A Survey of The Bygone Bureau Fantasy Football League

Yeah, nobody knows what they’re doing.

On a whim, we decided to start a fantasy football league, including all the Bureau editors and a few of our friends. Here’s a quick survey about everyone’s history with football and how their draft went.

Hallie Bateman

I’m an illustrator and I live on a mountain which I almost never leave.

Team name: The Hallahassee Bloody Stumps

How much do you like/know about football?
My only real experience with football comes from a semester in college when I had a work-study job as a videographer for the football team. “Videographer” is just the fancy name they had for the person who films the team practicing so they can study the tape and improve their strategy or something? Come to think of it, I’m not entirely sure why I was filming. I just pointed the camera at whoever had the ball.

I climbed a rusty scaffold and filmed football practice for a couple hours each day. Being the keen observer that I am, I eavesdropped heavily on the players and came to know the team quite well. I even developed a secret crush on the kicker who was like — sigh — imagine if a majestic, curly-haired golden retriever was turned into a human being and played sports. Not like Air Bud, but just like, a beautiful, golden retriever-like boy?? Sexier than Air Bud. (I’m not sexually attracted to dogs okay, that’s just the only way I can quantify his particular beauty.)

Anyway I must’ve filmed hundreds of practices but I was busy with my anthropological study of the team and managed to learn absolutely nothing about football, except that I don’t like being hit by them. (My scaffold was right behind the goal posts and I was hit with a football on more than one occasion.)

Do you watch football regularly?
Simply no.

How did your draft go?
I had only named my team when I got the email about draft time coming up. The ESPN site was really confusing. I managed to log on but couldn’t figure out how to do anything else, so I didn’t. Shortly thereafter I got a “report card” in which it told me I got an A and my team was doing great. I didn’t even know I had a team picked out or anything. I felt really proud of myself. It was fun to rub it in Nathan’s face, because he got a B+ for doing nothing and I got an A.

IN YOUR FACE, NATHAN!

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
I would really like to beat all the naysayers who think the Bloody Stumps are an inferior team just because they don’t exactly have all their limbs in working order and they spew blood all over the field. It doesn’t say anywhere in the rule book that you have to actually have feet to play football! Not to go back to Air Bud but my team actually relates to his story quite a bit.

Nathan Pensky

I am an editor for this website and also for a tech blog and a writer and avid internet user and general nerd-person.

Team name: Meadville Ladyhips

How much do you like/know about football?
I used to watch it quite frequently. My dad and I would watch it every Sunday from the time I was eleven to the end of high school. I know all the rules and some of the culture behind it, though the fifteen-years-ago version. I’m guessing it hasn’t changed much.

Back then, I thought I enjoyed the game on an aesthetic level, as in, it was an elaborate drama being played out with many different kinds of characters and loyalties and metaphorical significances. In retrospect, though, I think I liked it more on a human interest level, as in, it was a thing happening in the moment, which a lot of people care about, and I was watching them care about it and getting caught up in their emotion. I watched awards shows like the Grammys and Oscars for basically the same reason without knowing or understanding even a little bit about the reasons why people were “winning,” but because I liked to watch people get emotional about stuff they cared about. It was a vicarious thrill to participate in a world where doing something really arbitrary mattered a lot. This makes me sound like a weirdo robot, but it’s true.

All that said, nowadays, I think football is barbaric and terrible and should be outlawed. I think there is way too much competition in modern life, and that most, if not all, of it is destructive to the human psyche, including a lot of innocuous-seeming stuff like spelling bees and board games, etc. But professional football, in particular, seems really debilitative. It’s very violent and a lot of the players involved have terrible health problems as a result of it, emotional trauma stemming from chronic brain injury. It’s hard to get behind something that dramatizes conflict and hurts a lot of people and glorifies conspicuous wealth.

Then again, I do a lot of other, similarly ethically questionable things, like drinking coffee and driving vehicles that burn fossil fuels, etc. Watching football, though, the unethical stuff is perceived in a very direct way, where you actually see the players beating up on each other and getting injured as a part of the fandom itself. That’s not the case with coffee. I can’t “taste” the exploitation of Kenyan farmers in my delicious coffee, like I can perceive the culture of competition being played out on my television during a football game.

But I should mention that, while it hurts my brain to watch football, I have no problem watching professional baseball, and I like doing so a lot, even though the culture of needless conflict plays out there just as much. I understand that makes me a hypocrite, which is probably worse than whatever unethical behavior I think I perceive in televised football games. But I have no problem with people who like football and don’t, like, judge them or anything. Even though they’re horrible people who should be ashamed of themselves. Just kidding. Really, it’s fine. (It’s not fine. (Just kidding, it is.))

