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Fifteen Frustrating Fantasy Football Draft Day Debacles

Fantasy Football Faux Pas
Written by AJ Smith

Written By: AJ Smith (@adotjdotwoots)

It’s that time of year. Training camps have produced some newsworthy stories (Geno’s jaw from IK’s claw, preseason games are underway (unleash the Johnny Football narratives), Ron Jaworski is providing us with invaluable intel on all things depth chart related, and most importantly, it’s almost time to draft this year’s fantasy football squads.

I’m fortunate enough to be included in a 12 team league with a collection of buddies from the glory days of college and high school. Our competitive histories and pride-driven rivalries run deeper than the depths of Tim’s Tebowing pose. Every year, commissioner Maxxy fires up the communications, unleashing a tasteful yet intoxicating marketing campaign that gets the whole crew riled up, seeing red, and generally torqued for the season.

After receiving my annual notification this year, I began to emotionally, strategically, and physically prepare for the draft. Historically, we’ve completed our drafts remotely, safely tucked away in our private domains, swiveling from laptop screen to the ancillary monitors, studying just-in-time draft analysis and meticulously measuring metrics for optimal selections. This year, we had a virtual meeting of the minds and are considering our first annual community draft – all in one locale. Hide yo kids. Hide yo wives.

With this additional layer of complexity and all its energy beginning to run through my veins, I felt an unwelcomed twinge of disorder brewing in my belly. I thought to myself, “What the hell is happening to me?  My palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy”. Then, without warning, it hit me at once. A daunting and terrifying memory of every draft day snafu I’ve ever experienced in draft day. What could happen this year? How do I prepare? Can you prepare for such a thing? Probably not… but if nothing else, these fantasy football fails are hilarious in retrospect. Check out my definitive list of the fifteen most spine-tingling and blood-boiling draft day debacles (as collected through painstaking firsthand experiences, horror stories, observed instances, or legends of the interwebs) and don’t forget to tell us your stories in the comments section.

