How to Tier Your Player Rankings for a Fantasy Football Draft Day Cheatsheet

Tiering your cheatsheet is, in my opinion, the most critical of all draft day preparations you can make before your fantasy football season.

Sure, you can read injury reports all day long. That helps. No one wants to draft a guy on IR. But the real edge to draft a better team than the other obsessive football fans in the room is your ability to identify — quickly and quietly — the most valuable pick left on the board.

In the heat of the moment, we often lose sight of where players have been missed. You’re looking ahead to decide when you can draft a quarterback…or maybe you’re focused on following your RB-RB-RB strategy for the first three rounds. That’ll keep you from noticing a WR1-level fantasy wide receiver falling into the third round, ripe for your picking.

Worst of all, if you don’t have a consolidated rankings sheet, you might miss out on a top-tier wide receiver simply because your wide receiver rankings were underneath your quarterback and running back rankings when it was your pick.

Regardless of the reason, you can only blame yourself for not tiering your cheatsheet if you miss out on draft day bargains.

It’s been a few years since I visited the topic, and in prepping for 2011, I thought it’d be worthwhile to revisit the best way to tier your player rankings  for your fantasy football draft.

Step 1, Start with rankings you like.

I don’t care if you prefer the rankings or projections from ESPN, NFL.com, Fleaflicker, or Yahoo!. What matters is that you’re comfortable with the rankings you choose.

I often prefer to start with aggregate or consensus fantasy football draft rankings from sites like FantasyPros or Fantasy Football Nerd. These give you a good starting point since the outliers are reigned in a bit when averaged together.

But if you prefer to go with the player rankings or projections of just one man and one man only…that’s your call. More power to you. Go you — and him, whoever that analyst or blogger may be.

One note: It will be a huge help if you choose a set of rankings or projections that includes an average points per week or total points for each player, either based on last year’s fantasy football scoring, several years of scoring, or projected points for the current season. If you don’t, you’ll have to do a little more legwork in Step 2.

Step 2, Add an average point per game projection or total points projection to each player in your rankings.

Foreshadowing. See, if you read my note on Step 1, you already know what you’ll need to do for this step.

If you don’t have any kind of average projected points per week or total points projection listed for each player on your current cheatsheet, it’s time to go get that info. You can pull these total or per week averages from sites like FF Today, CBSSports, or ESPN.

If they don’t provide a per game average, you don’t have to drill down to it. But you can just divide the total projected points for the 2011 season by 16. There are, after all, 16 games in an NFL season.

Step 3, Separate your rankings by position, if they aren’t already separated.

Pulling out just the running backs and just the quarterbacks into one ranking column will help you when you start locking in your tiers.

Step 4,  Adjust your rankings to your liking.

Now that you have your list, it’s time to make it your own.

With a points total or average attached to each player, start modifying those points as you see fit. Here’s where your research comes into play.

Upgrade the players who will excel, and downgrade the players that won’t meet expectations.

If your points total or average is based on a player’s performance in previous seasons and especially if it’s based off just the last season, be sure to update it based upon offseason moves and team system adjustments. If you like Matt Hasselbeck more as a Titan than a Seahawk, for example, make sure you adjust his point total accordingly.

Furthermore, if you’re player points are based off projections for the current season, feel free to bump them higher or lower depending on how you feel about players. Just be realistic. Micheal Vick will NOT score 500 points in a single season.

Look at a player’s schedule for the upcoming season, estimate the number of points they could realistically score, total those estimations up, and divide by 16 to get your average. You, of course, don’t have to adjust this for every player, but feel free to do so for the ones you feel are under  or over-projected.

Once you have your average points per game or total points has been adjusted for each player, sort by your projections and then adjust your rankings some more based on rankings alone.

You don’t have to be as rigid with the stat adjustments here. Spot a player a point or so to their per game average or 4-5 total points for a full season projection when you feel like they should move up a couple of spots in the rankings.

But like I explained when talking about adjusting projections, be realistic. Crazy cheatsheets make for a crazy draft.

Step 5, Tier it up!

It’s time to start assigning players to tiers. Look at your average points per game projections and start dividing whenever there’s a significant difference.

For example, you’ll probably section off all the quarterbacks averaging more than 17 points per game in your projections into your first tier. Then you might make those quarterbacks scoring between 17 and 15 points per game your second tier.

Just look for the significant breaks and run down your list. You want to have a few tiers of top players at each position, but leave everyone averaging 5 points or less in the final tier.

Step 6, Align your tiers

So you’ve got your players segmented by position, but how do you know when to take a quarterback in your second quarterback tier over a receiver in your top, or first, wide receiver tier?

Look at the tiers you’ve created and make the tier scoring universal across all positions. So, all of your players projected for 17 points per game or more would make up your top tier.

