The Fantasy Squad

After spending my 20’s as manager of something like 10 fantasy baseball teams a year, it’s hard to believe that I now only participate in a single fantasy league – and it isn’t even baseball. I’ve finally come around on the idea that football is America’s real national pastime, in no small part to the fact that the season is dramatically shorter than the Major League schedule and team maintenance only requires two or three days of work a week rather than every day.

For the second year, I am running a team in my buddy Chris’ fantasy football league. I finished in 4th place last year, keeping in line with my life-long tradition of mediocrity. Our auction draft took place on Friday night and after something like three-and-a-half hours, this is my team. Brace yourselves. It’s garbage:

It's a good thing they don't play the games on paper.

It’s a good thing they don’t play the games on paper.

Allow me to justify my picks. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to convince you of anything; I’m simply trying to talk myself into it.

Matt Ryan: Solid quarterback, solider nickname. Weak division schedule, and something about him being really good every other year. This is a good year. I was not aware of this statistical anomaly until a friend pointed it out. Best Case Scenario: Ryan gets full, healthy seasons from his receivers and the Falcons defense is terrible so he’s got to throw the ball a ton.

Tom Brady: I know he’s suspended, but there’s a chance A) he won’t actually be suspended and B) he decides he’s going to take out the entire #Deflategate saga on his opponents. I know he still doesn’t have a true number 1 receiver, but oh, that hair! Best Case Scenario: Something inside of Tom Brady snaps and he murders every single defense they put in front of him. This, of course, would include him somehow being able to accurately throw the ball downfield.

Adrian Peterson: I know he’s old for a running back and he’s had an entire year off. But what do you think he was doing while he was suspended? Crying about it? No, this freak of nature had a picture of Roger Goodell taped to the mirror in his humble cabin while he was training on primitive apparatus in a barn in Russia in the dead of winter. He was doing sit-ups as Fran Tarkenton punched him in the abs while screaming “No pain!” Best Case Scenario: I get the old Adrian Peterson. Meanwhile, the worst case scenario is I get an old Adrian Peterson.

Matt Forte: Jay Cutler.

Mike Evans: This is really a bet on Jameis Winston. I’m hoping that Winston is a quarterback who can actually get the ball to Evans, and that Evans stays in one piece for the entire season. That’s a lot of “ifs,” but I like my fantasy football team like I like my romantic relationships: transcendent or a train wreck with no in-between. Best Case Scenario: Evans stays healthy, becomes a red zone threat, makes one play a week that I re-watch on Twitter between 5 and 80 times.

Andre Johnson: Andrew Luck.

DeSean Jackson: Purely an upside pick. I knew that his quarterback situation was sketchy, and now Cousins has been named the starter for Week 1. I don’t know even know how to feel about this. Both RG III and Cousins are pretty terrible and I have the feeling that the only thing I will watch Jackson do this season is decelerate on go and fly routes as Cousins has checked down or been sacked. Best Case Scenario: Jackson runs posts and flys all season and somebody playing quarterback actually gets him the ball on 20% of them.

Jimmy Graham: I had Graham on my team two years ago (is that the last time he was good?) and he was a monster. Gronk was already gone by this point in the draft and I didn’t want to fall into a situation where I literally would not know who my tight end was or I’d have to overpay for Jason Witten out of loyalty. Best Case Scenario: Recovery water gives Russell Wilson tunnel vision that prevents him from seeing any receivers other than Graham. Also, Graham gets Recovery Water mainlined into his bloodstream and he stays on the field all season.

Charles Johnson: I like receivers with the last name Johnson. Also, in the 5 minutes of research I did, I saw his name a bunch of times. No, I didn’t know who he was before the draft. Yes, I fully expect this to turn out like last year’s Cordarrelle Patterson hype pick. Best Case Scenario: This turns out to be the opposite of the Cordarrelle Patterson hype pick.

Steven Gostkowski: I spent a lot of money early in the draft and wanted to spend $1 on my next pick. Welcome to the team, Steve! Best Case Scenario: Jimmy Garoppolo can’t get drives into the endzone during the first four games and Gostkowski has to kick a lot of medium-long range field goals.

Houston Texans Defense: J.J. Watt. Best Case Scenario: Brian Hoyer is a competent quarterback and the Texans defense only has to play 65% of the game’s snaps as opposed to their customary 90%. The unit will therefore be fresher and in attack mode all game.

The Bench

Jameis Winston and Joe Flacco: This is QB2 by committee. I’m just trying to piece together something until Tom Brady comes back in Keyser Soze-mode. Best Case Scenario: One or both emerge as a viable QB2 option and I can sell one or both high later, even though to my recollection there wasn’t a single trade in this league last season. A guy can dream and basically, that’s what this entire team is.

Isaiah Crowell: He’s going to start right? The Browns’ offensive line is heathier than last season, right? No? Damn it, Draft Kit!

Julian Edelman: Full disclosure: I did not prepare at all for this draft. Edelman was the first player nominated and I snagged him for $6 and I thought I got a steal because the ESPN print out had him at $24. But then that was for a 12-team league and I’m in an 8-team league and I don’t think my information was correct because Megatron went for $31. I don’t know what I’m doing. But if Edelman throws 12 WR-Option TD passes, I’ll look like a genius. Those count, right? Right?

Ryan Matthews: I had a lot of money left at the end of the draft and wanted a high-upside pick. Best Case Scenario: I watched DeMarco Murray carry the ball 847 times last season. That’s got to catch up with him. When it does, Matthews becomes Philly’s RB1 and tears the league apart except for those games against the Cowboys.

Lance Dunbar: Dallllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeese! Best Case Scenario: Run DMC is exactly who we thought he was. Joseph Randle does something stupid. Again. Dunbar rattles off 6.3 yards a carry behind the best offensive line in football. Yes, I realize that if this happens, the Cowboys are in deep sh*t.


The original name for my team is (Balls) Probable, but now I feel obligated to change it. The standard for team names in our league is Chris’ unit, My Ball Zach Ertz. Now, I don’t want you to get any ideas about our league or the members of it based solely on these two team names. It’s a small sample. Anyway, I have no idea what kind of pun-ish name I could take on. If you have any suggestions, by all means, let me know.

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