Fantasy Football

No Limit Texas Hold Em

No Limit Texas Hold Em

My annual fantasy football draft was today, so there is no board gaming to talk about. Actually, I did score used copies of Takenoko and Imperial Settlers for over half off MSRP, thanks to a auction. I picked up the games on the way to the draft, so that was nice.

It was all about football today, though. My league held its 17th annual draft and there were plenty of jokes about old age. Every year we tell the same types of jokes about players and we still laugh every time. We also joke about each others’ teams and how bad they are, or we praise others’ teams before trashing it. And every year there are more and more jokes about old age.

We don’t do board games, but we do poker. It’s not as much as our younger years (before everybody started getting married and having children), but when we do it’s like the fantasy football draft itself: we laugh at the same jokes and enjoy each others’ company.

While the poker sessions no longer rage all night and into the morning, it’s still the best time with this group of guys. I can’t wait to do the same thing next year.

Day 362: 85 Degrees

85 Degrees Bakery Cafe

Sad that fantasy football is over? Go eat at 85 Degrees Bakery Cafe.

My fantasy football season ended tonight.

I was on a nine-game winning streak that led me to win my division and lock up the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. I squeaked by my first-round opponent with a 5-point win, then faced the guy who has become my nemesis.

Mike and I met in last year’s championship game, where he beat me. This year, as Yogi Berra would’ve said, was deja vu all over again, as I lost by 12 points to Mike’s team.

In the Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda department, I sat Todd Gurley and his 15 points for Ted Ginn Jr.’s less than 1 point. I didn’t think Gurley would do much against the Seahawks’ defense (the same defense that locked down my other RB Adrian Peterson a few weeks ago), so I went with the hot hand in Cam Newton and his favorite target over the last three weeks.

Of course, Ginn came crashing back down to earth, thus giving me no chance to win my third championship.

I’d be more upset, but I wouldn’t have been in the game anyway if my kicker Blair Walsh hadn’t exploded for 21 points. Plus, having two titles under my belt some of the sting away from the loss. Just a little.

I drowned my sorrows away with some treats from the phenomenal 85 Degrees Bakery Cafe. Pictured above: walnut multigrain bread, cinnamon twist, green onion bread, boroh danish, and calamari sticks. Not pictured: their extraordinary iced sea salt coffee. It’s all sinfully delicious and my hands-on research has proven that it does wonders for one’s mood when the fantasy football season ends.

Day 348: Playoffs

Fantasy Football Playoffs.

Fantasy Football Playoffs.

At the start of this fantasy football season if you would’ve asked me about my teams playing in the postseason, I would’ve gone full Jim Mora on you, as shown above.

One of my teams suffered from Andrew Luck having the worst season of his career. My other team kept running into teams scoring their highest scores of the season. Bids on emerging studs like Matt Jones turned out to be for naught.

I kept my cool, though. No panic trades or knee-jerk add/drops. I’ve been playing long enough to know that the fantasy season is a marathon, not a sprint.

It didn’t hurt to catch a few breaks, either, from Carson Palmer being rejuvenated to Rob Gronkowski not suffering a season-ending injury.

I’ll need two more weeks of good luck to capture the championship, though. But at least I’ve got a shot, which is more than I thought I would have a few months ago.

Day 340: Sweating

Kashyyyk Wookies

Kashyyyk Wookies

Both of my fantasy football teams are in contention for the playoffs in two weeks, so I spent today sweating out the action. I normally don’t do this on Sundays; I usually watch the Raiders game and occasionally check my fantasy stats along the way.

Today was different, though.

In my main league my Kashyyyk Wookies came back from the cellar to lead my division, but there’s been a lot of luck involved. I’ve played some low-scoring teams and my main guys never seem to be on the same page. I’ve had to deal with the Andrew Luck situation and now my brilliant drafting of Todd Gurley looks to be for naught as defenses stack the box to slow him down.

In my secondary league my Tusken Raiders have managed to crawl back into the playoff hunt after suffering a few early season bad beats. Of course, once I started rolling, Gronk went down. Luckily, I was able to snag Chandler off the waiver wire (another reason why I HATE non-auction leagues now; free agent pickups shouldn’t be such a luck fest).

