As I approached the coffee station at church, three people were chatting about their fantasy football teams.
Two of the parishioners who were fretting about their fantasy lineups were women.
Which led me to wonder: Is practically everyone (including our sisters, wives, girlfriends) playing fantasy football?
Because at the coffee bar, the answer was yes — all four of us.
For the second year in a row, I’m playing in the company league. (Note: We have two female players, too.)
This comes after a two-year vacation from fantasy football, when poor results got me fired from the team I shared with my son in a league that plays for serious money.
The ax fell on me when our team finished in last place, and he was forced to rename it “The Fluffy Kitties” as part of a shaming ritual.
My problem was being a cheapskate in a league that used an auction-style draft.
For the unfamiliar, in an auction draft, every manager gets an equal budget of fake money to spend on players. You can bid as much as you want on the big-name stars until you run out of cash.
This system was not designed for my success. Every time a superstar player came up for bids, the offers would rise until I told myself, “That’s way too much. Crazy price!”
After a while, I had plenty of cash and no talented players. As we began to bid on the mediocre players, I had more money than I needed. When the auction ended, I was left with a fistful of dollars (Clint Eastwood reference) and no place to spend them.
I’m such a tightwad, I can’t even spend imaginary money.
Fortunately, my company’s fantasy league uses a “snake draft.” This does not involve actual snakes, or participation might be discouraged. With a snake draft, team managers take turns selecting players, then reverse the order and choose again.
In a snake draft, at the end of two rounds, everyone has two good players — even this penny-pincher. No money is involved, fake or otherwise.
This works so much better for me, I managed to win the league last year. We had an entry fee of $5 (real money), with penny-ante prizes to the top teams.
Our league’s payout did not begin to make up for how much money I lost on behalf of my son with my skinflint drafting in his league.
But I also redeemed myself to my kid in 2018. His buddies coaxed him into joining a fantasy baseball league. Professing to have no time for such a pursuit, he subcontracted the management to me.
For those who are unhip to fantasy baseball, I’ll put it this way: Fantasy football is a hobby, but fantasy baseball is a part-time job.
You might think my ineptitude at fantasy football would carry over to baseball. You would be wrong.
To a fantasy baseball enthusiast, fantasy football looks like throwing darts in a dark room. Comparatively, success in fantasy football depends heavily on random luck, while fantasy baseball relies on skill.
I’ve calculated that playing fantasy baseball requires 30 times as many decisions in the course of a season as fantasy football. Careful research can overcome even the worst misfortune, such as your best player getting injured.
Playing as a surrogate for my son in fantasy baseball, we turned a 200 percent profit on his entry fee.
Not willing to push his luck, my kid sat out this baseball season. I refocused on my annual entry in the Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Fantasy Baseball League — which awards bragging rights as the only prize.
This year, the company football league is playing only for pride, too. That doesn’t stop me from obsessing about it every Sunday. During those two years I didn’t play, it was kind of nice to have my sabbaths worry-free.
What really worries me is that if you don’t like fantasy football, you’ve been thoroughly bored by this column and stopped reading after the third paragraph.
I don’t think there’s much chance of that, because based on my survey at church, we’re all playing fantasy football.