Thoughts, refections, musings, and so forth on the experience of a rookie fantasy football player.
"I hate it," I thought, two weeks into the season. I decided to get into fantasy football this past off-season, and joined a league my friend set up. Wanting to figure out what I was doing before the draft for my friend's league, I joined a public league for a "trial" run. After the trial draft, then the subsequent friend draft, I decided to add two more leagues: one, I drafted with the knowledge I'd attained from from my experience, the other, I'd set on autodraft and see who could draft better, the computer or me.
This, of course, didn't work, because I logged in during the autodraft and drafted my first 5 rounds before letting it go on autopilot. Drafting, for me, was just that fun.
Loaded with a roster featuring Berrian, Hester, Benson, and Grossman, I tackled the season with gusto. But something was different. Something was wrong. I had trouble cheering for the Bears in the same way; "Run it!" I'd yell, hands thrown up with frustration every time Benson fell at the line, or the ball went to Clark, Moose, or Bradley. (Just kidding, Bradley, for some reason, gets no love...).
And I hated it. I hated cheering for the defense to get a 3-and-out, because I knew I wasn't cheering for the Bears, but was cheering to get the ball back in Benson's hands. Or Grossman's, though I had the wisdom most weeks not to start him. Suddenly I was no longer a team fan. I was a selfish fan. I'd sit through games, lap-top on my lap, only half watching as I scanned the compiling stats from action across the league. I'd half-heartedly chat with my friends, then suddely celebrate when Steve Smith scored his third touchdown of the week, meeting confused looks on the faces of those in the room, wondering where (and why) that outburst came from.
The season wore on, and I got more and more used to fantasy football. It wasn't an obsession any more, wasn't the only way to watch the game, but became more of a necessity. It became a reason to know what was going on in the league, to watch what injuries came out at a certain week, and understand how player's seasons were going, and why they were going the way they are. I learned the depth charts on most teams in the NFL, learned to avoid WR's lining up against the vowel-challenged Nnamdi Asomugh or Champ Bailey. I learned who stacked where both on offensive production and defensive production, both running and tossing, in the NFL. I even learned the particular leanings of different offensive coordinators, defensive schemes, and the different systems used in the NFL.
Most importantly, I learned to leave the laptop closed until Sunday night, or Monday morning. I learned to let the games be what they are: frankly, fun to watch. But I learned how, in the end, to be a better fan, to understand the nuances of the game more than ever before.
And, perhaps as an additional bonus, I finally learned to admit that Cedric Benson and Rex Grossman did, indeed, bust.