The Classic Fantasy Football Work League

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Praise the mighty football gods, non-preseason football has arrived. 

The NFL season officially kicks off today, Thursday, September 5th at 5:20 PM when the Green Bay Packers head to the Windy City to play the Chicago Bears. Millions of people will be watching with keen interest; some rooting for either (or neither) of these NFC North teams, some eager for any NFL appetizers they can get, and some with Aaron Rodgers or the Bears Defense expected to put up points on their fantasy rosters.

Note: Our sensational Seattle Seahawks welcome the woeful Cincinnati Bengals to CenturyLink on Sunday at 1:10 PM.

Like almost 60 million people across the United States, I play in a fantasy football league. In fact, I play in three leagues, each one operating with different scoring systems, roster structures, and levels of competitiveness. In one league, I serve as the commissioner; in another, I co-manage my team with my brother; in the third, like so many others, I try my absolute best to destroy my coworker’s teams.

For the next several months, I’ll be blissfully bombarded by pre-9 AM line-up chats and post-lunch trade negotiations as my office league moves through the season. 

And I can’t wait. 

I’m fortunate to thoroughly enjoy my job, but adding the fantasy football frosting atop the coworker cupcake makes my day-to-day all the sweeter.

Today, I entered my 10-team work league snake draft in the #10 position, which is tricky. Selecting players at the turn forces me to not only miss out on those elite, top-tier players, but also know that after picks #10 and #11, I must wait a full 20 picks before I can draft my next guys. That waiting period requires me to occasionally reach past the highest-ranked players to go get the players I truly believe in. The ONLY upside of the last spot in the draft is picking two players back-to-back without the risk of a competitor stealing one from me. Which did happen…

It’s important to point out that my work league, and likely most others, offers a refreshing blend of fantasy football veterans, novices, and everything in-between. That means that researched strategies and competitiveness often give way to sheer randomness, resulting in weekly matchups that range from cakewalks where your opponent doesn’t swap out an injured starter to the utter madness when your team takes a narrow loss (despite superior players and knowledge) because of dumb luck.

It happens, it’s insane, and that’s a fantasy football work league.

However, my work league has a few cunning rogues who play in multiple leagues, do their research, and know what’s what and who’s who in the NFL. So, as I prepared for my draft and the #10 position, I knew roughly who would be available at the end of the first round. Almost as a rule, I invest in Running Backs early and often, so that was my plan for my first two picks, and wouldn’t you know it, both Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns) and James Conner (Pittsburg Steelers) were just sitting there waiting for me. Pow. Pow. That’s my starting RB core, done and done.

Then came the as-long-as-it-sounds wait through the rest of the second round and then back through the third before I got to pick again. During that extensive period, I dug around and started plotting my options with one name in mind. Seahawks starting RB, Chris Carson. 

Now, I wanted to draft Carson for two reasons; first, he’s a talented RB on a run-heavy offense and second, he’s on the Seahawks and I wanted to write about him all season long. Sadly for me (and by extension, you) the team with the #9 pick took him 29th overall, right before I had my shot. And this team’s owner knew I was likely to draft him too, making his theft very wise and ultra-annoying. Damn you, Corey!

Without Carson on the board, I took Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons) and then gambled on Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams) and his unpredictable knee. With these four RBs secured on my squad, when the snake eventually worked its way back to me, I pulled the trigger on quarterback, Deshaun Watson (Huston Texans) and wide receiver, Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams). Now, I normally don’t take a quarterback this early in any draft, but I have real expectations that the Watson-led Texans are going to put up some serious points through the air this season and he was worth the pick in the 5th round.

Next, I added another receiver in Josh Gordon (New England Patriots) and a tight end with Evan Engram (New York Giants). Again, I usually don’t take a TE this early, but I consider Engram the last of the non-streaming TE options on the board and helped solidify my less-than-dazzling pass catchers. Recognizing my own deficiencies, my next three picks hardened my weak WR core, with Christian Kirk (Arizona Cardinals), Sammy Watkins (Kansas City Chiefs), and Marque Valdes-Scantling (Green Bay Packers) all adding much-needed depth.

My final two bench slots went to running backs with high upside, with Justice Hill (Baltimore Ravens) and Dion Lewis (Tennessee Titans) both having a legitimate chance of taking over their respective backfields if/when injuries occur. Lastly, I rounded out my draft with the New England Patriots as my defense and Matt Bryant (Atlanta Falcons) as my kicker.

Overall, I feel great about my running backs, good about my quarterback and tight end, and okay about my wide receivers. If I do nothing else to my roster, I think I’ve got a decent shot at making the playoffs. However, my secret weapon is a passionate (read: obsessive) approach to adding/dropping players to/from the waiver wire and constructing trades within my leagues. Traditionally, by the end of the season, I’ve overhauled most of my roster, leaving only my top players alone to play in peace.

I’ll be eagerly watching as the NFL season kicks off tonight. Not to observe any of my players (as I didn’t draft any Packers, I do have MVS but won’t start him this week, or Bears), but rather as simply the opening of the 2019 season–which warrants my attention all by itself. Because, the only way to satiate my craving for football is to sit down, grab a beverage, and consume football.

Best of luck to any and all who are playing fantasy football this year. I hope you win all your matchups—unless you’re playing me, in which case I look forward to annihilating your love of the game itself. 

Welcome back, football. I missed you dearly.

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About Author

Jon Aiken

Born and raised in Seattle, Jon developed a deep love for the Mariners and Seahawks and continues to watch, analyze, and discuss them on a daily basis. As a professional advertising copywriter, the blending of these two loves (sports/words) seemed like a natural creative evolution. He recently moved south to Tacoma, fully embracing his new hometeam, the Rainers.

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