This is the fourth installment of a season-long series.
The date is Monday, Oct. 10, and I am just hours away from winning my first week of fantasy football. I am up 69 to 64 against a team named “Some Brady that I used to know.”
I cannot tell you what I did correctly this week that I had not done in prior weeks, but in this massive mess of confusion we call fantasy football, I have been able to understand a different part of the process: the fantasy football community.
Having quietly involved myself in a niche online community, I have become an insider to a truly unique sort of community that is nothing short of impressive. In the world of fantasy football, you will encounter five kinds of people, according to an unofficial study done by myself, mostly around midnight while sitting on my couch with my laptop.
1. The Smack Talker
Oh, the Smack Talker. I met this person on my very first day of fantasy football. There I am, just minding my own business and waiting for my draft to start, when suddenly a noise alerts me that someone has posted in our draft room, “YOU ALL SUCK.” I loudly gasped, like my mother would have upon hearing a cuss word, taken aback by the very forward aggression from this anonymous person before we had even chosen our first-round picks. Simultaneously a little hurt and a little pissed, I raised my fingers to respond, but decided against it. I am fairly certain that ESPN added the chat room and commenting feature just to watch smack talkers flourish. No one is safe from the Smack Talker. One minute, they are bashing Philip Rivers, and the next, it’s you for choosing him. Take the high road, sports fans; the Smack Talker may have a loud virtual voice, but ultimately it’s probably a middle school boy who just learned he could cuss online without being grounded.
2. The Showoff
We all know this person. It is the same person in the classroom and in the office and at the gym; they simply like public displays of superiority. In the world of fantasy football, you will likely find this person in the comments section rattling off a battery of statistics as to why his team did better than yours this week. It is a lovely juxtaposition: the Smack Talker spouting an insult with a word spelled wrong within it, and just below it, the Showoff rapidly typing facts and figures like some sort of mathematician. We get it, Mr. Showoff, you know a lot about sports. You watch a lot of SportsCenter and have no problem regurgitating statistical predictions straight from Matthew Berry’s fantasy analysis. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us normal people who simply add players with high point projection numbers. You’re no smarter than the rest of us who don’t spend hours a day watching ESPN; you’re just an ass.
3. The Busy Dad
The busy dad is the one member of the fantasy community whom you can simultaneously hate and pity at the same time. The Busy Dad was approached by his co-workers to join a fantasy football league, and knowing this might be the highlight of his workweek, gladly accepted. The Busy Dad auto-drafts all of his players because he had a conference call and needed to drop the kids off at school, and so he keeps the rest of us waiting forever to make our own draft picks. During the first week of fantasy football, he rejoiced over beers with his victories and talked about the glorious weeks to come, but slowly the Busy Dad began to get, well, busy. Soccer practice and dance recitals take priority over his roster and fantasy football takes a back burner. You will notice the Busy Dad because he will have players on his roster with injuries, or who have BYE weeks, simply because he did not have the time to look at his roster. We all hate the Busy Dad because he neglects the all-important task of the draft and is no fun to play against when half of his starters should be on his bench. However, we pity you, Busy Dad. Not all of us can have the privilege of working on our rosters during philosophy class and coming home to a quiet house sans toddlers and a spouse.
4. The Mystery Woman
The Mystery Woman is a force to be reckoned with, and you will likely find one in every league. She goes by something professional and matronly, usually a “Brenda” or “Cheryl,” and is the most unpredictable figure in the fantasy football world. In a pastime played overwhelmingly like males, the Mystery Woman sticks out like a sore thumb in the league. You see, the Mystery Woman can be one of two women. She may be intensely educated on the ins and outs of the NFL and has been watching football since she was a little girl. She knows which players to drop, who to put in her FLEX position, and doesn’t need anyone’s help in figuring it out. She will be terribly underestimated because of her name, and can silently sweep the entire league. The other type of woman is arguably even more dangerous. She is the exact opposite. She joined the league likely because it was a family thing, and everyone wanted mom to be a part of it. She knows nothing about football, chose her players based on their jersey colors, and is simply in the league for a good time. She will undoubtedly end up beating everyone because she is not trying, and that is how fantasy football works. The gods of fantasy football can sense effort and if you put in any research or stress to your roster, you will lose to someone who is just “playing for fun.”
5. The Funny Guy
The Funny Guy registers for a fantasy football league for no purpose other than to create a funny pop culture reference or raunchy team name. Don’t worry, sports fans, these guys are nothing to be feared. They often do just fine in their leagues. They don’t disregard their teams they put so much love into, but they also aren’t in it to win it. Next time you see a “Le’Veon on a Prayer,” “Edward Forte Hands” or “Vick in a Box,” enjoy the hours they probably spent Googling names and do not panic when you see them in your league. Their skilled choice of team name does not make them skilled in anything else fantasy football related.
In the epic culture of fantasy football, there are a lot of things I don’t know and may never know. I don’t understand why some players play great one week and terribly the next, I don’t get when I should drop a player or when to give him a second chance, but if there is one thing I do get in fantasy football, it’s about how to act. Be nice, be humble, be mature, and if you don’t win, at least other people won’t hate you.
Follow the writer on Twitter: @britbulawa