It’s okay to have one or no players from a particular position in a tier. For example, you might slot Aaron Rodgers as the only player in your top tier if you project him higher than anyone else at more than 19 points per game. That’s fine. Just make the tiers align as best you can.

(Bonus) Step 7, Tag your sleepers

You’re more of less done creating your cheatsheet at this point, but I do like to throw in this tip just for the more savvy drafters out there. Once you’ve got your tiered cheatsheet created, I usually go back and mark the players I feel are “sleepers” or undervalued at their current position.

I know we adjusted our projections and rankings in the previous steps to our liking, but if I feel one player in the third or fourth tier has the potential to be a top-tier player if circumstances break his way — Jonathan Stewart, for example, or Ben Tate — I’ll be sure to mark him as the one I want to look to draft in that tier.

If I like a guy more than a lot of experts, but I can’t reasonably increase his projected points enough to make him a second tier player, I’ll mark him as a priority for the third tier.

As long as you don’t go homer-happy, you can also take a second to tag your favorite players in each tier at this point since part of the fun of fantasy football is drafting the guys you REALLY wanted to draft.

Just make sure you use a different mark for favorite players than your sleepers. You’ll need to know the difference quickly when you’re making your picks.

Time to draft

When you’re finished creating this tiered cheatsheet, you’ll be able to see, in one quick glance, that four players projected to score 15 points per game or better are still available as your pick approaches in the middle of the third round.

And you’ll be able to use your tiers to determine position scarcity. For example, when it’s your pick and you see one second tier wide receiver and six second tier running backs remaining on your cheatsheet, you will be able to jump on that last second tier wide receiver knowing that one of the second tier running backs will make his way back to you.

Rather than panic during a run on tight ends and start looking only at your rankings for that position, you’ll continue to collect value and steal picks at higher tiers for other positions.

The value picks are the entire reason you tier your player rankings, and the tiers work wonders. Just give it a try.

Best Player Available Strategy

As far as your draft strategy goes, tiers work best when you go into your draft targeting the best player available in each round.

Let your need at QB, RB, or WR steer you when there are several players available at the same tier, but when there’s only one or two top-tier running backs left on the board, it’s time to draft them. Don’t let someone else capitalize on those value picks that fall to you.

Of course, you don’t want to draft five quarterbacks just because no one else was jumping on the second tier signal callers, but I might consider taking four receivers in my first six picks if they were the only players remaining in my first or second tier. Assuming your rankings system and projections are solid, you’ll be able to make deals to improve your running back or quarterback struggles once the season begins.

If you want to get tricky, you can also try tiers with the draft strategy I have used since 2009, my “cutting out the middle men from best player available” strategy.

As a final note, I always feel like I don’t have to say this, but just in case there are any first-timers out there, you should always know the scoring and roster rules of your league!

Some leagues restrict the number of quarterbacks you can keep on your roster or the number of running backs you can draft. You’ll need to know this to take full advantage of the best player available strategy without botching your draft.

When you’re ranking players and preparing your cheatsheet, keep in mind your league’s scoring rules and the value placed on each position.

So that’s how you tier your fantasy football draft cheatsheets. Any questions?

Leave ‘em in the comments, and if you’re lucky, someone amazingly intelligent will answer you. Otherwise, you’ll just get me.

Own your very own Kluneberg from The League

If you watched The League, you probably imagined which character you were most like in your own fantasy football league.

Are you a Kevin? Married to an awesome wife? Generally happy about things? Slightly frustrated with the way your team turns out every year?

Or are you the Pete? Nonchalant? A master of the fantasy football puns? Divorced? Always wanted to drive a Crown Vic?

A Taco? Are you high right now? Or do you wish you were? Yeah, you’re probably a Taco.

And you’ll never get to see those vinegar strokes you dream about seeing.

We all know, deep down, you really just don’t want to be an Andre.

But that’s not the way to be. We should embrace our Andre-ism. Don’t you have a stupid hat in your closet that would look great with your new jacket if only your friends wouldn’t mock you for it?

Never fear. Be the Andre.

And what better way to announce your Andre-ism than with your own Kluneberg, straight out of Andre’s apartment decorating in Season 2.

Well, technically, it’s not straight out of Andre’s apartment. It’s on Ebay. But it’s the same difference. You’d be living the dream if you had it.

5 Pieces to Winning Your Fantasy Football League

You’ll read a lot of fantasy football draft tips this time of year preaching that there is only one way to win, one quarterback worth grabbing in the first round, or one player that could change the outcome of your championship game. While there may, in fact, be one quarterback this season who could win it all for you, that’s not the only way to win.

Your fantasy football draft strategy is only the beginning, and it’s quite possible that the one player who contributes the most to your championship might not even be on your roster the day after you draft.