Do you watch football regularly?
I don’t really watch football at all now, no.

How did your draft go?
It went pretty well. The computer gave me a B+ despite that I did absolutely nothing after choosing a name for my team.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
I’m going to see what doing absolutely nothing gets me. When I signed up, I thought about maybe starting to watch football and involving myself in my fantasy team more, whatever that means. (Needless to say, I’ve never done this.) But I realized that I was being motivated by a desire to “win.” It would be interesting if I could “win” doing nothing, so I think I’ll do that.

Richard Dunlop-Walters

I live in New York and hate swans.

Team name: New York Thought Leaders

How much do you like/know about football?
I love to watch but I would die if I tried to play. I know the general rules but very little about the minutiae of the rules and players, and that’s how I like it.

Do you watch football regularly?
I don’t own a TV, so no. The only game I’m guaranteed to watch is the Super Bowl, but I will make an effort to watch my home team’s games if there are opportunities to do so. Living in New York, that can often be quite depressing.

How did your draft go?
I don’t know, I let the computer handle it! I would say it did a pretty good job. It gave me Andrew Luck, which feels like a good sign.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
My wife thinks fantasy football is stupid, so I’ll be happy if I get to have sex again before the Super Bowl. I suppose it would be nice to win a few match-ups too.

Garrett Miller

Just a sporty guy living in sporty Washington DC writing sporty code.

Team name: Sportsball Champions

How much do you like/know about football?

I really enjoy watching football, but my knowledge of players extends only as far as which models they may or may not be dating at the time. I recognize “great passes” and “good runs,” know the rules fairly comprehensively and recognize the importance of a quarterback’s hair both on and off the field. That said, I have no idea what the difference between a half back and a tight end is, outside of obvious notion of the latter’s righteous rear.

Do you watch football regularly?
I don’t go out of my way to watch it, but I enjoy watching it when it’s on. I don’t root for a specific team, especially given my home team’s unfaltering grip on an obviously offensive mascot.

How did your draft go?
I was going to do it myself, but an old friend came into town and I decided that seeing him was probably more important. I set a few things on the auto-draft to weigh towards running backs (something I read was a good idea somewhere). I alternated between first and last picks and I believe that the computer performed admirably in my absence. If computers could experience emotion, I would provide it with gratitude and pride for its decisions.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
If there was actual money on the line, winning all of that would be a clear indication of success. I like to think I’ll devote hours every Saturday to researching my players’ status and picking my lineup carefully, but we all know I’m going to half-ass it on Sunday morning.

Nick Martens

I’m a founding editor of The Bygone Bureau, and regularly fantasize about hanging out with Chip Kelly.

Team name: Seattle Zunes

How much do you like/know about football?
It’s funny, I grew up in Denver during the Broncos’ heyday, when everyone in the entire state was obsessed with them, and I didn’t give a shit about football then. But over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten completely sucked in, and I can’t really say why. It makes me question how much control I have over my life.

Do you watch football regularly?
Uh, yeah. In previous years, I watched shitty pirate feeds of NFL Red Zone all day most Sundays during the season, but this year I won’t have to because I spent $100 dollars for a game I barely want just because it came with legit streaming.

How did your draft go?
I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend the draft live, so I tried to use ESPN’s custom “autodraft” feature, which lets you rank the players you like, and then automatically selects your highest pick each round during the draft. This led to the robot selecting Greg Estandia for me. Greg is a tight end who’s had 23 total catches in his career (for comparison, Jimmy Graham had 85 last season alone), and who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2009.

But aside from that, my team actually looks fine. I have a ton of good running backs, who are generally the most valuable players in fantasy, and Tony Romo is my quarterback, which will be entertaining if nothing else.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
Picture this: there are two minutes left in a Sunday night game in Dallas. The Cowboys are down by six, but I’m leading my fantasy matchup by one point. The last player active for either team is the one and only Tony Romo. As he drops back to pass, he has Dez Bryant open down the field, but the rush flushes him out of the pocket. He scrambles right and cocks his arm back to throw, but just as he brings the ball forward, he trips over his untied shoelace. The ball flips lazily into the air, and it’s easily intercepted. As the visitors run out the clock, the deduction for an interception pops up on my screen: negative two points.

Basically, I want the full Tony Romo experience.

Jonathan Gourlay

I did not understand where hay comes from until very recently.

Team name: The Connecticut Diaper Genies

How much do you like/know about football?
I like football and do not watch or follow any other sport, save my daughter’s swim/track meets. I don’t know football at the level of actually understanding what the various positions are for or what the plays are, but I understand the basics. I don’t love football because football can seem like watching a very slow murder or maiming that the audience is complicit in supporting. It’s like in a horror movie (i.e. The Evil Dead) where the camera is in the killer’s POV. Only we are couch-bound killers, cheering for brain-injuries. Still, I watch.

