After nearly twenty years of fielding Fantasy Football teams, I experienced a crude, coarse and wholly blemished incipience of bile on Sunday night -- it was a personal newfound low in an oftentimes cruel hobby that pits conquest against loyalty.
I love Fantasy Football for all the truly entertaining qualities and tenets for which most profess their own adoration of the hobby: sports, Sunday, points, players, stats, camaraderie, competition, money, pride, prizes, clout, hardware. But on Sunday night, with the Vikings impressively cruising past the Bears for sole possession of first place in the NFC North, I found myself silently cringing with each yard of what should have been experienced as Purple Pleasure. I had the Bears defense.
Naturally -- and I know I'm not alone in this untoward experience -- I've been occasionally inclined over the years to cheer against my hometown Vikings for purposes of Fantasy victory. Sometimes, on a perfect planet where Fantasy and Reality mesh, there is the best of both worlds. We both win. But on Sunday night, I experienced these sensations in a playoff Fantasy match-up where I was getting my ass kicked. Truly, I had no hope for victory -- but I did sport that Bears Defense and Special Teams! Not that it mattered. I was down by thirty damn points!
But still, I felt that slimy hope. That chance that Devin Hester would somehow aid in usurping my deficit with an improbable four punts returns for touchdown. Or perhaps that Tommie Harris would sack Gus Frerotte sixteen more times. Or maybe that Nathan Vasher would scoop up eight fumbles, returning half to the opposite end zone. All scenarios hopeless on an eve when, as a sports fan and sportswriter, I should have felt great joy and pride. But, alas, my dirty soul held out for a Fantasy miracle.
Pathetic. But no more.
Such is one of, if not the prime qualms and concerns with Fantasy Football: forsaking team and town in exchange for personal gain. I've been doing it for years now. Decades! Pathetic. But no more.
Next year, I aim to draft and field a team made wholly of Purple. Do I sound like a strategic dumbass for saying that? Probably. I know. I know the game. I'm our league Commissioner (geek). I've been crowned champion (once) before, and I've penned Fantasy columns for nearly five years. But such a technique, if nothing else, will keep me clean, will rescue my filthy Fantasy soul.
Should I not have the opportunity to select Adrian Peterson with a top two or three pick, I'll trade half my draft to acquire him. I'll team him with Chester and that Tahi dude can serve as my strange, albeit soul-fulfilling flex option. I'll grab Gus (if he's still alive), and toss in Berrian, Wade, and Rice as my wideout options with Shiancoe at tight end. Longwell as kicker. Vikings defense to round out the lineup.
Hell, four of these dudes/positions are in the top-14 of Fantasy scoring at their respective positions anyway, with A.P. tied for 13th best in total player tallies. By implementing this strategy, if even for a single season, I'll receive, if not a trophy, then a thorough washboard scrubbing of the soul. I'll sleep better knowing that, even should I falter, I'll fall in line with my own team, my own town, and will do so employing an angle that will remind me -- and maybe others -- of that tattered sporting tenet known as Loyalty.
But what do I do during the Bye weeks? . . .