My fantasy football draft is tonight, but this blog post won’t start there. Let’s go back a bit.
I remember sitting in a hotel room in Cleveland, Ohio in August of 2016, and every time I flipped the channel to ESPN, they were talking about football. NFL this, NFL that. It never stopped.
I thought it was overkill, considering we were right in the middle of the MLB season and the NFL didn’t start for a few more weeks.
At the time, I was in my phase of not really following the NFL That phase started around 2009, when I moved away for school.
I was a very casual fan. I’d put a game on in the background, but not really pay attention. I’d know who the star players were. I’d watch the Super Bowl. But if I’m being honest, I knew more about the NFL when I was in elementary school, than when I was in university.
Growing up, I didn’t really have a team to cheer for. When you live in Canada, you have no direct geographical loyalty. Many people around here cheer for the Buffalo Bills because they’re the closest, and we get all of their games on TV every Sunday.
If you don’t cheer for the Bills, you pick any other team you want.
At some point, I thought I was a Bills’ fan too because they were always on TV. I even had a winter toque with the Bills logo. They never captured me as a fan, though. There was never a moment where I fell in love with them.
Instead, I think it was the New England Patriots. I distinctly remember the Patriots and Rams meeting in the Super Bowl in 2002. Tom Brady led his team down the field in the final minute and setting up Adam Vinatieri for the game-winning field goal, is what hooked me.
Yes, I also got a Patriots winter toque. Still have it.
So, I was a Patriots fan growing up. I guess? They always made the playoffs and, seemingly, every Super Bowl, so it felt like a good bet. Did I follow the team closely, or memorize their roster from top to bottom? Not at all.
By 2010, I had a New York Jets t-shirt. I don’t know how that came about, but they had made it to two consecutive AFC title games and there was something I liked about them.
Within a year, I jumped off the bandwagon and resorted to my default answer of, “I’m a Patriots fan” whenever anyone asked.
Fast-foward to 2018.
I’ve noticed a pattern in my life, where the things I end up loving are the things I was previously skeptical about. In hindsight, I’ll be able to see that, “Oh, two years ago I didn’t really give this thing a shot, but now I love it.”
That’s basically what happened with me and football in 2018.
I don’t know how it came about, but I decided it was time to grow up and pick an NFL to cheer for. While I’ll always have my childhood connection to the Patriots, I found myself not really caring enough about them to continue to call myself a fan.
I gave myself the goal of finding a new team to cheer for by the start of the season. I narrowed my list down to the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, and Kansas City Chiefs. There may have been a few other teams in the mix.
For starters, it was important to me that I liked the team logo, uniform, and colours. I can’t get behind a team if I’m annoyed by their appearance. Plus, how would I justify buying any merchandise?
And this, among other reasons, is why I’ll never be a fan of the Cleveland Browns.
At the same time I’m trying to find a team to hitch my fandom too, I’m also about to participate in my first fantasy football league, made up of predominantly bloggers.
I was late to the party when it came to fantasy football. Finally, I understood what the Start/Sit segments on the Sunday NFL Countdown were about when I watched as a kid.
They always confused me. Why would this team sit one of their best players? Just play them. I didn’t realize they were referring to fantasy teams. I didn’t know what that was in the mid-2000s.
So, as I was conducting my “research” for my first fantasy football draft, I came across preseason highlights of the Kansas City Chiefs and saw Patrick Mahomes make a deep throw. His throwing motion reminded me of a baseball player. He just sort of slung the football down the field. I was impressed.
Right then and there, the Chiefs won the, “Who will Paul root for?” sweepstakes.
I didn’t know who he was, where he came from, or that he was a top draft pick about to get his first shot at the starting job. I didn’t know if there was hype around him. I didn’t know if he was a “breakout candidate”. Nothing. I just knew, based on that throw, that he was good.
This is where sports teams should be contacting me about becoming a scout.
That first fantasy draft was an experience, to say the least. I had the 3rd overall pick and there seemed to be a “consensus top 3”. Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and David Johnson.
Johnson fell to me and I drafted him because who am I to make my own decisions? I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m new here. I’ll go with the flow.
He didn’t have a great season for me.
My second pick was Dalvin Cook and he was just okay, before getting hurt.
Truthfully, I’m still scarred by those picks.
There were some bright spots, though. I picked Tyreek Hill in the third round and he had a great season. I also picked Patrick Mahomes in the 11th round as my backup Quarterback and he ended up being the MVP.
Little did I know that I had created what they refer to in fantasy as a, “stack”. I was just picking players on my new favourite team.
Anyway, ever since then, I have been hooked on fantasy football. It is my favourite fantasy sport. It is the only one I currently participate in. As soon as the first week of August arrives, I reactivate the league and get started with my preparation for the draft.
How many mock drafts have I done in the last month? Many. Pick a number and then double it. I just love it.
My initial impression going into the draft this year was that there are a lot of traps on the draft board. There are a lot of players I don’t trust, for one reason or another.
By now, though, I think I know the players I want and in which rounds. I haven’t written anything down, it’s all filed away neatly in my head.
I’ve gone to sleep every night for the last month running through different draft scenarios, knowing full well that the draft always goes off the rails very early on and things happen that I didn’t prepare for.
This year, I think I have over-prepared. Last year, I had a player fall to me and I remember being momentarily paralyzed because I thought I was falling into a trap. Surely, the player was injured, or there was something wrong with them. I hadn’t bothered doing any pre-draft research on them because I didn’t think they’d still be on the board.
I drafted them. They were awesome. I won’t say their name, since my league mates are reading this and I’m hoping the player drops again this year.
I’ll come back tomorrow and add their name to this post.
As I said, I have over-prepared this year. I don’t want anything to catch me off-guard. I have a strategy in my mind and several off-ramps built in, depending on what happens with the other picks. I’ve given myself room to pivot.
That being said, I feel like I’ve been slow encroaching upon the danger zone known as, “YOU’RE OVERTHINKING EVERYTHING” for about a week now.
I just want to draft my team and stare at it for hours on end.
Six years ago, I would’ve laughed at you if you told me I’d be this excited about the NFL and fantasy football, but here we are.
Having a fantasy team has brought my passion for the NFL to a whole new level because now I have a reason to watch games between two random teams. I’m watching to see if my players do anything.
I also have a reason to pay attention to the all the football-related shows on TV. Good Morning Football has been a fixture in my life since 2019. It is everything I’ve ever wanted a sports show to be.
Anyway, good luck to you and your fantasy football team.
I’ll just be here counting down the seconds until my draft tonight.
What is something you love that you were initially skeptical about? What tips do you have for fantasy football?