The air is getting a little bit chillier, MLB teams are making their pushes for October, all my friends are getting married, and once again fantasy football leagues the world over are waking up and dusting off their draft boards.
I shouldn’t be excited, I shouldn’t feel hopeful, I shouldn’t read a single article to educate my draft strategy; but I’m guilty of all three.
Fantasy hurts me every single year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m always bad. Two years back I had the second-fewest points scored in my league and made it to the championship game. That same year, in a separate league, my team led the league all year, despite my 2nd overall pick wasted on the monster-disciplinarian Adrian Peterson, only to lose in a rout in the first-round of the playoffs. I’ve never been to the summit, but I’ve never known the depths either.
No, it’s not the success or failure of my teams that breaks me, it’s the unknown of it all. I’ve thought my team is garbage only to see the other team lay a steaming deuce on the field as I saunter to a crushing victory (avoiding the aforementioned deuce). My team has scored sums that would make Matthew Berry cry with joy, but as I begin to celebrate I hear faint footsteps which grow to a cacophony as my opponent puts up the year’s highest point total / most unfair score and tramples my short-lived joy.
So this year I’m embracing the only strategy that I believe could possibly assuage the angry fantasy-God who I have apparently wronged so savagely: chaos. Yes, by fulfilling the dictum of the Joker (and to a much lesser extent Joe Wirth, aka the Joe-ker), I hope to overcome the supernatural difficulties of yesteryear.
If I do not prepare for the draft (as much), if even I don’t have a fixed idea of who I’m looking for each round, if I don’t even KNOW who this year’s dark horses are, this God becomes impotent. Let me explain the beliefs which drive this bold, and dare I say brave, new strategy.
I believe this fantasy-God, we’ll call him FG for short, pun intended, operates by understanding my psyche, my hopes, my dreams, my fears. FG takes this information and molds reality in a perfectly off-setting fuck-u-niverse, knowing that being wrong about my team’s chances is far more infuriating in the long run than actually just being deservedly bad or proving to be good, but not as good as wished.
Now it would seem that maybe it’s only sad when I think I’m good but drastically under perform my expectations, but fantasy leagues are not one-season affairs. While I would love to celebrate an unexpected victory after assuming defeat, my surprise just highlights my lack of knowledge. Believing my team is good/bad only to watch them fail/succeed shines a spotlight on a fundamental flaw in my understanding of the drivers of success/failure. Over time, my consistent inability to correctly assess how good my team will be shows to me that I’m just a blind moron thrashing around in the dark and occasionally finding succor by purest chance.
I can’t take credit for my successes, they’re total surprises to me. My losses are even more crushing because normally I start not from neutral ground, but from a peak of big-balledness from which I had tossed confident trash for the six preceding days at my eventually-triumphant opponent. I cast about for answers, but there are none. FG is a cruel, all-knowing God. Even a championship would feel false, hollow, merely the first foot falling as the second hovers above my shame-faced, Knicks-esque franchise, relishing the chance to crush the small bit of hope which its predecessor had cruelly inspired.
So why do I get excited? Why am I once again filled with hope? Why do I read the same articles which every person reads to prepare? Because while FG is a dick, I believe there is a greater plan for my fantasy career. Every win has brought me joy, but also an understanding of my lack of agency and an acceptance of the role of instrument in a larger game. Every loss teaches humility, and really, really makes me regret trash-talking.
This is the season everything changes. This is the year I win not one, but EVERY LEAGUE which I deign to favor with my presence.
Your future champ,