If you ever had any question as to how far removed he’s become from the majority of sports fans throughout the country, read Bill Simmons’ rules on how to improve fantasy football. Apparently, we’re all lame if we don’t do auction leagues, because what fun is getting together with your friends if you can’t spend over $500? What are you, some sort of peon who makes five figures a year?
You’d think someone whose audience consists mainly of frat boys, desk jockeys and other assorted slobs would take these sorts of things into account, but he also wrote, “If I’m still writing this column in 2020, shoot me in the forehead.” So obviously, if we were doing a scouting report on Simmons these days, it would read, “Must improve: perspective.”
I started writing this post on the rules we should all follow when playing fantasy last year around this time, but something else came up (my then-new job, I think). So let’s try again. And I promise, no ideas like increasing weekly fantasy bets using a backgammon cube. Seriously, that was his last idea. On to the rules:
10. When someone offers you a trade, respond.
Not everyone checks their email every day (although those people are getting rarer by the minute), and it’s perfectly understandable to let a trade sit on the table for a while. Sometimes you want to see the players in question a time or two more, you need to review the stats/schedules or you just need to sleep on it. But if you see a trade proposal, and let that thing sit the entire two weeks or whatever it is without doing anything, it’s the equivalent of saying, “I stopped caring about either you or this league long ago. Possibly both.”
9. Draft your own team.
I had to crack down on my friends because there were always a couple of them who at the last minute asked us to draft teams for them. No, that isn’t a joke. One of them lived in North Carolina and couldn’t handle the late start time of our draft (understandable) and another friend was too wasted and couldn’t afford his phone bill (less understandable). Whatever the reason, I put an end to the practice of the rest of us filling out another person’s roster for them. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. The conflict of interest was one thing, and another was the fact that just like an autopicked team by Yahoo or whoever, the teams we picked by committee for our absent owners actually fared a lot better than some of the teams we picked ourselves. Probably because the teams were chosen without emotion: “He only has one wide receiver, who’s the best available….Chad Johnson? OK, Ochocinco it is.”
8. Don’t use that picture of that kid flipping everyone off as your team picture.
You know the one, where the blonde kid has some team’s logo photoshopped on him and he’s supposed to be giving the bird to the opposing fans or something? KNOCK IT OFF. We’ve all seen the picture.
7. Don’t pick an actual team name as your team’s name.
Are you only drafting Cowboys? Then don’t call your team the Cowboys, or “How Bout Dem Cowboys” or “Cowboy Pride.” It’s not hard to come up with an original team name; think of a rude pun like the rest of us, Jerry Jones!
6. Don’t bring your girlfriend/wife with you to the draft.
No explanation needed here. This is for her own sake, too.
5. Stop asking if this is a “PPR” league.
In every league I’ve been in, there’s someone with some sort of Roger Craig or LaDainian Tomlinson fetish who’ll ask, “What, no points per reception?” When did this ever become a good idea? OK, back when teams rushed the ball more than they passed, it might have made some sense. But with every QB chucking the ball 40 times per game now, why should every catch net your team a half point (or worse, a full point)? What happens when you watch your favorite team throw a screen pass that gets stopped for no gain or a loss? Do you celebrate because he didn’t drop the ball?
4. No whining on the message boards.
I’m not going to go as far as Simmons and say you can’t talk about your fantasy team with others. You’re sharing an experience with your friends and peers, so talking is natural. However, it’s totally lame to go on the message board on Monday or Tuesday morning and write in snore-worthy detail how you got screwed and lost by 2 points. For one thing, everyone’s glad you lost. We’re all competing against each other. And second, you’re pretty much saying that the person who beat you got lucky, that they shouldn’t REALLY enjoy their win because they didn’t deserve it like YOU. Hey, sorry Brandon Funston told you that Kevin Smith would go off for 18 points this week. Not our fault he fumbled on his first carry and left the game with strained labia.
3. Quit saying you’re too busy for fantasy.
Everyone knows a guy who bitches and complains when invited to a league: “I think I’m done with this. I don’t even really pay attention anymore. You know, it’s just such a time waster, anyway.” Hey, if you seriously don’t care, don’t join. You’re probably going to ask us to draft a team for you anyway. And if you need to take a break because you’re traveling out of the country or something, go ahead. But if you pull the whole, “Fantasy isn’t a worthy use of my time deal,” (Like those people who lie through their teeth and say, “I don’t watch TV. Well, maybe PBS once in a while. And the news.” God, I hate those people.) it’s guaranteed that you’ll get jealous by October and be the first person to respond to the invite to join a league next year. Face it, we’re all addicted. Let’s relish in our nerd-dom instead of pretending that obsessing over stats is keeping us from writing the next great American novel.
2. Don’t complain about the ante/buy-in.
I’m not saying you have to drop $20K in gold bullion like Simmons to have fun in fantasy football, but unless you’re a minor, you probably have $20 you can spare for three months of entertainment. Free leagues are about as fun and exciting as preseason football.
1. Set your lineup. Every week.
Yeah, your dreams of being the fantasy kingpin have been thwarted. You drafted a terrible QB, two RBs who don’t even start anymore and your only receiver anybody’s heard of is Braylon Edwards. That’s no excuse. In head-to-head leagues, nothing is more frustrating than fighting someone for a playoff spot who’s going against a guy who has empty slots at RB, TE and “Util.” You obviously watch football all year, so you’re probably aware that each team has what’s called a “bye week” when they don’t play. And since all fantasy is done over the Internet where they figure out the scoring and schedules for us, it’s pretty easy to determine when you should move someone in or out of the lineup. So what, you’re mathematically eliminated from playoff contention? I’ve seen some of the worst-looking lineups in the history of fantasy football crush teams full of so-called studs, especially late in the season. If you give up on your fantasy league, it’s like you’re giving up on all your friendships and life in general. And that’s even worse than trying to combine fantasy with backgammon.