorite venue of all of football season is my annual Fantasy Football draft! After dabbling in the free Internet leagues, I ventured with the big boys and have been in a pay league in the Hill Country for several years. I have won the Playoff/Super Bowl pot twice and runner up once — unless you’re the IRS — then I came in dead last. For those of you who have not played, trust me — it’s mostly luck and good guessing! You can have the best team in the world, but an injury or two can send you back to the drawing board. It is fun and a lot of smack talk with my Commish and the rest of the league. It is what football is all about — especially for those us who can’t be out on the gridiron in the numbered jersey, pads, helmet and cleats — like me!!
This is my column in the October Hill Country Happenings magazine.
Fall is my favorite season of the year — cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors and Fantasy Football! High in the hills above Kerrville, we convened for our annual draft. The twelve of us chose a place to sit; most of us camped out at the long table adjacent to the draft grease-board. Commish Alek stood at the kitchen counter, hostess Laura manned the food area and Brad set up a command center at the far corner of the room. Brad carefully guarded his post which included facing the laptop screen out of view of all of us and neatly stacking his notes. My brother brought his secret weapon too, a computer drafting program. Rick had two draft magazines while I chose to go with the one day-old computer printer out. We had the same participants as last year except for Roger who passed away mid-season and he was replaced by a guy named Eric. When I exhibited my scar, plate and protruding screw on my left elbow, several joked to the newcomer that I had tripped over the tennis ball on my walker. I’ll have to admit. That sounds better than doing it walking the dog!
First was the Rookie Draft. I drew number nine and ended up with Latimer of the Broncos since my wish list of A & M’s Evans and the Buckeyes Hyde were gone. I figured anyone catching balls from Peyton Manning was a pretty good gamble. Mid-way through the second round, Ralph posed the question, “If a rookie is not picked in the second round, can they still be picked in the regular round?” The answer was yes; Ralph took a running back for the Patriots. When it got back to me, Manziel was still available. I toyed with the idea of picking him but at that point, Johnny was still the announced back-up. I settled on Matthews, a wide-receiver with the Eagles. We were down to the last rookie pick by newcomer Eric. As he wrote his choice, his body blocked the easel. When he stepped back, a roar left our mouths and Ralph slammed down his pen. In Eric’s block were the words, “T.F.ND. – QB CLEV.” The initials stood for Tivy Fight Never Dies. No one needed a name. Much to Ralph’s chagrin, Mr. Manziel was no longer available.
We took a quick break for people to load up their plates with food before the main draft started. Instead, I opted for the restroom since I didn’t want to miss any of the selection process. I chuckled as I entered the bathroom. I’ve been in the league several years and gone was the potty chair on the toilet. I wasn’t gone long and I came out to find all the numbers except for two drawn for draft order! I swirled my hand through the two numbers. I could sense it was going to be a bad draw and reluctantly opened the folder paper. Two! And the unchosen? Number One…. Two was quite OK. This year I scrubbed choosing my favorites and went with whatever fell in sequence with what the experts went with. As in every year, the Commish’s strategy for his picks immediately blew up when Rick drafted quarterback Aaron Rodgers third. Alek shook his head again in the third round when I took the first Defense. Ok, that was a deviation from the book’s order, but isn’t a woman’s prerogative to change her mind? Besides, I knew it was driving the Commish crazy.
Of all our drafts, I think this was my favorite so far. Despite the intense looks on the participants, humor dominated the entire afternoon. While Laura was on break, her mom AKA Ralph’s wife, was chosen to “guard” her daughter’s notes. Instead she picked up Laura’s folder, got a devious laugh and broadcasted, “Hear ye, hear ye….Would you like to know who Laurie is going to pick?” When Brad drafted Ron Gronkowski, he grinned at me and said, “That’s Polish for broken arm.” There was also the blonde moment by my sister-in-law Tonya where she studied her picks and carefully scribed, “Emmanuel Sanders WR DEN” on the board. Brad strolled up behind her and quipped, “Tonya, I make my own picks…thank you” as he gently erased her pick out of his box. During a discussion of why the Oilers had changed their name to Titans with the move to Nashville, my brother Craig had an explanation. “Oil has nothing to do with Tennessee” long pause “Although, there was the Beverly Hillbillies.” The first kicker to go was in the 7th round. When Tonya wrote “Phil Dawson K SF,” the room groaned. A look of panic spread across her face. “Has he lost a leg or anything?” she asked. Our group never tips their hands. After all, in fantasy football, it’s all for one & one for all!
