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The Mental Defective’s Guide to Fantasy Football

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A lot of people just don’t understand the “appeal” of fantasy football …just like I don’t understand the “appeal” of watching Grey‘s Anatomy, attending the symphony, or going to a wine bar – and (to quote Stuart Smalley) that’s …okay.

In most cases, with some rare exceptions like the lovely and talented Jennifer Garner, the land of fantasy football is mostly “a man’s world.”  But a lot of ladies seem to be jumping on the bandwagon, as of late …and that's okay, too.

Whatever the misguided case, millions of fantasy football fans return to their beloved sports bars, backyard brick patios and dank, dark, basements at the end of every summer (like the swallows of Capistrano) to draft their favorite NFL players.

We watch all the television shows on fantasy football (well, except the local ones hosted by the “Ted Baxter‘s“ of the world).  We, as fans, read all the glossy magazines on fantasy football with their flashy photos, mesmerizing mock drafts and dizzying depth charts – we crave it like crack babies!  We scour the Internet looking for any "salacious tidbits" about recent NFL rookies (Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson) and returning superstars (Vince Young, Larry Johnson) – like lonely housewives search for sobering secrets about Lindsay Lohan, Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton.

And sometimes, in a moment of quiet desperation, we even consult that colorful comic book masquerading as a national newspaper: USA Today.

Sweet Mother, we might even give “career coach” Joe Theismann a call for some advice (if he actually had a phone in the ESPN dumpster he is probably living out of, right about now) – and, more importantly, could help us win our fantasy football league instead of worrying about Brady Quinn combing his Fighting Irish hair.

Regardless, those of us “in the know” are well aware that:

a.) Michael Vick is “Purina Puppy Chow” – so don’t draft him!

b.) The Houston Texans (along with George Costanza) are probably not “Penske material” and

c.) It’s time to draft a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a defensive/special teams unit (or some such combination along those lines) as your starting team – and, hey, order that pizza, you pinheads!

LaDainian Tomlinson or Larry Johnson? Steven Jackson or Shaun Alexander? Like sands through the hourglass, these are the wasted days of our lives. No doubt, unless you draft with an entourage of friends who make worse decisions than Charlie Frye, LaDainian Tomlinson will be THE number one overall draft pick in each and every league (even though it will be tough to top last year‘s performance by everyone‘s favorite lightning bolt in a powder blue jersey – what else are you going to do, Einstein?).

Not to go all "Sex and the City" on you:  But can you possibly win your fantasy football draft without LaDainian Tomlinson (or the other three top running backs) in this day and age …? Well, anything’s “possible” – but if I told you “no” you might go shove your head in the proverbial oven, so let’s give you some faint glimmer of hope, shall we?

If you get a late first round (and early second round) draft pick, there is still plenty of potential out there in “fantasy land.” And (with the exception of Peyton Manning) in the last few years, 9 times out of 10, it’s the running backs that win most fantasy football leagues, Pappy.

Joseph Addai (the Colts) or Lawrence Maroney (the Patriots)? Maurice Jones-Drew (the Jaguars) or Willis McGahee (the Ravens)?  Throw in a little “Cajun spice” with Reggie Bush and you can stir up a cauldron of possibilities among these up-and-coming top-tier running backs.

But talk is cheap (and, apparently, so are the Oakland Raiders) so here are some “fun facts” to chew on before your fateful fantasy football draft–

Most likely to screw up Larry Johnson: Herman Edwards “plays to win the game” …but seldom does. Here’s hoping that the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs (and Brodie Croyle) doesn’t mess up the chemistry of one of the best running backs in fantasy football. Regardless, I’d still be drafting Larry Johnson with the second overall pick in the draft …then say your prayers.

Best second-year running back whose name is not Reggie Bush: I’ve got to admit, I’m a Maurice Jones-Drew kind of guy. Like Steve Martin’s “Ruprecht” from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Jones-Drew “loves to run, and run, AND RUN!” But you can’t help but salivate like Homer Simpson over Lawrence Maroney all alone in the backfield of the New England Patriots, either. So, unless Bill Belichick (the hobo in the Hefty bag), goes with another goal-line back to steal Maroney’s touchdowns, this pick is as good as “Ari Gold.”

Running back I’d like to draft if the Indianapolis Colts didn’t have so many great offensive weapons (but I probably will anyway): Joseph Addai.

The person most likely “holding the clipboard” halfway through the season if you draft Brady Quinn as your fantasy football quarterback: You.

The quarterback I’m most intrigued with this year if it weren’t for that damn “Madden curse”:  Vince Young.

The quarterback I’m most intrigued with this year BECAUSE of that damn “Madden curse”:  Phillip Rivers (Jay Cutler and Matt Leinart, too!).

The rookie running back I’m most likely to select whose name is not Adrian (“Snap, Crackle, Pop”) Peterson: Marshawn Lynch.

The total amount of Oakland Raiders I’m most likely to select on draft day that will match the signing bonus of JaMarcus Russell: Zero.

The one (and only) Detroit Lion that I would always consider drafting that is not Calvin Johnson: Wide receiver, Roy Williams.

All the receivers I am infatuated with that are not named Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens: Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Marques Colston, Chris Chambers, Javon Walker and Lee Evans.

The name of the player who will most benefit from a change of scenery that is not named Randy Moss: Denver running back, Travis Henry.

The fantasy “surprise” team of the 2007 season that's really not much of a surprise: The San Francisco 49ers (and the ghost of Bill Walsh) starring Alex Smith, Frank Gore and Darrell Jackson.

The “surprise” stud of the 2007 season who will most likely benefit from a change of scenery with a sensational year (although I could never draft because of my stupid loyalty to the Cleveland Browns …unless I knew FOR SURE that I would win my league): Running back, Willis McGahee …of the (shudder) Baltimore Ravens.

The name of the “drunken, idiot kicker” I’d most like to have on my team that is not Adam Vinatieri: Shayne Graham (Cincinnati Bengals).

Well, now that I’ve shared all “the secrets of my success” for a happy and wealthy 2007 fantasy football season – here’s hoping that you do the exact opposite ("Tuna on toast") so you actually have a chance at winning.

Now, you're good enoughyou're smart enoughand gosh darn it, people like you (unless you actually win – then, not so much).  So get out there, good luck, and go get 'em, you bunch of dirty, rotten scoundrels!

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About Chris McVetta

Chris McVetta is a writer and comedian from Cleveland, Ohio. He is a graduate from Cleveland State University and an alumni of The Second City comedy writing program. His first job in journalism was as an Editorial Assistant working with Harvey Pekar ("American Splendor") at The Free Times. Most recently, his was invited to speak at the Ray Browne conference on Pop Culture at Bowling Green State University.
  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Kevin Jones scowls at your disapproval.

  • http://www.theidandi.blogspot.com Chris McVetta

    Kevin Jones?

    I was the first one to jump on THAT bandwagon his rookie season …until all four wheels fell off.

  • http://www.thego.com.au Ryan

    I think that you almost HAVE to include one of these Fantasy Football Running Backs in your team. All 5 of them are going to have a decent year. I actually reckon Brandon Jacobs could be the guy to surprise us all.

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