|A fantasy writing opportunity? Keep dreaming. (Getty images)|
Bill Simmons' site, Grantland, on ESPN launched a contest to find their next fantasy football writer. Now, as a purveyor of sports/fantasy knowledge, aside from the odds being against me, I was forced to enter at the mere shot of getting into the competition.
The rules were simple enough. Pick your top 5 fantasy players and 1 sleepers, keep it to 750 words, and be original. Ok, I can do that. As a matter of fact, I can easily do that.
As I focused in on writing my 750 word essay, I started to think of the implications of what I was doing. The essay would only get me into the contest, where a varied point system would be developed among the 10-12 other contestants in order to pick a winner at the end of the football season.
Would you believe it, but some people took the cynical approach and "thanked" Grantland for offering to get free fantasy football content for a year and then offer up a "meager" contributor contract to write for Grantland for a year (and I guess potentially longer if you're the bee's knees).
I write and maintain Lockration. not because I have some delusion of becoming the next Bill Simmons or that ESPN or Yahoo or CBS will shoot me an email saying they like my stuff and want me to work for them full-time. I know that requires this site to get probably close to 100K hits a day, which this site is currently running behind by about 99,989 hits. I would write about fantasy sports, MMA, major sports, or that sport where the horses dance around with braided manes if I could earn a living off of it. This is fun for me. This is leisure. Each post is basically a first draft I write off the top of my head, do a little research for links and such, and I post it. All-in-all, I can write something up in about 40 minutes. This is my zen.
This takes me back to the implications of entering the contest and wanting to really, truly win. I was having dreams of winning, I felt it in my guts. You'll see in the entry below for my sleeper pick of Kyle Rudolph, I make some very similar comments to a Bill Barnwell (see. Copycat Contract) article posted days later! I was basically writing as a Grantlander already! Now, of course, I'm no where as prolific, good, or anything positive compared to Barnwell, but to me it was a sign.
If I entered this, did my best, and didn't win, then what? Would I sully my zen? Validation is a word I always tied to a weakness. Validation is something a person needed to know they belong. How could they possibly ever know if they were good enough if someone didn't pat them on the back? I thought it was weak, lame, and unnecessary. But as I wrote the article, submitted it, and waited for the results, what I was looking for was...validation. I wanted a pat on the back welcoming me to a new life and career path with unlimited potential and making me probably one of the happiest people on the planet.
In that instance I saw when people say validation, what they meant. Most stories you hear of people needing validation are famous cases. A QB getting the starting gig, a baseball Hall of Famer tabbing a youngster as the future of the sport, a maligned NBA superstar finally getting his first/overdue championship. These are not instances of weak people but people that are seeking to find that cozy spot in life where they know and feel they've always belonged.
That's what getting into this contest would have represented to me. So, now that the results are out and I'm posting this article, clearly that did not happen. While I was bummed for about 10 minutes, I was happy to realize that this did not mess with my head. I didn't say screw this writing stuff. I was happy to continue on this path that I'm making and come of it what may.
Plus when I saw some of the entries that were posted online for this contest, they were horrible! I mean HORRIBLE! So I know that my entry wasn't the worst, but it wasn't the best either.
The gist of what I've gathered regarding the winners submissions they were a little more over the top than my entry. My thought process was, they're asking for the Top 5 Fantasy players and a sleeper not to judge your football acumen (as many Top 5's are the same thing) but rather narrow the scope to judge the best writing. So maybe I should have authored another essay but only made it Game of Throes themed or something more outlandish to really...show...my chops.
But it's also possible the other articles were just vastly superior to mine. It's happened before, it'll happen again. Nonetheless here are my Top 5 Fantasy picks for Football (note: some of the links may not work since I copied and pasted it).
Arian Foster, RB
Last year dramatically shifted the way fantasy football is played. Four of the top six all-time single season passing yardage records were set in 2011, tight ends put up wide receiver numbers, and numerous cable packages geared towards fantasy football revealed to an untold number of significant others how pathetic the person they thought they loved really was.
With all that changed in fantasy, some things stay the same. You take the best running back available with the #1 pick. Foster, the pontificating point-smith of fantasy, has said he doesn’t care for the hobby, but he certainly plays like he does by averaging 140.25 total YPG and 1.03 TD/G. Also, for those nervous about injuries, or Ben Tate, or Ben Tate injuring Foster Showgirls style – don’t play scared.
Aaron Rodgers, QB
Rodgers is fantasy’s cool ocean breeze at the par 4 No. 8 at Pebble Beach, as innovative as a James Murphy track, and as comforting as a guaranteed 20 points a week (which Rodgers did in every week last year but one). He threw all of 6 INTs last year while scrambling for an additional 3 TDs. Also, he’s the only player that has been in the top three in fantasy points the last four years.
His football environment breeds success. He may not get much better, but at his numbers that’s perfectly alright.
Ray Rice, RB
Rice may be the best running back in football, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best fantasy running back. Aside from being healthy (playing the full 16 the past 3 years) and coming off a career year (eclipsing his personal record for total TDs in a season by 7), the concern with Rice has always been his supporting cast. The thing that makes him as valuable as he is – is his greatest weakness: he’s all the Ravens have on offense. Every week the opposing team’s defense focuses on stopping Rice. Now you can file that under ‘E’ for Easier Said Than Done, but accounting for 48% of a team’s offensive touches week by week can lead to inconsistency.
LeSean McCoy, RB
You know you’ve arrived when you’re known by your nickname. Happened with my buddy, Patch (he had a birthmark over his left-eye…kind of like the Target dog). For Shady, scoring 20 total TDs helped him dash and cut his way to the elite RB table and grab the big piece of chicken.
Shady’s fantasy potential is contingent on the exact opposite issue Rice has. “There aren’t enough TDs to go around!” He’s grabbed 40, 78, 48 passes the past 3 years in Philly’s hybrid West Coast offense and led all backs in FootballOutsiders.com’s effective yards. The Eagles have many weapons, but even if Shady loses a couple goal line scampers, he’s still elite…although you might want to discuss that with this blasphemer.
Calvin Johnson, WR
There isn’t a more fun player to watch play football than Johnson. He passes the eye test, science test, and nerd test. He needs to be included in any-and-all, “What if this guy played this other sport” and “who needs their own YouTube channel” conversations.
There are some Optimus Primes sullying the Megatron love-fest. The pesky regression police have increased their jurisdiction from fantasy baseball to fantasy football. No receiver has caught the number of TDs (16) Megatron did last year and matched/increased that number the following season. But he did score 73 more fantasy points than the next best WR, and that receiver has him or him hurling hog-hind and reading defenses. In a shallow pool, take the elite level wideout.
Kyle Rudolph, TE
Football is a copycat sport. Someone finds a Madden-type-glitch in the game and people follow suit. Looking at the breakout stars of 2011; all signs pointed to tight end and Kyle Rudolph. He may just be Gronk-incarnate.
The 6’6 2nd-year pro started only 1 game (played 8), but he managed to haul in 3 TDs. Along with a nose for the end zone, it’s also important to show that Rudolph can utilize his size to catch the ball and stretch the field. Looking at advanced stats, he was able to do this with an above-average catch rate of 66.7% and 20% of pass attempts his way being beyond 15 yards from the line of scrimmage. While he has been injured during the preseason, the Vikings have the offense to make Rudolph a fantasy factor and continue the TE trend.