Week 10: Can Fantasy Addicts Enjoy A
Regular NFL Game In Person?
Last Week’s Question: What do folks
think of The League?
Readers whose remarks have
found their way into this column know that I appreciate explanations
more than answers. For instance, when I asked for opinions about
head-to-head leagues vs. leagues that tally up total points at
the end of a season, I was more interested in why people
prefer one format to the other than in which format they preferred.
That didn’t stop folks from firing off emails to me that
read simply “Head-to-head rules” or “Total points
is the way to go.”
My question about The League, unfortunately, seemed
primarily to prompt the kinds of responses that aren’t terribly
useful to other readers. According to Corey, “It sucks.”
According to David, “It’s kind of obscene, but pretty
I appreciate the fact that people took the time to write in—even
if they only wrote a few words. But in the interest of giving
readers the most bang for their skimming buck, I’ll focus
on the short but nicely reasoned response of Matt. I’ll
share his points one at a time with whatever support and/or commentary
I can provide.
- “It's really a fast-paced version of Friends
with FF overtones, but that's about the right mix.”
The League shares similarities with a lot of sitcoms,
including Friends. There are outrageous situations, awkward
silences, and plenty of zingers (some more predictable than others).
The limitation of the Friends analogy is that Friends
seemed primarily to focus on the relationships of unmarried people
(until the later seasons, when marriages and divorces and broken
engagements became too tiresome for me to keep watching). The
most important characters in The League appear to be
the ones who are married. The second episode took a look at the
ways in which wives police their husbands’ consumption of
internet porn. One husband is permitted by his wife to watch porn
on the television screen that is over his exercise station. Porn
is his incentive to stay fit and trim. One of his friends, however,
is so porn-restricted in his marriage that he gets into trouble
with his wife for watching a video about sports bras. The interplay
of the married men with each other and with their bachelor friends
reminds me of shows such as How I Met Your Mother. That
is a tricky demographic divide to straddle; shows that try to
appeal to both married and unmarried audiences run the risk of
losing the attention of both. So far, my take on The League
is that it is really written for people who are married with no
children or with children that are too young to be involved in
adventures of their own. (It is therefore very unlike The
Simpsons, All in the Family, and the million and
one other family-based sitcoms you have seen.)
- “It's destined to fail though because it only appeals
to diehard fantasy football fans, but to make the FF action on
the show interesting, the writers need to make the moves so unbelievable
that it will probably turn off most fantasy players. For instance,
strong arming the [Peyton] Manning for Fred Taylor and Holt trade
last week was funny, but die-hard fantasy players would have spittle
down their chins if that really went down. Then again, the show
was probably written before Taylor got hurt, so they can't stay
I suspect Matt is correct in this assessment. The FF component
of the show should make it appeal to the FF community, but that
is hard to pull off with a production rhythm that has nothing
to do with the NFL schedule. In the first episode, two members
of the league who were on opposite sides of a criminal case ended
up swapping first-round picks. The real issue was who would get
to draft Adrian Peterson; the prison sentence that a criminal
would serve according to his plea bargain took a back seat to
the desirability of Peterson. It was exactly the kind of joke
that the FF community is in a position to get, but it was one
of too few fantasy football moments in the show. It might be funny
that a guy could be blackmailed into trading Manning for Taylor
and Holt in order to keep his *ahem* interaction with a sports
bra video quiet, but the reality is that most leagues have mechanisms
in place that would prevent such a trade from going through.
As I read Matt’s point about how the audience that is best
poised to laugh is also the audience that is most likely to see
the flaw in the joke, I could not help thinking of the Sprint
advertisements that claim X number of fantasy owners have waited
until “now” to inform their opponents that their star
players are on a bye. That ad drove me nuts in Weeks 1, 2, and
3. The advertising execs took the time to schedule the ads during
football games in order to make the bogus claim ring true, but
most NFL fans knew that there were no byes in the first 3 weeks
of the season. When the only people who can appreciate your joke
are the ones who know it’s broken, you need to reconsider
your audience or your subject matter.
- “I like it even though it's a caricature of real FF.
[It has to be a caricature since] that is the only way to make
a show like this possible, but I think that will turn off the
[fantasy buffs] who are making a point to watch it.”
I like the show too, Matt—and I agree with you that it
is a caricature that seems destined to fail. My favorite moment
in the show was in the first episode. The host of the draft party
is clearly very successful in the business world and also clearly
a lonely guy who rubs his so-called friends the wrong way by trying
to impress them. He hires a sexy waitress to serve drinks at the
draft, but even that gesture isn’t enough to buy him 10
seconds of silence in which to deliver a toast that he has prepared.
I have attended more than one draft party that had me feeling
exactly the kind of pity that scene made me feel. I also laughed
out loud as one of the wives on the show boasted of her confidence
in her vagina in order to keep her marriage together—and
at the phony music video that the stoner in the league posted
on the website to make fun of her vaginal hubris. The show is
definitely going to handle all sorts of pop culture elements in
compelling ways. The writers and cast members have keen insight
into the lives of the men aged 25 to 45 who work in corporate
America and rely on fantasy football in order to have something
in common with each other, but plenty of shows with keen insight
I would like to see the show succeed so that I can keep watching
it. I have no problem with the way that it uses a fantasy football
league as a flimsy excuse for examining an interesting assortment
of characters. If the writers can figure out how to make the audience
understand that fantasy football is a relatively inconsequential
component of a show called The League, then perhaps they
can get people to tune in for the humor, which definitely has
This Week’s Question: Can Fantasy Addicts
Enjoy A Regular NFL Game In Person?
