Fantasy Football Ruined the NFL

I started writing this before the Monday Night Football game between the Cleveland, I mean St. Louis, wait, no, the Los Angeles (for the second stint) Rams and the San Francisco 49ers. The timing is imperative to the story, as when I began, I had a ninety-nine percent chance of winning my fantasy football matchup. The score was 89.46 to 70.52. The only player my opponent had left was the 49ers defense. The 49ers defense was really good, but the Rams had a high-powered offense, despite their sluggish start to the season. Nineteen points? It would be a huge night for the 49ers defense. It was doable, but the Rams would manage a few touchdowns. Sean McVay is supposedly an offensive genius.

I didn’t bother watching the game figuring I’d get some writing done. I smiled and laughed, thinking about the name of this story. Fantasy football didn’t ruin the NFL. I was being dramatic. Quick lines and jokes were flowing on the page. Victory was in my hands. On and off the field.

Right before 11 p.m. EST, my fortunes changed.

I checked my fantasy football app. The Niners defense was having a solid game. A few sacks. Only allowed three field goals. But heading into the fourth quarter, my first fantasy football victory of the season was practically a done deal. I still had a ninety-nine percent chance of winning, but one thing every fantasy footballer knows is to never trust the odds.

With just under six minutes left in the game, the god-damn Rams ruined everything.

The San Francisco 49ers defense tallied up a few more sacks, returned an interception for a touchdown, recovered a fumble, and allowed less than three hundred total yards of offense. That equated to twenty-two points.

92.52–89.46

My ninety percent chance of victory turned to zero.

The game was over.

I hate fantasy football.

Another bullshit, last minute, fluke fucking loss.

The loss dropped me to 0–4.

My quarterback this week? Marcus Mariota. 4.86 points. He hadn’t scored below eighteen in a game before I picked him up. Trey Lance ruined my first two weeks. A bad performance against the Bears in Week 1 and him being made of glass in Week 2 ended his season. Carson Wentz couldn’t even get decent numbers with plenty of garbage time against the Eagles in Week 3. On the season, my quarterbacks scored under eleven points in every fucking game. If I had a semi-normal week, with a QB reaching the standard eighteen to thirty points quarterbacks get in the league, I’d have at least two wins.

I hate fantasy football.

I’m quitting after this year. It does nothing but ruin football for me. Every offseason I’m researching college players, doing mock drafts, and keeping a pulse on the latest news, moves, and rumors in the NFL.

“Brian, want to go to the beach?” “Fuck you, I’m on mock draft #72.”

Yet, no matter what I do, how I draft, or who I pick up, some bullshit always happens to my fantasy football team. A quarterback kneel down cost me a playoff win. A kicker blowing out his knee on the opening kickoff ruined another game. Bad player performances against worse defenses. An offensive game plan that doesn’t feature the football player on my team. Going against a team where every god-damn player has a career-fucking-day. On and on. I’ve experienced every type of loss imaginable, but here I am twenty-two years into my fantasy football career finding new ways to lose.

I debate turning on the Monday Night Football postgame show. I don’t know if I can handle the pain. Plus, football shows are trash these days. They’re filled with math dorks who crunch algorithms to win fantasy football games, former players trying to coin a catchphrase for their new weekly segment, or gamblers talking about the best odds and parlays. The worst of the shows though, are the fantasy football ones that are mostly Q&As with the Twitter verse.

“Let’s take a question from social media. Here’s what Dakin’ Off submitted: Should I start Jonathan Taylor or Cooper Kupp in my FLEX?”

How does someone have two of the top three players in fantasy football? How did someone with that type of question get past the show’s producer/screener? Why would either player ever be in the FLEX? And finally, how come every damn fantasy football show takes questions from people in two-person leagues?

“Should I start Derrick Henry or Christian McCaffrey?”

I hate fantasy football.

I miss the days when NFL programs broke down coaches’ game films showing fans the intricacies of football. Blocking schemes. Blitzes. Offensive strategy. Those shows are extinct. No longer do I enjoy the small details of a game plan as I find myself cursing men, who I don’t know, for dropping passes. Damning the evolution of the goal line back. Calling professional coaches morons for stupid game plans, even if they’re effective.

Sometimes it feels like the NFL has abandoned its diehard fans who love the game, knowing they’re addicted. They won’t turn away … as long as there’s football. More important to the NFL and its “shareholders” are the gamblers, who believe this week is the week they’re going to hit The Big One, and casual fans, who feel guilty for not being hip to the team, so they buy NFL jerseys, hats, aprons, bumper sticks and more team merchandise to prove they are a true fan. Touchdowns, pink jerseys, odd boosts, double doinks, prop bets, and player celebrations. No more X and O’s.

I’m getting old. That last paragraph felt like the old “back when I was young, things were better” thinking. It’s dangerous, and always incorrect. If it’s not, things have been going downhill for humanity every year since we started inhabiting this Earth. Either way, I’m sure instant replay, commercial breaks, and rules to protect quarterbacks appalled the football generations before me. I bet there are some old fans who hated the now extinct TV programs that broke down the game film. Maybe they thought it ruined the mystery of the sport. Or couldn’t stand how it gave away coaching strategy.

I closed my eyes and turned on the TV, hoping it would calm me down.

A red breaking news bar breaks across the bottom of the screen. 49ers defeat Rams 24–9. A painful reminder that I hate fantasy football. But. Wait. More NFL news. Cordarrelle Patterson is on the IR? I can snag Tyler Allgeier from the waiver wire. There’s an update coming tomorrow on Dak Prescott, my QB, after he visits the team doctor. It’s only Week Four. If Dak can play this week, that’ll solve my quarterback problem. There’s plenty of time to catch up in the standings. A few good moves, and I got this. I’ll have to read some articles and do some research. This is the last week though. If another bullshit loss happens, I’m out. for real this time.

But what if I win? I still have a chance at this. Coming back from 0–4 is possible. Can you imagine? 0–4 to League Champion?

Another update flashes across the screen. Odell Beckham Jr. may sign with Green Bay? What’s my waiver wire position? OBJ with ARod? Could be huge.

The post-game show teased more NFL updates. The next segment would give me the fantasy football answers I needed. But I’d have to endure a few messages from NFL sponsors first. No problem. I’d wait. At least for another week.

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Brian Price

Stories about the struggles of a millennial trying to stay a float in our chaotic world.