Nov 10, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) celebrates scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Up With Fantasy Football

I’m not taking my ball and going home just because my fantasy football team is 4-10. OK, maybe I am quitting because my team sucks. Either way, it’s not you, it’s me.

Actually it’s not me, it’s Randall Cobb’s injured leg. This is all really Trent Richardson’s fault. The 2nd-year RB was supposed to blossom under a new regime in Cleveland, with a better defense and a continued heavy workload under offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who, say what you will about him as a head coach in the real world, has spun fantasy football gold out of LaDainian Tomlinson and Emmitt Smith. Well, maybe those guys were already golden. My point is that big things were expected of Richardson, especially in the fantasy football world where he was slotted among the slew of first-round runners essential to fantasy success.

So I drafted him at #11 overall, instead of taking Eagles RB LeSean McCoy. Oops. Perhaps you’ve heard of McCoy, who just ran for 217 yards and 2 TD’s in heavy snow. He leads the league in rushing yards as well as touches (aka “getting the ball,” aka “chances to score fantasy points”). Meanwhile, Richardson was not only dumped by Cleveland and traded off to Indianapolis earlier this season. He’s managed to be a dud with the Colts so far, despite the presence of QB Andrew Luck, and he’s been benched for Donald Brown.

McCoy is the 3rd-ranked overall player in our league. Richardson is 135th, somewhere between Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. The reason I avoided McCoy was foolish and yet a classic fantasy player’s mistake: he was on my team last year and was hurt. So I avoided him and now I’m in 9th place writing a Breakup Letter with fantasy football.

It’s time to quit again. I say “again” because I quit playing fantasy football before. After winning a “Super Bowl” a few years ago, I walked away on top, like Jerome Bettis and John Elway had done (and at around the same age). I got tired of having my Sundays ruined by highlights of Reggie Wayne when I had started Marvin Harrison. And like Harrison, it’s time for me to get out of the game (but without the unsolved murder links).

Those years away from the fake game were great. I didn’t miss it at all. I could appreciate football for football, and not be pissed off every week for making the “right” decisions and still having them go wrong. Playing fantasy football is like throwing darts while wearing a blindfold.

I shouldn’t care so much about the random accumulation of statistics. I shouldn’t even know who Chris Ogbonnaya is, let alone have him in my starting lineup.

I did do a few things right. I drafted Bears RB Matt Forte and he’s been one of the top fantasy players this season. I didn’t jump too early to pick a big-name QB like Tom Brady (13th ranked QB in our league) and instead grabbed Lions QB Matt Stafford much later in the draft. I was sort of correct to draft Rams rookie WR Tavon Austin, even though he was a huge disappointment for the first several weeks of the season. But I stayed patient and kept starting him in hopes his breakout game(s) would pay dividends. They never did. So I benched him. But WVU-Alum sentiment kept me from cutting him. Eventually it was silly to waste a roster spot on a guy I had no confidence in playing in fake football games so I dropped him. Two weeks later he had 310 combined yards and 3 TDs.

I’m sure it was an exciting day for my friend Bill, also a WVU Alum, who picked up Tavon and is now among the 4 teams in our fantasy league heading to the playoffs. I’ll be watching the pretend playoffs from home, climbing to the bottom of a bucket of rocky road ice cream, like a jilted lover with nowhere to go on a Saturday night, in no mood for fantasy.

What are we even doing anymore? Alex Smith has more fantasy points than Tom Brady. In fact Alex Smith has more rushing yards than RB Darren McFadden. Raiders QB Terrell Pryor has only played in 9 games but has more rushing yards than Ravens RB (and consensus top-5 fantasy pick) Ray Rice. We just cant go on like this.

So farewell to game-time decisions. Farewell to “running back by committee” and farewell to stat corrections and point adjustments.

Sorry to break up with you in a such a public way, Fantasy Football. Really, it’s not you, it’s me. And Knowshon Moreno.

Tags: Alex Smith Chris Ogbonnaya Cleveland Browns Denver Broncos Fantasy Football Indianapolis Colts Kansas City Chiefs Knowshon Moreno LeSean McCoy Matt Forte Matthew Stafford New England Patriots Philadelphia Eagles Randall Cobb St. Louis Rams Tavon Austin Tom Brady Trent Richardson WVU

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