On Saturday, we held our second annual Fantasy Football draft for the Robert A. Zimmerman League (Holy crap that’s a mouthful…). Anyway, we did it BIG this year, with a keg and TONS of delicious food. It was pretty great. My team, on the other hand, well… I’m pretty unsure about it. (Hint: I need some validation. So, tell me how awesome of a team I have.)

There were a few big changes this year. The biggest change was moving from a 12-person league to a 14-person league (I personally feel 14 is waaaay too many, but what do I know, I’m just The Girl.)

Two people from last year dropped out… well, one guy dropped out, the other was kicked out for not drafting his team (he couldn’t make the draft), nor managing his team for half the year (someone else did), nor changing his line up and he made it into the playoffs and finished 2nd in the league.

So, our commish says, “4 new people are joining the league. Since it’s a keeper league, two people will inherit the two existing teams in the league and the other 2 new people will draft 13 & 14 in the 1st 2 rounds.” (not exact quote, but close enough). So I’m talking to my life partner Brian (his brother is the commish with a guy name Jake…) and explain how inherently unfair and sucky that is. One team had LeSean McCoy…I feel like you have to EARN a player like that, you don’t just INHERIT LeSean “I wanna be Ray Rice” McCoy… SMH!! So, after Brian talks to his brother, it’s decided that all the players from the 2 teams go back into the pool. This was 3 days before the draft, folks. Cutting it real close….

So… Friday and most of the day Saturday I’m looking up players listening to podcasts and making my list. Now, my list isn’t a “I NEED to have these guys”-type list. It’s more of a “people said nice things about these guys”-sort of list. (Excuse the sloppy handwriting and rage-cross outs, it’s hard to write with my index finger in a splint and I get angry when someone drafts the guy I was going after that round.)

The draft was pretty much a crapshoot. With 14 people in our league it means you have to be strategic about when you draft people because they probably won’t be around the next time around. Furthermore, with this keeper bullshit, I was under the impression that you had to skip the round you originally drafted someone in. Last year, I picked Ray Rice in the first and Julio Jones in the 6th. But our lovely commissioners decided that if you keep two, you skip the FIRST TWO rounds (1 keeper = skipped 1st round). So… that kinda sucked. But oh well.

My only real concern was a quarterback and a good tight end. I knew running backs were going to suck and wide-receivers are a dime a dozen, kinda.

So, with the 8th pick (snake draft) in the 2012 draft… here’s my team:

Here’s the order in which I drafted my team:

#1 – Ray Rice (keeper) – RB
#2- Julio Jones (keeper) – WR
#3 – Philip Rivers – QB – Ugh!! Not sure how I feel about this one. I don’t know ANYTHING about the Bolts… and furthermore… I don’t even know if Rivers is a decent QB. Sure, he was ranked above Fitz and Bathroom Raper, but… yeah… going to have to do some research here.
#4 – Peyton Hillis – RB
#5 – Jason Witten – TE – He’s “out-ish” with a spleen injury… FML
#6 – Eric Decker – WR
#7 – Kendall Wright – WR
#8 – Rashad Jennings – RB – Pretty much just banking on MJD being a douche nozzle with this one. Although, it’s an especially great pick because someone kept MJD and didn’t even know he was holding out. (ha!) I also hear the Jags don’t plan on trading Maurice, so…now I just pray for injuries. (Mean, I know, but all’s fair in Fantasy Football.)
#9 – Darrius Heyward-Bey – WR – Not even really sure what I was thinking here. Hope he’s worth a 9th round pick. *shrug*
#10- Jermaine Gresham – TE
#11 – Jerome Simpson – WR I know he’s suspended, but pickins were slim.
#12 – Russell Wilson – QB The day after I picked him Seattle announced he was their starter. Dodged a bullet there!
#13 – Jason Hanson – K
#14 – Eagles D/ST
#15 – Danny Woodhead – WR – Probably going to keep him around for a bye week drop.
#16 – Pass. – I’ll pick someone up off of waivers. We were drunk and tired at this point.

4.5 hours later… there you have it.

Ultimately one of my goals was to not have anyone on the same team. I met that goal, so that’s awesome. But I also wanted to have a “OMG MY TEAM IS SOOO AWESOME!!”-type of draft. But instead I walked away with… “meh…I guess that will do.” I’m sure when the season starts, and I can see what these guys can actually do, I might be a little more excited. I did see Eric Decker scoring TD’s like a champ during the Broncos pre-season game the other day. So, that’s definitely good and I know lil’ Ray Ray will be a beast, and I have high hopes for Julio Jones. He did pretty good for me last year (but I also had Greg Jennings, so I didn’t need to rely on Jones as much) and if all the analysts are right (and they’re usually not), he’s going to have an awesome year!

