More than 27 million Americans live a fantasy life. They play fantasy football.
According to a recent feature in AdWeek by Anthony Crupi — headlined ‘Billion Dollar Draft’ — media companies are cashing in on that sports obsession.
This year, we’ll spend an estimated $800 million per year on fantasy sports media products and services, according to the market research firm Ipsos. And football gets 71 percent of that spend.
Way before the Internet, fantasy football started as a small cottage industry which tested the math skills of owners who kept their team stats.
With broadband access and mobile usage, fantasy football has grown……fast.
This year, for example, ESPN’s fantasy football use is up 19 percent year-to-year. ESPN’s fantasy site had more than 100 million page hits in the first month of the season, according to AdWeek.
Dutchess Dawgs in The Hunt
ESPN hosts my fantasy league, the Nightcap Football League (NFL), a group of current and former IBM PR guys who are living out their GM fantasies..
My team, the Dutchess Dawgs, has won three division titles in four years, and advanced to the championship game three times– only to lose each time.
This year the Dawgs are struggling just to stay in the playoff hunt. Losing first pick Jamaal Charles for the season in game two hurt…..as have recent injuries to Miles Austin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Julio Jones, AJ Green and Shonn Greene.
But the Dawgs have managed to hang around, fueled by recent waiver wire acquisitions like Marshawn Lynch, Brandon Pettigrew and Earl Bennett.
With just two weeks remaining in the season, the 6-5 Dawgs are locked in a three-way tie for the Nightcap Superman Division lead.
There’s a reason they call it fantasy football. You guessed it. It’s not real, it’s fantasy
Having said that, the Dutchess Dawgs, fresh off their third divisional title in four years, are enjoying a bye week in the Nightcap Fantasy Football League (NFFL) playoffs.
The Dawgs are the SportsLifer’s entry in the fantasy football. But my rooting interest in the real New York Football Giants takes precedence over any individual activities on the fields of fantasy.
That explains why the Giants defense/special teams and running back Ahmad Bradshaw play for the Dawgs. And why there are rarely any Cowboys, Eagles or Redskins on the Dawgs roster.
Limping into Playoffs
After jumping out to an 8-2 record, the Dawgs come limping into the playoffs in the throes of a three-game losing streak.
Three lead dogs on the team — quarterback Philip Rivers, running back Ray Rice and wide receiver Roddy White — have slumped in recent weeks, contributing mightily to the slide.
The Dawgs have received consistent production from wide receivers Marques Colston and Mike Wallace throughout the season
And after releasing Visanthe Shiancoe midway through the season, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Pettigrew have alternated at tight end and provided points for the Dawgs
Earlier this week the Dutchess entry picked up kicker Josh Brown to replace the erratic Nick Folk.
Just remember, it ain’t real, it’s fantasy.
QB in pain: A sight feared by fantasy football owners and NFL fans alike.
With the possible exception of dwindling 401ks, expanding waistlines and gray hair, there’s nothing fantasy football owners fear more than injuries to key players. Especially in the pre-season.
Just last week, the Dutchess Dawgs took Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with the fifth overall pick in the Nightcap Fantasy League draft.
The very next night, Brady was clobbered by Albert Haynesworth late in the first half of New England’s pre-season game against Washington. Brady left the game with what is initially diagnosed as a bruised shoulder
Right now, the Patriots are saying the injury isn’t serious. But the Patriots are known for not being exactly forthright about injuries.
So the Dawgs, gleeful that Brady was kept out of action against the Giants in the exhibition finale for both teams, must wonder if Tom Terrific, coming off serious knee injury after missing virtually the entire 2008 season, was a wise selection.
Wait, there’s more. The Dawgs selected Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings with the 25th overall pick. Jennings got banged after making a reception last week against Arizona and suffered a concussion.
Concussions are not exactly good news for your leading wide receiver.
So far, the Dawgs second pick, St. Louis running back Steven Jackson, has managed to stay healthy. But Jackson has only carried the ball 10 times in three pre-season games.
What happens when he starts seeing serious action? Only time will tell.
In the overall scheme of life, vacations are not real. Get up when you want to get up, go where you want to go. No deadlines or meetings or conference calls. No pressure. One week is fun, two weeks sublime.
In other words, it’s fantasy land.
Speaking of which, vacation is a great time to prepare for the fantasy football draft.
The Dutchess Dawgs of the NFL (Nightcap Fantasy League) have finished as regular season divisional champions each of the past two seasons. The Dawgs have ridden the arms of Tom Brady and Drew Brees to the championship game each season, only to loss in heartbreaking fashion in the finale..
