Fantasy Files: Two for Titles

As I’ve mentioned about 500 times on my Twitter feed, I am in two fantasy championship games this weekend. It has been six and nine seasons, respectively, since I made it this far. To make matters worse, I did not win the title in either instance.

Zach on Sports AUFL TrophyI joined the AUFL in 2000. It would be cooler had that number been 1999. A group of guys played flag football every Saturday, and for some reason we played in the middle of the afternoon, which was the hottest time of the day. I assume half of us were hung over or something. Our friend Paul suggested a fantasy league and we said why not. In our first year, we all selected a “franchise player” and autodrafted. My franchise player was Eddie George and my first draft pick was Mark Brunell. Hard to believe that didn’t work out. I had Eddie George and rookie Ricky Williams as my RB 1-2 punch. I lost Ricky and traded for Warrick Dunn. In a memorable semifinal matchup, I defeated my friend Paul as Dunn and Marshall Faulk dueled on Monday night. I won the title after picking up Kordell Stewart off waivers in Week 17. Even though we’ve been on CBS since the first year, we only have records of results starting in 2001.

I won the title again in 2002, after conning my man Don out of Daunte Culpepper. It took me the entire offseason to work out the deal. I think I gave him a first-round pick and Plaxico Burress. In 2003 my team was stacked with Culpepper, Ahman Green, and Torry Holt as my keepers. I lost in the finals. In the past ten seasons I’ve made the semis three times and spent more time than I’d like to admit in the loser playoffs.

After watching my dad hoist the championship trophy for the second time in five years, I decided to act. Actually I didn’t do much differently this year. My draft was pretty much a waste and I had to make a panic trade for RGIII when my “genius” draft pick of Jay Cutler turned into a disaster.

I won the waiver wire. In fact, I may start an entire roster of waiver wire players this week. RGIII is hurt and Colin Kaepernick suddenly feels matchup-proof. Cue the Josh Freeman numbers this week. Trent Richardson seems like he’s getting by on fumes and Knowshon Moreno/DeAngelo Williams might be better bets this week. Dez Bryant’s in the same position. He’s not getting a ton of targets and what he did last week feels like a high end of his possibilities. Jimmy Graham, who was studly last year, has been outscored by Jeff Cumberland of late.

My lineup could look like this:

QB: Kaepernick
RB: Moreno, D Williams
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Dez, Amendola
TE: Graham
D: Redskins
K: Kai Forbath

You wouldn’t be laughed out of the draft room for this lineup in September. You’d be sent to the joint from American Horror Story. I have a couple of waiver picks to make and we’ll see how it turns out.

I feel like a lot better drafter than I used to be. My original draft lineup in Zealots 34 included some wasted picks and a “core” of QBs Donovan McNabb, Ben Roethlisberger, with Torry Holt and Larry Johnson. While the initial draft didn’t yield a lot of long-term value, I did well in rookie drafts. I traded McNabb and Roethlisberger for multiple first-round picks that turned into players like Ray Rice and Hakeem Nicks. Last year I got ultimately lucky when Cam Newton fell into the middle of the second round of the rookie draft. I had Vick and Romo at that point and by the beginning of the year, I traded both away.

I’ve had a playoff-worthy team for the past few years but I haven’t been able to get past Week 14. Last year I famously lost to my dad in both leagues on the same weekend. In the past few weeks, Cam finally returned to his rookie scoring ways. In Week 12 I needed Cam and Bryce Brown to score about 70 points to win and stay in the playoff chase and I did.

Brown’s not making the roster cut for this weekend. I feel somewhat relieved that there is no waivers in this league. Waivers takes up about 42% of my brain power every Tuesday it seems.

Which league means more to me? The one that started in 2000, of course. I commish the Zealots league. It’s 100% online and I still don’t know what half the league looks like. There is no trophy but you better believe I’m making myself one if I win. It will include a Titans shot glass since my team is the Tennessee Titans. Only in fantasy can the Titans compete, right? In the AUFL, not only would I take the trophy out of my dad’s hands, I would complete a first-ever trifecta. I would have defeated every other team in my division in the playoffs. I call my division the “division of champions and Zach” because the other three guys have won four out of the last five titles. I’m like the Eagles compared to the rest of the NFC East. This is the 13th year of the league an this will the the 8th title by our division. And the guy I’m playing is the only person to beat me in the past six weeks. It should be fun.

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