I was relieved of my duties as Zealots 34 Commissioner last night. It was the right call.
I joined Zealots Field’s 17th league in Kevin Jones’ rookie year. There were some putrid trades on my end in that first year (Keith Bulluck and Anquan Boldin for Kevin Jones, a slew of picks including the 1.05 that became Larry Fitzgerald for Julius Jones), but I got to be competitive and won a couple of titles before hanging it up when a lot of the original leaguemates bailed out.
Flush with importance from being involved in the “industry” in any way, I volunteered to helm Zealots 34 when it started in 2005. Cedric Benson and Eric Shelton were my first two first-round picks. I was the guy who thought loading up on first-rounders was the way to assured glory. In 13 seasons of the league I’ve lost twice in the title game and last year had a playoff team that lost to one of the top teams in the league when Kwon Alexander had 13 solo tackles on Monday night to break my fantasy heart.
I tired of the Commish gig and handed it off to another owner and was happy to do it. There’s not a ton to do as a Zealots commish other than the tedious free agency period in which you have to manually keep track of and award free-agent bucks to franchises as dozens of auctions continue. It’s only a couple of hours of work when you focus but I wasn’t having it. Every time a Commish task came up I either didn’t see the message or couldn’t find what to do and there was always something more interesting to do in life than a Commish’s duties. It was nice to be free. Well a couple of years ago the Commish left and the gig opened up. Nobody else wanted it so I reluctantly volunteered.
Some times the best thing to do is to say no. It’s a little easier to be Commish as some of the free agency tasks have moved on but you have to be on top of owners, making sure they pay dues and post what seems like half a dozen times a year announcing their fealty to Zealots 34 for one more season. This year while busy at a local book festival I didn’t notice a message stating that I needed to convert the offseason z-bucks to blind bidding bucks since our waivers work that way in the regular season. I neglected the messages. A new guy was overseeing our set of leagues and he sent me an email that was legitimately pissed and instead of saying sure, I’m in the wrong which was totally true I told him how I felt. I wanted out even if I didn’t quite know it yet.
I was booted, canned, given the pink slip. Oddly I get to continue my Atlanta Falconsesque journey in this league, still sweating over that final cut to 51 players (when the hell did we dump kickers?) and seeing my insanely stacked Week One opponent and permanent division rival this week.
Random fantasy thoughts as we head into yet another season:
I released Kendall Wright, who I had for his entire career. What can we call the phenomenon of carrying a player for his entire career and he was almost never a key starter? Or maybe he was for a year or two but just hung around at a capacity that he wasn’t instantly droppable? I remember Sidney Rice being like that. You have an extra feeling of ownership of a player when you invest a first-round pick in him or any draft pick because they are SO VERY CRITICAL and you look back and see Eric Shelton in your draft history.
My final roster decision (like I said, 51 roster spots, we do have IDP and we have to start three DLs/LBs/DBs each) was to keep Josh McCown over Armani Watts who may or may not be starting at SS for Kansas City. I picked up Josh McCown in my multi-year search for a decent backup QB to Cam, never willing to spend the second- or third-round pick that was necessary to get the top rookie QBs, dropped him in free agency and then had to trade a future sixth-round pick for him so I feel that ownership. It’s kind of dumb to keep a backup QB but all 32 starters are rostered so free agency is always slim pickings. I did draft Darnold so McCown gets to be that poor guy who makes an NFL roster, realizing a life-long dream then he gets cut two days later for a “core special teamer”.
Derrick Henry: Will he live up to that 1.06 rookie pick that I am well aware could have become Michael Thomas?
Christian McCaffery: Despite Cam stealing all the TDs and a less than stellar offensive line, does he live up to the hype? This does seem like a good time to “sell high” but one key to dynasty dominance is getting those high-end young assets.
Peyton Barber: The Rookie Scouting Portfolio explains why I constantly churn my final roster spots and occasionally hit on a guy. Thanks, Matt.
Spencer Ware: Another alum of the RSP who got hurt and probably will become roster chum.
Corey Coleman: I traded Allen Hurns super high for the 1.04 pick and got Coleman. It’s very possible that the Doctson/Treadwell/Coleman trio from 2015 is just that bad. I should have cut him but my heart, my heart.
Corey Davis: The big acquisition, trying to keep up with the best teams in the league who somehow trade a bunch of what turns out to be nothing to get those elite WRs, the cornerstone of teams because they do hold value better than RBs and we can start up to five now. It’s doubly infuriating to miss on a fantasy player who also sinks your real NFL team.
Julian Edelman: Talk about a futile trade: I traded Kevin White for Edelman and I think they’ve scored a combined two points since. Edelman tore his ACL shortly after the trade and now is suspended.
Tyler Lockett: So far in his NFL career he wishes he was Kendall Wright.
Darius Leonard: I was ready to take Rashaan Evans with my third-round rookie pick, he was sniped and Leonard might wear the coveted green dot while Evans has been like half of the Titans roster this offseason, cursed with an injury that shall not be named.
Adoree Jackson: I had a feeling that a starting cornerback who also returns kicks/punts would be a point-scorer but nobody really knows how the Titans will use their three starting cornerbacks. That’s how it goes.
If you think there’s a lot of failure in fantasy, what with cursing your picks as you make them, injuries, bad starting decisions, a dynasty league is that times ten. You get that baked-in history and the idea that you could have a Hall of Fame player on your roster for his entire career. And you trudge along, dreaming of glory. At least have fun with it because the Commish gig was the opposite. I wish the new dude well.