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Week 2

Last Week's Question – Variations in Fantasy Football Leagues

In last week’s column, I mentioned that the Fantasy Sports Trade Association’s Profile of the average fantasy football participant struck a little too close to home for my taste. My response to that average profile was to request that people participating in leagues that bucked the “average” trend write in to tell me about what made their leagues exceptional.

The responses cut two ways. On the one hand, I received notes from all kinds of different people in all kinds of different leagues. But on the other hand, I received an overwhelming number of responses from guys just like me who thought it was kind of funny and kind of creepy that they so closely fit the “average” profile.

I’ll start with the exceptional leagues to give readers an idea of the variation that’s out there. Although I did not hear from an all-female fantasy league, I did get a note from someone who participates in an even more interestingly exclusive league. Tad of Washington, D.C. wrote in to tell me about a league that is strictly for deaf participants. The entry fee is $200 plus $150 for bids—with a $1200 championship prize. Too rich for my blood.

Another “exceptional” league sets itself apart not because of the demographic to which the members belong, but the place where they can be found on Sunday afternoons. Wayne of St. Louis wrote in to tell me about the “Personal Seat License Fantasy League”:

What sets us apart from other fantasy leagues is the fact that we all have seats together at the Eddie Dome, section 428GG (1-9). We have been together since day 1; we tailgate 6 hours before any game time (yes, 6 AM at noon games and we are not the first ones there). We have a blast trash talking Fantasy football before and after, and “interesting” trades have been made before and after games. We have a couple of cell phones with internet access and stats are flowing freely up and down the aisle. I watch the game, cheer loudly for the Rams and have “game day” (ESPN) going on my headset. If anyone scores, that information is passed on and spread throughout our section rapidly. By the way, our game day gear consists of Rams hard hats; “full” face paint, Rams Jerseys, etc. We have women and children lining up for us to face paint them before the game. It is a great atmosphere! Tailgating and Fantasy Football are a great combination at the Eddie Dome in STL.
I asked Wayne how he handles it when his fantasy running back happens to be playing against the Rams and breaks for a long TD. His response was that he cheers “quietly.” You’ve gotta love stuff like that—even if it would drive the Jimmy Kimmels of the world nuts.

I told readers last week that I wanted to know about it if they had their drafts “while ice fishing in February.” No one seems to have their drafts under such inhospitable circumstances, but I did hear from one fellow (who shall remain nameless, lest his wife should happen across this page) who has his drafts in conditions that we can only call the opposite of uncomfortable. According to Mr. Nameless, what sets the Riverside Fantasy Football League apart from others is:

For the last 10 years we have been drafting in suites in Las Vegas. The draft is always held on the Saturday night before the opening Sunday. For the last 3 years, we have gone to a gentleman’s club (what else do you do in Vegas?) on Friday night for some entertainment, and before leaving we will arrange for one or two of the ladies to be at our suite for the draft the next night. During the draft, the ladies are used as runners. All the owners will write their picks on slips of paper and hand them to a lady to then write their pick on the draft board. The best part of that they're nude while doing it!
All I wanted when I asked my question last week was to find out about folks who might not fit the average profile of the fantasy footballer. I didn’t expect the responses I received to be calculated assaults upon the sensibilities of “true” football fans who hate fantasy for diving fan loyalties. Even less did I anticipate the sort of response that would outrage the family values segment of America. C’est la vie.

Readers may also recall that I asked for feedback from folks who thought their leagues were among the longest-lived in fantasy football history. The most impressive response I received along those lines came from Mike in Washington:
Our Fantasy Football League may very well be one of the most tenured in the nation, dating back to 1974. I remember because it was Dan Fouts' second year in the NFL, and I drafted him. During those early years, in a “scoring only league,” where TD passes count for 6 points, and yardage bonuses were unheard-of, if you didn't have Dan Fouts, you were fighting for 2nd place money, or worse, for almost the next decade, until the next QB phenom came along.
These were the most interesting and varied answers I received in response to last week’s query. But I was positively overwhelmed with feedback from people who wrote in to say they were white, male, in their mid-30s, and earning a figure not far from the FSTA average.

So why did they write in?

Because they all think that what sets a league apart from other leagues isn’t the number of women in the league (or even whether the women are wearing clothes), but the way the score is tallied or the way the league is structured. I never cease to be amazed at the astonishing variety of scoring systems that there are throughout the country. Plenty of these systems are seductively thoughtful, but I don’t have room to tackle them in this week’s column.

This Week's Question:

Since I’ll put off my survey of responses explaining how particular scoring systems and league structures set certain leagues apart, I’ll invite those who want to get in their two cents on the question to write in this week.

Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt)

Trap Game: All divisional games

Note to self, don't assume that teams picked by experts are going to run away with their divisions. Last week was a perfect example of why they “play the games.” New Orleans played an inspired game against a team many consider a Super Bowl contender from the NFC, the Carolina Panthers, while the 49ers showed the world that the Rams, while great on Turf, are beatable any given Sunday.

This week the NFL has given fans divisional matchups in all but a few games. That said, always be careful in Last Man Standing pools when picking these games.

#3 New York Jets over Miami (0-1):

The Jets played embarrasingly against the Chiefs and deserved to lose the game, but they are supposed to contend for a playoff spot, and this week they play a team that really is one-dimensional (strictly defensive). If they can stretch Dolphins deep, which Denver couldn't, the Jets should win this in a tight game of divisional opponents. The Dolphins are playing tougher than most expected, but these teams know each other well and the advantage goes to the home team in this divisional battle.

#2: Pittsburgh at Houston (1-0):

Willie Parker had a phenomenal opening day against Tennessee, and week 2 should be no different against a Houston defense that has a hard time against a power run and a balanced passing game. While Houston is going to try and show that they are an improved team over last year, Bill Cowher's new weapon should control this game and take the Texans' crowd out of the game early.

#1: San Francisco and Philadelphia (0-1):

The 49ers played a perfect game to beat the Rams, but the Eagles are home and they are angry. This is a game that the Eagles should walk away with just on talent alone. Unlike the Rams, these Eagles are not going to be surprised knowing that someone from the NFC will be 2-0 this week.

For responses to this week's fantasy question or to share your LMS picks, please email me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.