I wrapped up my secondary league game as Mark Ingram scored for the Saints, but that meant my main team was facing an even bigger deficit. Oh, the joys of rooting for/against the same player.

So it looks like I’m in good shape entering next week’s final regular-season game, but you never know. I haven’t tried to figure out all of the tiebreaker situations yet and I don’t plan on doing so. I’m treating next week just like this week: it’s a must win game for my imaginary team of players.

And on the basketball side of things, my Warriors-esque type start (five straight wins to open the season) looks to be finished tonight. It was bound to happen, but it sure didn’t help having Okafor suspended for two games due to his off-court behavior.

Day 323: Kaosball

Kaosball. My team lost.

Kaosball. My team lost.

While Kaosball won’t replace my love of fantasy football, it was a fun sports-themed board game that I’d like to see on the tabletop again.

Mainly because I scored exactly zero points.

I was left in the dust by my opponents last night, but I started to “get” it as the game progressed. There was almost no point to getting the ball. It was all about fighting your opponents trying to end up in one of the scoring spaces.

I kept forgetting to use my team’s special ability (the Ogre “Stomp”) and I made the mistake of trying to play like a real game of football. Getting the ball to the “end zone” was next to impossible. We were playing a free-for-all, so instead of two-on-two, it was every player for themselves.

Excellent theme and top-notch components mean I’m ready to play again. I need to redeem myself after posting a first-match goose egg.

Day 321: Somehow

Matt LeBlanc has barely been outscored by Matt Jones.

Matt LeBlanc has barely been outscored by Matt Jones.

Somehow my fantasy football team in my “A” league is in the playoff hunt. I started 0-3 while the division leader opened the season 6-0. I spent most of my auction money on Andrew “2015 Rick Mirer” Luck. I patted myself on the back nearly using all of my free agent money in a perfect auction bid ($2 more than the next guy) on Matt Jones, only to find out that I could’ve gotten similar fantasy production from Matt LeBlanc.

Well, things have gone my way lately.

I somehow survived Andy Dalton against Houston last night, when I was already putting an L next to my team. Had I finally turned the corner on this season? Were the Fantasy Football Gods repaying me for the suffering I’ve had to endure this year?

As soon as I learned that Julian Edelman was injured, I knew they weren’t done with me. But I’ll enjoy this while it lasts.

Day 298: Weekend Wrap-Up

Lakers' Julius Randle

Lakers’ Julius Randle

Random thoughts on a fun weekend:

  1. Drafted my fantasy basketball team last night. The league I’m in started back in 2000, but we stopped for a few years. Like fantasy baseball, the hoops game doesn’t lend itself well to the weekly fantasy format. Football will always be king when it comes to make-believe teams.
  2. The fantasy basketball draft itself was a lot of fun, as always. The core group of the league has been together for years, so it’s basically an annual family reunion: we eat, eat, and eat again while drafting our teams.
  3. I didn’t draft a Laker, but I’m already considering working a trade for Julius Randle. Funny that I ended up with Draymond Green, the guy Randle claimed, “can’t guard me.”
  4. After the draft we played poker, which is something I haven’t done in a while. I miss it, but the games are tougher to put together nowadays. My buddy and I got involved in the first big hand of the night and our analysis of how we played it became the running joke of the night.
  5. On the TV while we were playing poker was the replay of Gennady Golovkin’s last win. Poker and prizefighting: the perfect guys’ night out while staying in.
  6. I need Carson Palmer to play well for both of my fantasy football teams to win. This is the kind of season I’ve had: I chose Palmer over Andrew Luck and Drew Brees in both of my leagues.
  7. The Raiders went on the road and beat the Chargers! It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to say this. With three victories, my favorite NFL team has already equaled its win total from last season. Wow.
  8. Manny Pacquiao announced that his next fight would be his last. No matter who he fights, I think it’s safe to say that he’ll do better pay-per-view business than the Mayweather-Berto dud.

Day 281: Oktoberfest

Octoberfest has begun.

