There are all sorts of problems with experts-only fantasy leagues, but the biggest one is this: they're full of fantasy experts.
We're predictable and dull. We travel in herds, drifting toward the same sleepers, often using similar draft strategies. Like most herd animals, we also graze. And a few of us are picked off each year by large, predatory cats. Brad Evans was badly mangled by a snow leopard in 2005. Very sad, but he's a fighter.
Preseason experts drafts are useful tools, of course. But as we play out the leagues, not many extraordinary things happen. You won't see many drunken 4 a.m. add/drops. Experts don't vengefully cut elite players after bad games. You don't see message board posts that read like this:
What teh (expletive)?! That trade is a (expletive) JOKE!!! Everyone should V-I-T-O!!!
In short, experts leagues are almost inexpressibly dull. They're shrewdly played by people who've played for many years. Fantasy experts don't want to embarrass themselves, either. Message board posts are rare. Negotiating a trade is tedious. The leagues just don't function like typical fantasy leagues. Whenever we write about transactions we've just made, readers respond with emails that tell us, appropriately, to get over ourselves.
Thus, as this column transitions into football – for now, that will mean just one or two football-related things per week – I'm determined to not write very much about the experts leagues in which I'll participate. However, I've found that it's extremely useful to use specific leagues and fantasy scenarios as discussion topics. So it seemed like a good idea to create a PLUS league in which I will not manage a team.
The inaugural Yahoo! Tank Johnson Desert Classic drafts this Thursday.
A group of funny (and arguably unsavory) sports bloggers have been invited to participate. I'll merely be the league's commissioner, not an owner. One day each week, we'll take a critical look at league transactions and lineup decisions. It's really a perfect situation for me: lots of second-guessing, no accountability. This is how Billy Packer must feel all the time.
Here's the field:
The Mighty MJD, The Debriefing
Big Daddy Drew, Kissing Suzy Kolber
(There's a particularly nice Bill Walsh piece here today).
Will Leitch, Deadspin
Orson Swindle, Every Day Should Be Saturday
(And a great Walsh piece here, too).
Monday Morning Punter, Kissing Suzy Kolber
Dan Shanoff, DanShanoff.com
(Clever blog name, eh?)
Nation of Islam Sportsblog
Christmas Ape, Kissing Suzy Kolber
Matt Ufford, With Leather
(Hugely important cheerleading news can be found here today, though not necessarily every day).
Flubby, Kissing Suzy Kolber
A.J. Daulerio, Deadspin
Unsilent Majority, Kissing Suzy Kolber
Many of the folks above claim to have a fair amount of fantasy experience. I can't really vouch for their skill, although I know Will to be a crafty baseball manager with an unnatural fondness for Cardinals.
My hope is that the Tank Johnson Desert Classic behaves as a typical fantasy football league would: odd and unpredictable draft picks, trades met with ridicule, regrettable message board postings, scandalous commissioner decisions … all the familiar things you'd expect to have to navigate.
This would probably be the appropriate place to note – perhaps in a different, smaller font – that neither Yahoo! Inc., Chad Johnson, the advertisers, myself, or anyone unnamed but affiliated with the aforementioned claims to endorse whatever wrongheaded blogging you'll find at the above sites. Officially. OK, maybe Chad does. They're just talented writers who, if thrown into a draft room, are likely to create an entertaining league. Or so I'm hoping.
On Friday, we'll recap their draft.
And now a sloppy transition to baseball …
Normally, I'll try not to mix football and baseball. But the Mark Teixeira deal demands a reaction. This was mine: I dropped Benjie Molina in my head-to-head league and added Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He's 4.4 percent owned. We should assume that Saltalamacchia will receive more at bats, which is really all he needed to become a decent speculative add in formats with 12 or more teams. Replacement-level fantasy catchers aren't hard to come by, and Arlington is a great place to hit. Teenage shortstop Elvis Andrus is an interesting addition to the deal, too, but he doesn't figure to have fantasy relevance this season. Mark Teixeira remains Mark Teixeira.
There's also a rumored Octavio Dotel-to-Atlanta deal, which would do wonders, presumably, for Joakim Soria's value, if not Dotel's. Soria is 46.9 percent owned.
If 22.1 percent-owned Luis Castillo is shipped to the Mets, and that's the most recent rumor via RotoWire, all sorts of fantasy owners will probably add him. But his value won't change much. Minnesota's Alexi Casilla is an interesting speculative add for AL-only owners. He was 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts earlier this year.
There will, of course, be an absurd amount of MLB trade-deadline discussion tomorrow. Brace yourselves.