  1. The low hanging fruit: The “Your efforts are futile because the Internet made a unilateral decision that you shouldn’t be picking your own team.”
    • The modality of this type of draft hope destruction varies. It can take the shape of the classic “Required Windows Update is starting now” to the complete inability for your modem or router to have any semblance of acting like it’s been there before and just completely refusing to connect. None of the usual solutions work – unplugging and plugging it in (those are technical terms), which is typically the perfect solution, is hopeless. All that is good in this world has now been tainted with the quickly identifiable stench of Auto-draft indecencies.
    • Hopefully, you’ve at the very least customized the order of preferred players for your Auto-draft of doom, like it matters. Fantasy drafts require real-time analysis, a beautiful fusion of art and science, a rich Mahogany desk, four lbs. of ribs, and jock jams on repeat. Nothing is more rattling than getting completely thrown off your rocker and knowing Auto-draft is going to take a kicker way too early, miss on the perfect opportunity to pounce on a defense, and completely neglect the TE position.
  2. The “Netflix and chill – this will be worth it, I won’t regret this, date night gone wrong.”
    • We all have our priorities. Some of us keep things in perspective (and prevent total devastation at the conclusion of the season) by hedging our bets and avoiding complete obsession by spending quality time with a quality lass.
    • That said, we have to instantly question just how high that quality is matriculating (to use a Merrill Hodge level of analysis), when she invites you over for “Netflix and chill?” the same night as your draft night and “has other plans the rest of the week.” Cruel fate! So you do your homework and determine this has to mean something more than face value. So you blow off your draft-chasing dream, only to realize you’ve made a critical mistake. Even if you were in Vegas when this happened you wouldn’t be safe – even bad rosters can’t stay in Vegas.
  3. The “I have an ironclad strategy and will catch everyone off guard with my superior intellect and good looks” over-confidence that ultimately results in every player you have targeted to be drafted by the dude picking in front of you. EVERY. SINGLE. ROUND. WITHOUT. FAIL. LIKE. HE. HAD. BEEN. SCOUTING. YOUR. TEAM. OR. HACKED. YOUR NETWORK. OR. PULLED. SOME. JEDI. MIND. SHENANIGANS.
    • This heart-wrenching snafu was the plot of my 2014 draft experience. Naturally, our drafts tend to move at Millennium Falcon’s light speed, so this “rug ripped out from underneath you” feeling has to be subsided quickly just to keep up. 45 second pick requirements are no joke.
    • The results were not pretty. Despite my best efforts, Yahoo awarded my draft efforts with a D+ rating. A D… +… rating… what if my future children find out? What if my employer finds out? How will I survive? While that slap-happy jerk who took my perfect team one pick ahead of me came out smelling of vanilla, apple-smoked bacon, and freshly printed money with an A+ draft. Cruel, cruel fate.
  4. The “My girlfriend is in a league and she’s drafting guys based on how fun their names sound and their hotness or the color of their jerseys and did (significantly) better in her league than I did.”
    • The year was 2011. My hopes were higher than ever entering the draft, riding the momentum of a 3rd place finish in the 2009 league, despite overcoming what should have been debilitating injuries. My draft came together with style and grace, and I was awarded the “model of consistency, you fine devil” B+ draft grade. Things were looking up.
    • Days later, my girlfriend at the time decided to enter a league with longtime friends “for fun.” (Quick context: I have played in leagues with women that are absolute BALLERS when it comes to fantasy – watching games, scouting players, and demonstrating skills made famous by Jenny from The League) My girlfriend was not one of these women. Pre-draft strategy: oh em gee – Tom Brady is so hot, I want him. The Steelers are my dad’s favorite team – I’m going to get lots of them. I really like the Broncos uniforms – horses are cool – I want them!
    • First place in her league. This is a deciding factor in why she’s an EX girlfriend.
  5. The “I can’t believe you guys scheduled the draft during my night class – this is a conspiracy, I hate you guys – but I’m stealthy, I’m in college, I know stuff, I’m going to draft from class – you can’t stop me!… unless you’re the professor that chose the same time to spring a pop quiz and thereby render my plan useless and my season doomed by Auto-draft. Everyone’s in on it.”
    • Pretty self-explanatory.
  6. The “Let’s sip on a few brewskis with the boys to pregame the draft, and sweet…. Now booze-brain AJ has elected to select players solely based on their pre-draft Yahoo rankings because they would NEVER lie to us.” Complement that with a side of booze-brain reasoning that “if he comes out of retirement he’s the steal of the draft” or “I’ll bet his suspension will be reduced… 10 weeks isn’t that long to wait (Josh Gordon, I’m looking at you), or even worse, “With today’s advancements in medical technology I bet he’ll be back from that ACL sooner than they think – I’m no doctor but I feel good about this.”
    • Oh red cup confidence, how you always find a new way to tempt lesser men. And me.
    • Seriously though, fantasy football drafts require fully functioning brain powers – none of this multitasking nonsense.
    • Ideal conditions would include a full pot of java, a satisfied but not overly stuffed belly, the perfect playlist, 2-5 monitors, and bunker-like protection from the outside world. Sunday Funday is NOT appropriate for drafting.
  7. The “WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S ANOTHER ADRIAN PETERSON?” untimely discovery
    • The year was 2009. AP was the undisputed top RB, set for another monster year. Fortunately, this snafu wasn’t mine for the misery, but rather a good friend of mine (to remain nameless to keep his self-respect).
    • Apparently, the story goes like this. He frantically raced home from his night class – weaving in and out of traffic, utterly disregarding posted speeds, calling ahead to his girlfriend to get the computer booted up. It was draft time. He burst into this modernly decorated apartment, ripped off his shoes, and raced to the top of his stares in record time. There, he found his draft had already commenced – 3 picks had passed. Even worse, there was no time to plan – his pick was up, and he had 30 seconds to make his selection. He did what any self-respecting man would do and searched for Adrian Peterson. There he was – AP at RB! Still available! Those suckers – they thought this was their year! Nay! “Pick Adrian Peterson” selected.