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Last month was a pretty good month for me. It was very welcomed after a challenging recovery period following my accident last November. February started with the Super Bowl and I found myself among the few not rooting for Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The disappointment was still too fresh from Denver uprooting my New England Patriots two weeks prior. In addition, I still harbored a grudge against Denver for beating my other team, the Steelers, in a 2012 Wild-Card playoff game with one overtime play by Tim Tebow. However, wounded pride was not only the reason to be a Seattle fan. In my Fantasy Football league, I had the Seahawks Quarterback, Russell Wilson, and I needed a good game from him to possibly win in my league. For you regular readers of this column, you may remember back to last year’s October column when I discussed starting the season already stinking out the house by losing every game, most by five points or less. Many might have given up, but I didn’t as my last cellar season was in 2010 when I ended up winning the post-season with Aaron Rodgers as my Quarterback. Talk about the planets being aligned!!! I was going into the Super Bowl with a lead in our league and providing Wilson had a good game and Marshawn Lynch not having a monster game, it looked promising for me to win. The phone rang a few hours before game time. I’m playing Spades on the computer and half watching the pre-game. The caller is the Commish of our league. “Hey, did you see Russell Wilson hit his head getting off the team bus? It’s really bad,” he claims. Well, he had me going for several minutes until I saw Russell safely in the locker room area. Seattle won, Wilson had a good game and I waited on pins and needles for a week until my league win was confirmed.
Did you notice the commercials for the Super Bowl this year? The most talked about ones seemed to have patriotic or animal themes. My personal favorites were the ones from Budweiser. The first one was the puppy in a stable bonding with a Clydesdale, then getting adopted and therefore separated from the horse. The duo was later reunited when the pup escaped from its owner and returned to the horse farm. All this in one minute — sure moved along a lot faster than my soap opera! The second one was the town welcoming home the soldier. One couldn’t help but get teary-eyed as the community thanked their hero returning from the war. I also cracked up at the Subaru commercial with the retriever family. Papa dog was caught by mama dog ogling a poodle crossing the street and done in front of a puppy in the backseat with his puppy-sibling in the infant-seat. Mama dog growls! Loved it….. Then came an even better one by United Airlines during the Olympics. It had the US teams bobsledding, skating and skiing through the airport, jetway and airplane. As the athletes got situated, the curling stone jammed in the Captain’s foot and a female skater did a three-sixty as she stowed her bag in the overhead compartment. I just loved the creativity put into making those commercials.
Speaking of the Olympics, as of deadline time for this column, they were still in full swing. We’re very excited as Rick’s cousin’s son-in-law, Dallas Robinson, is on the US Bobsled team. We’re so proud of Dallas as well as all the Olympians who have spent years of training and hard work to represent their respective countries. So far, it has been a media frenzy with several non-games sagas unfurling. Unless one was a bobsled groupie, few had heard of Johnny Quinn — that is until he got locked in his bathroom and stuck in an elevator.
We also witnessed how nasty conjunctivitis can be as poor Bob Costas battled the disease as it spread to both eyes. Been there, done that. On a positive note, I loved his round spectacles. My heartstrings were tugged as I saw US slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy trying to foster several puppies. Good thing I wasn’t over there. Those cuddly little fur balls are irresistible! While the hype built up over a rematch of USA and Russia in hockey, I fondly thought back to the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” at Lake Placid. I remembered it well, as I viewed it from my parents’ recliner with crutches at my side. I was recovering from a skiing accident. Here I was in 2014, again in rehabilitation of several body parts, watching the Olympics. The Olympics served as a catalyst for my determination to be fully functional again. So many of the participants had overcome surgeries and rehabilitations to be a part of the experience. My orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Lue, was happy with my progress rehabilitating my elbow, wrist, hand and shoulder. He was pleased that I was ahead of what he expected for that stage of my recovery. I was thrilled to see one of the skiers back racing after recovering from an accident less than a year ago. I commented that’s there’s hope for me after all! Rick was kind enough to point out that she is also forty-seven years younger than me. Minor details.
There is nothing that makes watching NFL more interesting than having a Fantasy Team. I had friends who already played in paid leagues. Before I went that direction, I wanted to see if I could compete by playing on a website with strangers. It started out really easy with the computer doing all my drafting for me. The hardest part seemed to be guessing who to play each week. Despite my savvy on players, it was still hit- and-miss if a player had an off week. Also, it would have helped had I discovered the add/drop capability to get rid of players who were on extensive injury or just stunk. I was like a magnet for attracting both. The first year I played I finished a dismal next-to-last in my league, but I was still having fun!
