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They forgot the “who gives a flying fuck” option.

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It’s that time of year! The NFL regular season begins next week and millions of people have drafted, or will be drafting their fantasy teams. Fantasy football is a great game, a great way to expand the NFL experience beyond your favorite team.

Long ago in the stone ages, people had to keep track of scoring and statistics by hand and later with spreadsheets, so things were kept pretty simple. With the emergence of the internet and a variety of web sites that will manage your league for you, things have gotten much easier. But with the ever increasing options a lot of people have tried to get too cute and have created some pretty stupid leagues.

My personal philosophy is that scoring points is the single most important thing in an NFL game. After all, in every single game ever played in the history of the NFL, the team that scored more points won. Yards are nice, but every week you will see several teams who amassed more yards but still lost. Interceptions hurt, but if your team still outscores the other it doesn’t matter. I think fantasy football should run the same way, points scored are king.

Before I begin, I say whatever makes you happy is how you should run your league. If I’m not playing in it I don’t care how stupidly you want to do things. But since this is my web site I’ll tell you the things that I believe have made many fantasy football leagues suck.

In no particular order:

  1. Drafting weeks before the season – Why is your league in such a hurry? Drafting with cuts still to come and preseason games still to be played means that owners will, despite their best efforts, end up with cut or injured players. What is the point of this? It just introduces more luck to the equation. I am not speaking of dynasty style leagues, of course.
  2. Too many points – I guess a lot of people have ADD and if someone isn’t scoring every few minutes they feel cheated. If the scores in your league are like 170-158, your league sucks. The more scoring involved, the more luck enters into the equation. If you get more points from yardage and receptions than you do actual points, your league sucks.
  3. Starting two quarterbacks – Why? NFL teams don’t start two QBs, what could possibly be the reason for starting two in a fantasy football game?
  4. Drafting punters – I heard a friend say he was in a league that did this, and all I could think is WHY? Do they draft holders too?
  5. More points for longer TDs – In the NFL a one yard TD counts for 6 points, as does a 99 yard TD. I have a friend that has a league where TDs from inside the two are only worth 3 points. I did a study of all TDs scored the prior season and there were far more TDs scored from three yards and out then there were from the one or two yard line. So why discount TDs from those spots? In fact a TD from the 2 yard line is not such a sure thing. All 11 defenders are only covering 12 yards of field, so there are more players packed into a smaller area. More players can commit to the line of scrimmage and any pass play of more than 12 yards is out of the equation. Meanwhile that 54 yard TD is often the result of a player beating one guy and then being in open space. And most of the leagues who have dumb rules like this are also handing out points for every ten yards, so a guy scoring from the 50 gets more than six points, plus five more points for the yards ran during the TD.
  6. The magic yard – That same friend’s league counts TDs from three yards at 5 points. So scoring from one yard further out a TD is worth two more points? In his league that is the only yard worth two points more than the yard before it. Why is a three yard TD so much tougher than a two yard TD that it’s worth two additional points?
  7. More points for longer field goals – Same as TDs, a FG is three points from all distances in the NFL, your league should be the same. In fact, if you insist on having different point values for different lengths of kicks, longer kicks should be worth LESS. Why should your kicker be rewarded for his team’s inability to get closer to the goal line? His offense sucks, but your kicker gets more points because of it.
  8. Point per reception – Some genius decided that it wasn’t OK that running backs were worth more than receivers in fantasy football, so he created this ridiculous rule. One point scored per reception by a player. This means that these leagues think that six catches are as valuable as one TD, which is just silly. What if they are six one yard catches in a team’s own end of the field? This is the fantasy football equivalent of every kid getting a certificate at a grade school award ceremony. If one position is more valuable than another, so what? Draft accordingly.
  9. Decimal scoring – WHAT? The only sports with decimal scoring are things like gymnastics, ice skating, and most of the shit in the X Games. If you have decimal scoring, feel shame!
  10. Negative points – Most of the time that I see this it’s for interceptions. But how many picks do you see during a season that are not the QBs fault? The receiver lets it bounce off of his hand to a defender, or someone runs to the wrong place. You want to be in a league where you can lose a game because your QB throws a pick on a Hail Mary at the end of a game and you lose points?
  11. Less than 10 teams – If you have less than 10 teams everyone is just drafting an all star team. Make more friends so you can challenge yourself a bit.
  12. Your league is on Yahoo – There are so many better choices, why would your league be there? Once upon a time it was because it was free, but NFL.com is free and far better.

Since it’s that time of year, training camp and all, I thought I would share my all time favorite autograph story. A handful of NFL players get a lot of negative press for the stupid things they do off the field, but most of the rest of them are great guys who do a lot for the communities they play in, and for kids. This story is about one of my favorite NFL players EVER, and why he is.

