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 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 263: Full Day of Football

Amari Cooper's first NFL TD.

Amari Cooper’s first NFL TD.

It’s a good day when three of my favorite football teams play on the same day and all win. Actually, two play football (soccer) and the third plays American football. And there’s a fourth that’s my favorite soccer team (the LA Galaxy), but they weren’t in action today. Clear as mud? Good.

A quick recap:

1. Manchester United. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wake up at 4:45am on a Saturday to catch the Red Devils. Their 8am game fit perfectly into my Sunday sports-viewing schedule, since it would be over just before the NFL games. Just like last week, the story of the match was Man U’s 19-year-old phenom Anthony Martial, who scored two goals in the 3-2 win.

2. FC Barcelona. They started off slowly, but Barca quickly turned their match against Ligante into a rout, 4-1. Messi missed a penalty kick! Of course, he also scored a brace, and Neymar also scored, so it was business as usual for the best team in the world.

3. Oakland Raiders. Their defense is a still a sieve, but credit Coach Jack Del Rio for having his team ready to play today. Last week was utterly dismal: a no-show for the new coach in front of the home fans. So today’s game was a pleasant surprise as the Raiders show heart and played good enough to beat the favored Ravens. I was hyped about Carr, Cooper, and Murray on offense before the season began. After week one, I was ready for another 3-13 year, but hopefully today’s game is a sign of better things to come. I still have my fingers crossed for 8-8, but the defense needs some help.

Day 256: Raiders vs Bangles

The Bangles, not the Bengals.

The Bangles, not the Bengals.

I settled in for the first Sunday of the NFL/fantasy football season today with the TV on, laptop in hand, and pizza on the way. My wife’s a good sport about being a football widow, but I find myself less fascinated by the games these days anyways, so I’m sure I won’t be doing the morning-till-night NFL shift too often this year.

As much as I enjoy fantasy football, it’s the Oakland Raiders’ continued ineptitude that helps kill my love for the game every week. I actually felt good about this season: youngsters David Carr and Khalil Mack would be joined by Amari Cooper and the Raiders’ climb back to respectability would begin. I wasn’t delusional and thinking a Super Bowl run, of course, but an 8-8 season would be a nice turnaround.

Unfortunately, it was business as usual for the Silver and Black.

The offense was stale, the defense was a sieve, and the cherry on top of the sundae was Carr leaving the game with an injured hand. To play that bad under a new head coach in his debut at home? It proves that the Raiders have a much longer road ahead of them than any of us thought.

I took to Twitter to vent my frustration. The team was playing bad, but color commentator Chris Simms on CBS was annoying me and a lot of other fans with his mispronunciation of Cincinnati’s team name. He said “Bangles” instead of “Bengals” throughout the game.

Maybe it’s just the way he says it, but the already testy Raider fanbase wasn’t going to sit back and let Simms continue with his comments about the “Bangles beating the Raiders.” The snark on the Internet was on full blast, but apparently nobody at CBS checks social media since Simms never corrected himself (which was hilarious because he stopped to note how he was correctly pronouncing Khalil Mack’s first name).

The Raider Nation in cyberspace filled Twitter with jokes about the Bangles, Manic Mondays, and Walking Like An Egyptian. And Simms kept saying it, just adding to the unintentional comedy.

It was the only thing we Raider fans had going for us today. Better to laugh about something than cry about another losing season.

Day 253: New Year, New Teams

Kashyyyk Wookies

Kashyyyk Wookies

For the first time in years, I have more than one fantasy football team. That’s twice the amount of players to follow and stress over. Twice the heartache during the season. Twice the payouts at the end of the year (hopefully).

In honor of Episode VII opening in December, I named my teams the Kashyyyk Wookies and the Tusken Raiders, respectively. I hope the Force is strong in all of my players’ knees and they bring me another championship trophy or two.

Both of my leagues were auction drafts, with slight differences in scoring, waiver wire pickups, etc. The Wookies are in a redraft league and the Raiders are part of a keeper league.

