My Rookie Year in Fantasy Football

Liam BlackburnContributor IDecember 31, 2009

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 29:  Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons lay on the field after being injured against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Georgia Dome on November 29, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It was back in September when I sat down to choose my first ever fantasy team. I had read all the reports, heeded all the advice, and highlighted the players whom I believed were due for a big year.

Three months on, and I look back and laugh at my views then. Hindsight is a curious thing, particularly in the world of fantasy football.

In the Boarders Breakaway League draft, Brett Favre was taken after Trent Edwards and Shaun Hill; Ray Rice didn’t find a home until Round Eight, and Matt Forte went with the third pick overall!

How different things would be today.

My team included Dustin Keller, Felix Jones, and Devery Henderson. All three were outlined as potential sleepers. All three are still asleep.

It soon became painfully obvious that my fantasy skills needed some serious honing. In the opening week I posted a pitiful 61 points, with Reggie Wayne accounting for over a third of the total.

The season-ending injury suffered by Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez served as an omen: I was in for a long year.

My first victory came in Week Three, when my big guns finally turned up. DeSean Jackson exploded, Aaron Rodgers threw all over the Rams, and the Cowboys' D terrorized Jake Delhomme.

I led the entire league that week with 124 points.  Perhaps I’d gotten the hang of this after all.

Over the next few weeks, my team either racked up the points or bombed without a trace.

If Lady Luck had frowned at me when I selected Gonzalez, she wore a terrifying scowl when I was pitted against a team containing Tom Brady in Week Six.

The New England Patriots quarterback found the end zone six times before being pulled out at the half. By that time he’d accumulated 51 points and insured my team’s efforts were in vain. I also had the misfortune of meeting Roddy White when he totaled 210 yards and two touchdowns in Week Five.

My forays into free agency reminded me of rummaging in bargain bins, as I entered with hope and vigor, only to leave with slim pickings. My team, The Jet Squad, resembled a revolving door in its first few weeks as Earl Bennett, Byron Leftwich, Rashard Mendenhall, and Kerry Collins all departed after contributing very little.

I also seemed to develop a nasty habit of closing the barn door long after the horse had bolted. In this respect I never quite got the full benefits of Jeremy Maclin, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Malcom Floyd.

The trading block was a daunting place, and I instantly regretted the only trade I executed. Sick of his miserable performances, I traded my prized first round pick Michael Turner for Joseph Addai and Derrick Mason.

As it turned out, I shouldn’t have feared. Turner hit the treatment table as soon as he started to find some form, whereas Addai and Mason had a brilliant knack of scoring touchdowns.

I’d like to say this was an inspired trade, but it was more born of frustration at wasting a first round pick on “The Burner." As the weeks wore on, I gazed enviously at Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew. If only...

With more time, I became more astute and my gambles started to pay off. Ricky Williams was a revelation, LeSean McCoy was a solid back, and Visanthe Shiancoe would often be in the right place at the right time. Only three of my original team lasted the full 14 weeks, and it’s no surprise that Aaron Rodgers, DeSean Jackson, and Reggie Wayne have been the focal point of my team throughout.

I finished strongly with a 7-7 record, missing out on the playoffs where my team may well have gone all the way. Like the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans, my season has been a case of too little, too late.

But, I have been firmly bitten by the fantasy bug, and the experience has not put me off, but opened a new world of opportunities. Fantasy football has given games like Oakland-Kansas City a meaning.

I don’t care who wins, but suddenly every yard Cleveland manages to squeeze out of Jerome Harrison is all-important to me.

I’ll be back again next year, determined not to make the rookie errors that blighted me this time. The task in 2010 will be how to avoid the proverbial sophomore slump.

Bring it on.


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