Column: Fantasy island

The NFL season is right around the corner, but with football comes fantasy obsession—at least for Sports Editor Mike Smith and his friends. Photo courtesy

The NFL season is right around the corner, but with football comes fantasy obsession—at least for Sports Editor Mike Smith and his friends. Photo courtesy

As I may have mentioned a time or two in this column, I’m a big fantasy football fan.

Over the next few months, the NFL season will consume me and my buddies; turning lifelong relationships into bitter, quarter-year feuds that quite often threaten the very foundation of our friendships. For those who don’t play fantasy football—or for those who don’t take it as seriously as we do—this might seem like lunacy. But really, it’s just par for the course.

But even in my group of football-mad friends, there is some debate about when the fantasy football season truly kicks off.

Was it back in June, when we held our official draft lottery? There’s definitely a case to be made for that, but that almost felt like a coda to the season that was.

When we showed up at the house of our commissioner/reigning champion to determine the order for this year’s draft, we were immediately met by the commish and his three-month-old baby, who happened to be decked out in a onesie proclaiming “My dad is a fantasy football genius.”

Touche, Commish. Shots fired, indeed.

But it’s hard to start the trash talking when the only certainty about the upcoming season is the order in which we will be selecting our teams. As such, we naturally reverted back to arguing about the strategies—or lack thereof—of each team manager from the past season.

We ganged up on Matt, who came into the draft adamant that Patriots TE Zach Sudfield was the unequivocal sleeper of the draft—only to release him five weeks later after Sudfield couldn’t find his way onto the field, let alone into the endzone.

We mocked Bobby’s inability to play the right Jacksonville wideout on any given week, not to mention the fact he had two Jags receivers on his roster in the first place.

Twan may have gotten the worst of it for his staunch belief that last year was the year Brian Hoyer would become a serviceable NFL signal caller.

But for all our snide remarks, there was a nagging feeling we were just re-hashing the past; trying to kill time until we had new reasons to rip our friends a new one.

The Giants played the pre-season opener against the Bills on Aug. 3, and I have to admit, I couldn’t really get into it. Sure I love Big Blue, and, yes, I’m anxious to see what the new West Coast-style offense
will mean for Eli’s fantasy numbers this year, but it’s just not time yet, not for me

But some of our team managers watched the game live, DVR’d it and rewatched select drives.

Anything to gain an advantage.

Others will be tuned in to the first night of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” in the belief they can see through HBO’s narratives to get an inside track on some late-round fliers.

Me, I’ll watch the pre-season games. I love “Hard Knocks,” especially the inevitable episode about rookie skit night. But I don’t really ramp up my draft prep—or fueling the ire for my erstwhile friends—until mid-to-late August with the start of the regular season right around the corner.

I’ve got the next four months to obsess over depth charts, stat lines and the inevitable mistakes of my friends.

I can stand to take it easy for a few more weeks.


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About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.