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High Staked: Don’t Panic!

Veteran high stakes fantasy football player Monty Phan chronicles his season.

I’ve got a 9-year-old son who just got into NFL football in the past year. Like, really into NFL football. We’re talking so into NFL football that during Monday night’s game he said to me, “Dad, why didn’t you tell me that Aqib Talib was on the Rams?” as if, on top of making his meals every day, walking him to and from school and generally keeping him healthy and, I don’t know, alive, I’m also supposed to be his personal Rotoworld feed. “Son, wake up! The Raiders signed defensive tackle Clinton McDonald! Also, the house is on fire!”

We’re talking so into NFL football that he actually watched the fourth week of preseason. We’re talking so into NFL football that my wife openly begged, “Please, we don’t need another Monty in the family.”1

Still, I decided to “lean into it,” as they say.2 At the end of last season, I told him we could do a fantasy league together when the NFL started up again. So last month we drafted a $35 “classic format” FFPC league together, and I let him make most of the picks.

I didn’t even try to talk him out of taking a quarterback (Russell Wilson) in the sixth round, as much as it pained me to let him make a mockery of my long-held beliefs. Life lesson: sometimes, parents, it’s worth the 35 bucks to teach your kids about something as important as Late-Round QB.

So it was pretty exciting when our second-round pick, Julio Jones, exploded in the Thursday night opener. Except that when I logged on to check our score, I got a warning that we had missing players from our lineup, even though I thought it was a best-ball league that required no lineup submission. Well, it wasn’t. It was a total points league, but it still required a lineup. So we basically benched Julio. And when I say “we,” I mean “I,” because I’ll be damned if I give my FFPC log-in to a child, least of all one who doesn’t yet know to wait on QB. Life lesson: Make sure to have your kids read the rules first so they can share in the blame for your eventual failure as a parent.

It got worse. Our top pick, Leonard Fournette, left the game with a strained hamstring, and we took a zero at defense because we drafted Atlanta and have I already mentioned I’m a non-rule-reading dumbass? My son obsessively checked our score during Sunday’s games and got to watch in real-time as everyone else’s totals steadily increased but ours mostly stayed stagnant.3 And it was at that moment when I took my only boy into my arms, held him close, looked down and said, “Son, this is what Dad actually does for fun. Don’t tell Mom. Please stop crying. Look, now you’ve got me started, too.”

Now, that’s just a $35 league. But what if we had paid $1,800 for a team in the FFPC Main Event? Well, then I should be jailed, because what kind of moron lets a 9-year-old draft a team that costs $1,800?

I’m sure there are folks out there who drafted their team early and decided that there was little risk in taking Le’Veon Bell in the top three picks. Or who wanted to take advantage of the FFPC’s TE-friendly scoring and were elated when Travis Kelce somehow dropped to them in the third round. Or drafted Amari Cooper in three in-person FFPC drafts in the span of around 36 hours. Or someone who did all of those things and now stares blankly out of his home office window, watching kids play in the street and wondering if he’s still got it, or if he ever really had it at all.4

To that, I say: Stop. It’s the first week, guys. There’s no need to go and do some of the dramatic things I’ve seen in my leagues, like spend 35 percent of your free agent budget on TE Will Dissly, a rookie with exactly one game on his resume. Or bid 30 percent of your budget on Dissly, cutting Jimmy Garoppolo to do so. Or dropping more than 50 percent of your budget on Dissly and another 30-plus percent on Quincy Enunwa, leaving you with just 12 percent left for the rest of the season.5

Humblebrag: Last year our FFPC Main Event team lost its first game and went on to take the regular-season scoring title. This year, we drafted an extra Main Event team, and both scored fewer Week 1 points than last year’s squad. Look at us. Are we worried? You’re goddamn right we are! But, like I said, it’s the first week. Settle down. Don’t do anything stupid. #trusttheprocess

Obviously, if you’re not that worried, it’s probably because you did really well this week. Well, guess what? No one gives a shit.

  1. Even one Monty is likely too many.  (back)
  2. I’ve never actually said this.  (back)
  3. Guess who our top-scoring starter was? Russell Wilson. Shut up.  (back)
  4. Someone even played soft piano music while I did this.  (back)
  5. But it was too late, for these things had already been done.  (back)

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