In 2001 I took my nine year old son Tyler to Chargers Fan Fest out at UCSD. There was a practice, a bunch of inflatable toys for the kids to play on, face painting, and an autograph session. My son was having a good time with everything else, so he got to the autograph area late. He wanted to get Junior Seau’s autograph, the most popular Chargers player at that time, but the line was a mile long line. With only about five minutes left in the session, I suggested he head for one of the less crowded tables. We were standing near one of the defense tables, so he headed over there with the program book that I had gotten him earlier. There were a lot of bigger kids pushing their way in, and he was having trouble finding the player’s pictures in the book. He got a bit flustered, and was fighting back tears when Gerald Dixon (a linebacker with the Chargers from 1998-2001) noticed what was happening. He asked me Tyler’s name and said “hey Tyler, come on over here.” Dixon signed his book, and called over Raylee Johnson and Marcellus Wiley. All three of them talked to Tyler and signed his book as I got some photos (crappy photo, I know). Needless to say, it went from being a bad situation to a great one, Tyler was smiling and having a great time the rest of the day, and asked me if we could come back next year.

Gerald Dixon will always hold a special place as one of my favorite Chargers, but also one of my favorite dudes. Thanks Gerald!

I have to admit I have never watched it. But if it keeps that tool Rich Eisen off of NFL Total Access (which I do watch) it’s a great thing. Hopefully a lot of people find him more amusing than I do, and he has that podcast show for the next ten years.

LaDainian Tomlinson signed a one-day contract with the San Diego Chargers, and then promptly announced his retirement from the NFL.

I could spend a paragraph or two regaling you with L.T.’s numerous accomplishments on the field, he re-wrote the Chargers record book and set several NFL records, he retires with the 5th highest rushing yards total in NFL history. But I’d rather hit on a few other things.

In 2006 I took my daughter to her first Chargers game. L.T. was having a season for the ages and was ultimately named the NFL’s MVP. With just under four minutes left in the game, L.T. scored a touchdown giving the Chargers a 41-20 lead over the Broncos. This touchdown was Tomlinson’s 28th, tying the NFL record held by Shaun Alexander. I told my daughter that with so little time left and a big lead, L.T. would probably not have another shot at breaking the record that day, but at least she got to be there to see him tie it. Well, what the hell did I know?

After the ensuing kickoff, Denver was playing for pride and trying to move the ball down the field rather than just run out the clock. On the second play Shawne Merriman stripped the ball from Jay Cutler and recovered the fumble near the goal line.  Holy shit, the stadium erupted! EVERYONE in that stadium knew what was going to happen now. The Chargers knew, the Broncos knew, the fans knew. He scored on the first snap and broke the record. The crowd went nuts, chanting L.T., L.T., L.T.! It was a magical time to be in the stadium, and I was thrilled that my daughter was there to experience it with me.

On the day of this photo I had heard that L.T. was in town hanging out with Shane Mosely. I got a tip that they were going bowling, so I “suggested” to my wife that we go bowling. When they walked in I was like a little kid, I was awe-struck. I wanted to get a picture with him, but was too scared to ask. Luckily my wife didn’t follow football at the time, so he was just a dude to her. She asked him if we could get a photo, and he was happy to oblige. Thanks Michelle and thanks L.T.!

I’d like to hit on the 2007 AFC Championship game that L.T. takes a lot of heat for. For those that don’t remember it, he was injured and tried to go a couple plays and knew he would not be able to continue. TV coverage showed him several times seated on the bench with a parka and his helmet on. He took a lot of grief over that, even from alleged Charger fans. It was complete bullshit, and anyone with half a brain should have known so. This man had NEVER missed a game due to injury, he was a tough and durable back. He wanted more than anything to be on that field, and he was just physically unable to do it. People point to Philip Rivers playing with essentially no ACL, but it’s not the same thing. A running back cannot play on a seriously injured knee, it just doesn’t work. I think his demeanor on the sidelines was about two things: being cold and dealing with the biggest disappointment in his professional career.  He wanted SO BAD to be on that field, but his knee let him down. Anyone that questions his toughness and desire is a fucking idiot.

Finally, a big FUCK YOU to the haters. The morons who proclaim derisively “there is only one L.T.”  Yes, Lawrence Taylor was the original L.T., but stop being so fucking stupid. First, they are Ladainian Tomlinson’s initials. Second, there have been other instances of shared nicknames, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard immediately come to mind. It’s just beyond silly for people (normally New York fans) to make these comments as though Tomlinson is not worthy to use his own initials as a nickname. As incredibly stupid as the idiots who answered “Should not be mentioned among all-time greats” in a poll about his place in NFL history. He is one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game, be happy that you got to watch him on the field.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with some of the things L.T. said after he left the Chargers. But I prefer to remember him for all the great games I saw him play (four TDs against the Bengals in a comeback victory when I went to Cincinnati), everything that he did for the San Diego Chargers, and the great human being that he IS.

Have a happy retirement L.T.!

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