Why real life sports reporting is like my fantasy football team

This past week the Cleveland Browns traded Braylon Edwards to the Jets. Edwards was formerly the 3rd pick overall in the NFL draft and was a Pro Bowl selection is 2007. It seems some experts in sports reporting let that fact cloud their analysis of the trade.

Bob Hunter, a sports columnist for The Columbus Dispatch wrote in his Friday column:

Many of the Browns were concerned about how trading a potential game-breaking receiver, who was a former No. 3 overall draft pick, for a so-so receiver, a special-teams player and two draft picks, believed to be third- and fifth-rounders, makes a bad team better.

Bob Hunter commentary: Rumblings

Those of us who follow the team on a regular basis know why he was traded and this fan is glad they did something with Edwards. In 2008, he had the league top spot in dropped passes at 16. It was excruciating watching time after time Edwards drop a pass. This season he seemed to be improving but he still lacked the supposed game-breaking potential and he then got into trouble at a nightclub at 2:30 in the morning the day after the team lost their last game.

I’m glad Edwards had time to party after the loss….

It reminded me of a long bus trip home when I was on our high school football team as a senior. We had just lost the game but from the laughs and high jinks by the lads on the bus that night you wouldn’t think we did. One of the coaches had enough he stood up and yelled “You just lost a game! Act like it…”

So how is the Edwards situation and Hunter’s reaction to it like my fantasy football team?

Well I have a habit of drafting big names from the previous season who then do squat this season and then I can’t bring myself to dump them because “they scored 10 TDs in 2008!” as if their lack of stats this season will turn around. I can’t waste time on dead weight. Its “what have you done lately” that most coaches operate on and Edwards had his chance through the preseason and 4 games to show he could do better. He didn’t and the team decided to get what they could for him on the market.

Such tunnel vision can effect even TV people paid to watch the games.

During one Browns game one of the CBS commentators complained when Brady Quinn was pulled from the game – “he’s 6 of 8 for 34 yards!” seeming to forget that 6 of 8 for 34 yards before half time is almost the same as being 0 for 8 for a quarterback. Those stats aren’t going to win the game and the coaches were right to pull Quinn from the game. The team still lost the game but Derrick Anderson seemed to spark the team a little bit more than before.

Sometimes, changing teams is better for the player. If Edwards returns to his game-breaking potential we saw in 2007 while on the Jets then good for him, but I still wouldn’t feel bad for the Browns because he wasn’t the same player he was in 2007 and it didn’t look like that Edwards was going to show up this season either.

Fantasy football leaves me unfulfilled

Sorry the first entry of 2007 is so late in coming. Part of it is I started a new work schedule and January is our busiest month and I was working a lot of overtime. I was also stumped in what to write about, having thought of several good issues to post. Then I watched the weekend NFL divisional playoffs and thought I would write about my experience with Fantasy Football.

For those who don’t know what Fantasy Football is, that is where you pick current players and base scoring on their stats each week.The team with the most points wins your game.

I have been playing for several years through Yahoo Sports and NFL.com My general strategy has been to pick a team that I think will make it to the end and get me in the playoffs and maybe winning the league. While some of my league mates base their weekly lineups on matchups they also sign free agents or trade players.

Unfortunately, five years of playing has shown I am the unluckiest player in the world. I have never finished higher than 4th in any of the leagues I have been in and this past season I finished last or near the bottom of the three leagues I joined. My records were 3-11, 5-9, and 4-10 and each team finished the season by losing 5 games in a row.

Being on my fantasy team is like the kiss of death for a good player. QB Byron Leftwich had a season ending injury, WR Chris Chambers sucked this season, WR Doug Gabriel was cut from the Patriots after getting into a fight with the staff there, WR Braylon Edwards suffered from a sucky Browns team, and QB David Carr faded at the end. The only player that performed consistently for me this season was RB Larry Johnson and WR Reggie Brown. Even the defenses I picked, Indy and the Steelers, had bad years.

In previous years I let the computer pick my teams but this year I bought a Fantasy Football preseason magazine with all the stats from 2005 and predictions for 2006 and I used that info to rank my first 50 players. In my NFL.com league, one of the teams that finished in the top 2 at the end was for an owner who didn’t even show up for the live draft we had.

I thought at first I just stunk at the game but I really think that luck plays a major role in how players and teams do in a given year. For example, in 2004, I picked up QB Ben Rothlisberger when I found out he was going to start for Pittsburgh after the starter, Tommy Maddox, got hurt. I knew Big Ben would do well as I had watched him in his college days and Pittsburgh that year had a good team. He led them to a 14 game win streak to end the season.

At the start of this year one of my league mates wanted to trade TE Tony Gonzalez to me for Kellen Winslow Jr. Looking at points alone I said no and wouldn’t you know, Tony had the better year as Winslow suffered from a poor offensive team performance. It was pure luck. Had I made the trade I might have won more games that I lost by only a few points.

As the old saying goes: Wait till next year….