Happy (almost) Fantasy Football season, folks! And may the draft always go in your favor (or something. It never works out that way. Someone always gets screwed, hopefully it’s not you. /RealTalk)

The headline may be a little dramatic, but it’s sort of true, none the less. Here’s the story of how it all began.

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Background info for those who don’t know:

I’m a sports fan. Love baseball, football and hockey. As far as football is concerned, I basically looked at football sunday as a day to watch the game and lounge around in my pj’s. For years it was a running joke that I only watched the first half of the Vikings game, then I took a nap until 4th quarter was almost over. I knew who key players were from around the league, mostly only the big names though, QBs and RBs and some WRs. I knew the major penalties and the basics of football. But never paid much attention to other teams unless they were playing the Vikings.

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Back in August, @Bnizz81 (Brian) asked me if I wanted to join his brother’s fantasy football team. They needed more people and were apparently really desperate. (Kidding.) So I decided to join. I spent weeks four days researching players, stats, listening to fantasy football radio shows (yeah, they exist) and going over who I wanted on my team.

The night before the draft Brian and I sat at the kitchen table, with computers, lists of player rankings and probably beer. I would waiver from “I’m just going to go with the best available player” to “no, I need a damn strategy, if I get the 10th pick I’m picking a quarterback, but if I end up some where in the middle, I’m picking a running back.” I’d ask Brian about players I’d never heard of and I’d highlight the ones I wanted, adding an “L” next to the late rounders, and “LS” for “late sleepers.” I felt proud, I had a plan and super secret codes. And I even named my team “The Girl” (because when I beat a guy, they’d have to say “The Girl kicked my ass today.” and also, I was the only girl in the league at the time) I was ready.

Then came our draft. Tables were set up, computers everywhere and of course food and beer. I think I got the 4th pick (I can’t really remember). And we began.

It was going so fast and finally it was my turn. I grabbed Ray Rice.

I’m pretty sure I grabbed Fred Jackson next, then Ben Roethlisberger. 6 hours and a 12-pack later, I had my team.

Wk 1 team, no longer have players oulined in red

A couple weeks later, the season began.

Prior to the first Sunday: I set my line up and let it go. I actually didn’t obsess about it too much simply because I knew I had a killer team. (Ok, I probably did obsess about it a little. I was a girl in a fantasy football league with people I knew, unlike those other leagues where you don’t know anyone, and there’s money on the line. I had something to prove.)

First game day: I watched most of the games. We had food laid out and I spent most of the day watching games and periodically checking my score. (I didn’t want to get too excited).

This went on for a few weeks. Then it started to turn ugly. I went from “periodically” checking my fantasy score, to being obsessed with it. Three minutes into a game I’d be pissed (jokingly, of course) if Ben hadn’t thrown for two dozen yards already. My phone would be nearly dead by the end of the early games from checking my score so much, it was a good day if it lasted until the late afternoon games. Then came the redzone phase. On my cable it’s not in HD so that kinda sucks, but I’d flip between the Fox game, the CBS game (if there was one) and the red zone. This went on all. day. long. I’d even wake up early to watch the fantasy football show on ESPN 2. I became an addict.

Sunday nights I’d stay up until waaay passed my bed time to watch SNF and of course the same thing on Monday (although, if I didn’t have players, I’d head to sleep early.)

Then came the injuries and bye weeks.

First it was Dan Carpenter’s busted leg. I wasn’t too worried, picking up a kicker isn’t a big deal.

The bye weeks. They were rough. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Then the most devastating injuries: Jahvid Best and Fred Jackson. I thought it was all over. I picked up Jonathan Stewart to replace Best and C.J. Spiller to replace Jackson. They’ve been ok. But I really miss having Best and Jackson.

The most challenging part of my fantasy team has to be my quarterback situation. If I started Ben, Fitz would have a killer game, or if I started Fitz, Ben would have a killer game. I even got so pissed at Fitz (after his billion dollar contract ruined him) that I dropped him and picked up Orton a few weeks ago. Out of spite mostly. And partially because I hated having to pick between two decent quarterbacks every week. I eventually picked up Fitz again, because I missed the heartbreak and failure, apparently.

Now, we’re heading into the playoffs. I’m 7-5 (most of my losses happened during the bye weeks). I think I’ll plan to keep my line up almost exactly how it is. But that will definitely depend on who I’m playing and how I decide to manage my QB situation. If you follow me on Twitter you know every Sunday I ask “Should I start Ben or Fitz?” I don’t expect that to change through the playoffs.

Week 12 lineup

In the end, I’ve realized that fantasy football has helped me be a better fan. I can more easily spot pass interference, offsides and holding calls before the ref even blows the whistle. But there’s a dark side, many conversations are now starting to revolve around football. Not just on Sundays but everywhere. I’m beginning to forget what the hell we talked about before all this fantasy football stuff started.

My next struggle after the playoffs: deciding which players I want to keep for next year.