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Confessions of a Fantasy Tyro

Jun 12, 2012; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
Jun 12, 2012; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

This is not my first time in a fantasy league. But it is my first time in a fantasy league when I know a reasonable amount about the players, the teams, and so on. I'm beginning to think it was probably better when I just picked the remaining available Steelers and left it at that.

Unlike my first league, this year's league had a live draft. I therefore got to share the highs and lows. Unfortunately, most of the highs were for the team was helping out. (The team is our youth pastor and two of his boys.) Pastor Tim and said boys were unable to attend the draft, so they entrusted their season to me. I was able to get LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, and Pierre Thomas for their stable of RBs. They got the Green Bay defense (one of the boys is, misguidedly, a Packers fan), as well as Jermichael Finley, and they also got Victor Cruz and Justin Blackmon. Their QB is Tony Romo - sorry, guys - but RGIII is their bench guy, and if he's tearing it up they can ditch Romo. All in all a great draft. Unfortunately I was picking a good bit later in the round for myself, and while I got a few blue chip players (Megatron, Greg Jennings, etc.) overall I would say my roster doesn't match theirs.

The lows were, fortunately, amusing in their own right. The commissioner for our league has been playing fantasy football for 35 years. I didn't know it had existed for so long. Last year's winner in the league was his sister. This was a very bitter pill for Dan to swallow, as she picked players based upon such criteria as the color of their uniform, whether she liked the way their name sounded, and other such esoterica. She was back this season, and had obviously studied a bit more, which probably means she will completely tank.

One of the other members chose essentially every player on the Steelers offensive roster (plus their defense,) long before they "should" have been chosen. So I have not a single Steeler on my team. Of course, she's going to experience a bit of difficulty during the Steelers' bye week, but perhaps these difficulties will be outweighed by the immense numbers they put up for her the rest of the season. It didn't work out all that well for me a few years ago, though...

But to return to the original subject, I'm finding the process of owning a team when I actually know enough about things to have an informed opinion to be remarkably stressful. (And this is a non-betting league. I can't imagine how I would feel if I had any money resting on the outcome!) Here's a sample of what today (our full rosters have to be set for the week by kickoff tonight) has looked like thus far:

4:13 am EDT—Google Trent Richardson Injury. Is that knee going to be ready to go? Hmm - still no guarantees he will get more than a token number of touches on Sunday.

4:19 am EDT—Run comparison of Richardson and #2 back Peyton Hillis. 67% of FantasyPro's experts would start Richardson.

4:21 am EDT—But wait, did they take into consideration Richardson's knee? Or the strength of the run defenses the two players would be facing? Nobody answers the really important questions...

4:22 am EDT—Google "Atlanta Run Defense" and "Eagles Run Defense." Get a bunch of pages about last season, roster cuts, and stuff. Nobody tells you whether the Eagles are more likely to shut Trent Richardson down than the Falcons are to shut Peyton Hillis down.

4:31 am EDT—Cat jumps on desk, inadvertently typing "kj.kjlijl" as a query. I hoped it was a sign, but it turns out all you get is a YouTube video from Palestine Today which I didn't feel up to watching and an online forum about the conversion of KJ/mol to KJ/L, which apparently has something to do with ethanol. Todd Graham and his high-octane offense left Pitt for Arizona State, which is the same state as the Cardinals reside in, so if I had a running back from the Cardinals I would play him. But I don't. Back to Google.

4:35 am EDT—Compare Peyton Hillis to Rashad Jennings. 71% of the experts prefer Jennings.

4:39 am EDT—Compare Trent Richardson to Rashad Jennings. 61% would play Richardson. I guess nobody (except maybe Pat Shurmer) is worried about Trent Richardson's knee. Besides, Trent Richardson is far and away the best-looking of the lot. I guess I've got my RBs.

4:40 am EDT—Go into kitchen to make a cup of tea. Discover I can't face a cup of tea. Return to computer.

4:46 am EDT—Read game recap of Pirates/Astros Tuesday evening game. Finally, they won one...

4:52 am EDT—Face the WR question. Megatron, no doubt. Jennings, no doubt. But do I go with Torrey Smith or Dennis Pitta as my flex player? And how do I avoid feeling dirty for having two Ravens and a Brown on my team?

4:55 am EDT—After a heart-to-heart with myself, I determine I don't feel dirty, as long as they actually garner me some points. Which doesn't help with the flex player question. But the fact Pitta missed a lot of the preseason with a broken hand does. Smith it is.

4:59 am EDT—What about QBs? It seems like a no-brainer - Matt Schaub vs. Andrew Luck. But Luck looked very impressive in the preseason, and might go all Cam Newton on the league and come out blistering the opposing defenses. On the other hand, he's playing the Bears and Schaub is playing the Dolphins. Neither is anything to write home about in the looks department either. Schaub gets the nod.

5:03 am EDT—Kickers. This should be a no-brainer as well. Sebastian Janikowski vs. Matt Prater. Prater is playing at home—but he's playing the Steelers. Do we assume the Steelers will manage to hold the Broncos to field goals, in which case he could rack up a lot of points, or do we assume the Steelers will hold the Broncos to nothing at all, which would be pretty awesome but seems awfully unlikely?

The whole question can be avoided by playing Janikowski, but wait - he had a groin injury. (It has taken becoming a football fan for me to be able to throw out the word "groin" without feeling ashamed.) And wait - he missed practice yesterday! But it turns out that was "undisclosed personal leave" which may or may not have had anything to do with his groin. The implications of which I'm trying not to extrapolate. Besides, 89% of the experts would go with Janikowski. So I'm crossing my fingers and playing him.

5:17 am EDT—Almost there! In this league you have both a return team and a defense, which can be the same or two different teams. I own Oakland and Cincinnati. I would probably go with Cinci without too much thought, except they are playing Baltimore.

5:19 am EDT— 85% of the experts would play Cincinnati. In the end I hedge my (non-existant) bets and play Cinci on ST and Oakland on DEF. It wouldn't shock me if I got them exactly backwards. At this point, nothing would shock me. It's 5:19 am, for crying out loud. I prefer to get up a good deal later than that. More like 8:30, if the truth be know. (I work in the evenings. Cut me some slack here, guys...)

10:23 am EDT—Wait, maybe I should play Hillis after all. Or maybe I need to check today's injury reports. Or maybe I should call up the Brown's front office and ask whether they think Trent is okay. I'm concerned on a personal level, after all, him being their first-round pick and so on. Or maybe I should just get a life.

10:24 am EDT—Memo to self: Get a life, right around January the 4th, 2013.