Do you watch football regularly?
Yes. My family and I enter into some kind of sit-com mode each Sunday, where I neglect my “chores” and fatherly duties to whoop and holler at the TV. That said, I’m too cheap to spring for NFL Network, so I just watch whatever is on.

How did your draft go?
The Connecticut Diaper Genies earned an A+ from ESPN. I am apparently am a master-strategist. This seems about right to me. The rest of the league seems to suffer from low testosterone and/or some kind of shrinking testicle condition (except for Sarah and Hallie). I feel, therefore, that my chances are great!

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
Basically, beating my brother. Fantasy football is our main mode of communication and as with any interaction with my brother, it is important that I “win” it. He is already winning in the baldness and age competition, so it’s nice to have a little something I can win.

Andrew Gourlay

I’m the older, taller and more handsome version of Jonathan Gourlay — live in and between Houston, Texas and Monterrey, Mexico.

Team name: True Scotsmen

How much do you like/know about football?
You need to be more specific, futbol or American football? I do know about soccer, it is a game were a bunch of weenies run around chasing a round ball — but cry, and roll on the grass if you touch them. On our company soccer team in Mexico, I have the record for most red cards, as I feel it necessary to knock down the faster, more talented players — apparently this is frowned upon. Maybe I am forgetting to pass along a few pesos to the referee. The American Football game seems to be played by guys with a bit more cajones.

Do you watch football regularly?
Of course, my wife is always amazed as to how may games the NFL can squeeze into a week. While we may be “couch bound” and waiting to watch major injuries, I like to take a more participative approach when watching football, and have managed to sprain my knee while doing a Super Bowl dance — out for 4-6 weeks.

How did your draft go?
Perfectly, the worst would be to have ESPN rate the draft high which is equivalent to a disastrous season. The draft is like the stock market — if you go along with all the favorites, you are bound to lose money.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
Besides beating my little brother — having the best ESPN-rated team at the end of the season, consisting of QB-Cutler, RB1-Forte, RB2-M.Bush, WR1-Marshall, WR2-Jeffery, TE-Bennett, D/ST-Bears, K-Gould.

Aaron Cohen

I try to do a lot of things all at once, including Unlikely Words, Eat Boston, and Super Precious Art Gallery.

Team name: 15 Best Fantasy Team Names

How much do you like/know about football?
I like football a lot, but know a lot less than I did a few years ago.

Do you watch football regularly?
Yes. Every Patriots game.

How did your draft go?
Probably terribly.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
Beating Kevin.

David Tveite

I am a handsome and hilarious comedian who lives in Washington, DC.

Team name: Washington Pussywillows

How much do you like/know about football?
These days it’s probably my #2 sport behind baseball, but I’ve been a pretty hardcore Green Bay fan since 1995 or so.

Do you watch football regularly?
During the regular season, my girlfriend more or less doesn’t get to talk to me on Sundays. I pretty much check out completely for all the offseason coverage though. The way I see it, watching the NFL draft is about as fun and exciting as obsessively hitting refresh on espn.com for hours on end. Likewise, preseason games are only televised for the benefit of people who have absolutely nothing meaningful going on in their lives.

How did your draft go?
Considering I had the last pick in the first round, I’m pretty pleased with it (especially if we’re grading on a curve — I don’t know what most of these other idiots were thinking (Gronkowski in the first round? Kevin, you cannot possibly be serious). This is a fourteen-team league though, so no one is more than one or two major injuries away from being completely terrible for the rest of the season.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
I’m in it to win it, dogg. The mighty Pussywillows are gonna roll to the Bygone League title over the rest o’ you punks. Nothing less than bringing home a championship will do anything to briefly mitigate the dreary, day-to-day struggle of my horrible, empty life.

Sarah Pavis

I’m a mechanical engineer and writer who wants to play boardgames with you.

Team name: Chicago For The Nguyen

How much do you like/know about football?
I don’t hate football. I say that because as a nerdy theatre girl I’m someone who seems like she’d hate football. Playing on the marching band in high school had me watching enough football that I know what the positions are and can make sense of the plays and gasp even enjoy it from time to time. So while it’s not all Greek to me, I’m worlds away from knowing enough about professional players to make informed fantasy football decisions so I’m basically relying on the computer and projections. It feels like when I used to play craps or blackjack. I just want to know enough to win once in awhile. I don’t need to clean up.

