I Just Won the League
Contributing writer, sports enthusiast, and fantasy football league winner Matt McKenzie shares his wisdom on the right way to play the nation’s most beloved fake sport.
“I just won the League!”
An exclamation that echoes across dingy basements, breath stinking of Coors Light and Ruffles, coupled with middle fingers and pelvic thrusts. This obligatory celebration marks the end of the NFL regular season, along with the culmination one man’s sole purpose for existence the past 6 months. A purpose that may soon be yours.
We’re finally approaching the start of the season into which the US dumps endless hours, time, affection, and a whole lot of cash. For the majority of fans (be they former athletes or stay-at-home moms), this includes some form of involvement with a fantasy football league. And we at Classfare say, “Hell yes.”
For starters, fantasy football should not be taken lightly. Though it’s fake football, it is football nonetheless. And thus, the deeper meaning of life is within. Somehow, this is still confusing for a lot of people. So we’re here to clear things up: fantasy football is about winning. It’s about rubbing your supreme reign in your buddies faces for an entire year. There is no room for nonchalance or half-assery. Your dudeness is on the line.
So we’re here to guide the lost, the misled, and the “casual” fantasy football player into the land of milk and honey. That is, a season of intention, aggression, innuendo-laiden insults, and a shit ton of calories. Get the following things right, and your league will be in full form. And, if everything goes as planned, you may just end the season standing with pride as your buddies bow down before your winning aura all year long.
We assume that since you’ve read this far, you have a league. Good. And hopefully this is the type of league where there is a trophy for first and a punishment for last. If not, get on it. These two things will single-handedly change the way you approach the fantasy football experience.
Next, make sure you have the cleverest, slightly offensive, and inside joke-y team name you can come up with. For instance: “Tain’t Gonna Lose”. There is one caveat to naming your team, however. If you win your league, you’re stuck with that name forever, as it is the name of a champion and should be honored as such. If you change it after a winning season, may the fantasy gods forever bless you with an incurable rash. So pick a good one. Couple it with a great logo on your team page and you’re ready to smash some heads.
This is one of the best days of the season. Make sure all of your degenerate friends that are part of your league can be present. Ideally, schedule your draft some place over the top, or at least at someone’s house that will allow for over the top behavior (see: 10 dudes in a penthouse suite at the Bellagio accompanied by a profusion of farts, cussing, drinking, and general douche-bauchery).
Draft order is of huge importance, as it influences the rest of the season. So how to decide who picks first? The ever important draft order conversation is most easily remedied by a clever game of chance. We’ve witnessed everything from a beer shotgunning circle to an elaborate rat race. The weirder and more entertaining, the better. Just make sure it’s legal.
The draft is also about preparation. Assembling the perfect roster takes study, practice, and a good helping of mind-gaming your buddies. We recommend dropping hints pre-draft day. “I gotta have McCoy, he’s gonna have a breakout year.” Or “I still believe in Brady, man. He’ll throw more TDs in 12 games than everyone else combined. I heard Jerry is taking him in the first, though.” These statements should be be both true and false. Never let them see your cards.
Also, have your sleepers in mind but understand the nature of the scoring for your league and what will be maximized for total weekly scoring. Draft your receivers and backs early. None of this, “Gostkowski got me like 20 points a week last year and I just need him on my team”. Bullshit. Assemble a team that is worthy (this is an implied hint we hope you don’t need but have still seen guys do: just don’t draft a kicker until the end, okay?) We’re also fans of drafting a rookie from your favorite college team in the last round as a good mojo move. Keep one thing in mind about this strategy, however: it never works. Ever.
Game time. Our biggest tip for success is to be prepared to manage the waiver wire. You’ll most likely deal with injuries throughout the season, and those who manage the wires and trades the best usually win their league. And don’t be afraid to trade with the dudes in your league, both to optimize the weak spots in your roster and also as an added opportunity to trash talk. Who knows what will happen with trades? Just make sure they aren’t only based on the previous year’s performance. True story: A trade was offered in a league last year in week two. Demaryius Thomas straight up for Kelvin Benjamin. Dude decided to keep Benjamin. Idiot.
Our second biggest tip for having a successful year is to ensure everyone around you in your personal life knows that Sundays are for the league. Ideally, this mean no partners, no kids, and no distractions. Just 8 hours of Redzone (second implied hint we hope you don’t need but have still seen guys do: get Redzone or else you are not allowed to host your league). Everyone should try to host at least once in good faith. Don’t normally host? Doesn’t matter. Provide beer and high-calorie snacks and you’re good to go.
Style notice: fantasy football Sundays are one of two places in life where you are allowed to wear a jersey in a public environment (third implied hint: don’t wear jerseys in public unless at the specific team’s event). Just make sure its the best one in the room. Like an oversized Rice jersey from the 90’s or a limited-edition Lynch jersey from the Superbowl.
Last but certainly not least, get out the Frank’s Red Hot, put it on everything you eat, find your spot on the couch, and talk some shit.
May the best man win. This is really effing important. This is Fantasy Football.