Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 Fantasy Preview Pt. 1 - Road Trip!

Like Disney World and road trips, fantasy football has entered the echelon of All-American experiences that everyone must enjoy at some point in their lives.  It is rare to find someone who has not had the privilege of experiencing at least one of the above three, but what is even more rare is to find someone who has experienced all three events at the same time!  Well, not quite, more like 2.5 of the three events.

You see, while embarking on an epic 12-day quest to visit recently-relocated family in south Florida, as well as visit Disney World, I had this expectation that I would have hours upon hours of time in the car to reflect upon who I would draft this upcoming season, while additionally perusing my newly purchased fantasy football magazine while my kids were quietly sleeping in various hotel rooms.  And if you are one of the many people who has experienced a road trip with children (ages 2 and 4), or have stayed in a hotel room that is not a suite with said children, then you have probably not finished laughing from reading the previous sentence.  The tag line to 'Alien' may have been "In space, no one can hear you scream," but the tag line to long road trips with children is definitely "In a cramped car for 16+ hours, everyone will inevitably scream."  Every hour we would find ourselves laughing, screaming, crying, or all of the above, and I wouldn't trade it for the world, or even for an extra first round draft pick.  I look back and find it comical that I actually though I would be doing 'fantasy research' at all while driving in the car.

Hotels with children...yeah, pretty much same tag line.  Our second night into the trip, in a matter of 3 minutes, my daughter managed to bash her skull on the headboard of a bed, I yelled that it was the hotel's fault, my wife told me to stop yelling because people were knocking at our door and on our wall, and amidst the chaos, my son pokes his head out of his pack-n-play like a little gopher and pipes up "I think we should go home right now!"  Ah, the tranquility of night time.

While I didn't find the time during the trip to really research fantasy football, I did find myself comparing many aspects of the road trip and the rides at Disney World to that of a fantasy draft and various players (why does my mind do this?)  So if you're a fan of extended metaphors, you're in luck, because I will now unleash upon you the similarities of a fantasy draft to a road trip (does that make this a simile instead?)

The opening rounds of a fantasy draft, much like the first two hours of a road trip, are full of excitement.  'Wow, this draft is going great, I already have two great players I wanted,' says every person ever.  With driving, same thing: 'Wow, we're making great time, this is going to be so much fun!'  Then, the doldrums of Round/Hour 3-5 kick-in.  You begin to realize that there really aren't that many great running backs left, or you have to figure out which average NFL teams' WR2 are better than others.  Similarly, you begin to realize that states like Indiana are deceivingly larger than anticipated.  It's also around this time that you may fall victim to poor decision making.  For instance, the clock is ticking on your selection time, you are debating several mid-tier players all from the same position, you are trying to outwit the people picking directly after you, your mind starts to race and out of your mouth you blurt something foolish like "I'll take Greg Jennings."  Or, while driving, you may feel the urge to eat at the first place that appears to have food, like the Mexican restaurant attached to the parking lot of the Econolodge, in which the person working the front desk of the Econolodge mentions that the restaurant offers a 10% discount for people who stay at the Econolodge, only to find out that upon entering said Mexican restaurant, the restaurant is not that great, and has in fact only been open (as in grand opened) for 4 hours, and I think they actually used cocktail sauce for their salsa.  We should have just paid to share some of the hot dogs that a man was grilling out of the back of his pickup truck in the parking lot of the Econolodge (yes, this was a surprisingly active parking lot).

Rounds/hours 6-8 are when talks of a major break for food/rest are discussed.  With all of the mini stops along the way for bathroom breaks or driver switches, in addition to 8-hours of actual in the car driving time, was my family's threshold for traveling in one day.  Similarly, with a draft, rounds 6-8 are usually when participants take the obligatory trip to the buffet line of chips and chip-based products, and refuel for the next half of the draft.

And this is where the meta-simile ends (that was an anti-climactic conclusion, sorry to disappoint).  The exact same hourly feelings show up again the next day while driving, but in the case of a draft, that is not the case.  This is my favorite part of the draft - when participants start to get bored and/or feel the effects of their beverages and start making terrible picks.  However, that makes me sound like a jerk, so to clarify, the real reason I like this part of the draft is because it makes me feel like Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Wolf of Wall Street' when he first starts selling penny stocks -  I literally enjoy finding hidden value with mid-tier players and seeing their value rise with time.  I feel that the players I draft in these later rounds always end up being valuable commodities that may not pay off dividends immediately, but will do so later in the season (just ask the people in my league who benefitted from my dropping Percy Harvin and Cordarelle Patterson, two players I drafted in the double-digit rounds last year, or Darren Sproles, who I drafted in the second to last round two years ago).

Lucky for you, even though the road trip has come to an end, if you tune in next time, I will share more insight into which mid-tier players I plan on considering or avoiding, as well as which big-time players I am down on this season (because let's face it, what would be the point of me telling you about big-name players I would draft, that seems pretty obvious), and even some players I expect to have bounce-back seasons due to changes in scenery, new coordinators, or recovery from injuries.  And, since this was a Disney World road trip, I'll make sure to make cute analogies to rides and players, like my Tower of Terror picks (players for whom I expect the floor to drop out...sorry, had to go there), or my Haunted Mansions (oldies but goodies, players who seem to defy age and can still produce) or even my Seven Dwarfs Mine Trains (players who are young, fast, explosive and dynamic, just like this awesome ride).

Until next time,

Davey Dave