In mid-August I was given a tweet by my friend, Dan Ferdinand (@danferdinand) who asked if I was up to joining an NFL fantasy league. I had experienced Fantasy football for the first time proper last season on the nfl.com website, I enjoyed some success winning the Plate final, but for a first year rookie I was chuffed.
Joining a Fantasy football league changes your entire outlook on the viewing experience of the NFL. Instead of focusing solely on one team and division, for me the New England Patriots and AFC East; you change into this sponge of information and knowledge. Your depth and recognition of names and statistics become huge; you watch injury reports, waiver wires.
For the first time this season, I pay attention to the inactives report on Sunday afternoon, for example, if Greg Jennings is out for the Green Bay Packers (which is becoming as frequent as Darren Anderton on the treatment table) then you know a different Packer WR/TE will get more targets. You also pay attention to who scores which teams touchdowns, for instance Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis does the horse cart work for the Cincinnati Bengals yet does not get the touchdown figures.
The league Dan asked me join was the Dundeenfl Dynasty league, set up by four gents from Dundee, Scotland (Ian, John, Russell, Martin) along with some other friends and wives. Dan also asked if my brother, Sean would want to join. Sean is always game for a challenge but more on that later.
For the first time I had to do my pre-draft rankings, ranking the top 200 players in my opinion based on total points expected for the season. This may seem a trivial and silly matter based on us being unable to see injuries and momentum shifts. For example, who knew that the Colts coach would be diagnosed with leukeamia or that Ray Lewis would injury his triceps and ruin his season.
It becomes more prevalent when the draft order comes out, of which I was ranked #1 overall. This is a blessing and a curse, and led to much debate between myself and Dan about who should I take first - Tom Brady (my golden boy) or Aaron Rodgers (the reigning MVP). Being 1st overall, means you are last in the 2nd round, so you get picks 1, 20, 21, 40, 41. The draft is electrifying and a brilliant night as you pick things on the fly, as people are swiped from you. Twice I break Dan's heart by stealing the aforementioned BJGE Law Firm and Rashard Mendenhall (Pittsburgh) for two of my RBs along with rookie Doug Martin of Tampa Bay.
As for my brother, I sat with him when he did his rankings, I laughed as he picked the Patriots defence in the top 50. And other names like Randy Moss, Dennis Pitta, Reggie Bush all appeared in his top 100. These names would be lower on people's boards, and to make the draft night funnier, Sean was out on the night so his draft was automatic and yet he ended up getting those he wanted - Tom Brady fell to him 4th overall, he got Moss, Pitta, Bush and a steal in Jamal Charles (Chiefs). Sean sits 4-2 after six games. I sit 1-5, with my tail somewhat between my leagues although the figures show I have been unlucky. Here are the facts:
Week 1 - Team Garwood 111.12 (0-1) lost to Forrester's Flayers (Martin) 122.56 (1-0)
Usually if you score close to 90 points you are good for a win, so imagine how I feel. I have Rodgers(22.82) who lost to the 49ers, yet Martin has two high scorers in Matt Ryan (32.46) a great pick after 6 weeks obviously. I get some good production but seem to get less TD scores from my receivers, and my pick of Greg Jennings (3.40) and his persistent injuries will be a show of things to come.
Week 2 - Team Garwood 63.96 (0-2) lost to Gronk if your horny (Ian) 111.54 (2-0)
My second consecutive Dundee opponent, and I get my arse handed to me. Rodgers (10.16) loses to RG3 (30.44) in a huge mismatch. Rodgers played the Bears and was intercepted, you need to have a QB who can avoid turnovers, maybe I should have checked the schedule better for Rodgers. RG3 is a fantasy monster, 200+ yards passing and 80+ yards rushing and a rushing TD. My receiving core again fails me, not helped by the injury sustained by Aaron Hernandez (0.00) before he can register a reception, and Robert Meachem (0.00) getting nothing. No-one on my bench would have saved me. Ian also had Marshawn Lynch (18.20) and Reggie Wayne (13.10)
Week 3 - Team Garwood 91.72 (0-3) lost to Mistake on the lake (Simon) 109.22 (2-1)
Rodgers is getting on my tits, 10.62 versus the Seahawks in that infamous replacement ref game. I lose to Andrew Luck (23.52) who is having a great first year. My highest scorer is the Bears Defence (23.00) who beat the Giants D (16.00), but the receiving core curse continues. Greg Jennings (3.5) and Jacob Tamme (3.1) are low scorers and the loss of Hernandez for a few weeks will be massive. Yet Santonio Holmes (14.7) is good, but no TD costs me a victory.
Week 4 - Team Garwood 90.96 (0-4) lost to Gants Hill Raiders (Dan) 112.92 (4-0)
In a clash of Hogan v the Rock, undefeated beats unwinnable. I face the man who brought me to the party. and despite Rodgers (28.06) winning the QB showdown versus Peyton Manning (25.47), Rodgers is guilty of one turnover that costs me points that could have won the game. Dan gets great numbers from Brandon Lloyd (11), AJ Green (17.7) and Gronkowski (14.4). Something is wrong when my second highest scorer is my D (24.00) and my third highest is my kicker Matt Prater (15.00). I am still scoring high though and I am competing, I need injuries to go my way and good things can happen.
Week 5 - Team Garwood 92.10 (0-5) lost to Brown Bears 109.34 (Holly) (5-0)
Excuses are for losers, but at 0-5 the excuses are the only things to have. Santonio Holmes has gone on the IR with a Lisfranc injury and I lose to a girl, who forgets to fill two bye players and she still beats me. Rodgers (25.10) outscores her QB Cam Newton (7.84) easily, yet unlike me she gains valuable points from her receivers, Marques Colston (31.10 - 131 yards, 3 TDs) and Victor Cruz (23.00, 50 yards, 3TDs). My highest receiver is Jacob Tamme (5.00, 50 yards). At least Mendenhall is back, and the Bears defence keep scoring pick 6s which help me to 28.00, yet they are having a bye next week.
Week 6 - Team Garwood (70.54) (1-5) beat Team Epping FC 54.00 (4-2)
Break out the bubbly, I win a game. Yet how do I win without a defence, and by dropping my quarterback Aaron Rodgers. I dropped him as I thought against the Texans he might suffer, yet 6 TDs later teach me a lesson. I picked Philip Rivers who scored 5.64 with 4 INTs and two fumbles. Finally though I gain numbers from receivers, Jeremy Maclin (19.00), promoted Denarius Moore (16.40) and Doug Martin (13.10), whilst my brother got my curse with only one player in double digits, Brady (19.80), his next highest scorer is Reggie Bush and he gets no receiving/rushing TD from his team.
How I won, I do not know. But its my first and like Cleveland Browns I can smell a sea change and division title coming. How I won, scoring my second lowest point total is bizarre. Yet like the NFL for real, parity is here to stay and consistency is so inconsistent.
Check back with me over the next few weeks for fantasy updates.
Follow me on twitter @JamieGarwood for all NFL updates.
Follow @DundeeNFL and visit their website www.dundeeNFL.com where you can read about them and also listen to their excellent 4th & Out podcast which is both funny and enlightening.