Octoberfest has begun.

I met a buddy of mine to watch football, discuss our fantasy football teams, and have a beer tonight. A local brewery brewed its annual Oktoberfest beer last weekend so we celebrated with our mugs filled up with the tasty concoctions. For $9 we each received a beer in a souvenir mug and refills were $4.

We talked about Octoberfests past and laughed at the memories, which were basically the same: learn a few German words while drinking beers with friends and family. For years, I saved my souvenir stein from the Alpine Village Oktoberfest in Torrance. I never drank anything out of it or displayed it or even remembered I had it until I was packing up my stuff during my last move. When I found the stein it brought back some good memories.

It went straight into the trash. There’s nothing that I drink that requires a 64-ounce tankard.

My new Oktoberfest mug is a more reasonable 16 ounces. It may not have as many memories yet, but it will certainly be used more often.

Day 278: First Win

Fantasy Football ... not really.

Fantasy Football … not really.

I can’t believe it’s October and I’m only now gloating posting about my first fantasy football win. Technically, I did win during Week 1 of the season, but that was in my second league. My main league — the one I’ve been in for 16 years — will always be my “A” league and it’s the toughest one I’m in. I’m a two-time champion and narrowly missed my third championship last year.

Last week’s Monday night one-point loss put me at 0-3. Not only has Andrew Luck transformed into Rick Mirer, but three of my players were either Out or Doubtful. Ugh.

Somehow, I managed to win my matchup this week. I’m still in the cellar of my division, but hopefully Luck will find his magic touch again and my roster will get healthy. My patience with Todd Gurley appears to have paid off … although I’m feeling a little silly for paying $34 of my $100 free agent dollars on Matt Jones, even though it was a great bid at the time.

I’d like to think this is the turning point of my season, but we’ll see. I’ve seen too many weird things happen over the years and one of them happened in August: one of our owners had $50 left over after our auction draft and we all gave him grief, joking about how that money wasn’t going to be carried over to next season. Afterwards, he conceded having a bad draft. It was understandable since he’d come straight from work that night to draft his team.

Of course, since he’s the only undefeated team in the league, I’ll be adopting his save-money approach next year.

Day 267: One-Day Genius

fantasy football

I was patting myself on the back yesterday after nabbing free agent running back Matt Jones from my league’s waiver wire. We’re an auction league, so all free agents are up for bid on Tuesday and the results are announced Wednesday.

It’s a much better system than the standard waiver wire priority that most leagues run. Several years ago, my league switched to the auction format for our draft and our free agent acquisitions. I couldn’t be happier since it eliminates a lot of the luck during these two parts of the game.

Standard snake drafts have you at the mercy of a random draw for draft position and the first two rounds are usually predictable. So if you were stuck at the bottom of your draft order year after year, you weren’t going to get an elite running back unless one of your late-round sleepers panned out.

Good luck with that.

Auction drafts give every owner a chance at their favorite players. There are no excuses for not getting a top player. If you want him, pay the highest amount. Simple and effective.

Likewise, the old waiver wire priority system never worked out well. You were at the mercy of the running list of teams; either you were next up to sign a free agent or you weren’t.

Acquiring free agents via auction, though, requires more skill. Again, it’s better than the old priority system because every owner has a shot at signing a player. You either pay enough or you don’t.

The trick with the free agent auction, though, is that it’s a silent bid auction. It can be brutal trying to figure out how much the other owners will pay for a player. Sometimes you’re outbid, other times you overpay.

Matt Jones was the hot prospect after last weekend’s games and in my league, there is no such thing as a player slipping through the cracks. Everybody’s too smart and too informed to let any decent player go unsigned. So it all comes down to who can make that perfect bid.

It looked like I did when I landed Jones for $34, outbidding several owners (the next closest was $30). I talked some trash (an unwritten fantasy football rule) and got ready to see my new player turn around the fortunes of my 0-2 team.

Not only did Jones fumble away a touchdown tonight, he also didn’t even score two points for my team.

That’s fantasy football in a nutshell: one day you’re a genius, the next you’re clueless.