Pure Fantasy Week 13
Week Thirteen: Why We Play and Et Tu, Drew?
Why do you play fantasy football?
I ask this question, of course, assuming that you actually play. You could just be checking this column out after seeing it on the front page of Imprint week in and week out. You could be my mother. But let me try to answer this question:
Consider the “hardcore” football fan. “Hardcore” is a term that is used to describe a member of a particular group or club that devotes much more effort and time into the shared passion than most members. What's curious about this term is that it's usually used in the first-person. I've never heard someone say, “So-and-so is a hardcore fan.” It's always “I'm a hardcore fan of this-and-this.” Self-description, it seems, is the only context in which the word/descriptor/identity “hardcore fan” can be used.
It's a vanity project. The “hardcore” fan's motivation for labeling him/herself is to distinguish him/herself from the “casual” fan, a member of this group who has a less intense or even a mere passing interest in the shared hobby. The “hardcore” fans look down their noses at the “casual” fans, as P.T. Anderson film aficionados view people in line for the newest Transformers movie—they appreciate the same medium, but at two totally different perceived levels (from the “hardcore” fan's point of view).
If you read articles concerning fantasy football's popularity, you'll get varied hypotheses that basically revolve around one key concept: fantasy football players love football, and this game is just another way for these “hardcore” fans to find another connection to the game they adore. What these theories it doesn't take into account is the absolute scope that FF has amassed in the Internet Age. The “hardcores” aren't the only ones playing any more. Casuals are sneaking into the club now too. More people now than ever are playing fantasy football.
So then what's the real attraction? The answer is that fantasy football has many of the same qualities that makes sports betting so lucrative: low risk, high reward, adrenaline rushes that test the player on what he thinks will happen within the reality of the sport itself. It's the knowledge/luck combination that melds know-how with what the Spanish call “suerte” and produces reward, whether it's a pot or just bragging rights. It's one thing to bet on a winning horse five times in a row, but imagine if you could break down how you bet on that horse into seven or eight pieces, and revel in your own genius.
It's the connection to the game, and the hubris that accompanies a fantasy championship.
“We are inclined to think that if we have watched a football or baseball game, that we have taken part of it.” -John F. Kennedy
For many leagues, Week 13 marks the conclusion of the fantasy football regular season. As such, there were thousands of owners with a playoff spot on the line. It's a good bet that a few hundred of those thousands had Drew Brees, the model of fantasy consistency. The Saints quarterback had a record-setting streak of games with 54 straight contests with a TD toss. Those owners probably felt confident that Brees would be as reliable as ever, and lead them to the promised land.
Then Brees turned in the worst game of his career.
During a loss to divisional rival Atlanta Falcons that put a serious dent in the playoff hopes of New Orleans, Brees threw a career-high five interceptions. He managed to toss 340+ passing yards, but for the first time since 2008, he failed to throw a touchdown.
As I watched Thursday Night Football, I had terrible throbbing flashbacks of my own QB, Tony Romo, throwing five passes to the wrong team against the Bears. As I, too, fought for my playoff livelihood on Week 13, I couldn't help but feel grateful that it came in the early stages of the season, and not in Week 13.
If you did manage to survive to make it to your league's playoffs, be certain that Brees will be pissed off and looking to rebound from the debacle that was Week 13. He'll be even better during these last few weeks.
I neglected to mention him in last week's column, but Eagles backup running back Bryce Brown has been absolutely tearing it up the past couple weeks in LeSean McCoy's absence, picking up 300+ yards and four touchdowns over that stretch. If, for some reason, he's still available, pick him up.
Eli Manning has been inconsistent this year, to say the least, but he's had a few solid performances the past couple weeks. I'd be willing to bet he's a safe start in the next few weeks, with a great matchup against the porous Saints defense.
The waiver wire is pretty scarce this week, but I'm going to nominate Seahawks WR Golden Tate for a pickup this week. He's scored three touchdowns in the past four games, and might be a good flex option during your playoff run.
Same goes for teammate Sidney Rice. It would seem that as rookie QB “First Name” Russell...”Last Name” Wiiilson develops, so too does his relationship with his best two receivers. Wilson is worth a pickup for those needing a postseason QB, as well.
As a fan of literature and a sometimes-conceited English major, it was a joy for me to be introduced to the biopic Capote, starring Western New York's own Philip Seymour Hoffman. Anyone who loves great acting performances or Capote's classic “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood would do well to check this out immediately.
CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson are going to continue to split carries and frustrate you. Chain Gailey, it would seem, is the new Mike Shanahan with his running back by committee shenanigans and tomfoolery. Jackson is getting more carries, but Spiller is doing more damage. With his explosiveness, I'd wager Spiller is the better option these next few weeks.
Frank Ocean picked up six Grammy nominations as I'm finishing this column. These pack-leading nominations surprise everybody except people who have listened to Ocean's mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra or his magnificent, best-of-the year album channel ORANGE. Listen now.
Check back next week to see if my advice panned out. Godspeed, and happy fantasizing.
Photo courtesy of http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/football-insider/files/2012/09/Drew-Brees.jpg