Fantasy football’s ups, downs wreak havoc on a rookie

Kat Ladwig

Kat Ladwig

OK, I admit it. I have an addiction.

Three weeks into my first fantasy football league, and I’m clicking my ESPN mobile application more times per day than a morse code operator working his machine during World II.

Let’s start at the beginning though, which means of course, the draft.

This draft was no ordinary online draft among friends where all electronic statistics, rankings and projections are at hand in one click of the computer screen. Our 10-team league met at Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka for a 3 1/2 hour draft where all members handwrote their picks on poster board in a sectioned-off private room, which allowed for belligerence and razzing of all kinds.

Though I’ve loosely followed fantasy football of friends in the past, I had little to no clue what I was doing. All I know is I love football and I love competition.

I practiced drafting at nearly every order number through online mock drafts, plus I had a fantasy football magazine in front of me and two fantasy veterans via text message for advice.

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch and Houston running back Arian Foster were my first two picks. Next came Denver wide receiver Wes Welker and New England receiver Danny Amendola. Things were looking good.

Even though I ended up with New York quarterback Eli Manning as my starting QB, I felt I had enough depth in the rest of my squad to pick up the slack. The lineup included: Reggie Wayne (WR), Miles Austin (WR), Montee Ball (RB), Brandon Myers (TE), Kyle Rudolph (TE), Josh Freeman (QB), Sebastian Janikowski (K) and the Chicago Bears defense.

 

Week 1 breakdown

Lynch and Foster, two of the top-three projected running backs in the nation only scored me four points total. What the what?!

Even though Manning suffered a 36-31 loss to Dallas, my “weakest link” came out as my top scorer by going 27-42 passing for four touchdown passes and 450 yards.

Welker was my No. 2 guy with two touchdowns and more than 50 yards passing, while Wayne was my other ringer with eight receptions for 94 yards and one touchdown. Amendola added a few more with 104 yards on 10 catches.

I won my first fantasy football matchup against the Minneapolis Storm by 22 points.

Reaction: Maybe the younger Manning isn’t so risky after all, and thank goodness the older Manning appears to love finding Welker in the end zone.

Learned lesson: Definitely check who your players are matched up against each week. Duh.

 

Week 2 breakdown

I’m already nervous since Amendola is out indefinitely due to a groin injury.

But Lynch and Foster decided to show up this week, combining for nearly half of my total points with 220 yards and three touchdowns between the two.

Though Manning threw for 362 yards and one touchdown pass, he added four interceptions.

Janikowski recorded 13 points and was my second-highest scorer on the week, which was a difficult one seeing as my Vikings lost a heartbreaker to the Chicago Bears, who brought in another 10 points for me in their efforts.

I win again, beating the Elk River J-hawks by 28 points. Undefeated I remain.

Reaction: Ignore previous thoughts on Eli Manning, and make note to self to check for free agent QBs for next week.

Learned lesson: Do not cheer against the Vikings in favor of your fantasy team’s defense. Ever. The guilt will destroy you.

 

Week 3 breakdown

This week was pure nerve-wracking from start to finish.

I decided to drop Freeman, bench Manning and pick up Philip Rivers as my starter this week. Though he was unremarkable, at least he gave me six more points than Manning.

The Bears defense came up huge as my leading scorer with 20 points with three sacks, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and two touchdowns.

But it wasn’t enough yet. By the time Sunday’s games came to a close, I was still down 13 points with just Welker and Janikowski left to play.

My opponent was done for the week, but in our league, receivers only earn a point every 25 yards and six points per touchdown reception. No bonus for touches on the ball. And between Oakland’s inability to string together enough plays for a first down, let alone a touchdown, I was concerned with the Raider’s ability to put Janikowksi in field-goal range.

Though it seemed like Peyton Manning was fixated on Eric Decker and Julius Thomas on the passing side, Manning found Welker for a 12-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. You betcha I jumped from the couch in celebration. Between Welker’s touchdown and yardage, plus an extra point by Janikowski, I was within three points going into halftime.

I nearly went scoreless in the third quarter until Janikowski brought me within two points off another extra point. Then, I was just one point away to start the fourth quarter after Manning found Welker again in the middle of the end zone off a 30-yard pass. Just one point to go? In the bag.

Imagine my surprise when I was still down a point with 2:19 to go, Welker on the sidelines and the Broncos had the ball. Then, a ray of hope: Ball fumbled, and two plays later Darren McFadden rushed for a 1-yard touchdown. With 1:15 left in the game, Janikowski kicks the extra point to put me at a tie with the Ramsey Wilderness Boys.

It’s not a win, but it’s better than a loss.

Reaction: Da Bears. Da Bear, da bears, da bears.  And what a bummer with Janikowski only recording three points. The man can hit a 63-yarder for crying out loud, give him a chance.

Learned lesson: Draft a quarterback sooner next season. Also, don’t join more than one fantasy league at a time, my blood pressure couldn’t take it.

My AP-eterson Stylebook team is now tied for second place in league standings at 2-0-1 with just one undefeated team left, and you can bet I will be on the edge of my seat again next week when I take on that team. Kivi’s Krushers, get ready for the rookie.

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