    • Feeling awfully proud – he checked the draft summary, only to jump back in horror, seeing Adrian Peterson’s name listed twice at first and fourth overall. To this day, he holds a Billy Madison style grudge against Adrian Peterson.
  8. The “WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE’S OUT FOR THE SEASON?” untimely discovery….
    • Put simply, practice safe selections. Don’t draft based solely on Average Draft Pick (ADP) – and always keep a keen eye out for that small yet meaningful Red Cross symbol, because it can mean the difference between glory and a spot on Maury.
  9. The “I swear they’re in cahoots” violation of trust….
    • We’ve all suspected it, but we’ve never actually been able to prove it to be true. Those two guys in the league that have always pulled off a big trade at a timely moment in seasons past – the guys that seem to get along just a little bit better than the rest of the crew. The besties.
    • You know they’re texting during the draft, but can you prove it? No. Are you convinced it has any real impact on the outcome of the draft? No. Are you pretty sure they’re collusion actually makes them less challenging to beat? Yes. Does it still grind your gears? You’re damn right. There’s no “US” in Fantasy Football Drafts.
  10. The emotional pick. Which can only be described as, “This is a big pick for me… I feel like Peyton has one big year left, but Big Ben plays for MY Steelers and I want to root for him, (Your subconscious reasoning: if I root for him because of my Steelers’ fandom AND since he’s my starting fantasy QB then that will make a CLEAR difference in the fantasy points Ben will pick up) – so I’m totally drafting Big Ben! Go Steelers!”
    • We’ve all done it. We have a brief “high horse” moment where we are convinced our cheering from a couch in Scottsdale, AZ over some Barro’s pizza will have a “Buffalo Wild Wings commercial style” impact on the course of the gridiron. We’re convinced that if we draft a player from our rival squad, or even worse, pass on a player that we want to root for the whole season – we’re putting a hex on the whole damn thing . . . and I am not prepared to tell you we’re wrong.
    • For many, Fantasy Football is not the end all be all – but FOOTBALL is – so make your emotional picks ADD value to your football viewing experience. Separating your team and player loyalties from your fantasy football performance is beyond difficult. We get it.  Take a tip from someone who has been on that dark and dreary path and curl up on the love seat and watch Red Zone or the ticket and just take a moment to enjoy this great game. It might not make a difference in your rankings, but it’ll make a difference in your stress-level.
  11. The “My commissioner is on a power trip and picked this God forsaken draft platform which is different than last year, so I’m over here trying to pull my life together while figuring out this ridiculous interface, and AHHHHHH I JUST PICKED THE WRONG PLAYER BY ACCIDENT! THIS IS MY NIGHTMARE! ABORT! AHHH THE MOTHERLAND!”
    • The year was 2014. We had entered the draft wastelands of the 14th round on. This territory is where real draft men rise above the boys. And this was my moment.
    • Steve Smith Sr. First, congratulations for having a child and becoming a Sr. all of a sudden. Second, you’re playing with an ultimate chip on your shoulder. You loathe the Panthers for disrespecting you after a decade + of service. And you should damn well feel that way. Third, the chip on your shoulder is now a triple layer nacho of angst, since you’ve lasted till the 14th round in a fantasy draft when you’re primed for an amazing year with the Ravens. Have no fear, you’re MINE.
    • Click – You have selected, Denard Robinson.
    • (Insert violent flailing).
    • The moral of the story: ESPN’s draft interface is much simpler and more informative, but our rootin-tootin-fresh-and-douchin’ commission decided Yahoo! was the way to go. In the midst of trying to navigate between the bells and whistles, an unspeakable error was made. Steve Smith Sr. goes on to have a monster year, and I’m left wondering what if.
  12. The 5th round message from your commissioner, “OH YEAH, my bad dudes… forgot to tell you I updated our settings so we’d have a PPR league this year! Love you guys!”
    • A cardinal sin. An unspeakable crime. An act of treason. A move that resulted in the gallows before Obama signed the Bill. A strategy-rocking revelation.
  13. The “THE DRAFT WAS IN EASTERN TIME ZONE? WHO DO WE KNOW THAT LIVES ON THE EAST COAST?!” valid questions…
    • Ultimately, a ploy to enlist auto-drafts and set up a year of excuses across the board. Assign a cabinet to impose checks and balances on commissioner decisions.
  14. The “I’m going to talk such sweet smack this year in the draft discussion window, these boys won’t know what hit them” strategy that backfires when you spend too much time putting down fiery burns (boom roasted) that your mind is NOT in the right place.
    • Smack talking is an art and a science. It comes easier for some than others. I’m more likely to be finely crafting my super burn than shooting out clever quips with AR efficiency. Before I know it: a MASSIVE risk in draft quality. Word from the wise – prepare a template of insults you can copy paste at strategic times or don’t get pulled into the Octagon. Keep your eyes on the prize.
  15. The realization that “I showed up late, but I have arrived. Auto-draft has done nothing right and I’m devastated, but I need to rally my endorphins and man up for the rest of this draft by making something out of nothing, only to realize the damage has been done, and you need to be so clutch on the waiver wire that Kanye would right about your fire.”
    • A classic over-compensation maneuver. Your league can’t be won during the draft – but I believe it can be lost. When your player profiles each use the words “boom or bust” “great potential” or “if the starter goes down” – then you’ll fallen into the trap.
    • Stay consistent. Stay hungry. Keep it in the pants. And remember, it’s all about the waiver wire anyway.

– AJ Smith (@adotjdotwoots) and Wheelhouse Factory (@wh_factory)

About the author

AJ Smith

AJ has a bachelor degree in marketing and management as well as a master's degree in business administration. His specialties are basketball (letsgoo Suns!), baseball (letsgoo D-Backs/Bo-Sox!), football (letsgoo Cards and my "legendary for all the wrong reasons" fastasy football teams), early 2000s pop-punk, college gourmet culinary creations, Star Wars, bromance, cheese, and longwindedness.

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