I’ve decided to throw my hat into the high-stakes fantasy football arena this season, after taking a pass on it for a number of years.
I competed in the high-stakes contest that started it all, the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCFF), back in its inaugural year in 2002, and again in 2003. I won my league in the 2003 event. It was a great time, travelling to Las Vegas and soaking up the experience of drafting in a huge ballroom with more than 600 fantasy football nuts.
However, while I loved the experience, I found that at that time of year, after running the gauntlet of tech support for the Cheatsheet Compiler and other updates to help keep FFToday humming along, I was pretty much in burnout mode by the time I had to board the flight to Vegas. I really wasn’t in the best frame of mind to draft a championship fantasy football team in the most expensive league I would participate in. The entry fee was in the neighbourhood of $1,400, and that excluded travel, hotel, food, and drink. After some back-of-the-napkin cost-benefit analysis, I decided to take a pass in 2004 and have done so since.
It sure hasn’t left me short of leagues to compete in over the years, as I participate in numerous showcase leagues against guys from different websites. These are usually just for bragging rights, and they are drafted earlier in August. Plus I play in at least a couple local leagues with just a moderate buy-in.
While all of these leagues are fun and exciting in their own way, there isn’t that big carrot at the end—the big payoff, the five- or six-figure grand prize that, sure, you’re going to need things to seriously break right to pull down but, hey, you’ve got a chance.
So it’s about this time of year that I always get the itch to take my shot at fantasy football immortality. (Is that a little too melodramatic?) I did try to scratch that itch by playing in RotoBowl in 2007—the online option instead of the live draft option in Atlantic City. RotoBowl, now part of RosterDoc.com, was sponsored by FHM Magazine at the time. With the FHM connection, it had an impressive draft afterparty. However, the main reasons I picked RotoBowl were its online draft, lower-cost entry fee, and how well it worked with my schedule.
Sadly, I came within striking distance of the grand prize, holding down 2nd place overall heading into the championship bracket before Brandon Marshall, not a member of Team MacGregor, was force fed the ball over three games. That was too much to overcome, and the top team remained in that spot while a handful of others leapfrogged me in the final standings.
If I remember correctly, upon researching the top finishing teams that season, I found that in many cases the rosters could not even be assembled in my league draft. For example the top six players on other teams all went in the first five rounds of my draft.
That soured me a bit at the time on the whole concept of these contests. In fantasy football, not only are you already dealing with your everyday run-of-the-mill fantasy luck factors, like head-to-head scheduling, and fluky injuries to key players, among numerous other issues. Now, if you want a chance at the grand prize, you need to deal with the luck of the draw of who you’re drafting against in your own league. It didn’t seem fair.
However, I’ve now come to the conclusion that this is just another factor to accept while playing in these contests. Like I said at the top, a lot of things are going to have to break right to pull down that grand prize. Consider the strength of the competition in your own league as one of those things. You don’t have any control over it. It’s just something you have to deal with. If you’re going to play in a contest like this and it is true fantasy football—with a traditional draft against other players rather than a salary cap game—there is really no way around that.
Well, I can tell you at this point, the itch to play high-stakes fantasy football is still with me. I’m ready to give it a go again in 2010. Next time I’ll review some of the options I’m looking at, and make my decision on what league (or leagues) I’m going to play in.
Here I am taking my first step towards fantasy football immortality…or at least a series of blog posts about my high-stakes fantasy exploits for you to follow along this season.
Immortality would be nice though.