News & Analysis

Keep one league reserved for fun

Dec 24, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) passes the ball during the first quarter against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor’s note: Every Sunday, we’ll wrap up the week on PFF Fantasy with some topic one of our writers has been thinking about of late, and recap the features, columns, and podcasts you could find on the site that week.)

My very first “fantasy” leagues were little one-off things I did with my dad and my brother. We’d go to a baseball game early in the season and draft teams — one player at each position. One round was the catcher round, one was the first base round, etc. We just rotated who had first pick. We’d write the teams down, and at the end of the season I’d go through my dad’s Baseball Weekly magazines to total up stats and find a winner, who got $5 from each loser.

My first league with friends was in an NBA league in middle school. There were nine of us, so Donnie and I co-owned a team. A week into the season, he unveiled his master plan: He’d trade all our good players to Troy for all Troy’s bad players, then defect and become Troy’s co-owner and leave me to run our now-bad team solo. It wasn’t exactly sneaky, but whatever. The thing about this league was we kept score by paper, and we had few rules. One rule we didn’t have was roster size. There had been a 10-round draft, so 80 players were owned, but I said screw it and picked up the next 40 best players. Literally, my roster was 50 players. I worked 2- and 3-for-1 trades for the next few weeks until my team … was better than Donnie and Troy’s. It was enormously liberating.

For years, I was in my buddy’s football league out of Richmond. The draft every year was in Hooters. Only two of us would bring a laptop; only three or four of us even had cheat sheets beyond a list of their favorite players. It was a real league, for real money, and everybody tried, but it was really an excuse for these guys to get together each year and drink for a few hours. They weren’t bad at fantasy, save for the regular overdrafting of ex-UK players (and the one guy who for whatever reason loved Philip Rivers), but it wasn’t the point. I wasn’t one of their group of friends, but I quasi-became one over my years in the league.

These days, fantasy is serious business. That’s why we do what we do, and why there are dozens of other sites doing the same. Experts leagues, big-money offerings, hundreds of best-ball rosters. You almost have to take this thing seriously.

But the most fun I’ve ever had playing fantasy was drafting a roster with my dad and brother when I was a kid. The silliest fantasy story I can tell is when I made Mitch Richmond the 50th player on a fantasy roster than ended up winning the title. The most laughing I’ve done at a fantasy draft in recent years is when my drunk buddy Drew tried to draft “Dennis Green” one year, forgetting that was a coach.

Your serious leagues are the important ones, and you need to take them seriously. But don’t lose sight of why we started doing this in the first place. Fantasy is fun. Any time fantasy makes you literally want to quit, you aren’t doing it right.

Have all your leagues every year. But try really hard to have at least one league where you don’t have to care that much, where the reason for the league is getting together for the draft. Have one league where you can just do silliness. It keeps things fun.

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