In this time of absolutes and must-haves pre- and mid-fantasy football draft, consider this a quick reminder that there’s more to it than the players you draft. It’s how you play the game.

Here are five ways to win that you must master to take home a championship this season. It’ll be hard to win it all unless you manage to top your league in more than one.

1. Draft the best team

Listing the draft as just one out of five ways to win your league might seem a bit ridiculous. But the draft is only the beginning, and even if you have a horrible team when you look up at that draft board, your season is not over.

The perfect roster doesn’t guarantee you’ll win, and there’s no way to predict injuries.

I’ve looked at draft boards after every draft I’ve ever completed, and the team that “wins” the draft rarely gets the championship trophy.

2. Win the waiver wire

Early in the season, there’s a ton of talent on the waiver wire. Some of the best players will go undrafted in most fantasy leagues, and they’ll be saviors for those who snag them up and start them the rest of the way. How many people won a league last season with Peyton Hillis or Michael Vick?

If you don’t draft a perfect roster, all is not lost. Just make sure you pay attention each week, and keep your eye on improvement.

Whether you’re in a league that uses a waiver wire or not, it’s also not a bad idea to put some thought into your free agent system  so that you don’t reward the lazy or punish the strong. Not too severely, at least.

Every good league has a solid system in place to award free agents.

3. Make a great trade

Some fantasy players never trade. They never trust a deal, even if it improves the quality of players they put in their starting roster each week. The truth is that almost every trade involves someone losing at least temporarily. You’re taking a chance that what you’re given ends up being more valuable than what you gave up.

If a trade can make the team you start each week better, it’s often worth the risk, even if you have to overpay. That upgrade at receiver could be the difference between a win or loss in the playoffs.

Don’t be afraid to let go of your most expensive assets. Your top quarterback or stud running back might seem like they’re carrying your team, but if you can cash them in for a more balanced roster, do it. Just make sure you get the return you deserve.

4. Play your matchups perfectly

No owner gets 100 percent efficiency out of their rosters. It’s just impossible to know when your players will have their best performances. But you can try.

There are always more factors at play (injuries, coach doghouses, trades, breakout performances) than we can predict, but if you follow the news on every player on your roster, you can maximize what you get out of them to take advantage of their best games and avoid their worst.

5. Get lucky

Finally, yes, you can just get lucky. Maybe you have the easiest schedule of all your leaguemates and a clear road to the championship game. Maybe the one guy you held onto all season comes back from an injury and destroys other teams during the playoffs.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and fantasy football is one playing field that can always be leveled with a little good luck.

So why did I waste a post on this? I have to agree that it’s pretty basic. But why give you such a simple reminder (or primer) on how to play the game?

For one, a lot of people never understand all that goes into playing fantasy football each season, or they lose sight of options when their team starts to fade down the stretch.

Maybe by reading through this quick list, you’ll find a little more creativity and/or work harder this fantasy football season, even if the team you draft doesn’t immediately blow everyone out of the water. Maybe you’ll focus more on using your waiver wire pickups, even when your team is strong, or seek out trade opportunities when you need to improve your roster rather than phoning it in the rest of the way.

As you sit down at your draft table, remember that you won’t win a championship in one day. But if you manage to keep a handle on all five of these pieces to winning, you’ll have a good chance to take home a trophy.

The League S02E13: “The Sacko Bowl” Kicks Off [Season 2 Finale]

Let’s not struggle with the sadness of this moment, that a season of The League is once again coming to an end.

Let’s, instead, celebrate what we have been given: a new champion, a new reason to look forward to next football season even if our fantasy football team sucks again in 2011 (there will, after all, be a Season 3), and at least a handful of new vocabulary words you can sneak into your TPS reports like “vaginal hubris,” “vinegar strokes,” and “rankings slave.”

So let’s not treat this like the end. Let’s treat this moment like a new beginning. And let’s celebrate “The Sacko Bowl” for all its glory.

We’re back in this.

Before the championship game, the league comes together to force Andre to give up The Dre, his perversion of the Shiva, and sacrifice their annual offerings. For the sake of simplicity, Kevin resorts to calling the trophy The ShiDre, and I will, too.

Jenny gives The ShiDre a hemorrhoid pillow in remembrance of the Andre incident in Vegas at the beginning of this season. Ruxin sacrifices the Kevin Federline hat that Andre gave him for Christmas. (He would be a regifter.)

And Pete offers up The Sacko since Andre will probably be stuck with it once he loses to Taco.

At the bar with Pete, Kevin’s miserable because he’s dreading Jenny winning the trophy and forcing him to stare at it for an entire season. But he only gets more miserable the more Ruxin gloats.

“Smartass Kermit” brags that he’ll be the one to bring home the trophy and then proceeds to poll the bar patrons about who to start in his flex spot, Donald Brown or Steve Breaston.

