FANTASY ADDICTS – The marquee event of the Associated Fantasy draft season is always the much anticipated annual Fantasy Addicts draft, held on Football Eve, the night before opening day – even more so for the 2016 season as the year celebrates its fifth anniversery with the tagline “Nickel Formation Season”. This year’s event acted as the keystone that, for the first time, marked a moment that brought an entire year of fantasy football full circle. Just before the first pick was made, Apex Predators was named the first ever Addicts After Hours off-season league Champion, and then, just as the final selection was made, the clock ticked to 12:01 am (EDT) marking the start of the NFL’s opening day. And just like that, Fantasy Addicts became the first Association league to operate for a full and continuous 365 days.
Addicts After Hours was launched in the closing weeks of last season, as a way to extend the fantasy football action. Rules were quickly drawn up in which participating teams would hold a draft, selecting players for the off-season league, and then score points based on qualifying events. Retirements, trades, arrests, contract deals, suspensions and any number of scandals were quantified with a point system, so that all through the long football desert of summer the most dedicated fantasy addicts could still vanquish their rivals in the world of ff. The After Hours’ season kicked off at the final whistle of Super Bowl 50, meaning that for these teams, the football season never ended, passing seamlessly from fantasy season to fantasy playoffs to NFL playoffs to the Addicts After Hours season.
As summer began to wind down, and OTA’s and mini-camps began to get underway, the After Hours championship race was in full swing, moving into their playoffs – a way to finally derive fantasy points from the NFL preseason games. Through 4 weeks of pre-season action, the race for first tightened between Apex Predators and the WhyNots, with Black Sheep and Orange Lantern Corp falling further behind in points. In the end, Apex Predators had it all sewn up by a 10 point margin even before receiving a large bonus for the Kaepernick national anthem scandal and finishing with 110 total off-season points. Coach Chris had succeeded in doing precisely what the whole After Hours experiment was all about – predicting the player(s) that would receive the most media attention through the summer football drought. Not only did he hit the jackpot by drafting Kaepernick, whose refusal to stand may have been the biggest player story of the off-season, but he also scored another 43 total points from draftees Von Miller who stayed in the news all year as well as Josh Gordon whose reinstatement/suspension netted Apex Predators 26 points alone. Second place team Coach Barb and the WhyNots secured the highest single player score with Peyton Manning‘s 33 points as well as the highest single player playoff score with RG III‘s 23 points, but Apex Predators were not going to be caught as the WhyNots finished with a total of 83 points, 27 shy of the Predators.
Apex Predator’s championship crowning, came just seconds before the start of Fantasy Addicts’ iconic 34 round draft, making a continuous transition from last year’s Super Bowl into this year’s FFAA season. After The Great Lockout of 2016, there was some trepidation going into the Addicts draft, but everything ran smoothly and the event lived up to every bit of it’s reputation. To make things more challenging, draft spots are always randomized half an hour before draft time in the Addicts draft, and it seemed the fantasy gods gave the WhyNots a consolation prize for finishing second in After Hours, putting them up first overall in the draft order. Coach Barb commented that she actually hated picking first – an indication that the fantasy gods have a twisted sense of humor – just before her WhyNots made Todd Gurley the first player selected in the 5th annual event.
All the usual suspects went off the board through the remainder of Round 1, but with 22 starting positions in this league, Round 2…and 5…and 14 are all just as important. Le’Veon Bell went 19th overall to 2015 league runner-up On The Rox – even with the suspension, he was just too valuable in a league that starts 3 RBs to let slide any further; Rox also took the first QB of the draft, selecting Aaron Rodgers at 22, followed
immediately by the League’s newcomer team NZ Warriors taking Cam Newton. Houston Hostiles took no chances on their guy, reaching for JJ Watt at 31 overall, while Black Sheep waited until pick 54 to make Khalil Mack the second defender chosen. Orange Lantern Corp turned their attention to IDP players early also, drafting a linebacker corp comprised of Luke Kuechly, Lavonta David, and Paul Posluszny. The defending champion monkeys on ecstasy was quiet through most of the draft, busy plucking value out of nearly every round, including gems like Vontaze Burfict and Mario Williams late with picks numbers 309 and 312.
The draft was intense, and mentally exhausting – as usual, stretching through 34 rounds and 2 hours of offensive and defensive players, teams amazingly still finding value far into the late rounds. From the WhyNots opening pick through many meandering turns, the draft found its way finally to the Houston Hostiles for pick #340, and as the clock ticked past midnight to mark that opening day had finally arrived, they took the Bengals defense as the 2016 Fantasy Addicts’ final pick. And just like that, football was back, one year gone full circle for ten Fantasy Addicts.