Editor’s Note: This article was the winning submission of one of our Writing Contest winners – Corey Mauer. It was chosen for its creativity, writing quality and humor. Team DLF is excited to welcome Corey to the writing group and we know you’ll enjoy much more of his work in the coming months and years.
William Shakespeare was a genius: not a literary genius, not a genius playwright, not just an artistic genius. William Shakespeare was a genius.
In my opinion (which may be just slightly biased due to my passion for writing), Shakespeare’s name belongs on the same level as Socrates, Einstein, Hawking and other names that typically come to mind when one throws the term “genius” out in conversation. No other author in history has ever mastered so many different genres of writing quite like Shakespeare did. In addition to his incredible well-roundedness, he was also a wordsmith in the truest sense – often making up words or changing their existing meaning in ways we still use today, hundreds of years later.
Yes, if there were one person who has ever walked the face of the Earth that I could sit down and have dinner with, it would be William Shakespeare (partly so I could ask him if I could call him Billy Shakes, but that is neither here nor there). And during this theoretical dinner party, if there were to be one topic in which one would assume that I would have the intellectual edge, it may seem like a good bet to put your money on fantasy football. After all, neither the concepts of fantasy sports nor football would be brought to fruition until centuries after Shakespeare’s death….but if you take a closer look at some of the things good ol’ Billy Shakes has written, I’m not so sure he was completely oblivious to the fantasy game.
Just in case you cannot tell, this piece marks my transition from fantasy baseball to fantasy football. I’m deeply sorry I cannot see you all through your baseball seasons, but football is on the horizon and the bright lights of the grid iron are calling my name.
This blog will be a draft-prep special with a Shakespearian twist…or will it be a Shakespearean lesson with a fantasy football twist? Either way, it should be mildly entertaining. Each draft-day tip will come in the form of a famous quote from the English playwright, and then I will elaborate on just exactly why the quote has fantasy relevance.
“All things are ready, if our minds be so.”
This is Shakespeare’s take on preparedness. You are ready to do anything, but only if you have put yourself in the right mindset. In fantasy football terms, this means you must do your homework. Going into a draft without doing any prep work is an early death sentence for any owner. Who is hurt (Ryan Mathews, AP)? Who is playing for a new team (Brandon Lloyd, Vincent Jackson)? Who got a new backup (Jamaal Charles, Mark Sanchez)? Who is a contract holdout (MJD)? What have new players been doing in pre-season (Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson)?
The beginning of any successful fantasy season starts with reading articles, listening to podcasts and joining mock drafts (which is the most important aspect, in my opinion). Letting a player slip past you by one round or reaching to take a defense too early can cost your team a spot in the playoffs. Do your homework and put yourself in the best position to win.
“How poor are those who have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?”
Patience, patience, patience. To have a successful draft, you must have patience. Have a draft strategy and, just as importantly, stick to it. When John Doe from Accounting decides to take a kicker in the sixth round and then three or four people follow suit for fear of not getting an “elite” kicker, don’t panic and jump on some crazy bandwagon. The same can be said about any position: don’t leave higher value players on the draft board just because a fire sale may be happening at a particular roster spot. Just because the 49ers have this year’s hot pick for defense, going as early as the sixth or seventh round in some drafts, does not mean you should select them over starting running backs such as Reggie Bush, Doug Martin or Benjarvus Green-Ellis.
Hold on to your seats boys and girls, here comes a two-fer:
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.”
“All that glisters is not gold.”
The first of these two quotes is the Shakespearean way of reminding fantasy players that it is not merely the Patriots and Packers of the world that have fantasy value–all players are eligible to be drafted, and great value can be found in unsuspecting places. Just look at the abysmal St. Louis Rams. Even with the supporting cast the looks like it could fill out a team that would be a formidable opponent for the guys that threw on some pads and stood in the background of Rudy as extras, Steven Jackson has proven to be one of the most reliable (reliable, not spectacular) fantasy options in all of football. Or even some backups, such as Ben Tate or Peyton Hillis, play their way into fantasy relevance without garnering much attention due to being second-stringers. You have to take every player into account.
As for the second quote, it serves as a reminder that big names do not win fantasy leagues: stats do. For example, players like Peyton Manning, DeAngelo Williams, Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson and Dwayne Bowe all have appeal due, in part, to their famous names; however, they come at a higher price and won’t necessarily produce more than bargain names such as Doug Martin, Vincent Brown, Antonio Brown, or Rashad Jennings (MJD is still a holdout after all), Green-Ellis or maybe even RGIII. So basically, you can’t fall in love with the big, glittery names: keep focused on whose stats are likely to put you in the best position to win.
“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
Ok, to be honest, I don’t really have a way to relate this to fantasy football, I just think this is a super awesome quote that needs to be in as many articles as possible.
“The man’s undone forever; for if Hector break not his neck in the combat, he’ll break it himself in vain-glory.”
The lesson here: if you make a mistake on draft day, don’t be too proud to admit defeat and do your best to rectify the situation. The year after Brett Favre’s big comeback season (his last season in Green Bay) I drafted Favre as my quarterback. As it turned out, Favre was not a good choice to be the signal caller on my team…ok, that’s putting it nicely, Favre was dreadful. I had a serviceable backup on my bench, but I kept trotting Favre out there like he was going to magically turn into the quarterback from the previous year. As a result of my foolish insistence on the over-the-hill quarterback, my team had its worst record in the seven year history of our league. Don’t compound a draft-day mistake by continuing to start the player; at the very least, stow underachievers on the bench in hopes they turn things around.
“This above all: to thine own self be true.”
At the end of the day, this is YOUR fantasy team. Do your homework, listen to analysts, pick the brains of others, but make the decision you decide is best. If you think Tim Tebow is going to be the top-rated quarterback, then, by all means, draft him early. If you think this is going to be the year of the defense, then spend a pick in the early-middle rounds to get the best one. You get the glory for the victory, you get the trash talk for the loss: make sure you are happy with the decisions you make on draft day.
I hope it is clear to see, now, that William Shakespeare was really a fantasy football expert above all his other accolades. The real question: will your fantasy team rise to the top and have a season more memorable than the tale of Romeo and Juliet, or will your team flounder and see more blood and carnage than the story of Macbeth?