Pro football was once a small sport, at least in some ways. Fans focused on their local squad and a handful of regional rivals, paying little attention to most of the week-to-week proceedings elsewhere.
Those days of self-enforced myopia are over, thanks to the rise of fantasy football, which forces legions of once-casual fans to feel feelings about the fourth-best player on the 25th-best team. Fantasy football consumes 98 percent of the attention span of 40-plus million people for roughly six months. The gross domestic product suffers, sure, but we’ll leave that problem to the central bankers and their fantasy economist league.
You, meanwhile, have a fantasy draft to prepare for. With preseason injuries largely accounted for, it’s prime drafting time from now until the season kicks off Sept. 4 with Seattle hosting Green Bay. We now present your official choice-by-choice depth chart for your draft party. Your team is going to suck. That’s no reason to screw up draft day itself. Ø
What to wear
1. Throwback jersey alluding to a would-be fantasy football legend who played before it existed.
2. NFL-issued windbreaker or sweatsuit, so you look just as lousy as the coaches.
3. Ironic jersey of a current player whose fantasy value is nil. (Anyone got a Bryant McKinnie?)
1. Someone’s house or apartment. Booze and snacks to your liking, and no concern about cursing loudly at your friends, yourself or that $%^&!#$ wide receiver’s spliff habit.
2. At a bar — but the right one. (See below.)
3. At home, drafting remotely online. Because why even have friends?
1. Uptown Tavern & Rooftop. Call ahead: Groups of six or more get one free appetizer and a round of drinks on the house.
2. The Local. Reserve the boardroom, replete with plush chairs and long wooden table, to feel like a real NFL executive … with just a slightly cheaper taste in hooch.
3. Buffalo Wild Wings. In-house or catered package for groups of eight or more includes coupons, coasters and something called a “brag flag.”
Food and drink
1. Wings. Mandatory. You’re going to make a mess of your team. Might as well do the same to your cheat sheets.
2. Light beer. Enough alcohol for a competitive buzz, but not enough for you to be seduced by a promising young kicker.
3. Pizza. Use the joint ordering process to scout your opponents. Veggie Mediterranean? Let’s go ahead and take Tom Brady off the board.
On-field traits to avoid
1. Aging running backs. Guys who run downhill at 26 usually run off a cliff at 29. In other words, this might be the year Maurice Jones-Drew’s a.k.a goes from “Mo Jo-Drew” to “Not Much Mo Left Jo-Drew.”
2. Defenses paired with great offenses. You might like playmakers on, say, Denver or Green Bay, but fast-paced offenses also mean the other team gets a lot of chances to score.
3. Wide receivers with bad quarterbacks. The fastest sports car on Earth is worthless without keys.
Off-field traits to avoid
1. “Hobbies include makin’ it rain, pit bull breeding and double homicides. (Allegedly.)”
2. Overindulgent bachelorhood. To paraphrase an old line, the problem isn’t the guy who got some; it’s the guy who spent all Saturday night chasing it. Here’s looking at you, Ron Mexico.