The Fantasy Comes Alive
I have long tried to pick winners in several pro contests, but had never played fantasy football. However, in August when a friend volunteered to act as the commissioner for a Yahoo Sports league, I signed up.
We had real preseason festivities. With a pair of pizzas, participants seated around an oval table, and a time clock, it had the dramatic feel of an NFL draft (albeit much smaller).
In 21st century fashion, only half the 10 managers were there. The rest chose by phone or allowed the computer to pick.
I discovered that no advance preparation for a league is a prescription for disaster. With little idea of whom to choose, I struggled to grasp the process, even with my laptop providing a bigger screen than my phone.
As if I didn’t feel enough pressure, things moved at lighting speed. When your turn came, you only had 60 seconds to decide.
A bit rattled as the seconds ticked by, I was still hunting through available players when … “Time’s up!” The computer assigned me my first draft pick, LA Rams’ receiver Cooper Kupp. Slight problem: he was on injured reserve.
Fantasy Football: A Bad Omen
I had to ask the commissioner for help in selecting a replacement. Starting the season with your top draft pick on the bench is a bad omen. A very bad omen.
The day after the draft, Yahoo sent out its evaluations, written by ChatGPT. They graded my draft F, ripped my selections to shreds, and predicted that I would finish in last place.
Now, while that would send many managers into a deep depression, for me it was a great stress reliever. I had nowhere to go but up! Just winning one game would be a thrill. Imagine anyone losing to my team and facing the humiliation of going down to the projected Biggest Loser.
Turns out the evaluation was on target. My team lost its first two match-ups by 40-plus points. In week three, I was again projected to lose, only this time by half as much.
ChatGPT was wrong this time, however. Somehow I eked out a victory by one point. I found great satisfaction in Deshaun Watson scoring more than 20 points after the AI commentator derided that pick in its preseason evaluation.
I got another chuckle from ChatGPT’s post-game commentary for week three. It lauded me for “climbing to tenth place” with the victory. It’s a bit hard to climb when you’re already in tenth place.
After losing two more games and having to bench Watson because of injury, a bright spot opened. Irritated one week when my back-up QB netted less than one point, I looked for a replacement and found that San Francisco’s Brock Purdy was available.
Forced to start Purdy with Watson still on the sidelines, I then watched Purdy play the worst game of his career. Nonetheless, his 8.7 points were far better than my previous back-up.
With a couple other starters—including the now-active Kupp—over-achieving that day, I won by about 24 points. And, actually climbed to eight place.
Alas, despite a better showing from Brock, the following week I lost by four points to the undefeated #1 team. A few days later, I learned Brock was in concussion protocol. Searching for another starter, I landed Houston QB (and Ohio State grad) C.J. Stroud.
Whether all this managerial juggling will keep me in eighth place in the fantasy football league has yet to be seen. Anything to stay out of the cellar.