As Ruxin acts as “census taker,” Kevin’s able to listen in because he has learned to read lips by watching porn on an iPhone while in the shower. It seems Jenny hasn’t been around to heat up the bedroom lately since she’s been working so hard on her fantasy football team. He’s had to resort to his special skills.

To escape from the Ruxin reign of tyranny inside the bar, Pete takes Kevin outside for a surprise, his new Crown Vic. Kevin doesn’t understand why Pete would buy a cop car.

You see, driving a Crown Vic doesn’t make you a cop, but being a cop almost certainly means you drive a Crown Vic. It’s not really an easy stereotype to escape.

On the home front, Kevin and Jenny discuss her lineup for the week. Kevin’s concerned about her starting Steve Johnson in the week he plays the Jets and Darrelle Revis, but she won’t be swayed by his talk of matchups.

This is how secretaries who don’t watch football win every office league, by the way.

Things haven’t been easy for Andre this season. When he arrives at the bar complaining about his streak of bad luck, the guys tell him he’s being punished by Shiva for destroying the trophy and remaking it as The Dre. He’s got “DRAIDS.”

But Andre’s not the only one that’s had a tough year. If you remember his stunning loss in “Kegel the Elf,” Kevin’s not doing too great either.

Ruxin tells Jenny that she emasculated Kevin by dominating in fantasy football, and Jenny seems to believe there’s some truth to that.

At a loss for who to start in his flex, Ruxin consults Rafi at the gym. He’s fighting chicks. “It’s erotic.” Dominating his league, Rafi tells him his method is just to “jerk it out” and stop thinking so much.

But Ruxin’s not that kind of guy.

To force Ruxin to decide, Rafi puts him into Dirty Randy’s “stuffed pepper” hold, and Ruxin coughs out Donald Browns just before he loses consciousness.

Lots of priceless quotes from Rafi here. Kind of makes you missed that guy and his “murder boner.”

With the games upon us, Pete’s embracing his new cop image by collecting free sandwiches and needlessly harassing hot chicks on the street with Taco.

Meanwhile, Jenny’s seeking out the sausage place that Kevin likes to do something wifey for him and ease the emasculation and depression he’s suffered from her dominance in her first year in the league.

But before she gets there, she can’t help but drop into a trophy store along the way. Inside, she asks about the largest trophy they sell but gets quickly buzzkilled when she sees Andre, having a replica made of The ShiDre.

The close contact with the former champion instantly curses Jenny with her own case of the DRAIDS. It’s not looking good for her season. At least that roster’s already set?

Back at the house, Kevin’s looking at just that. Kevin swaps Steve Johnson for Percy Harvin due to matchups and jumps in the shower convinced he’s helped Jenny win the Shiva Bowl.

Next thing he knows, Jenny throws open the shower curtain Psycho-style to tell Kevin she’s got the DRAIDS. Now with her roster altered, she’s doomed to fail, and Kevin’s caught jerking it to his silent picture porn in the shower by his own wife. Masculinity fail.

Time to face the music.

On Sunday, Kevin, Jenny, Taco, and Pete sit disgusted as they watch the football games roll on while Ruxin dances maniacal around the room in celebration. He’s going to take home the championship, and everybody knows it.

Taco, in losing, looks to be the winner of The Sacko, even though he can’t understand why he gets it for losing a game instead of winning.

But Andre’s in for a surprise. There was a recalculation of Joe Flacco’s touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin, and in that recalc, the pass was reclassified as a handoff. So instead of having a 4-point win, Andre gets a 2-point loss and The Sacko. “First to worst.”

At this moment, Andre’s greatest time of weakness, Ruxin marches in to collect The Shiva from him, but Andre’s not ready to give it up.

Andre races up to the roof of his condo before Ruxin can catch him. And while locked in mortal combat, Ruxin and Andre accidentally let The ShiDre drop off the building and into the windshield of a parked car. Finding the driver less than pleased, the gang starts to try to talk their way out of it, but he’s got no mercy for fantasy football.

Luckily, Pete arrives in his cop car to take everyone but Ruxin away to safety. Technically, the trophy is Ruxin’s and his problem to handle.

At least the league is nice enough to pick Ruxin up after he’s done getting booked.

Emerging from the police station, Ruxin’s insanity has reached a new level. And as he places the winner name plaque onto the trophy and announces his reign of terror, the malevolent forces welling up inside of him as he Shiva blasts seem to cause a solar eclipse.

Kind of reminds you of The Dark Crystal, no? Only me on The Dark Crystal reference?

So what does this mean for our league? For the world? Will we ever play fantasy football again?

Given the pivotal moment here, I think it’s best we end things with Pete’s words: “Ruxin has won. It is the end of days!”

See you all in Season 3.

