Death, Taxes, and Fantasy Football. Actually, for the last 5 months the only real constant in my life has been Fantasy Football. I, and I assume 47 million other people, have done nothing but eat sleep and breathe Fantasy Football. Scouring waiver wires and trying to convince someone that “it’s a fair trade, you’re thinking of the other Steve Smith”. But now, months of hard work and meticulous strategizing has come to an end. To paraphrase Woody Allen: There’s an old joke. Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of them says, ‘Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.’ The other one says, ‘Yeah, I know; and such small portions.’ Well, that’s essentially how I feel about fantasy football: it’s full of misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly. But what do we do with ourselves now that it’s over?
Much like Olympic athletes suffering from post-competition depression, you will now look for the next possible game to fill your free time. Next week begins the NFL Playoffs, and with them, the NFL.com Playoff Challenge. But that doesn’t help this weekend. So if you are like me, you will be looking for a stop gap for this week’s games. This is why I have created a new kind of Fantasy Football game to fill the 13 day void in your life between week 16 and the first week of the Playoffs.
Before I explain, let me state my credentials for creating a new game: one of my professors in college worked at La Rotisserie Française when they invented Fantasy baseball, which means I come from that original coaching tree and we all know how important coaching trees are. Even the tiniest Belichick branches end up as head coaches of the Browns. So by that reasoning, I’m pretty much an expert.
Regular readers know that the reason there is no Fantasy Football in week 17 is to avoid teams succumbing to the Manning Rule (when good teams rest their best players for the playoffs). For NFL teams not vying for a playoff spot, the last week of the regular season usually consist of backups and bench warmers playing for a roster spot in next year’s training camp. You can’t hold your league finals, because your fantasy team roster would be nothing but guys best described as “he used to be really good in college” or “wasn’t he part of the Hillis trade?” This is where our new league comes in. When life gives you Cleo Lemons, you make fantasy football Lemonade.
The idea behind the league is simple: you try to compile a team of starters that are going to put up the least amount of fantasy points. Yes, you read correctly, lowest score wins. It’s the League of Un-Extraordinary Gentlemen (for character saving issues, we shall refer to it by its shorthand name The Lutz League). The rules are easy:
1.) Everyone has the same pool of players, and from that pool you have to assemble a team of (1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF). Because of limited choices, a player may show up on multiple teams.
2.) Each player is appointed a point value based off of a predetermined system like this one: http://www.fftoolbox.com/football/2011/auction-values.cfm?pos=RB and you must spend at least 120 points on your team.
3.) Every position on your team must be filled by a starter. If there is a last minute scratch and you did not replace him; that is a 15 point penalty.
4.) Standard fantasy scoring is used and the lowest team score wins.
The beauty of this game is it is very “risk reward.” Consider two of the strategies of play: A) You pick a team of all backups playing behind a suspect line in a game that will predictably end 6-3. B) You pick a team of players that will start, but probably be benched by the second series (they’re only in the game to not get rusty before their first round bye). But on any given Sunday, anything can happen. Nobody expected Jerome Harrison to rush for 286 in 2009, and Aaron Rodgers can do more in a quarter than most quarterbacks can do in a game. The trick is to balance your team with both kinds of players. But that’s all of my strategy I am going to release. I am playing to win the game just like any of you. So good luck in the inaugural playing of your Lutz League, and if it turns out you don’t win at losing, at least the Playoffs are just over the horizon.