A Fantasy Football Draft Plan, Marching to the Beat of Your Own Drum, and–Going Over the Deep End?

I went back to my hometown of Rochester, New York, recently to spend the Labor Day weekend with my parents.  It was a great trip, and the drive across Vermont and upstate New York was pristine.  Town squares in the shadows of the Green Mountains were quiet in the morning hours as I rolled down the windows and listened to the give-and-take of blue jays, grackles, and other assorted early risers.



Later, driving west through New York State, as morning gave way to afternoon, I passed through old Erie Canal towns, which were brimming with the activity of the holiday weekend–carnivals, farmers’ markets, people enjoying the weather and savoring summer’s golden swan song.  I take this trip back home every year on Labor Day weekend.  It has become something of a personal tradition.



Another tradition is the annual fantasy football draft.  Way back in the 1990s (Is it just me, or does saying “way back” and the “1990s” in the same sentence strike anyone else as odd?!), my brothers heard about what at the time was a fairly new pastime called fantasy football.  Being a statistical nerd all my life, I eagerly joined them, my father, and some old friends in a fantasy league.  We’ve been playing ever since, now over twenty years strong.  The annual draft is like a reunion every year–getting together with childhood friends, catching up, and, well, drafting our teams!  To this day, we do it the old-fashioned way–everyone gets together in my parents’ front yard, seated around folding tables replete with snacks and other high-calorie fare, pencils and paper in hand, and we hold an in-person event.



Over the years, I’ve been known ro utilize some extreme draft plans.  Granted, every league participant puts their own special, unique stamp on the team they select, but more often than not, I zig when everyone else zags.  This year, I took that mind-set to another level.  I crafted my most extreme draft plan to date, and was determined to see it through, no matter what.



Midway through the proceedings, after yet another of my unorthodox picks, my brother John couldn’t resist.  He looked over the players I’d selected to that point, shook his head, and said, “Mike, I think you’ve finally gone off the deep end.  I think it’s finally happened!”  Of course, I enjoyed his jab.  One of the many fun aspects of employing an extreme, almost outrageous draft strategy is gauging the reaction of everyone else at the table.  But more importantly, the plan I incorporated was something I believed in, something I thought would work.



Regardless of the prevailing opinion of the league or the fantasy football community at large.


There is a scene in The Eye-Dancers where Mitchell Brant talks with Marc Kuslanski, as they brainstorm over the predicament they are in–marooned in a parallel universe.  Marc, logical and rational to the core, is looking for sound scientific solutions.  But Mitchell, more intuitive and less bound by the “book,” eschews logic and contradicts Marc at nearly every turn, infuriating his data-minded friend to no end.



Trying to explain himself, Mitchell says, “Haven’t you ever just felt something to be true?”  Against all logic, all objective analysis, has there ever been a time in your life when you knew the numbers were wrong, even when two plus two still added up to four?  Has there ever been a time when common sense screamed for you to do one thing, yet you deliberately chose the other?



This is exactly what Mitchell Brant is getting at.

Going against the grain almost always elicits a strong reaction from others.  “Are you crazy?” they might say, with an eye roll or a head shake.  “Have you lost your mind?”  “Come again?  Did you just say what I thought you said?  Please say it ain’t so!”  As if refuting the counterarguments in our own mind isn’t hard enough, we are now confronted with the disbelief and disapproval of others.  It’s easy to crack at this juncture, to reign things in, get back on the well-traveled path, and return to our comfort zone.  After all, what if everyone else is right?  What if the idea we’ve come up with, the action plan we’ve decided to follow really is doomed to fail?  Conventional wisdom is conventional in part because it’s usually true, isn’t it?  The doubts seep in, the naysayers’ objections rise to a crescendo, and it is so easy to discard the idea we had once felt so passionate about.



Albert Einstein once said, “The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd.  The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.”



And Thoreau famously wrote, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”



The “different drummer” in question might be a particular job or place to live.  It might be an eccentric date or a loud tattoo, a new diet or an off-the-wall idea for a book.  It can be anything different than or apart from.



As long as it’s uniquely your own.


When the fantasy football draft came to an end, as the sun slowly sank in the west, casting long, lazy late-summer shadows that undulated across the ground in the soft breeze, we lingered for a while, talking about everything, and nothing.  It’s a relaxing time–every year, following the draft.  There’s no reason to rush it.  But eventually, inevitably, the participants leave for home, one by one.



And before he left, my brother pulled me aside and said, “Seriously, Mike–are you deliberately trying to lose this year, though?  Your draft was crazy!”

“Like a fox,” I wanted to say, but didn’t.  All I did was smile.



When the season ends, we’ll see who has the last laugh.