Memorable Quotes from Episode 13:

JENNY: “ShiDre, your hemorrhoid donut that you earned in Vegas when you made that hard drive up Andre’s backfield. May you sit comfortably for all the rest of your years.”

TACO: “You’re going down, Dr. No Dick.”

TACO: “I’m gonna burn your nipples, bitch.”

KEVIN: “I hate fantasy football. And it’s the only thing I ever really loved.”

PETE: “Look, look. He’s the census taker. He’s polling around everyone on the planet asking ‘em the same question.”

KEVIN: “Well, I have this phone that I just downloaded all this filth on. And I bring it into the shower, and I turn the sound off so I don’t get caught.”

KEVIN: “I’m a very verbally-stimulated person. I need to know how good she needs it…why he’s delivering that pizza there. Plot points!”

KEVIN: “Well, did it come with a mustache and a bad attitude?” (about Pete’s car)

PETE: “Do you have any idea how infuriating it is to actually drive the speed limit?”

RUXIN: “You’ve been worshipping false idols, Andre.”

PETE: “I think you have the DRAIDS.”

JENNY: “And you are going to lose. And you’re going to go home, and you’re just going to savage your pud.”

RAFI: “Can I get the knife now? Is that cool? AHH! When are we gonna fight with the knife?”

RAFI: “Uh, the winner gets to punch the loser in the face as hard as he can…Yeah, it’s a dominance league.”

RAFI: “Thinking is pointless like motorcycle helmets.”

RAFI: “I don’t know what the technical term is, but Dirty Randy calls it the Stuffed Pepper. Do you feel it?”

RAFI: “Concept of extinguishing a human life really gets me aroused…It’s called a murder boner.”

TACO: “Okay. ‘Cause you can’t arrest me. You gave me a sandwich. This is entrapment.”

JENNY: “Are those sandwich bags?”
KEVIN: “Yeah. They work so good.”

RUXIN: “The beautiful flower that you see before you needed sunlight. It needed soil, but most of all, it needed manure. And that’s where you shit people came in, and as your leader, I love you as I will love all of my subjects. ‘Cause you’re shit people. But you’re my shit people. Beat you!”

TACO: “Six points from Flacco means you get The Sacko…from Taco.”

RUXIN: “Wow, it pierced this like it did Andre’s asshole.”

RUXIN: “Free at last. Free at last. Oh, Shiva, I am free at last.”

RUXIN: “Let the unrelenting reign of Ruxin begin.”

[ Relive all the previous episodes of The League ]

The League S02E12: “Kegel the Elf” Is Watching You

Season 2 is coming to an end. And while I’m sad to see it go, it went out with a bang with “Kegel the Elf” and “The Sacko Bowl” both in the same night.

“Kegel the Elf” takes us to Ellie’s school Christmas concert. Kevin and Jenny watch on with pride while Pete joins them because he is hot for teacher–Ellie’s teacher, that is.

After the singing is over, Miss Martin, Ellie’s teacher asks to speak to Kevin and Jenny alone. It seems Ellie’s been drawing “the flex,” otherwise known as Cadillac Williams during art time, runs incredibly elaborate three-way trades at lunch, and has started to act like the class bookie.

All of that would seem to make a father like Kevin proud, but Ellie’s also telling other students to “take a ride on her suck stick.” And that’s not exactly one to stick on the fridge.

Being the good parents that they are wish they were claim to be, Kevin and Jenny can’t figure out where Ellie’s gotten her foul mouth, but they bring in some reinforcements in the form of an “Elf on the Shelf,” a doll that parents use to make kids behave by tricking them into believing the elf is a spy for Santa.

When they first introduce the new elfy companion to Ellie, she continues to complain about bath time and finally storms off after demanding that they “stop busting my balls.” Kids really are the most innocent of us all.

At the bar, Ruxin and Kevin are in the heat of trash-talking battle. They’re facing off this week in the playoffs for a spot in championship game. The rest of the league isn’t nearly so excited about this week since they are already out of the hunt, except for those who are still trying to avoid the Sacko Bowl.

That honor includes Andre, who claims to enjoy not being in the playoffs. At least until Ruxin tells him he’s invisible. Pete doesn’t even notice the soy-recovering member of the league when he arrives at the bar.

Pete laments that he’s not getting any from Ellie’s hot teacher just yet because she just had a kid last year. Things get even scarier when Ruxin explains that Sofia and he didn’t have sex for six months because Baby Geoffrey “blew the church doors wide open.” In other words, “Baghdad’s not ready for the Olympics.”

Being medical and such, Andre suggests a vaginal weight specialist could help strengthen her vaginal wall for the sexy time, which leads to jokes about vaginal Strongman competitions pulling Mack trucks with labias. “This was fun. Now you’re making it gross.”

