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Idiot's Guide to Fantasy Football

If you’re hunting for real, down-and-dirty fantasy football tips, and the Dallas Observer arts and culture blog doesn’t strike you as the best possible place to find them, you’re onto us. We don’t have any of those for you. Please stop caring about sports so much and put that brain to work on real problems! Or maybe you just like sports, and we’re all entitled to derive pleasure from silly things, and sports bring people together, and hating on them is cliché and unproductive and lame in its own way. Maybe. The fact remains that some of us joined teams in high school cause we heard there was ice cream after practice, and when there was no ice cream we developed an irrational lifelong resentment. Also, we sucked.

But fantasy football is inescapable these days. If you’re a fellow non-sports person, you’ve probably spent the last few years dodging attempts by coworkers, siblings and dudes you’ve dated to enlist your participation, assuming quite reasonably that it wouldn’t be any fun since you, uh, don’t understand how football is played. (Haha! JK. You totally understand and definitely don’t have a “cheer or boo when my friends do” strategy.) Well, guess what? You can take our experience playing for the first time this year as evidence that you too can have a pretty decent time playing fantasy football. Here’s how:

Choose Your Team Name Wisely
Create your team name with the purpose to maximize embarrassment for the loser. Cause even if it’s an automatic draft and you do literally nothing, you’re probably going to win at least a couple times (it’s a cruel world). What could possibly feel worse than being crushed by Team Pinkie Pie? And on the off chance you do really well, you’ve set yourself up to be the ultimate dark horse — or in this case, My Little Pony.

Act Like Even More of an Idiot Than You Are
It’s all about the hustle. Beyond your stupid team name, play up your ignorance of the sport. It will make those inevitable wins that much more infuriating for everyone else in your league and therefore that much more enjoyable for you. Your quarterback is some guy named P. Rivers. What’s his first name? Who does he play for? Who cares? He’s just good ol’ “Pee Rivers” to you. Who doesn’t appreciate a little good bathroom humor? (Answer: everyone.)

Bone Up on Your Gaming Skills
Fantasy football is basically just a computer game, it turns out. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that a few years of experience playing The Sims is a fine substitute for a working knowledge of the sport. Don’t know what a “tight end” is? No problem. Just check out your players’ health stats, conveniently located in the ESPN app, compare their projected scores for the week to other available players’ in the same position and drop/add as needed. Forcing the “Macaulay Culkin” character you created to go swimming and then taking out the pool’s ladder to see what happens is pretty much the same thing as starting Tony Romo.

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It’s a Trap!
There’s terminology designed to confuse and intimidate you. Don’t fall for it! The first week we played, we saw BYE listed under our team name, and everything was greyed out. What kind of sick joke was this? “Haha! Like we were going to let YOU play! BYE!” Come to find out, that just means it’s an off week. As with most things sports that seem confusing, just ignore, carry on and there will be no consequences of significance.

It’s a Trap! Part Two
Never trade with anyone! People are the worst and football fans especially. You should always be suspicious of the intentions of everyone else in your league. They know you’re the weak link and if someone suddenly cozies up to you, offering a great deal, you can be sure they’re trying to take advantage. Don’t be taken for a sucker, even if that means holding family and friends at bay for the duration of football season.

Don’t Play to Win, Play to Watch So-and-So Not Win
This is a restatement of an earlier point, but it’s so important that it bears repeating. For you, fantasy football isn’t about winning exactly. You don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t care. (If you start to develop symptoms of caring, pause, go outside and reflect on your mortality for 10 minutes.) The objective is to identify the one person in the league who you want to win the least — usually the person who’s proposing bad trades to you. If she’s not first, or better yet, you’re miraculously outperforming her, your heart should feel warm.

Silence Your Cell Phones
Do you use your smartphone as your alarm clock? Go to settings in the ESPN app and turn the sound off. Trust us. You may have experienced the horror of waking up to an Amber alert or a flash flood warning — and those take first place — but when the ESPN fanfare jolts you from sleep to alert you that R. Gronkowski was injured, it will also scare the Gatorade* out of you. *You should be drinking lots of Gatorade and telling people you’re doing it to “stay hydrated for the season.”

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