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Friday, August 25, 2006

Good and Bad of Fantasy Football

It’s that time of year when fantasy football players scurry around trying to figure out whose really going to be the third receiver for the Houston Texans. I’ve been in and out of fantasy leagues in the last decade, and have seen the best and the absolute worst they have to offer.

The best part of being in a league is that you truly get to know the entire NFL. Despite talk-show hosts that scoff at this notion, most fans simply don’t care about teams other than their favorite. Sure, they watch the four o’clock game and prime time games, but without something riding on it fans don’t zero-in on which player is doing what. It’s just a way to come down off (or build up to) the real game they care about.

Besides that, fantasy football is sort of the safe drug of would-be gamblers. You plop down your $100 or whatever for the season, convince the wife it’s a male bonding thing, and get a little rush on Monday knowing you just need 5 points out of your kicker to take down your buddy for the week.

Then there’s the dark side of fantasy. (Relax . . . we’re still talking football.) I don’t care how many times the tough-guy Birds fan says he turns off the fantasy stuff during the home team games, he’s lying. He wants the Eagles to win, sure, but he’d be ok if his running back on the other team punches in a couple or Donovan McNabb struggling the week he plays against the QB. And God help him if he’s in a distance league – he’ll pray his own quarterback is sacked back to the 10-yard line so he can throw a TD pass worth another point on the next play. (I once knew a self-proclaimed die-hard Eagles fan who winced when Mark McMillan hauled down Emmitt Smith on a sure 50+ yard touchdown one Monday night.)

But a completely skewed view of football isn’t why I’m happy to have once-and-for-all dumped fantasy football. The relief of never again dealing with the socially inept geeks who run these leagues, and somehow always won before the era of websites yet can’t even sniff the playoffs now, who are tolerated because everyone else actually has a life and are happy to let the weasel run the league is enough for me.

Week in Review:
· Aaron Rowand’s potentially season-ending injury will not nearly have the impact being suggested by some. He’s a nice player but let’s not canonize him for running into a wall earlier in the season.
· The Eagles bring in Stephen Davis, and don’t sign him. They miss out or make no move for Ashley Lelie. Now, Deion Branch may be available, and I have no doubt the Eagles will ignore him. Aren’t these the opportunities the Eagles were going to be poised to take advantage of by always being under the salary cap?
· Rumors are floating that Duce Staley may return to the Eagles. It would be a solid move, but I’d like to know when this team will learn that keeping these guys in the first place might make sense.
· College football returns next week, with real NFL action less than two weeks away. It’s the most wonderful time of the year…!

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