Back at his evil household lair, Ruxin gets a box in the mail, which he assumes is from Kevin, especially when it’s full of stinky, old eggs that make his son cry.

To carry out the most important Ruxin family value, revenge, Ruxin crafts a deadly chicken-milk stink bomb and disguises it inside a pretty Christmas package so that no one will suspect a thing.

Back at Kevin’s house, Ellie decides to name her elf “Kegel,” which isn’t exactly what Kevin and Jenny had in mind. But Andre claims that it was Kevin, and not he, who used “suck stick” in the league trash-talking.

It’s starting to look like Ellie’s behavior is poor parenting and not the bad influence of the league.

Pete asks Jenny to meet him for a drink to discuss Miss Martin’s confidence issue since Jenny has vaginal hubris.

And to make sure Jenny’s willing to talk to Miss Martin for him, Pete threatens to show Miss Martin Jenny’s latest video post on the league message boards, which would surely lead her to call another parent-teacher conference that might interfere with Jenny’s precious lineup tweaks on Sunday morning.

Having delivered his stink bomb, Ruxin gets a visit from Taco to ask if Ruxin had received his old eggs. Taco had planned on passing them down through his family until they became 1000-year-old eggs, and he sent them to Ruxin for safekeeping as his lawyer.

Taco’s ridiculous plotting aside, Ruxin now realizes his mistake and has to find some way into Kevin’s house to get back his stink bomb gift before it explodes. That wouldn’t really be a fair gift exchange for the wine-of-the-month club that Kevin and Jenny bought him.

Taking Pete’s deal, Jenny invites Miss Martin over to meet Andre and have him explain vaginal strengthening and conditioning. But Miss Martin’s already been working with Stu Beagle, a doctor with whom Andre seems to have a history. Something to do with a wine bar and losing a shirt, but that’s not important to Jenny.

Miss Martin tells Jenny that she is speeding through Dr. Beagle’s program and is “stronger than she has ever been.” She asks Jenny not to share this info with Pete, and Jenny not surprisingly agrees. Why would she give Pete a heads up that he’s about to enter the jaws of life?

Ruxin goes into Mission Impossible mode to infiltrate Kevin’s house and find his stink bomb.

Inside, he is quickly discovered by Ellie, but she thinks he’s another Elf on the Shelf. Ruxin promises a crap-ton of ridiculous presents–pony included–if Ellie will retrieve the one present he dropped off.

But when she returns, he also does a good deed for Kevin and Jenny by giving Ellie some straight talk about how she’s been a dick and needs to man up and behave. Not wanting to be a dick, she agrees to change her ways. But sadly, no one will ever know how Ruxin did something nice.

Soon after her promise to change, Kevin awakes and hears Ellie talking downstairs. Ruxin falls out of a window trying to escape and lands right on his own stink bomb. “I’m forever unclean.”

Meanwhile, Pete finally gets to experience the full power of Miss Martin, and it’s more than he bargained for. Her jaws of steel end of crushing his little man.

Sunday comes, and Jenny quickly secures her spot in the Shiva Bowl thanks to the three hours Pete had to spend in the hospital getting realigned instead of setting his lineup.

Ruxin’s forced to watch from outside Kevin’s house because he still stinks from falling on his own stink grenade. But he’s still in it, winning by just one point in his matchup with Kevin.

Akers is the only player Kevin has left, and as the Philly game winds down, the Eagles line up Akers for a kick, which (if made) would give Kevin 3 points and a spot against Jenny in the Shiva Bowl.

Fully aware of the suspense of this moment, Taco announces that he’s set up an egg nativity scene in the front lawn to celebrate Eggs-mas, and Ruxin follows him around to the eggs to blame Taco for his stink bomb suicide and to wish a pox upon Taco’s eggs.

In typical Ruxin fashion, seconds later, he’s praying to all the gods he can name that Akers’ kick misses, sending him and not Kevin to the Shiva Bowl.

Given the inevitability of this moment, Pete starts to lament the all-MacArthur Shiva Bowl since Akers is a top kicker with no wind…but that’s the jinx.

The kick hits the post.

Kevin’s sent into a spiral. Taking it outside, he rants about the trouble the league puts him through each season as commish, trouble he puts up with only to lose every year.

He takes out the anger on anything in sight, including Taco’s precious eggs. But he puts the worst on Ellie, his own daughter. “Look me in the eye, Ellie. There is no Kegel. And there’s no Santa Claus, and there’s no Christmas. There’s no God. There’s no Easter Bunny. There’s nothing. Nothing! Nothing, nothing, nothing…nothing!”

He takes it pretty hard. But I can’t blame him. Being one point away from any victory is horrifying, but a one-point loss that would have put you in the championship game? That’ll make you sick.

Having endured the weekend, Kevin and Jenny get called in to see Miss Martin for another parent-teacher conference.

