Of rankings, predictions and gut feelings

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First Posted: 8/25/2014

This week neighborhood garages, backyard decks, sports bars and countless other venues will become sites of that annual tradition known as Fantasy Football Draft Central.

Fantasy Football leagues from all over will hold their draft days as franchise-holders will use their incredible knowledge of professional football — the degree of such knowledge varies greatly from franchise to franchise and league to league — to choose their fantasy teams.

Each franchise holder will battle their loyalties to their favorite NFL teams to choose “the best player” available, or just fill their roster with the guys they like based on nothing more than that simple assessment.

Scoring systems will vary league to league: yardage, scoring, points per reception. And it is critical to select your roster based on your league’s scoring system.

Or not.

What each draft session — sometimes spelled “draught” in honor of the day’s favorite beverage — consists of is a day/night of fun. From personal insults thrown out after an unusually dumb selection — “With the 33rd pick in the 2014 Lathrop Street Fantasy Football League draft, I select running back Michael Turner” — and a chorus of “He’s retired” followed by long, sustained laughter and a reminder that a name said, is a name chosen.

“I’ll have another beer, please. When will the food be here?”

Should of done your homework, they say. Well, at least a little. But selecting retired players or injured players out for extended games (sometimes the entire season) is a frequent Draft Day occurrence. Many franchise holders are in it for the fun. They are not scholars of Fantasy Football. But there are scholars out there.

“The Prophet” is one of those. This fellow is the guy in every league that has his XM Radio tuned to the Fantasy Football channel, knows every website for fantasy insider information, buys every magazine at the newsstand and compiles his own, exclusive, never-fail fantasy player rankings.

This guy knows it all. He will tell you. And from now until the end of the fantasy season, it’s the only thing he will talk about.

“Hey Buddy, you wanna go for wings Wednesday night?” To which he replies,” I can’t. I have to listen to ‘Final Fantasy Preparations’ on XM. It’s a 12-hour show.”

He doesn’t know it, but the show is hosted by three millennials who wouldn’t know Jim Brown from Fran Tarkenton, but they can tell you how many yards Trent Richardson will have by the middle of the second quarter against the Steelers because the Colts’ offensive line can’t handle the flex defense designed by the defensive coordinator who used to coach the high school team that defeated Richardson’s team.

This is the sort of drivel these fantasy gurus dish out and is absorbed by the fantasy sponges who know everything and then finish 2-14.

That’s why Fantasy Football is so much fun. The playing field is not even, not by a long shot, but when the dust settles in every league, the winner is usually the guy whose team was injury-free and he/she had Peyton Manning at quarterback.

It doesn’t take a genius to select a team based on the rankings offered by some magazine or website. Show me the franchise holder who goes off the board and finds those sleeper picks who actually score points. They are few and far between.

So, as you go about picking your team or teams, use whatever method that makes you comfortable. Pick players who you like, stay away from those you or your dog do not like (Michael Vick reference) and be happy with your team.

Then sit back and enjoy. Root for your home team and wait until Tuesday to see how your fantasy team made out.

And watch out for those Michael Turners.