When I text people about fantasy football, as I do not unfrequently—sometimes not even during the NFL season—I spell it with at least one extra ‘f,’ thusly: FFantasy. When I speak about it on the phone, which I do maniacally, I purposely draw out the initial consonant. Ffffantasy, I say. I increase the vehemence of the voiceless labiodental fricative based on what has happened in the past week (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_labiodental_fricative ).
(By the way, as soon as I get any musical talent or ambition, my band name is going to be the Interdental Fricatives. You can borrow the name until I want it back.)
All this to say, fantasy football tempts me to say bad words so much I’ve just permanently imported an extra ‘eff’ into its title. I will list my complaints about Ffantasy in quick order:
1. It has the lowest effort-to-payout ratio of any venture I’ve ever seriously engaged in. I routinely pour hours into preparation before my drafts and keep up on the waiver wire with something like frantic devotion. And I am consistently beaten in the league closest to my heart by the guy who forgets to set his lineup. Once he beat me while starting a quarterback on bye. One time he made the finals and didn’t realize it.
2. You aren’t actually allowed to talk to people about Ffantasy, unless and except they are a part of your league. People think I want to talk about my kids or my job or something, when inwardly I’ve been freaking out about whether I want a wideout or a running back in at flex. This is Social Static Causation in its lower intensity, distractive, function. Its more intense function is Acquaintance Readjustment, which is as follows:
People who are otherwise used to interacting with you as a responsible and educated adult will be, often, startled when you start talking feverishly about dropped passes in the fourth quarter of an uncompetitive game of a team you don’t root for. SOMETIMES THESE PEOPLE WILL BE YOUR EMPLOYER and then you need to be extra responsible for a little while out of embarrassment
3. It makes otherwise uninteresting football moments stand out in your memory with the vibrancy of a Superbowl, which is to say it ruins your internal sense of sports gravitas. (Matthew Berry once wrote like 2000 words about Alfred Morris failing to get him One Measly Point. I happened to be in precisely the same situation and ranted in the same way, but even less people were interested. Poor Alfred Morris had a pretty respectable NFL career—I loved the home run touchdown celebration—but all I can remember about the guy is that one game where he didn’t do nuffin for me. FFFFantasy, man.) (https://www.espn.in/ffl/story/_/page/TMRlovehate181018/fantasy-football-picks-sleepers-busts-week-7 )
4. There is no correct wavelength of celebration. If you win, you need to take a humble-brag ‘oh, I got lucky’ type attitude, because every other dude around knows that you only won via luck, even if you’re internally beating your chest and staring everyone down like LeBron.
So why, then, do I continue to play Ffantasy every year? Why do I allow myself to get tricked into extra leagues, like the inaugural UFM league this article celebrates? Well (outside of Freud’s insight that we are controlled by forces beyond the pleasure principle), I give three reasons.
1. It lessens the pain of rooting for a bad real football team. If your Ffantasy team is good, you’ve still got something to cheer about even if your actual team is special order garbage. If your
Ffffantasy team is also bad that year, the increase of misery helps you into dulled insensibility more quickly.
2. It’s nice being knowledgeable about something! And when you play Ffantasy, you quickly and without even trying it know roughly 100 football players by name and can pretend you’re an expert to the gullible of your acquaintance.
3. Losing to the guy who consistently forgets to set his lineup teaches you humility. We’re told that this is a useful trait.
Fffffantasy. As TS Eliot said, “Not ffare well, but ffare ffffforward, traveler.”