Firings are a certainty in the NFL. Coaches and players get weeded
out of the league all the time. For coaches, the hatchet usually
falls near the end of the season, but for players, the exit ordinarily
occurs before the season begins. Talented 22-year-olds are cut or
placed on a practice squad because they fail to grasp the fundamentals
of an unfamiliar offense. Cagey veterans fall just one more fraction
of a step behind - and are exposed as having managed to outlast
their own extremely limited career-spans by relying on guts and
savvy and increasingly rare bursts of speed. An aging quarterback
who makes better decisions and reads defenses more accurately than
ever before in his career finds that this knowledge only goes so
far to compensate for the fact that pass rushers are becoming far
more difficult to evade than they used to be - too difficult, in
fact, for the coach to recommend that the QB's contract be extended.
We mourn for college stars who fail to shine in the NFL. We probably
mourn even more for veterans who resist saying, "It's time for
me to hang up my shoulderpads" until it becomes utterly impossible
for them to say anything else. We regret the fact that truly exceptional
athletes can and do get cut from the NFL every year, but we accept
that practice as being right and proper in the context of the NFL.
So why should fantasy football be any different?
If immensely talented athletes can be cut from the NFL every year,
why is it that fantasy football participants, regardless of their
competitive shortcomings, are all but guaranteed a spot in fantasy
football leagues? Why is it that the guy who blew it for your league
last year by jumping at the front runner's offer to trade him 3 kickers
for Marvin Harrison - why is it that this character will be invited
back? The Cowboys couldn't justify keeping Emmitt Smith on the payroll,
but the nimrod from your league will return next year after saying,
with a straight face, "He was giving me three players for one,
and besides, I've always hated the Colts, so how could I say no?"
Of course, the only reason you put up with this kind of nonsense is
because you secretly expect to be the one who parts the fool from
his money this year.
But please! I beg of you! Consider well this evil path before you
walk it. Ponder the moral and ethical ramifications of your behavior.
And most importantly, know that for every one of these fools you suffer
so gladly in your fantasy leagues, the life of a fantasy football
columnist somewhere has been made more burdensome, more loathsome
Who do you think your clueless dupes pester once they realize that
your trade advice has failed them fourteen seasons in a row? I'll
tell you who they turn to: anyone with an email address who has ever
published anything online or in-print in any way remotely associated
with fantasy football, that's who.
You think it's funny that Jim is trying to pretend to follow the NFL
because he wants to have something in common with the rest of the
guys in the office. You think it's funny because you aren't the one
who has to figure out from Jim's email correspondence that he has
never in his life noticed the difference between the words quarterback
and cornerback. You aren't the one who has to explain to Jim that
he absolutely positively does not need to phone the members of the
Pittsburgh defense in order to "start" them on his fantasy
squad. You aren't the one who has to explain that the commissioner
was probably just pulling Jim's leg. And you certainly aren't the
one who has to delete 131 different emails from Jim as he offers 131
different theories about why his commissioner might want to play a
joke on him.
No, ladies and gentlemen, you do not demean yourselves with the cleanup,
for that job falls to your friendly neighborhood fantasy football
columnist. Please read on, and consider the sort of cyber-epistolary
torture that you, in your heartlessness, routinely put us through.
09/04/02 12:02 p.m. Sender: Lionsfan_gobarrysandersgo@hotmail.com
I love your column. I read it every day. Thanks for all the really
great advice. Anyway, who should I start, Fred Taylor or Corey Dillon?
Thanks in advance,
09/05/02 08:32 a.m. Sender email@example.com
Thank you for your kind words concerning my column, but I don't
think you benefit very much from reading it daily, as it comes out
only once per week.
As for your question, I am afraid I can no longer respond to requests
to select team rosters for my readers. You might try asking someone
else (I recommend MikeKrueger@fftoday.com), but you will probably
want to include the scoring system for your league with your question,
as it is often difficult to know which player to recommend without
understanding how player performances are scored.
09/11/02 12:02 p.m. Sender: Lionsfan_gobarrysandersgo@hotmail.com
Sorry for leaving out the information. Our league plays 1QB/2RB/2WR/1TE/1K/1D.
I don't know what it means, but I pasted it directly from the website,
so I'm pretty sure I have it right. Now can you please tell me who
I should start between Fred Taylor and Corey Dillon?
Thanks in advance again (though I shouldn't have to thank you again,
since I thanked you in advance last time and you didn't answer my
09/12/02 08:32 a.m. Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org
That isn't the sort of information I was asking for. In fact, I
wasn't asking for any information at all. I recommended that you
take your question to Mike Krueger, but I wanted you to know that
you should be able to tell him whether you are in a yardage league
or a scoring-only league, whether you are penalized points for fumbles
or not - that sort of thing.
The information you provided concerns roster composition, which
is an entirely different ball of wax. It specifies how many players
you start at various positions, but since it seems to mean that
you can start two running backs, I'm curious as to who your third
running back might be. It must be nice to choose between Taylor
and Dillon for your second RB.
09/18/02 12:02 p.m. Sender: Lionsfan_gobarrysandersgo@hotmail.com
I don't understand why it's so hard to get a straight answer out
of you stupid writers. I have asked you a simple question twice,
and you have blown me off both times. Now, for the third time, I'm
going to ask you a simple question: Should I start Fred Taylor or
Corey Dillon this week?
Waiting patiently for one of two advance thank-yous to be collected
09/19/02 08:32 a.m. Sender: email@example.com
My apologies if my first response to your first query was unclear;
I was merely attempting to let you know, as politely as possible,
that I do not have time to think through the roster decisions of
any stranger with an email account who claims to have read one of
Fortunately, however, I will be happy to answer your question this
week, as the Jaguars are on a bye. Since Fred Taylor won't be playing
on Sunday, I'm giving you a gigantic green light on Dillon.
Even so, I recommend that you review your league's scoring system
and explain the system to whomever it is that you decide to take
your roster quandaries to in the future.
Thanks in advance for emailing all future questions to Mike Krueger,
09/25/02 12:02 p.m. Sender: Lionsfan_gobarrysandersgo@hotmail.com
I'm sorry I came off like such a sourpuss last week, but I was
really getting frustrated. Anyway, I can see now that you really
gave me some good advice about not starting Taylor 'coz he was on
But I thought it over, and my gut instinct told me that Taylor
was due, so I started him anyway.
I just wanted to let you know that I appreciated your advice even
though I didn't take it. Next time, I'll listen. I promise. I think
this 'bye' strategy of yours might even have some applicability
to some of my other players; perhaps you could use one of your columns
to explain how we can avoid drafting players with bye weeks.
Oh, and last but not least, who do you like this week-Taylor or
Thanks in advance for the column (but you still owe me a pick),
[For the rest of the correspondence between the not-as-fictional-as-you-would-hope
Lionsfan and the regrettably real firstname.lastname@example.org, check in
with FFToday in August.]