This time, she’s got the video evidence Pete turned over of Jenny describing her metaphorical destruction Pete’s vagina and asshole that week in the league, which explains Ellie’s bad influence once and for all. It’s Jenny.

Memorable Quotes from Episode 12:

KEVIN: “I knew we were going to have a dick kid. I knew it!”

RUXIN: “No, you are fading away like that photograph in Back to the Future. And until McFly screws Caroline in the City…you’re gone!”

ANDRE: “Oh, like you didn’t like that Iron Man 2 replica mask.”

PETE: “Would there be such a thing as a vaginal Strongman?”

PETE: “It is decided. It is decided. It is…decided.” (of course, with the voice Pete used)

KEVIN: “I’m an elf. I’m Santa’s wartime consigliere.”

PETE: “I wanted firm, not Terminator.”

PETE: “You know, they couldn’t even identify it. It looked like goddamn Joshua tree.”

RUXIN: “I gotta say, I feel like I just won twice.”

[ Jump to Episode 13, the Season 2 Finale: "The Sacko Bowl" ]

The League S02E11: Death, Lies, and “Ramona Neopolitano”

Men learn at a very young age that boobs are distracting, and Ruxin proves this when his own wife starts breastfeeding his 19-month-old son while smoozing a client at dinner. Clearly, his son has already taken notice.

Is 19 months too old to be breastfeeding? I have no idea, but the client’s reaction paired with his kid appearing to be the size of Andre leads me to believe this is not normal.

Speaking of Andre, he’s taken to bringing his own snacks to the bar as part of his pure soy diet. When one of those homemade snacks causes him to choke momentarily, Taco reveals that he’s writing obituaries for everyone in the league, predicting their sudden and untimely demises in a very Taco way. At least he’s prepared.

K-dog, a.k.a. Kevin, calls into Fantasy Sports Radio with fantasy experts John Hansen (Is that Chris Hansen’s brother?) and Adam Caplan to ask whether he should start Robert Meachem or Mike Wallace. They tell him to roll with Wallace, despite how close they are in the rankings.

An important caveat here: when you consult anyone about your fantasy roster, their decision will inevitably prove to be your downfall. It happens every time. If you ask who to start, the one you sit will be the better player that week.

You can try to be tricky. Some people may ask another who to start and then go against the advice in order to win out in the end. But it doesn’t work. Somehow the fantasy gods know what you were trying to pull, and they make sure that the player on your bench outperforms your starter.

Such is fantasy football. Moral of the story: It’s usually best to live or die by your own hand.

Now back to the show.

Pete’s at the office (Wait, Pete has an office?) working on his fantasy team (What else do you do in your office?) when he gets called into see the bossman.

His boss pulled Pete’s Internet records, which prove that all Pete does is look at porn and fantasy football. Some would argue that those are the two main food groups of the Internet.

Pete’s offered a chance to keep his job if he can help his boss compete in his fantasy league with the other VPs. Pete’s boss needs the “Reaking Haddocks” to win the next two weeks to save face.

But as fate would have it, Pete gets stuck in the elevator on his way up to his office to set lineups for Thursday Night Football. He’s forced to go into superhero mode, jump into the ceiling, get a bar, and pry the doors open. A suit who happens to be in the elevator at the time wants to thank him, and the woman he saved wants to date him. But with only one thing on his mind, Pete bolts to a computer to try to get lineups set in time for kickoff.

Unfortunately, he only has time to lock in one lineup…and he chooses his own. Pete dooms the “Reaking Haddocks” to fail by not setting a starting quarterback before the rosters froze.

That weekend, as we would have expected, Meachem has a big week. Kevin’s fit that follows leads Pete to call him a “rankings slave” for taking rankings as gospel without consideration for any other factor.

Normally that’d just go down as friendly banter between leaguemates, but Jenny confirms that Kevin has a real problem with rankings by pointing out his purchase of the Neopolitano Ramona cappuccino maker, which Kevin bought because it was the No. 1 cappuccino maker even though he never uses it.

Taco appropriately updates Kevin’s obituary so that he’s prepared when Kevin’s No. 1 ranked GPS leads him straight off a cliff. Taco’s prediction, not mine.

Watching his team fall apart for another week in a row and pumped full of soy that’s giving him lady parts, Andre hits a breaking point and has to leave. Taco updates Andre’s obit to detail how he sadly succumbed to ovarian cancer in 2014.

In a moment of desperation, Ruxin decides to call into the same Fantasy Sports Radio show, but in order to get them to answer his question, he has to fabricate a story about his first wife’s death.

Sofia overhears his sad tale and assumes Ruxin’s been hiding his first wife’s death from her all this time. Under the pressure of being confronted and caught in a brief lull in creativity, Ruxin tells Sofia that his first wife’s name was Ramona Neopolitano.