Part of my fantasy addiction is an NFL Ticket addiction. I love
staying home on Sundays and watching as much of as many games
as possible. There are multiple television screens, multiple remote
controls, lots of pauses and tons of fast forwarding. When the
challenges and injuries and commercials are properly aligned,
there is enough of a lull for me to check my scores on the computer.
But I am a native Texan, and it would be an offense to God (as
well as the man He answers to—Jerry Jones) if I did not
go see the Cowboys play in their new stadium, so in a few weeks
I will be watching a game in person for the first time since I
got the NFL Ticket.
I am excited about seeing the new stadium. I am excited about
watching a game that looks as if it will have playoff implications.
I am even excited about being able to say “I told you so”
to my wife when Tony Romo shows us once again that the NFL season
is 4 weeks too long for him.
But I keep asking myself, “Just one game?” Getting
to and from the Cowboy game will consume my day. I might catch
the second half of the Sunday night game, but even that is doubtful.
I can’t help thinking that real football is going to send
me into fantasy withdrawal, and I will be happy to take any
advice from those of you who successfully manage your fantasy
addiction when you are attending real games. Please don’t
let me be the guy who is missing the game right in front of him
because he can’t stop checking his cell phone for stats
around the league.
Wk 10 - Last Man Standing
- (Courtesy of Marc Mondry)
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and I might just start
babbling as incoherently as certain former presidents.
How is it that I pick the Packers for two out of their four total
losses? The answer is threefold. The first part of the explanation
is the Packers’ inconsistency; the second stems from my
underestimation of the impact of traveling all the way to Tampa
Bay; and the third (much clearer in retrospect) is the power of
a team rallying around its young quarterback for his first career
Reader’s Week 9 Picks
As more and more folks are eliminated from their LMS pools, fewer
and fewer readers are sending their picks in each week. We even
lost Matthew Schiff for Week 10, so I will be putting the leader
board on hiatus until participation picks up. People
can still send picks in, but there is no point in posting
a top 5 when there are only 5 total submissions.
I ended up going with a couple of adventurous picks this week.
We have reached the point of the season at which it becomes difficult
to find 3 locks each week (though we get a reprieve next week
due to the end of byes). That is especially true if you are keeping
your three ‘entries’ separate, like I am. Along those
lines, I would have loved to select New Orleans this week, but
couldn’t because they are only available to me in my #1
entry, as were the Vikings. I went with Minnesota because I think
it will be easier to find a good contest for the Saints later
in the season,
Trap Game: Philadelphia over San Diego
San Diego is playing great ball right now, coming off a big win
against the Giants in East Rutherford, and the Eagles are probably
the most inconsistent team in football.
That said, it is far too easy to envision DeSean Jackson taking
one to the house from 70+ yards away. The San Diego defense is
not what it used to be, and the secondary is porous at best; if
the Eagles can keep the pass rush off Donovan McNabb, he should
have no problem finding his receivers and upstart TE Brent Celek.
There is, however, a reason why Philadelphia is a 2.5 point dog.
Philly’s defense, like that of the Chargers, also is not
what it used to be, and may have a very tough time containing
Phillip Rivers and his weapons. The Eagles need to get pressure
on him because athletic TE Antonio Gates and dynamic WR Vincent
Jackson are just too difficult to cover if given more than a few
seconds to run their routes. I’m not convinced the Eagles
get pressure, but if they do, they’ve got a good shot at
containing the San Diego offense and winning this game.
3. Arizona over Seattle
Arizona is another one of those teams that I don’t really
enjoy picking in LMS competitions (like Green Bay). I get that
same sick feeling in my stomach that if the offense doesn’t
bring it’s A-game, I could be in trouble. Unfortunately,
I do not love the other options this week, so here we are.
What this game really comes down to is that the Seahawks are
just bad and are traveling to face a division rival that has beaten
up on them over the past several years. A loss here to the 3-5
Seahawks would be very costly to Arizona, bringing the Seahawks
and potentially San Francisco within a game of the division lead.
I think the Cards will bring their A-game.
The corollary to that is that I honestly think Arizona’s
B-game, if you will, would beat Seattle. Seattle beat Detroit
32-20 last week, and those of you that watched the game know it
was a lot closer than the score would indicate. It’s not
a question of whether Detroit is bad, but Seattle appears to be
only marginally better.
2. Miami over Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay is not a good team. They did happen to upset Green
Bay last week, under ideal circumstances (at home vs. a team that
traveled from far away and that was likely to look past them to
this week’s opponent, Dallas). The Bucs are still terrible.
This week they travel to Miami, a local rival, coming off a tough
divisional loss last week, that desperately needs a win and some
confidence. What better than a visit from the Bucs to satisfy
The one caveat about this game is that I still do not trust Chad
Henne at all. Fortunately for us, neither does the Dolphins’
brass. They know they must win behind the offensive line and the
Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams duo in the backfield. I sincerely
doubt that the Bucs will be able to stop both RBs for the entire
game, and I even more seriously doubt Tampa Bay’s ability
to get into the end zone against the tough Miami defense. This
one may be low scoring (and thus low differential), but it should
be a secure Miami win the whole way.
1. Minnesota over Detroit
Minnesota playing at home against the Lions is one of my favorite
picks. Just about every year you have to plug this one into your
LMS plans somewhere. This year, it’s a better pick than
ever, with the absolute dominance of the Minnestoa front seven
and Favre’s remarkable consistency on offense, not throwing
too many costly interceptions, which has been his Achilles heel
for the past several years.
I still maintain that the Lions are not as bad as their record
suggests. They did play Seattle tough last week, and were down
only by 5 with possession and only a couple of minutes to play.
They just always find a way to lose. Generally speaking, that
makes for a perfect LMS opponent. This week it certainly does.
For responses to this week's fantasy
question please email me
no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.