To prepare the Dawgs for another successful season, their president, general manager and head coach “Big Dawg” Bowser has been poring over fantasy football rankings and lists from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and the other usual suspects, studying everything from mock drafts to rushing statistics to injury reports.
This year, the Dawgs have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their draft prep. First, a team official visited the pre-season training camp of the New York Giants at University at Albany to scope out the talent on a team many experts are picking to win the NFC and perhaps the Super Bowl.
Following that, the same Dawgs official spent a few days at Stanford University, soaking up the campus karma of former Cardinal quarterbacks John Elway and Jim Plunkett and then checking out Stanford Stadium, shown right, the site of Super Bowl XIX between the San Francisco 49ers and the Miami Dolphins.
It’s all part of a well-planned program designed to put the Dutchess Dawgs over the top in 2009.
Big decisions need to be made in the early rounds of the fantasy draft to fortify key positions. But the work doesn’t end there. Oftentimes success is achieved in the later rounds of the draft, sleeper picks that can make a huge difference as the long season wears on.
Built for the long haul, the Dawgs are geared for championship success this year.
There are lots of reasons people should read the newspaper every day — news, editorials, the classifieds, movie listings,
Here’s another one: the creative headlines in the sports pages that reflect the athletic temperature of the American cities they represent.
On Sunday, for instance, we watched the NFL playoff races wind down. We saw the Dolphins complete an amazing turnaround, the Eagles and Chargers complete improbably playoff runs, the Jets, Bucs and Broncos all fall apart, and the Patriots fall short despite a 11-5 record.
And on Monday, we read the headlines in newspapers coast to coast.
It’s a good news, bad news thing. First the bad news.
The New York Daily News on the Jets’ demise:
Or the New York Post on the status of Jets’ coach Eric Mangini;
It’s time to Can-gini
Followed later by Axed
The Dallas Morning News as the Cowboys collapsed in Philly:
Quittin’ time and
Rout to nowhere
The Rocky Mountain News on Denver’s last-season fade:
Zapp: Broncos electrocuted by Chargers
The Boston Globe, on the failure of the Jets and quarterback Brett Favre to help the Pats by beating the Dolphins:
Grin and Brett it.
Now some good news.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel on the Dolphins rise to AFC East champions:
Worst to first
The Philadelphia Inquirer on the Eagles playoff surge:
Eagles rise from dead with 44-6 win
And the San Diego Union-Tribune on the improbable AFC West race:
Chargers complete historic comeback
But we’ve saved the worst for last.
The Worst News
The Detroit Free Press on the Lions, who finished 0-16, worst single season in NFL history:
Woeful: Worst-ever Lions perfectly awful
Sad to say, the Dutchess Dawgs are becoming the Buffalo Bills of fantasy football.
For the second year in a row, the Dawgs dominated the Nightcap League, leading the circuit in wins, points and dawg-bites-man attitude. And for the second year in a row, the Dawgs lost the championship game.
Dawgs president, general manager and head coach Big Dawg Bowser vows he’s not standing pat.
“It’s time to shake up this roster,” said the Big Dawg. “Nobody’s job is safe — quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, defenders, even the ball boys and our cheerleaders, the Dawgettes. We’ll do whatever it takes to win a championship, and if it means cutting every last player and starting all over, well that’s what we’re gonna do.”
When reminded that Nightcap is not a keeper league, and that teams start from scratch with a September draft, the Dawg just barked, “I knew that.”
All year long, the Dutchess Dawgs have been chewing for respect.
Their September draft was poo-pooed by many of the so-called experts, yet the Dawgs went on to win to post a 10-2 record, best in the Nightcap League. They were under-Dawgs in many of those 10 wins.
In the playoffs, the Dawgs were picked to succumb to two-time defending champion Ari’s, despite having finished four games ahead of the Dealmakers and beating them in the regular season.
“This game won’t even be close,” one prognosticator said. “The Dealmakers close the deal and lock the Dawgs in a kennel. Expect a double-digit victory by Ari as the Dealmakers advance to the finals.”
Not so fast.
“We’ve been beating the odds all year,” said Big Dawg Bowser, Dutchess president, general manager and head coach. “But we’re not celebrating yet, we’re playing to win a championship. That’s been our goal all year, and this team has never lost sight of the prize.”
With six starters in double figures, led by wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker, the Dawgs built up just enough of a cushion to hold off a surging Ari’s squad on Monday night. The Dawgs won, 94-89, despite leaving 91 points on the bench.
