Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wrath of the Fantasy Gods

Anyone who has played fantasy football -- or is married to someone who has -- knows that there is an element of luck to being successful. I'm not trying to say that all of it is luck, because it isn't. There is an awful lot of homework, stats, probability, and that gut-feeling involved. That being said, there is an element of just flat out luck that is entirely undeniable.

People who play fantasy football often refer to the "fantasy gods." We think of these entities as beings that only exist to sit on a giant tailgate in the sky raining down their favor, or more frequently, their wrathful disdain on us lowly stat-jockies.

I'm a believer. Not in a deity that exists to typically ruin my Sundays. But I am a believer in bad luck, and I've got it like a near fatal rash.

Allow me to share some of the more memorable moments in the bad luck train that seems to derail every season.

I've been playing with the same group of guys since 2010. I look forward to draft day more so than I do my own birthday. It's a big deal in my little world. I've managed to run place either the bottom or the middle of the pack every single year. Statistically, I should have finished better in a few of those years, but my bad luck is so incredibly present, like the dark side of the force, that I've never really managed to crawl out of the proverbial cellar.

In 2013, I was having a middling start and managed to make what should have been a positive season changing trade that dealt my best running back for the always dangerous Aaron Rodgers. Ours is a two QB league and that was what I was lacking. The trade went through and I set my line-up. I actually had a decent week and only needed a handful of points from Rodgers to win my match-up and solidify that trade as being the turning point in my season. Rodgers played on Monday night and was creamed on the opening drive and left with what would be a broken collarbone. Effectively rendering the trade as devastating on my part, and leaving me scraping the dregs of the waiver wire for another --far less talented -- quarterback to essentially finish out the season.

One year, I drafted Eli Manning just to watch him lead the league in interceptions. It was almost more amazing to watch how many INT's he could chuck up in game than to watch how that single handedly ruined my season.

This year, I read everything I could find in a printed magazine or on the internet related to fantasy football. I studied stats and probability. I studied average auction values based on number of teams, roster depth, and standard scoring format. When draft night came, I strolled in a changed man. No longer would I cry that I was a victim of the fantasy gods. Nay nay. I drafted in the manner in which I had planned and basically assembled the core team I was hoping for. My centerpiece: Andrew Luck. Yes, the Indianapolis Colts stud quarterback that led every article I could read as being the man to have. Thus far, he's leading the league in interceptions and has sat out a couple of weeks due to injury. (It's also worth noting that this is the first time in his career he's missed games due to injury)

I know everyone who plays could talk a couple of stories of how the bad luck bug has crept into their seasons. We all deal with it. But not all of those people are approached by league mates and asked to draft a specific player because of the belief that if I own them, it will ruin their season. I have become the bad luck hitman.

Watch out Tom Brady...mayhap I'm coming for you...

UPDATE: Since the initial publication of this blog post...Andrew Luck has taken to another injury. A lacerated kidney and possible abdominal muscle sprain or tear. Timetable to return, 2-6 weeks. I'd like to extend my wishes for his health, and my apologies for drafting him and possibly being partially responsible for this injury.

Friday, September 25, 2015

My Experience with FanDuel

Fantasy Football has come a long way in popularity, cultural relevance, and as a marketing capability since it's inception in 1963. Now, Fantasy Football is one of the primary marketing tools for the NFL.

With it's continued rise in mainstream relevance and marketing appeal, it was only a matter of time before the evolution to a daily fantasy league was bound to be created.

These days, it's nearly impossible to watch t.v. or listen to the radio without hearing an ad for Fan Duel or Draft Kings, the mainstream one-day leagues. As an avid (my wife might say "rabid") fantasy footballer, my curiosity has been piqued for the last couple of years. I finally decided that it was time to drop a few bucks into it and see what it was all about. The logic behind it was pretty simple; if I can drop a hundred on my money league, why not spend $10 on a one day league if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity?

Now, let us get the point of this particular blog entry straight; this is NOT a "what's fanduel/draft kings all about" blog post. There's hundreds, if not thousands, of those available for anyone's perusal, and I encourage anyone who's curious to go read them if they are interested in trying it out.

This blog post is to recount my experience with FanDuel and how it didn't start off so well. For the record, I chose FanDuel because it was the first one-day league that I had heard about, I don't want to turn this into a conversation about which is better or which came first. FanDuel was the first one I heard about it, so it's the one I chose to try out.

