I guess it all starts simply enough. Last January the NFL season was winding down to its' thrilling conclusion and while waiting for the Superbowl to happen, the normal collection of gridiron geniuses, egomaniacs and misfits were still posting on the message board, many lamenting how close (or not) their home teams came to navigating the 19 week minefield towards the Superbowl. Then one of the illuminaries named "Cap'n Grunge" (not to be confused with "Captain Crunch" though I always imagine they dress the same) came up with the following idea:
"I think it would be a cool idea to set up a 32 team FF league that mirrors the structure of the NFL and follows the same matchup schedule for the 17 week season.
Ideally we would have a huddler who's a fan of each NFL team run that equivalent team in our league. ... Pre-draft, each owner would select one player from his respective NFL team who must remain on your team for the year."
Suddenly it was a chance for every NFL team homer to get a chance to run his favorite team. A league composed of every NFL team, with enough homer players to give it the definite flavor of the team and yet the chance to throw players from other teams into the roster the "way it should be" in the view of the fantasy team owner. It was greeted with roughly the same response as rolling a keg of beer into a fraternity on Friday night. Now the <insert non-playoff NFL team> could have a chance to win the Superbowl!
Now I've been around fantasy sports for over a decade and had cruised our message board for the past five years. By this time in the season I was mostly searching for nefarious titles that contain the words "Kournikova", "soccer" or "with a red hot branding iron" and I checked in on the growing message board thread. It was admittedly cool, one of those I'm-sure-I-thought-of-this-before sort of ideas. But the logistics of getting 32 team owners to show up, agree on unique rules and actually carry through the idea to completion was ridiculously daunting. I knew it would likely dissolve into another good idea on the pile of good intentions.
And of course some seven months, a few thousand more message board postings and 384 selected players later, I guess I was wrong.
Oh yes, and I immediately signed up myself on the first day. I have a need to show up Jerry Jones, I guess. Plus at the end of the day, I just like to play fantasy football, not just write, analyze, forecast and delete the above mentioned message board posts.
There will be yet another Bengal team we'll get to follow this season at The Huddle and this one has Jerry Rice. We'll see if Randy Moss can save the Bills and if Kevan Barlow really can come through for the Raiders. Can Bettis get the Vikings into the playoffs? Will Michael Westbrook be a bust for the Packers? We'll see exactly how much better coaches we are than the real deals.
If you are interested in seeing how a 32 team plays out in this format, here are a few simple rules we came up with:
- Each NFL team retains it's kicker, team defense and one protected player as named "team stud".
- A nine round draft followed "the naming of the studs" and while there were no roster constraints, each team could only draft one team quarterback to prevent scheduling problems.
- Each team will start one team QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 PK and 1 DEF.
- The schedule will mirror the NFL except that the final weeks of the regular NFL season will be wrapped back earlier in the season as double header weekends in order to get all 16 games played.
For your perusal and amusement, here is what that 32 NFL fantasy team league really looks like:
The Studs : Each team named a protected stud player to maintain that homer team feel and at least one star to root for from your own team.
The Draft : Nine rounds followed the naming of the team studs and by the end, almost all drafters became acquainted with players that they had never heard of before. Mr. Irrelevant? That one has to hurt, Quincy.
The Teams : The quality went away before we reached the second round it seems. Still, some teams already look better than others.
The League : Stop by at the end of the season for a look at the way it could have been. Or thankfully was not.
The Rules : In case you ever have 31 friends over and decide you need something to do for the next couple of weeks.
Much appreciation must go to all involved with the league on this monumental task. We'll get to see which of us really is better than our NFL counterpart at coaching and like them will really learn to fear those three terrifying letters.
Good luck on your own drafts!