Spicing up fantasy football with NFC West-only league

Fantasy football is a seemingly boundless enterprise, but peer a little closer and it’s obvious that it follows a fairly predictable progression.

Generally speaking, I care about one league more than the others I participate in, whether for pride or because the first-place winnings are going to pay my rent second semester. I’m in the other leagues because I couldn’t say no to my buddies or I had an inordinate amount of time on my hands one night. By the second week, I’m not even submitting rosters for those other leagues.

But even in the preferred fantasy league things can go south quickly, especially when you drafted Arian Foster, Peyton Manning and Sidney Rice were your first three picks and now the major lineup decision you have on a weekly basis involves choosing between Justin Forsett or Jason Snelling as your starting running back.

This was the rationale behind my roommates and myself starting the inaugural NFC West-only Fantasy Football League.

Now, this obviously begs the question: why the NFC West, the redheaded stepchild of the entire NFL?

The answer also comes in the form of a question. Have you ever seen the late afternoon games on FOX? Usually, it’s a crappy Rams game that puts you to sleep by the second quarter because neither team can muster a first down. I like my football to be meaningful and those NFC West snoozefests just don’t cut it.

So, instead of filling that time with studying or aimless tweeting, we decided to start an NFC West league.

The main driving point in a league like this is creativity, and that all begins with team names. For example, my opponent’s team name this week was “Dude Where’s My Bulger,” harkening back to the days of former Rams starting quarterback and NFC West legend Marc Bulger. If you’re more of a sexual innuendo kind of person, a name like “Two In The Queue” might be more fitting, too (yes, that’s my team’s name).

Once you have a clever team name in tow, it’s time to start drafting. Since ESPN hasn’t catered a draft room specifically for the NFC West — yet — scrolling through the scores of NFL players before landing on a Rams starting wide receiver can be an arduous process. As always, ingenuity is encouraged during the draft, even if a player is not exactly a part of the NFC West. I selected defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (we play with individual defensive players, too) in the late rounds, even though he’s currently banned from the NFL for having mass quantities of codeine and getting busted — twice. He won’t contribute any points during the season, but he’s a fan favorite with the league owners.

Beyond the fact that this fantasy league exists solely for kicks and giggles, it might become beneficial to your other leagues as well. As you might imagine, elite talent is few and far between in the NFC West, so most of our rosters are littered with backup running backs. At any point in the near future, though, Frank Gore is going to realize he is still starting alongside a gas station clerk pretending to be a quarterback in Alex Smith and Gore is going to “Carson Palmer” the whole 49ers organization. Once this happens, my starting running back Anthony Dixon will assume the starting position for San Francisco and earn some serious fantasy points for me. Soon, I’ll claim him on waivers in the league I actually care about and both of my fantasy teams will flourish. See how that works?

My roommates and I thought the draft was exceptionally fun, but we weren’t sure how it would translate during the season. Lo and behold, last Sunday we crowded around our laptops, scanning the screens for point fluctuations. When Cardinals receiver Early Doucet broke off a 70-yard touchdown from a screen pass, my apartment went nuts. The Doucet catch eventually led to a loss for my team, even though I put up a respectable 79 points.

Name me one fantasy league that gets this excited for an Early Doucet performance? I don’t even think Cardinals fans were as elated as we were.

And that’s the beauty of this league. It’s absurd and unnecessary and a further impediment to getting any sort of studying done on Sundays, but it’s a creative way to be a sports fan and I wouldn’t have it any other way. At the very least, it makes football games more meaningful. And isn’t that the point of fantasy football in the first place?

Thomas is a junior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ThomasBruch.