Fantasy first-timer: First Draft in the books

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Our Digital Features Editor, Amar Shah, has never played fantasy football until this year. He'll chronicle his adventures here.

Drafting and Driving

I'm stuck at a red light in the driver's seat in the left lane on Victory Boulevard between the Costco and the Target in Burbank. It's 3:45 p.m. on a Sunday, and my second fantasy football draft ever is underway. My wife Tejal is sitting next to me, fumbling around with my cell phone trying desprately to add every running back possible into my draft queue. It doesn't help that the light turns green and the car behind me starts to honk. Plus, the app keeps disconnecting because of spotty wifi. How should I have known that my friend Dave meant 6:45 Eastern, not Pacific, for the time of the draft? I would have delayed furniture shopping on Labor Day weekend for later.

Terrified of my drafting and driving, Tejal tells me to turn at the next street and stop the car so she can take the wheel. I pull up to a sidewalk and we switch seats. My phone gets signal back and I realize that I'm only minutes away from my pick. I'm desperate not to lose conenction again, so I beg her to let me finish the round. She obliges. I pick Jamaal Charles. Four rounds later, we're still in the car. Alfred Morris. Reggie Bush. Vincent Jackson. At this point, her tolerance has ceased to exist and she opens the the driver's side door.

"I'm going to check out the furniture store across the street," she tells me.

"Cool, have fun." I say staring at the cell phone and praying I can get Eddie Lacy.

"Maybe, I'll find a nice couch for you to sleep on."

The door bangs shut. By the time I register the stinging retort, she's gone. I'm left alone in the car. However, Eddie Lacy's still on the board when my time comes up. My first fantasy draft week is almost over, my wife's a bit angry and I still need a quarterback. Have I become this guy?

Mock Draft Madness and "Declaring Amar-Shall Law"

The last time I participated in any sort of mock draft in any sports it was the 1994 NBA Draft with my best friend Rohit. I predicted Monty Williams would be the steal of the draft and Clifford Rozier would be rookie of the year. Neither prediction panned out. Nate Silver I was not. However, I did hit up the mock draft boards with the aim of developing a philosophy behind each pick. I would be like the experts in the film Room 237 who watched The Shining one too many times. They saw enough hidden meanings and patterns in shots and scenes to convince everyone Stanley Kubrick was involved with faking the moon landing.

Here's my first two mock drafts.

Mock Draft 1:

I brought this to Marcas Grant, our fantasy editor, for a evaluation:

"You probably could have waited longer to grab a QB. Manning's never a bad choice, but instead you should have considered another front-line WR. After Johnson & Johnson, you're sporting a few risk/reward options at WR. Nice job grabbing Woodhead at the end, good potential there. Grade: B-"

My second draft was about the same.

"Nice work at the top of the draft getting three RBs in your first four picks. In fact your RB depth is pretty great all-around. You are a touch thin at WR unless Mike Wallace turns out to be better than we all anticipate. You're pretty solid at QB with Brady and Dalton. If you can trade one or two of your RBs and turn them into help at WR, you're on to something. Grade: B"

It was apparent that I would draft a running back in the first round and probably the second round. In terms of quarterback, I would wait it out until the fourth at the earliest. And I still believe we landed on the moon.

However, the best part of the mock draft was being able to make the excuse at home that I was researching for work in order to avoid doing household chores. I was developing my own domestic version of the Cover 2 Wife defense.

The other pressing issue I faced in my first foray into fantasy football was coming up with a team name. I needed something original, clever and awesome. There were fantasy football name generators, rules to consider and formulas to follow. I took it to the people. And they did not disappoint.

I like the homage to the hit Bravo show. Did you know both Persians and Indians have Shah as a surname? In Persian it means monarch. The Indian definition is merchant. I'm of the latter. So, almost.

I like the the gravitas that it represents. Plus, it includes my whole name. A contender.

One of my favorite movies, smart usage of the last name and a football term thrown in. This was the clear set winner, until Elliot Harrison suggested...

"Team Amar-ica"

Enough said. The name represents all this is whole, righteous and good. Plus, I've got the best avatar ever.

Draft Day

I was asked to join the NFL Desk League. Truthfully, someone dropped out and I bugged Michael Fabiano if I could join. He graciously accepted this novice. I'm going to play against guys who do this for a living. That's like trying to beat a cabal of Kasparovs when the only thing I know about chess is from the amazing "Check Your Mate" episode of "Saved by the Bell" with Screech and his lucky beret.

Up until the day of the draft I had no idea what type of league I was playing in. Fabiano clarified it on Twitter:

I'm scared of acronyms. And I had the No. 2 pick overall.

Here's our a link to our league: NFL Desk League

The No. 1 pick was as obvious as Ben Affleck's miscasting as the Cape Crusader. I decided to take to the newsroom for answers and advice.

Tough crowd. I'll show them when I win it all at the end of the season.

At least someone was willing.

He actually does know my name, but calls me fella. His pick resonates.

But I'm not so sure. Or am I? I was going to conduct my draft in the confines of my own home, but time was ticking, and the I-405 at 6 p.m. is as dependable as a Jets quarterback.

My wife complains about how indecisive I am when it comes to choosing what I want for dinner. How am I going to choose my first pick, let alone 15 other rounds?

I decided to go with Doug Martin.

Other observations while drafting

1) It was four of us in the newsroom during the draft. Some were elsewhere more suited for drafting.

2)There wasn't much love for my MJD pick in the second round. But bigger risk, bigger reward even with Stephen Jackson and Reggie Bush still out there.

3)I called, emailed, texted, and solicited the help of at least ten people for possible picks. I had more fantasy coaches than Manny Pacqiao did members of his entourage.

4)My personal sleeper pick was Anquan Boldin in the ninth round. I'm exceptionally pleased with myself for this selection.

5)I couldn't resist picking up a Jet no matter how much I told myself I wouldn't. Jeremy Kerley in the 14th.

6)As the later rounds moved forward, I have to admit I resorted for known commodities and personal favorites.

Here's my final roster:

The Post Draft Hereafter

I like my picks (kind of), but the trading floor is open.

The Twitterverse also opined on my picks.

Final Observations

I ran my roster through Fantasy Genius.

It was my perogative to keep my first draft experience to one league. But I got a sudden text message from my friend Dave, who I've known since middle school. He was in a league with a number of school buddies, including my old roommate from college with whom I hadn't spoken in quite awhile. They needed a last member and I was asked to join. That's another reason why this fantasy football thing has become an addiction: it's magical ability to unify bonds separated by time and geography.


After the Eddie Lacy steal, I stuck around for one more pick until I realized Tejal was actually a bit more than just annoyed at me. She was seriously angry. I put the rest of my selections on autopick and went to look for her, spending the rest of the afternoon browsing cutlery and dining room sets. Once I tried to slow my stroll behind a large section of sofas and covertly check my phone to see my finished roster. I got caught.

Tejal patted the cushion of one of the sofas and look at me with a sly grin.

"Comfortable, isn't it?"

NEXT WEEK:  My Week 1 results, my absurd trade offers and my wife possibly joins the fantasy world. 

Amar Shah is the Digital Features Editor at He'll be writing about his first time fantasy adventures throughout the season. You can reach him at @amarshahism. If you have trade or marital advice, let him know.

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