The Point of Fantasy Football

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Dear Fantasy Players,

There is one and only one key to fantasy sports success. It is more important than research, drafting, and setting your lineup. Your chance of winning a small 10 team league is 10%. Your chance of someone remembering you won last year is 1%. Your chance of someone caring that you won last year is 0%. In fact, it might actually hurt you because they’ll say you’re a dork.

Therefore you must have one objective: the best team name.

Great team names will entertain you and your league-mates throughout the draft and even the season. Often limited to a certain number of characters by ESPN or other sites, fantasy team names are poetry in the age of Twitter. A great one can even fluster your competitors during the draft. A Pantheon name can remain seared in your friends’ minds for years.

There are many angles to pursue when searching for the right moniker for your squad. Catching more than one category raises the value of your nickname even higher. Below I’ll list some tactics to employ in your quest for fantasy greatness.

Distractingly Offensive

This category is easy to pull off. A little creativity combined with a knowledge of slightly obscure current events can land you a name that is offensive, but funny enough that no one will get too mad. You’ll earn bonus points if it actually irritates a league-mate who’s a little too sensitive. Every little advantage you can grab is key.

A few Sports Geek owners have gone this route. Our league features entries such as Ron Mexico’s Dog, Stallworth’s Sober Cab, Vince Young’s Zoloft, and Travis Henry’s Unborn Child. To me, however, the biggest way to score points with an offensive name is to not only include an NFL player in the name, but to follow up by putting that guy on your team. This will be salt in the wound of your sensitive competitor. Which brings us to the next category.

Player-Based Names

Including the name of a player you’ve drafted in your squad’s alias is my favorite plan of action. While some team names are meant to distract your friends during the draft (see above and below), usually this tactic is a thorn in your league’s side as the season goes on. If you’re proud of your sleeper, and your sleeper is someone’s handcuff, and that someone believes in handcuffs, they’ll think bitterly of you as LDT rolls around on the ground while Darren Sproles puts up a 100Y/2TD effort. It’ll only get better once you trade Sproles for a stud WR to add to your Calvin Johnson. For instance:

Michael Turner was absolutely dominant last year. Everyone believes DeAngelo Williams’ season was a fluke. So Turner should be the clear #1, right? Wrong. He’s falling as low as the 5th pick in some leagues. How could that be?

Well, a lot of people have fallen in love with The Curse of 370. It says that virtually no RBs have ever played well a year after having more than 370 carries. (Note: ESPN’s Matthew Berry points out that while Turner had 376 carries, Adrian Peterson had 363 carries, and a bunch of receptions, and has an injury history.)

At any rate, it seems a lot of people are concerned about a Turner injury. People concerned about a Westbrook injury have bumped LeSean McCoy way up their draft rankings. Rashard Mendenhall is getting drafted super early despite being an injury concern himself. And Donald Brown is fetching $8 on average in ESPN auctions.

So where is Michael Turner’s backup? You know, the guy who averages about 28 yards per carry? Jerious Norwood? He’s not being drafted in 40% of ESPN leagues.

So I’m grabbing him in round 15 if I have a flyer pick to use. And I’m making sure the Turner owner will regret his neglect should the Curse of 370 strike again. Every time he looks at the standings he’ll be taunted; in fact, he’ll be clowned. “WHY SO JERIOUS?

These names don’t have to be attacks. They don’t have to involve sleepers. They can also be just for fun. Our league has Favre’s Retirement Plan. I’ve also gone with Kings of Leon Washington in another of my leagues, and LenDale White’s on Jenning Craig in the Sports Geek FF league. Like the logo?

The Mid-Draft Attack

Anyone can make the right picks in the first round of a fantasy football draft. (That’s why auctions are better.) And in today’s day and age, most people in a league will be aware of the biggest sleeper candidates. (For example, LeSean McCoy, Donald Brown, etc.) Where you can separate yourself is in the middle rounds. Do I break open the TEs? How long should I wait on my QB? Is Derrick Ward going to be good, great, or terrible?

Since the middle rounds is where the biggest strategy differences come out, it’s the place where you will see the most questionable choices. But verbally assailing your competitor can be construed as mean and can distract you as you continue to think up new spins on your barbs. But what if you could come up with a single joke about the pick, only everyone has to repeat what you said over and over again?

That’s right, it’s time to change the name of your team. Let’s break it down.

It’s 2008. Your friend, we’ll call him “Joe”, is choosing his 3rd running back. Joe goes with a player who would finish the year barely above waiver level. He chooses Ricky Williams.

Now of course the first thing you ask is, “Are you high?” But that gets old after a while. Instead, rename your team mid-draft. Joe will be thinking about Ricky Williams the rest of the night, because he’s picking immediately after a team called “Ricky Williams: Yoga Instructor” in each and every round.

Witty

A memorable team name doesn’t have to be an attack. My home league has some great names. My friend Nick has gone with The Bye Week in a bit of self-deprecation. Jonathan’s Occasionally Oiled Machine is good too. Rick Reilly once wrote about a guy whose intramural squad chose to be called “No Game this Week” in an attempt to capture a win via forfeit.

Reference

You can’t argue with a team named Terry Tate. It brings a smile to your face just thinking about those commercials. YOU KILL THE JO, YOU MAKE SOME MO!

To be honest, I wish we had 10 Terry Tates on Team Feltcher, I mean, in the Sports Geeks FF league.

The Self-Reference

My last name is pronounced, roughly, “Ack-will-line”. Occasionally, I’m called “Aq.” So while teams such as “Team Matt” and “Team Aquiline” are pretty boring, you can put your name in the title and still have fun. Go with a winner like “Team AquilWin.” (Aq-will-win.) (Note: This may backfire if your team is terrible. Announcing you’ll win gets old as your team trudges to a 5-8 record.)

Alternatively, you can reference a competitor. If you’re playing against “Team Hurst” and he’s gone with Tom Brady, Brian Westbrook, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, and an assortment of other oft-injured players, “Hurst’s Hurts” would be a great selection. Sure, his team could be great. Or Tom Brady could have another foot problem, Westbrook’s annual knee swelling could linger, Bush could require a thirteenth surgery, and Colston could be too slow and stone-handed after surgeries on multiple limbs. (I tried to convince Hurst to name HIS team Hurst’s Hurts. He wouldn’t.)

Questionably Creepy

Some players have gone beyond Distractingly Offensive and into Questionably Creepy. Last year my friend Bill named all his teams after 16 year old female gymnasts. Was he just a supporter of US Olympics? We didn’t really want to know.

The “I Feel Bad For Winning” Category

How can you feel good about seeing your team name in the box scores next to the words “wins vs. Mom and Apple Pie,” “defeats yourself in the face,” or “beats Pretty Puppies”? You can’t. It’s not patriotic.

As you can see, there’s a lot of choices when it comes to naming your team. It’s really the most important part of the game. Choose wisely.

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  • mattaquiline

    Somebody in my auction league: “PETAfiles against Vick”. Player-based AND Questionably Creepy!

  • ohbadiah

    Thanks for the shoutout! My favorite distractingly offensive/questionably creepy name was “Anchor Me Jason Lezak.” No one knew quite what Niki was thinking…

  • mexicolajones

    i don't really do fantasy sports..but if i had to to chose a name for my team it would be “Tom Cables Punch-Out”..

  • mexicolajones

    i don't really do fantasy sports..but if i had to to chose a name for my team it would be “Tom Cables Punch-Out”..

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