Fast-forward to 2010. My friend Laura, who knew my passion for football, invited me to play on her league. I thrilled to be playing with someone I knew and besides that, the draft was to be an all-you-could-eat Saturday afternoon. When I arrived, Laura’s husband Alek was frying a turkey as Led Zeppelin blared from the radio. The kitchen was loaded with all kinds of food. It was evident none would starve at this draft. I knew their daughter Emily since my Boxer Roxie & I did Pet Therapy at her school. She hugged my knee and asked where Roxie was. She then, along with her younger brother Tyler, escorted me to my assigned seat at a card table adjacent to the main table. I laughed as it reminded me of my many years of sitting at the kids’ table at holiday time. I spread out my Fantasy Football magazines as well handwritten notes and a highlighter leaving just enough room for a small paper plate and my bottled water.
Several in the group were decked out in football jerseys. Although I was a known Steelers fan, I came decked out in a Tom “easy-on-the-eyes” Brady shirt. The first order of business was drafting two rookies. I was the last to pick since it was my first year in the league. On the board I wrote the name of a tight end that caught my eye during pre-season – Aaron Hernandez. My other rookie was Dexter McCluster. (He ended up injured early in the season. My luck with injure-prone players followed me!) Next we drew numbers for the regular draft. I was last to pick and got “5” so I was right in the middle of the choices which snaked up and down the board each round. The four guys in front of me chose the highest rated running backs and receivers. I decided to go against the grain and grab my quarterback. I wrote “Aaron Rodgers, GB QB” on the grease board. A gasp filled the room! Alek shouts, “Dang it woman! You’re wearing a Tom Brady shirt and you draft Aaron Rodgers!?!?!?” The number-one ranked quarterback was off the market!
The regular season that year found me activating the wrong players and dealing with injuries. I was miserable in the cellar. However, come post-season, my luck changed. It began with downsizing my team for the playoffs. I was the only one who had all the positions covered for post-season play. I was solid with Rodgers, Pittsburgh’s Defense and Special Teams, speedster Mike Wallace and Rashad Mendenhall who was churning up yardage each week. All the other league members had to re-draft positions. It was the year Green Bay and Pittsburgh met in the Super Bowl. Talk about an internal conflict!!! With $150 on the line if Aaron Rodgers got points from passing and scoring touchdowns, I found myself quietly rooting against my favorite team! In addition to winning the Super Bowl pot for Fantasy Football that year, I also played the Super Bowl squares with some other friends. My numbers were “1” Green Bay and “5” Steelers — the final score — Packers 31, Steelers 25. It was a feat I have yet to accomplish again in either venue.
Our league still plays and members come and go. We also increased to twelve players instead of ten. I love my team this year with Russell Wilson at the helm and the 49ers Defense and Special Teams. The first week of league play I had the third highest score, but I was playing the top scorer so I lost the week. I lost in both my internet leagues too! Again I am off to a smashing start in the cellar!! I prefer to look at it as good sign — remember 2010!
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This doesn’t happen many times in my life — but this Super Bowl, there is no vested interest in who wins. My Steelers and my 2nd team, Pats, disappointed me yet again.
Ben played injured for a lot of the season and I question Coach Tomlin’s decision to play him in so many critical games. Errant throws were costly in the final games of the season and the Steelers went to the showers early — no post-season play. Tough pill to swallow, but when one has a second team, easier to accomplish.
My Fantasy League team was solid with Brady, Welker & Hernandez. The boys let me down… 😦 The Patriots performance was lackluster in the Championship game. Not to worry…I also have the 49ers Defense & Special Teams. Surprisingly, very few Ravens players (including Joe Flacco and the Defense/Special Teams) were on our league’s playoff roster and because of this, it’s still anyone’s to win.
So… who does this armchair quarterback root for? Pittsburgh is the sole team with 6 Super Bowl wins, making it very hard to root for a team (49ers) to tie the record. Then there’s the flip side of the coin — Rooting for the Ravens is like a Browns fan rooting for the Steelers — it’s just not done! Just ask my husband!
Ideally, I need Kaepernick, Rice, Boldin & Ravens Defense/Special Teams to have a horrible game and the 49ers to hold the Ravens scoreless. I’m not asking for much …right?!?! After all… It’s all about me and winning Fantasy Football!