Football is back — and so is fantasy football fun

By the time this week’s Coastal Point hits the streets, the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys will have already played the first game of the new season for the National Football League. And, by the time this week’s Coastal Point hits the streets, I will already be happy or miserable with the start of the new season.

See, unless my beloved, heart-crushing Baltimore Ravens are playing, my chief concerns during football season revolve around my fantasy football teams. My one league, which started in 1991, consists of a bunch of now-old men that I once served with in the Marine Corps. They are a bitter group of gentlemen, united in a common bond of jealousy against my obvious superiority over them and ...

But I digress.

My other league, which just formed this year, is filled with a bunch of local guys who have more time than sense, so, again, I expect to humiliate all of them on a fairly regular basis. To be fair, most of them don’t need much help, as they tend to humiliate themselves more often than not, but I do like to contribute whenever possible. Hey, I’m a giver. My parents brought me up right.

Yes, I admit it. My name is Darin, and I’m a fantasy sports junkie. Baseball, football, underwater cricket — it doesn’t really matter. Give me an opportunity to draft a team, pick up players off the metaphorical scrapheap or talk smack to the other members of my league, and you have my attention.

I’m fully aware of those who are opposed to fantasy sports, and I’ve heard their criticisms plenty of times over the years. “Fantasy is for people who have no life.” “Those who can, play. Those who can’t, pretend they can.” “Wouldn’t you rather read a good book than imagine you are actually involved in sports?”

My answer to the critics? I don’t have one. It’s not my responsibility to convince the naysayers to try playing fantasy sports, and I really don’t care what people think most of the time. I have a good time playing these games with my friends, I get to enjoy watching games that I would normally have little to no interest in, and it fuels the competitive fire. It’s fun to be in a fantasy league even if your team stinks because you can still have bragging rights over a buddy for a few sweet days if a couple of your players have crazy games. And I live for bragging rights over a buddy.

There’s nothing like watching the final seconds tick off the clock on a Monday Night Football game and firing off that text message to a vanquished foe.

“Hey, I’m away from my computer. Help me out here. Did my team hold on and win?”

That’s often followed by a few minutes of silence, as you know your fallen opponent is either sleeping or talking to himself in streams of unbridled profanity because his team just came up short. And then you get that little text back.

“If Dalton hadn’t got hurt Sunday and Peterson didn’t fumble twice, I’d have had you.”

That’s when you know the knife is twisting nicely, and you offer a little response of your own.

“Oh, see, I didn’t read all the league rules. Is scoring based on ‘ifs’ this year?”

That’s when cuss words come back. That’s when it’s official. You have won on every possible level that week. The glory is yours.

There’s something satisfying about that. Is it filling some emotional void, and just transferring the frustrations of your own life onto somebody else through the ridiculous venue of fantasy sports? You bet it is! And it feels great!

But it also makes watching sports that much more fun. While most people who aren’t fans of the Cowboys and Giants couldn’t care less about Wednesday night’s season opener, I did. I was hoping that Miles Austin would shake loose for a long touchdown grab down the sideline, or DeMarco Murray would grind his way toward 150 yards and five receptions or the Giants’ defense would come up with two interceptions and four sacks. It matters.

If, for no other reason, than I have a special local guy that I was itching to send a text to following the game.

Let the games begin!