Do you watch football regularly?
Oh god no. I really enjoy the Olympics because I can love a sport while only be expected to really pay attention ever four years. Since doing marching band in high school, I can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed watching a full football game. It’s mostly been resentful half-watching with uncles at holidays wishing we were playing cards or something. Recently, the football I’ve enjoyed watching the most has been on Friday Night Lights.

How did your draft go?
My draft went great! Actually, I didn’t know the draft happened until Kevin texted me saying I had a good team. I was pretty sure he was negging me and I’m still not certain he isn’t, but looking through the teams and the projections I do feel like the computer did me right. From what I’ve read, there’s a dearth of good running backs this year so I was happy to see the computer picked up really good RBs for my first two picks and went with a very good, if not elite, QB for my third pick. The rest of the player projections looked pretty good from what I could tell, but I swapped out my worst wide receiver for a suspiciously good running back that was available on the waiver wire. Ugh, I’m glad I didn’t know when the draft was because I probably would have put an embarrassing amount of effort into it and then fucked it all up anyhow. Well, there’s still plenty of time for that.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
I just don’t want to be the know-nothing girl who comes in last place. Hm, the motivation not to be an incompetent girl might explain a lot in my life.

David Jacobs

I sleep like a baby!

Team name: Riggins Rigs

How much do you like/know about football?
I do not like it, I wish it ceased to exist. But I do follow it quite closely, I have to admit.

Do you watch football regularly?
No.

How did your draft go?
Horrible! It was an auto-draft.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
If I am able to acquire players I like, such as Russell Wilson or Randy Moss.

Keith Calder

I produce movies.

Team name: Whimsical Rabbits

How much do you like/know about football?
I watch the World Cup every four years.

Do you watch football regularly?
I went to a Jets game once. It’s the only NFL game I ever attended. They were playing against the Kansas City Chiefs. Jets player Dennis Byrd tried to tackle the quarterback, but ran into his own teammate. He fell to the ground and didn’t come up immediately. The crowd starting booing and yelling that he was a wimp. Dennis Byrd broke his vertebra and never played another game of professional football the rest of his life. I never attended another game of professional football.

How did your draft go?
I honestly have no clue. I thought it went pretty well, but then the ESPN website told me Draft Report Card tool told me that the Whimsical Rabbits got a C+ in their draft. I have no clue how ESPN can know this before the game has started, but I assume they’re right because they’re the experts.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
If it has relatively no impact on my professional or personal life, but I still have fun participating.

Darryl Campbell

I help edit The Bygone Bureau.

Team name: Capitol Hill Profiteroles

How much do you like/know about football?
I’ve been a Seahawks fan since I was 6 years old. I dressed up as Dave Kreig for Halloween one year in grade school. So, a lot about the game in general and about the Seahawks, but not much about other teams. Apart from the superstars like Aaron Rodgers, I’d be hard pressed to know anything about most other teams.

Do you watch football regularly?
Yes, though usually with the sound off unless it’s a Seahawks game. I don’t usually read sports websites, either.

How did your draft go?
The computer said I got an “F,” but I felt like that was an overstatement. I got Colin Kaepernick, Victor Cruz, Matthew Stafford, and Jamaal Charles, so not that bad for being 6th in the draft order.

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
Beating Kevin’s team. Either in a game or in the final standings. Also not diminishing my love for the Seahawks when my players inevitably play against them.

Kevin Nguyen

I founded The Bygone Bureau, and pretend to know about sports because I contribute to Grantland, even though they only let me write about books.

Team name: No Romo

How much do you like/know about football?
I love football, mostly because it’s an excuse to yell (which I love doing). I know a bit about football, but not a lot. For me, I think I enjoy football because it’s a thing I can get really passionate about without having to invest a lot of thought. Did I mention the yelling?

Do you watch football regularly?
Like Nick, I bought a copy of the new Madden game solely because it came with a subscription to DirecTV’s NFL League Pass, which allows you to stream any regular season game to your computer. So what I’m trying to say is: hell yes. I will watch every single Seahawks game this year and then some.

How did your draft go?
I have no aspirations to win this thing. Also I can’t separate players from their teams, so I have a hard time identifying great players on bad teams.

This is the first time I’ve done fantasy football, but I’m wary of the way it can warp the way you watch a game. Suddenly you’re rooting for random players instead of whole teams. So I picked Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks defense so I am never in a position to cheer against my favorite team.

I also drafted Rob Gronkowski first, which I know is insane because A) he is injured and B) when he comes back he will just get injured again. But you score a lot of points for hilarious post-game press conferences right?

(Basically I made terrible choices in terms of scoring fantasy points, but I am happy with the players I got.)

What would make this a successful fantasy season for you?
I fall in love.