Here are the players I’ll be rooting for and/or cursing this year:

Kashyyyk Wookies:

QB Andrew Luck

RB Adrian Peterson

RB Duke Johnson

WR DeSean Jackson

WR Julian Edelman

TE Dwayne Allen

WR/RB/TE Keenan Allen

Bench: Sammy Watkins, Todd Gurley, Carson Palmer, Charles Sims, Ty Montgomery

Note: I haven’t paid over $1 for a K or DEF in years and have been streaming both positions before it was called streaming. Thus, I’ve left them off my list. 

Tusken Raiders:

QB Drew Brees

RB Mark Ingram

RB Matt Forte

WR Jeremy Maclin

WR Vincent Jackson

TE Rob Gronkowski

WR/TE Keenan Allen

WR/RB John Brown

Bench: LeGarrette Blount, Ryan Mathews, Jordan Cameron, Brian Quick, Pierre Garcon, Carson Palmer, Marvin Jones, Ka’Deem Carey, and Knile Davis.

Day 239: Fantasy Football Draft Day

Fantasy Football.

Fantasy Football.

My favorite holiday of the year (my fantasy football league’s annual draft) is this weekend. Like the other owners in the league, I’m excited and definitely not studying as much as I should. I know Jordy Nelson’s done for the year and Aaron Hernandez is still locked up, but beyond that, I couldn’t tell you what players I’ll be targeting for my team.

I’ll print out a cheat sheet tomorrow and check the NFL’s injury list before our draft begins. It’s what I’ve done for years now and I’ve had some success; last year I dominated the league before falling in the championship game.

Of course, fantasy football stories are about as exciting as bad-beat poker stories or the one-that-got-away fishing tales, so I’ll spare the details of my almost-championship.

The one thing I think about every year is how the league has evolved. Actually, the players more so than the league. We’ve pretty much kept the same scoring system, roster positions, and rules the entire time. There’s a core group of us that includes my brothers and close friends who have been doing this for 16 years.

It’s cool to see how each guy has changed over time. There have been weddings, divorces, babies, and other real-life happenings and it’s nice to know we can always meet up once a year to talk trash about each other’s teams. We’re all basically the same guys we were back in 1999, but I’d like to think we’re all older and wiser.

Well, older, anyways.


Day 190: The Snake

Ken Stabler, Oakland Raiders.

Ken Stabler, Oakland Raiders.

My love of the Oakland Raiders goes back to the 70s, when I would watch the team with my dad. If the Raiders were down at halftime, my dad would tell me not to worry since they were a second-half team. More often than not, the Raiders would come back and win the game, just like my dad predicted.

I was in elementary school when Ken “The Snake” Stabler led the Raiders to all of those comebacks. One of my first memories of football on television was when the Raiders beat the Chargers on the Holy Roller. At that age I had no idea what had just happened, but it was ruled a touchdown and I was excited that the Raiders had won again (the play resulted in the NFL changing its rules the following season).

It’s a shame that Stabler isn’t in the Hall of Fame. He was one of the best quarterbacks of that era and if I was on the NFL committee, I’d propose a new rule: anybody involved in more than one game with a nickname is a Hall of Famer. Stabler was on the winning team in The Holy Roller, the Ghost to the Post, and the Sea of Hands.

Rest in peace, Snake.

Day 180: No Offseason

Fantasy Football Is Almost Here

Fantasy Football Is Almost Here

Even with futbol slowly overtaking my love of football, there is still no sport better suited for the fantasy game than the good ol’ NFL (sorry, old-time baseball rotisserie geeks; weekly matchups are 100 times better than accumulating stats over a season). Just as the sports media like to say that there is no offseason in the NFL anymore, the same applies to fantasy football. Player news, injury updates, team breakdowns, and every bit of football minutia is now available via the Internet 24/7/365.

Matthew Berry is a legend in the fantasy football community. He’s known for his ESPN column and he appears on various fantasy football shows and podcasts. He’s also the author of my favorite book on the game, Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who’s Lived It (my review here).

