I, like 4000 other entrants, was not selected as a finalist in Grantland's Fantasy Island competition. I have nothing to say about the results of the selection process other than a sincere, "Congratulations!" to the winners. The competition would have been an incredible opportunity for me, but it IS an incredible opportunity for the ten writers selected. I wish them all a tremendous amount of luck. Nobody understands the enormity AND daunting nature of the opportunity confronting them over the next four months better than I do. Their success has inspired me to get better as a writer, so while they are striving to be chosen as Grantland's Fantasy Football writer, I will strive by writing a weekly Fantasy Football column. The following article is my submission for the competition. I will follow this up with a new Fantasy Football column each week for the rest of the .
The true value of fantasy football is its ability to make the mundane exciting. For me, it resurrected my interest in football at a time when the Dallas Cowboys, my childhood team, were unwatchable. Owning Rudi Johnson made a mid-season game between the Bengals and Browns exciting for a young man who had never even been to Ohio. I was hooked. In a similar way, otherworldly actors helped resurrect scripted television at a time when reality TV threatened to take over everything. These incredible performances have made shows which never would have been made in the past, stay on the air and dominate through sheer quality. So as we break down this season’s Top 5 Fantasy Football players, let’s look at the actors they parallel.
Tom Brady – Jon Hamm Mad Men
Brady is impossibly handsome, massively talented, and incredibly reliable. He could only be Jon Hamm. Like Hamm, Brady is surrounded by a large and talented supporting cast. Like Hamm, Brady has a teammate who dominates with freakish physical attributes (Rob Gronkowski – Christina Hendricks). Plus, both have become legends under the watchful eye of a hardened and mysterious man who many would call overbearing and some might call evil (Bill Belichick – Matthew Weiner).
Aaron Rodgers – Timothy Olyphant Justified
As the heir to the original gunslinger, Brett Favre, there was only one actor to pair with Aaron Rodgers. Mr. Discount Double Check himself carries an incredible amount of swagger. Some might say Justified is fueled by Olyphant’s swagger alone. Like The Shield before it, Justified is a show which isn’t afraid to blow people away and call it good story. Rodgers and the Packers never stop looking for the deep ball, and a sixty yard touchdown/shot to the chest can come without warning.
Jimmy Graham – Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad
Newsflash: all the attention Rob Gronkowski demands off the field will follow him onto the field this season. His production is going to drop off. That leaves the door wide open for Jimmy Graham to be the top tight end. Graham went from unassuming and unheralded to a monster in just under a year. His talents were always there, he just needed the right situation to explode them onto the world. That sounds like the tale of Walter White. Both men rose from out of nowhere to the top of the game. And both men have incredibly likeable and diminutive partners (Aaron Paul – Drew Brees).
Ray Rice - Louis C.K. Louie
Though he has always had talent, Ray Rice has never gotten the respect he deserves until now. After three elite seasons, Rice has become the most dominant and consistent running back in the game, and he does it basically all on his own. In the same way, Louis C.K. has always been one of the best comics around, but has only recently garnered mainstream respect. Much like FX simply cuts a check for Louie and doesn’t interfere, the Ravens will be most successful if they just get the ball to Ray and stay out of his way.
Arian Foster – Aaron Sorkin The Newsroom
Arian Foster doesn’t care what you think. He doesn’t like fantasy football, and he doesn’t eat meat. He’s definitely the most productive vegan in the history of fantasy. Arian is a singularly talented oddball who will undoubtedly put his stamp on this season. In the same way, Aaron Sorkin is putting his unmistakable stamp on The Newsroom. Like it or not, Sorkin is the star of that show. While it has many fine actors, The Newsroom is literally dripping with Sorkin’s prosaic swag. Like Foster, he doesn’t care what critics, viewers, or network executives think. That’s just Sorkin being Sorkin.
Pierre Garcon – Joel McHale Community
Pierre Garcon thrives on deep balls. If he were a conventional receiver, he’d be boring and mundane. But he’s not. Though last season was a disappointment, he’s ready to make a big splash under new leadership. Like Garcon, Community is at its best when it goes for deep, meta jokes and premises. It has no business being broad and generic. Last season’s diminishing returns led to ousters at the top (Jim Caldwell and Peyton Manning – Dan Harmon). Now it’s up to a rookie to determine if Garcon and Community can go the distance.
One final thought on this subject: Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys are The Killing. No further explanation is required.
Check out Fantasy's Rising Tide for a breakdown of Quarterbacks, Receivers, and Tight Ends