Joining a fan(tasy) club

How does one get involved in a college fantasy football league? Well, it all started when I joined the revered Zealots Field last year. I noticed that they had one college league and were adding two. Reading the rules, I noticed that one stipulation was that you got to pick a ‘home school’ and had the right to take ten players from that school before the initial draft. I was hooked, and stupidly I believed the hype about Missouri and took them. I could have taken one of the big Florida schools or Texas, or even freaking Bowling Green and my results would have been better.

It’s a more challenging type of league than fantasy NFL. It’s almost like fantasy NFL in the 80s, in that each owner has to keep his own stats and there aren’t dozens of sites that can host such a league. Simply keeping track of which owner has which player is borderline insanity.

There are 18 teams in this league. This means that the initial 35-round draft was a little slice of hell. Luckily it was conducted (mostly) through e-mail. Owners dropped in and out like crazy. I’d say at least half the league changed home schools over the offseason. Naturally the new owners took schools like Florida and Nebraska instead of Temple and Akron. Our 2004 champion was UAB so homeschoolers aren’t a matter of life and death.

There are 45 roster spots. Since you start two QBs, three RBs, four WR/TE, one D/ST and one kicker, there’s a lot of room for error. Bye weeks are a little tricky because most schools play 11 games in 13 weeks. The ‘playoffs’ start early and each team plays a ‘bowl’ game. These games are like the college bowls in that only one really matters. The rest are for draft positioning in future years. The trick to the bowl schedule is that you can only use players on teams that qualify for bowls. Since half my team was Missouri Tigers and the team went 5-6 I had to scour the waiver wire to fill out my active roster.

The waiver wire is a bit crazy. Since there are 119 teams there aren’t a few players who fall through the cracks, there are a few dozen. No one knew who JJ Arrington was at this time last year. That means a weekly scouring of box scores. Because the team can always get better.

Building a roster takes on a whole new dimension. I feel like my quarterbacks are solid. The only problem is that the top three guys are seniors, so I need to draft accordingly. New stars rise and fall every year.

One thing I like about this league is I know that I’m not ‘that guy’. There are two types of ‘that guy’ in fantasy leagues. One is the guy who shows up on draft day with a magazine and no clue. Those guys are welcome in any of my leagues, although they tend to disappear like an extra in the Sopranos. The other one is the guy who knows more than everyone else and lets you know it every minute. I’m afraid that defines me in the AUFL. When a guy in this league justified his pick of a young running back for the University of Cincinnati by quoting his spring game statistics, I knew that I had found ‘that guy’.

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