So, here we are, still in June, and Berry published his first fantasy football column of the year (the first NFL game is September 10th). He’s done this every year for the past decade and it’s a great way for us fantasy geeks to officially begin our offseason planning. It’s a compilation of stats from the previous season, done in a way that will have any fantasy football owner second-guessing themselves on any player or team. Once the NFL news cycle heats up with the first preseason games, we’ll be able to throw away all of the previews, stats, and Berry’s column, in favor of updated previews, stats, and columns.

Once the season is over, though, we’ll all go through the old news and reports we’ve read, trying to find that one tidbit that, depending on our success or failure, confirms that “I knew I should’ve listened to Berry!” or “I can’t believe I listened to Berry!” And before you know it, it’ll be next June and we’ll realize there’s no fantasy football offseason anymore.

Day 32: Super Bowl Sunday

Sasquatch Double IPA

Sasquatch Double IPA

The Super Bowl is my favorite unofficial American holiday, right up there with opening weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament, and my fantasy football league’s annual draft. The excess, the pageantry, the commercials: I enjoy all things Super Bowl. Yes, its silly, unnecessary, and over-the-top, but it’s fun. As a card-carrying member of the Raider Nation, I haven’t had much to cheer about in over a decade, but no matter who plays in the season’s final game, I know that the entire spectacle will be entertaining. From crazy proposition bets like “Will the national anthem go longer than two minutes and one second?” to the praising/panning of the halftime act, the Super Bowl has a little something for everyone, even the most casual fan.

While I love Super Bowl parties, the last few years I find myself enjoying the big game with an increasingly smaller crowd. It’s nice not having to worry about driving after a few beers, the bathroom being occupied, or if there’s enough food to go around. Tonight, my wife and I watched one of the better Super Bowls, as I scarfed down carne asada fries and a Sasquatch Double IPA from Six Rivers Brewery. We loved the Walter White commercial and I gave myself a geeky high five for having the appropriate glassware for the occasion (picture above, my fellow Breaking Bad fans).

Carne asada fries.

Carne asada fries.

Day 4: Suffering


As the NFL playoffs get underway, it means only one thing to me: another season of suffering is over for Raiders fans. It’s been miserable watching my favorite football team go from a Super Bowl appearance to the laughingstock of the NFL. It’s been over 10 years since the Raiders have been relevant, but it seems a lot longer.

Growing up in the Los Angeles area during the ’70s, we had the Rams. I sported a Rams jacket as a child, but my dad always rooted for the Raiders. On game days, I’d fetch him a beer from the fridge (sometimes Coors, usually Michelob) and we’d watch Ken Stabler lead the Raiders to victory, something they did a lot more back then. If the Raiders were losing early in the game, Pop would tell me not to worry because the Raiders were a second-half team. More often than not, he was right.

I like to think that he was drawn to the Raiders’ image as the outlaws of the NFL, led by their maverick owner Al Davis. I don’t view my dad as an outlaw, but as a Filipino immigrant to the U.S. in the late ’60s, he certainly had that maverick spirit to leave his home country to start a new life.

One day in the late ’70s, my dad took me to my first NFL game. It was a preseason matchup between the Rams and the Raiders at the Coliseum (a few years later, the Rams would move to Anaheim before finally leaving for St. Louis). I don’t remember much about the game, but one thing I’ll never forget is watching the Raiders play in real life. The game seemed much faster than on TV. There was something about seeing the Silver and Black in person, though. Call it an epiphany or a calling, but after that game, I had suddenly outgrown my Rams jacket. I was now a member of the Raider Nation.

The Raiders would eventually move to Los Angeles and win their third Super Bowl in 1983. They continued to be successful for years, before moving back to Oakland and making their last Super Bowl appearance in 2003. Since then, it’s been nothing but embarrassing losses, wasted draft picks, and questionable management.

I still believe that things will turn around, especially with the Raiders’ salary cap issues being cleared up and young talents Derek Carr and Khalil Mack leading the team. The Raiders might not be the outlaws and mavericks they once were, but I’ll settle for a team I can be proud of: a team that I enjoy watching with my dad over a few cold beers.