The Puppies have had running back problems all year, and received a measly 19 points combined from their four ball-carriers. Antonio Bryant’s 50-point effort was wasted on the Dawgs’ bench. Yet still they managed to pull out the victory.
Many anticipate some lineup changes this weekend, when the Dawgs take on Roswell’s Aliens for the championship of Nightcap football. The two teams split their regular season series.
This may be fantasy,…but it becomes reality when the Dawgs play for pay.
That sound you heard Sunday night about 7:30 was the sound of Dawgs howling.
WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!
How about dem Dutchess Dawgs.
In the Nightcap comeback of the year, the Dawgs rallied from a 31-0 deficit to upend defending champion Ari’s Dealmakers, 91-66, and edge a step closer to their second successive Somers Division crown.
The Dawgs have won five in a row, and now stand 9-1 overall, best record in the league after 10 weeks.
Despite missing leading rusher Clinton Portis, the Dawgs got 25 points from venerable tight end Tony Gonzalez and 22 from the high-powered right arm of Drew Brees to complete the comeback against Ari’s.
The Dawgs were out in force in bucolic Dutchess last night. If you can’t run with the big Dawgs, stay on the porch.
The Dutchess Dawgs, facing perhaps the two toughest games on their schedule, have signed a pair of free agents, Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Jim Brown.
With Drew Brees on a bye this week, and Clinton Portis off next Sunday, the Somers Division leaders are looking to reinforce their lineup with two of the NFL’s all-time greats.
Marino will replace Chad Pennington at the helm when the Dolphins visit Denver this Sunday. And Brown will carry the mail for the Browns the following Monday night when Cleveland visits Buffalo.
The legendary, dynamic duo promise to give the Dawgs a boost when they face New York Division leader Evil ZITO on Sunday, and Nightcap defending champion Ari’s Dealmakers the following week.
“It’s only natural that the best should play for the best,” said Dutchess president, GM and coach Big Dawg Bowser. “Marino is one of the top quarterbacks in football history, and Jimmy Brown is the greatest running back ever to roam God’s Earth. Why not shoot for the moon? After all, this is fantasy football.“
This season has been another Brees for the Dawgs
The Dutchess Dawgs served notice once again this weekend that they are a universal force to be reckoned with in their unending quest for world domination…..at least in the Somers Division of the Nightcap Fantasy League.
And as a result, president, GM and coach Big Dawg Bowser has been offered a five-year, $75 million extension, plus free doggie bones for life.
“The extension is well deserved, and should offset Bowser’s losses in his 401k…make that 101k….plan and stock investments,” the Dawgs said in a statement. “Bowser has been looking for a bigger dawg house for a while, and this new deal should put him in the high-rent district.”
The Dawgs trailed Team Larkin by 51-17 earlier Sunday, twice bitten by the newly-acquired combo of Peyton “I’m no Eli” Manning to Marvin Harrison. But they rebounded with an incredible 67-4 run to snatch the lead away from the Larkenites, led by the double figure exploits of Drew Brees, Clinton Portis, Ronnie “Touchdown” Brown, Calvin Johnson and Nate Kaeding.
They are now poised for their fifth victory in six starts. Going into Monday night action, the Dawgs hold a 103-70 lead over Team Larkin. So unless Jamal Lewis of the Browns rushes for 340 yards against the Dawgs’ Giants defense, the Hounds will get their paws on another victory.
Lewis did set the all-time single season rushing record five years ago when he was a Raven with a 295-yard effort against the Browns. If he breaks that record tonight, I’ll eat my Giants hat, with pepper.
So, those same Dawgs whose draft was poo-pooed by the so-called experts, the same Dawgs who have been picked to lose 5 out of 6 by pigskin pundits,followed by a public apology, those same old Dawgs will soon be 5-1.
The Dawgs loaded up in the early rounds of this year’s Nightcap draft with Portis and Brees. The former is leading the NFL in rushing, and Summer Brees, NFL passing leader, is the fantasy football MVP through six games. Too bad they don’t give extra points for passing efficiency.
The puppy boys are looking to improve their receiving corps, but are otherwise mad and healthy as they enter the stretch run.
Dawgie Bones: The Dawgs have endorsed NFL trade rumors circulating around Tony Gonzalez and Roy Williams. The Dawgs tight end Gonalez could become the G-Man for the G-Men, and the Lions could open up passing lanes for the Dawgs’ model citizen Calvin Johnson by sending Roy Williams packing.