Thanks so much for reading!


40 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stacey
    Sep 14, 2016 @ 15:59:29

    I really liked this….thank you for sharing it 🙂


  2. Rilla Z
    Sep 14, 2016 @ 17:03:55

    I’ll soon be forty, and I think this is my generation’s mantra. I either give in whole-heartedly to the prevailing Kool-Aid of the day (because it’s not worth the dissonance) or I go rogue. Intuitive decisions are either based on a subconscious collection of proofs or an emotional response to the pressure to conform. I think. Unfortunately, what may be good intuitive thinking can look like “crazy” if the people you’re backing do not perform to the potential you perceive in them. Anyways, I hope you win. 😀


    • The Eye-Dancers
      Sep 17, 2016 @ 21:54:41

      Thanks for the great comments! The pressure to conform is certainly immense, isn’t it? It’s not easy going rogue.:) But when I do, I always seem to enjoy things more. And yes–hopefully my “crazy” draft strategy will pay off!


  3. Dragthepen
    Sep 15, 2016 @ 01:30:39

    Thank you for taking me along on the journey. I enjoyed reading this.


  4. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel
    Sep 15, 2016 @ 12:23:07

    Good luck, Mike. Nothing wrong with coloring outside the lines. 😉


  5. jjspina
    Sep 15, 2016 @ 14:11:03

    Clever post to intertwine everyday things into your writing, Mike. Enjoyable post! Best wishes with your roster of players! 😆


  6. carolineturriff
    Sep 15, 2016 @ 16:40:02

    I am not into football (apart from Cristiano Ronaldo) so am not into fantasy football either. But I am definitely into marching to the beat of a different drum to everyone else as I have always been a non-conformist. Without being a non-conformist I would have nothing to write about so I think my non-conformity will continue for a long time.


    • The Eye-Dancers
      Sep 17, 2016 @ 21:59:26

      I’ve always been something of a nonconformist, too. It’s rewarding marching to the beat of your own drum. This way, the things you do, you do because you believe in and not simply because you’re following the herd. We need more nonconformists in the world.:)


  7. Karina Pinella
    Sep 16, 2016 @ 00:25:41

    A remark to your brother might be a reminder that it is fantasy after all. Let your imagination soar as high and far as a football throw. Will be curious about the results!


  8. Ste J
    Sep 18, 2016 @ 10:59:12

    I love doing this type of stuff, for the football over here, it’s a case of looking at the lesser known foreign imports to see who will be a big hit. It gets addictive, stats are amazing. I have a big affinity with the PC game Football Manager mainly because its spreadsheet porn lol.

    I picked up your book from Amazon the other week, it’ll be a while before I get to it due to blogging commitments and books I promised to read beforehand but I will get to it as soon as I can.


    • The Eye-Dancers
      Sep 19, 2016 @ 16:52:00

      It is addictive, isn’t it? And I’m with you–I love looking for those sleepers, those diamonds in the rough. And thanks so much for picking up a copy of The Eye-Dancers! I will certainly look forward to your thoughts on it once you do have a chance to read it!


  9. maguinolbay
    Sep 19, 2016 @ 08:47:42

    Im sorry, but I cannot imagine how you guys play fantasy football draft. As for the time “way back in the 1990s”, yes, I too find the phrase odd considering that it is very recent, unlike the 70s or the 80s. How old were you back in the 1990s? Well, I was already in College during the 1990-1994. Anyway, I like the way you write, very family centered, very nostalgic.


  10. evelyneholingue
    Sep 22, 2016 @ 21:31:01

    So glad I took the time to return to your post, Mike. I love the quotes you’re using to illustrate how we can choose to live our own life. I like these quotes (especially Thoreau’s) for the creative writing process. Following the trend or trying something different?
    Last time I read your blog, I was left under the impression that your draft was almost finished. Looks like it is. But. Are you taking it as far as you’ll throw the football? In any case, best of luck with the manuscript and football season. I won’t comment on this. The French girl in me still doesn’t get it. Love the ambiance, though.


  11. Baydreamer
    Sep 25, 2016 @ 16:55:55

    I enjoyed this clever post, Mike, and also loved the quote by Albert Einstein!


  12. Resa
    Sep 28, 2016 @ 21:44:58

    I really like & relate to the message in this post. Thank you!


  13. Lesley at Lola Rugula
    Oct 23, 2016 @ 13:57:58

    I love fantasy football and have played it for years – how cool that you all still get together for your draft! Such a great post…your way with words is why you’re a great writer, obviously!


  14. Alexis Chateau
    Sep 08, 2018 @ 02:31:23

    I’m curious. Who had the last laugh? Haha.


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