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Too many fans live in a fantasy world of sports

September 18, 2011
By MATT?WELLENS - Journal Sports Writer ( , The Mining Journal

Like many Americans, I love fantasy sports. Whether it's for cash or not, it's an addicting passion.

None of my ex-girlfriends understood why anyone would immerse themselves in this "fantasy" universe and the only time they encouraged my addiction was when they heard a payday was coming.

But who can resist the chance to be the general manager of a pro sports team, even if it is fantasy?

Before embarking on my sports journalism career, I played everything from fantasy hockey, hoops, baseball and everyone's favorite, fantasy football.

I've since scaled back my fantasy sports addiction, which used to include three to five football teams alone.

The NBA, NHL and MLB leagues became too time consuming for me so they were soon dropped, and before I knew it, all my attention was focused on my one fantasy football team - which has been named "85" after Greg Jennings for the past few years.

This year I don't even have a single penny riding on "85" and next year my time as a fantasy owner may end.

I just can't be a part of the fantasy sports community anymore. It's making sports fans stupid.

Fantasy sports are meant to create a more educated fan and a more invested fan. Because of fantasy sports, Peyton Hillis is a superstar. Because of fantasy sports, Oakland and Denver was a huge matchup last week with millions of fantasy owners relying on Darren McFadden to carry their team.

While fantasy sports has created a more invested fan base, it hasn't added to the fans' intelligence.

Instead, all fantasy sports has done is create millions of people who think they are as smart as Packers GM Ted Thompson or Tigers GM David Dombrowski.

Last season when the Packers lost Ryan Grant in Week 1 for the rest of the season, fantasy owners screamed and yelled for Thompson to go trade for Marshawn Lynch.

It was a simple deal. Just give the Buffalo Bills Jordy Nelson or James Jones for the running back. Sure, toss in a draft pick as well.

These deals are made every day in fantasy sports leagues! Why can't Thompson figure this out?

Who is this Dimitri Nance he just signed? Isn't there anyone better on the waiver wire to pick up? Isn't Hillis available? He was a free agent in fantasy leagues.

This kind of lunacy isn't limited to football. The NBA features some of the craziest trade scenarios at the deadline from fans and I'm sure Marquette's Kurt Mensching, the managing editor at Bless You Boys, gets some great ideas during the baseball season.

Milwaukee Brewers fans were shocked and discouraged on Thursday when they learned that Prince Fielder had told TBS in an interview scheduled to air today that "it is probably the last year" he will wear a Brewers uniform.

Fielder's comments broke the hearts of delusional Brewers fans who actually admitted on ESPN 540 AM in Milwaukee that they thought Fielder would re-sign with the team because, "Milwaukee is a nice place and he may really like it here."

He also set off the fantasy baseball community, who began to second-guess Brewers GM Doug Melvin for not trading Fielder when the team had the chance.

"They could have gotten at least two starting pitchers for him back in 2009," one caller lamented. Another person dreamed of trading Fielder for a six-pack of top-notch prospects.

The Milwaukee Brewers are having their best season since 1982, and all fantasy sports guys can think of is how "dumb" the Brewers were for not trading away Fielder.

Fantasy sports has seriously eliminated sanity.

There are actually people who continue to question Ted Thompson after the man won a Super Bowl. There are people angry that he has not traded away Matt Flynn or James Jones to strengthen the defensive line or linebacking corps.

The truth is, fantasy sports are not real. That may come as a shock to many of you. It is fantasy. Get it through your heads.

In the real world, if you don't have a solid backup quarterback like Flynn, your team becomes the Colts, who made a fantasy football-like move in the preseason by signing Kerry Collins to fill in for Peyton Manning.

How about you Minnesota Vikings fans? How well is the fantasy sports strategy working for your team? Is Donovan McNabb going to lead you to the Super Bowl?

I rarely trade in my fantasy leagues unless I'm desperate. The risk typically far outweighs the reward and the trades offered by other owners are, 99 percent of the time, completely one-sided.

Like Thompson, my success has come from mining the waiver wire for players like Miles Austin and Hillis. My best wide receivers have come in the late rounds, not early in the draft.

While I've had success, "85" hasn't hoisted a league title in recent years. Maybe my problem is I'm too real in fantasy football. I'm no Ted Thompson, but I'm also no Russ Budzisz, the biggest wheeler and dealer I've ever met in fantasy sports.

There isn't a trade for Randy Moss he's ever said no to ... and he wins.

I hope "85" can rebound from its Week 1 loss and capture one last fantasy title for me. Maybe that will keep me in the game.

Otherwise, it's time to stick with the real sports world ... until next year when a buddy asks, "You want in my fantasy league?"

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is



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