I signed up and deposited $10.00 into my account as part of a promotional package on another fantasy website. I strategically sat on it during the first two weeks of the season as a way to do some more homework on the players and teams. Wednesday before the third week of games started, I sat down and picked a $5 contest to participate in. I did some reading about how the contest was scored and then spent the next 45 minutes combing through the players, match-ups, and salary cap. I selected and re-selected my players and when I felt confident --a sign of alarm for any fantasy player --I accepted and entered the contest with my team.

The next morning, I downloaded the mobile app and logged in to look my team over one more time only to find no team, no contest, and my remaining $5 were not there. If I'm being completely honest here, a sense of panic was secondary. My initial reaction was that the whole thing was a rip-off and I didn't read the fine print. Which, I will admit, I did not. Then I panicked a little. Where the heck was my team? Where the heck was my money? Why the heck did I pick up a backup running back as a starter?!

I started a support ticket. Again, negativity bubbling up to the forefront of my mind, I figured that it would be two days before I heard back from anyone. The problem here, is that the Thursday night game was a mere 12 hours away!

I sent my support ticket at 6:32 A.M. on Thursday morning. At 7:45 A.M. on Thursday morning I had a response from a live person. I am Jack's wide-eyed surprise. Not only did I have a response, my issue had been resolved!

As it turns out, the fault was entirely mine. I had previously set up a FanDuel account, but have never used it. When I signed up and deposited money, it was a new account as I had long forgotten the one I never actually used. When I downloaded  the mobile app, I used the OLD account email and hence had zero dollars and zero contests going. As it turns out, having multiple accounts is against the end user license agreement that I had electronically agreed to and my accounts could have been deleted by site management. The gentleman informed me of this, and deleted my old, unused account and left my new account in good standing. I logged out of my now defunct account and back into my new one to find my $5 still there and my contest still active.

While it is extremely impressive to receive a helpful support ticket response in just over an hour, I am most impressed -- if not grateful -- that my account was left in good standing and not simply deleted for an unintentional violation of site policy.

I don't know if I will win this week or not, maybe I will update this later with the results of this weeks contest. But, I do know that I am very happy with FanDuel's customer support system.

If my bad-luck doesn't screw me out of my current happiness, FanDuel may have a new rabid-fantasy-player.

As always...the Hungry Writer Abides...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Buddy Walk 2015

September 12th 2015
National Down Syndrome Society - Buddy Walk - Crown Point, IN.

The last 3 years, my wife and I have been attending the Chicago land Buddy Walk. It's a pretty big event in a very large park and typically has a lot of fun things to offer the families in attendance. This year, we decided to attend the one that was much closer to home but is a little smaller and offers a little less.

It didn't start of very well. GPS insisted that we take a road that was entirely closed, resulting in an additional half hour's worth of side-roads and backtracking. During some of this backtracking it began to rain which we know would definitely impact the "walk" part of the function for which  it was named. Not to mention that my three year old is currently in the "why?" phase which results in an unanswerable series of questions that must be -- at least partially -- designed to frustrate parents. In the end, what should have been a 35 minute drive turned into about an hour and 15 minutes worth of one that soured my mood considerably.

When we arrived, long behind the family members that we were meeting there, the registration booth was already closed. Luckily we ran into workers from the booth and we able to still receive our annual t-shirts commemorating our presence at the event. A mild blessing in disguise, the walk had been postponed an additional half hour due to the rain, which gave us just enough time to get there, find the rest of the family, and participate in the actual Walk. I am grateful for that. It's also worth noting, that this walk was a little bit shorter making it achievable for my 3 year-old to complete without having to be carried.

It's also worth mentioning, there was this bee that was hell-bent on being disruptive. It followed my family the duration of the walk. Buzzing and flitting from person to person causing screams, running away, and the flailing of arms typically associated with facial fires. I secretly named it "hemorrhoid" due to where it was metaphorically causing me pain.

All in all, despite the drive, the weather, and the hemorrhoid bee we enjoyed the Buddy Walk as it's a cause we feel strongly about. There was a good crowd there. We love being a part of any function that involves Down Syndrome awareness. If you don't personally know or haven't met someone with Down Syndrome, you're missing out.

As always, the Hungry Writer abides...