As I, and most NFL followers outside the greater Baltimore metropolitan area, spent Thursday night watching Peyton Manning light up the Ravens defense like the Rockfeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City, fantasy football clouded my thoughts.
Yes, I partake in fantasy football. But I havenít gone as overboard as in years past. Actually, I think my fantasy football addiction isnít all that extreme.
There are some people who get together and hold live fantasy football draft parties and turn it into their own mini-Super Bowl celebration. Not here. Iím all about the anonymity and competing against complete strangers ó because no one knows anything about you on the Internet, right?
Moving on ... my game of choice is Yahoo! Fantasy Football for three reasons. First, the league is completely free. Second, itís the only fantasy football game Iíve ever played. And last, Iím not a big fan of change, especially when it comes to negotiating which stats matter in a fantasy football world.
In years past, Yahoo! has given its members an opportunity to select up to four teams to compete in various leagues. Up until this year, I abused that privilege to the best of my ability. I even credited new† usernames to get my fix. Then it finally dawned on me last week as I was pondering my fantasy football plans for 2013 ó thatís just ridiculous.
With four teams, odds are you will have a wide variety of players on your numerous rosters. And that can result in the situation Iíve all too often found myself in ó hoping one player does well in one league, because heís one my team, only to find out the same player is on an opposing team in another league, and is eating my lunch.
So in an attempt to avoid such a conundrum this year, I limited myself to two teams ó one in a 2012 winnerís league and one in some random league I was dropped into like a bag of potato chips.
Donít ask me why or how, but in a league composed of people who won their respective leagues last year, I made out like a thief in the night in my draft. In the random league, well, itís a pretty random team of cross your fingers talent.
So I rambled on about all of that to get around to this point ó Denver Broncos receiver Eric Decker is on my team of randomness. Decker, a 1,000-yard receiver with double-digit touchdowns a season ago, should be a stellar perform.
While Manning, in one game, came within one of matching the Kansas City Chiefsí number of touchdown passes for the 2012 campaign, I couldnít help but think to myself. ĎI should have drafted this guy. More importantly than that, however, was ĎWhere the heck is Eric Decker?í Itís as if he joined the witness protection program while the National Anthem was sung.
Manning throws for 37 touchdowns and 7,423 yards ó OK, maybe thatís a slight exaggeration ó but my guy, Mr. Decker, catches a whopping two passes for 32 yards, and fumbled one of those. And then there was the perfectly thrown pass to Decker in the corner of the end zone that slipped through his hands like he was doing a Derrick Stuckly at receiver impersonation.
Did I bother to mention the newest Bronco receiver, Wes Welker, who caught a pair of touchdown passes, was on the opposing team in my league?
Iím sure the majority of you are reading this and thinking, ĎWhat is this moron talking about?í or ĎHow insignificant can this be?í Well, I agree with both assessments.
But what the creation of fantasy football, and its growing popularity, has created in terms of the NFL is fans no longer cheer for teams so much as they cheer for certain players. Case in point, the Denver game Thursday.
Now Iím not a Broncos fan, though itís hard not to be after the fireworks show they displayed, but this would be a Denver fantasy football playerís Thursday perspective based on my league. I have a Denver receiver on my team, my opponent has a Denver receiver on his team and neither of has Manning at quarterback. But if Peyton is going to throw seven touchdowns, I want to see some coming my guyís way. If youíre in my shoes, youíre openly rooting for all passes to be thrown to Eric Decker, and hope Wes Welker never sees the ball ó and divided loyalties are born.
Confused? Donít care is probably more like it, but letís use a Cowboys analogy. Say youíve got Dez Bryant on your team,† and Tony Romo throws five touchdown passes ó all to Miles Austin, who is playing for fantasy football. Yes, I know this entire scenario sounds prepostrious.
Any way, while youíre cheering on the Cowboys, your fantasy team is getting beaten worse than the Ravens secondary Thursday night. And some competitive, think-theyíre-smarter-than-they-actually-are people can get bent out of shape over this, so Iíve heard.
But fantasy football, to me, is just a way to enhance your Sunday NFL watching experience ó which FINALLY starts today. Then again, there are some people who actually compete in fantasy football leagues for money.
And you think I have issues?†† †
Derrick Stuckly is the editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Sundays. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.