I bet she liked cappuccinos.

Infuriated by Meachem’s outscoring of Mike Wallace, Kevin calls back in to take it out on the hosts of the Fantasy Sports Radio show. But the hosts just call him a rankings slave, too. When his complaints continue, Fantasy Guru John Hansen bans him from the show…for life.

Unsurprisingly, Pete finds his boss fuming about getting shafted with an illegal lineup when Pete goes into work the next day. He attempts to fire Pete there on the spot, but the suit that Pete saved back in the elevator must be the VP of perfect timing.

The suit just happens to be passing by when the firing takes place and demands that the “hero” be protected. He’s a company man, after all.

Just goes to show you that looking at nothing but fantasy football and porn while you’re at work makes you management material. Have we learned nothing from Office Space?

On Sunday, Ruxin invites the league over to watch football at his house, but he must first prep them that his wifey now believes she’s the second wife of a widower.

But more importantly, soon after arriving everyone notices that Andre’s got some soy-induced manboobs and is going through “manopause.” At least he’s done with “manstration.”

To get out of the heat of his own hot flashes, Andre escapes upstairs and takes his shirt off. Is that cool for house guests to do? Do standard etiquette rules apply when you grow manboobs? So many questions.

Jenny arrives later than the rest of the crew to Ruxin’s with the Kevin’s famed cappuccino machine. Kevin’s decided to give it up since he never uses it, and his loss is the Ruxin family’s gain.

But Sofia reads the brand name (Neopolitano Ramona) and instantly realizes she’s been duped by Ruxin’s widower tale. As the claws come out along with various foreign slurs, she kicks the league out of her house.

Meanwhile, Andre’s still recuperating upstairs when Geoffrey, Ruxin’s son, finds him crying in a bedroom. Andre’s tears cause Geoffrey to cry as well, which compels Andre to pick the child up…only to discover Geoffrey’s talent for latching onto the nipple.

At the end of a long day of games, Kevin once again decides to call into the radio show for advice. Since he’s banned, he’s speaking through Ellie, but the hosts aren’t fooled.

They ban Ellie from the show, too. It’s no fun for the whole family.

Memorable Quotes from Episode 11:

RUXIN: “What’s she gonna do? Is he going to be at little league and she’s gonna to have to be in the dugout squirtin’ it out if he needs a little taste?”

RUXIN: “I’m just worried that he’s going to end up weird. Not like serial killer weird, but like fat, ambisexual church receptionist weird.”

TACO: “Pete (no known last name) died in 2071. He loved to watch TV…that’s all I have.”

BOSS: “It’s clear to us that you have been working on…not work…but on fantasy football as well as some out there porn sites.”

BOSS: “Be honest with me. Do you have Asberger’s?”

TACO: “You have manboobs.”

KEVIN: “I haven’t made decisions for myself since the day I got married.”

PETE: “Godspeed…oh King of Chardannay!”

ANDRE: “I don’t have a diary. I have a dream journal!”

TACO: “Leche de mama…ON TAP!”

PETE: “Is there such a word as better than perfect?”

[ Jump to Episode 12: "Kegel the Elf" ]

The League S02E10: Time for a “High School Reunion”

High school reunions are a special kind of awful. No one really wants to see their old classmates. If they did, they’d arrange to meet up with them on their own.

People go to their high school reunion is to prove they are better than their high school selves. You go, as Ruxin so aptly put it just a few episodes ago, to show your friends that you’re better than they are. The league is no different.

In fact, a fantasy football draft is a form of a reunion. You come back, year after year, to either 1) waive your championship trophy around or 2) prove you’re better than the team you drafted last season by starting fresh.

In the case of The League, Ruxin found himself a hot wife. Andre’s got a baller job and the Benjamins to match. Kevin’s a successful lawyer with a family, which I guess is impressive. And even though we can’t really tell what Pete does for a living, at least he appears able to land dates since his divorce. Of course, Pete does have those fantasy championships under his belt.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a “High School Reunion.”

Pete wants a new trophy, a last place trophy to celebrate the terribleness of the most horrible team in the league.

But before they can name said trophy, Andre announces the upcoming North Winnetka High School reunion. He’s been looking forward to this opportunity to rub his success in the faces of the former classmates that abused and walked all over him, but no one else cares to attend.

Enter Frank “The Body,” also a fellow classmate.

Frank just happens to go to the same barbershop as Ruxin, and in their a combative exchange, Frank brags about having a hot wife, Miss Kiev 2004, and explains why Ruxin was called “The Herdsman” in high school. SPOILER ALERT: Ruxin used to date the chubby girls.

Ruxin claims he became “The Herdsman” only because he was less shallow than the rest of the league, but Pete’s description of Ruxin as a hyena, taking any scraps of meat that he could find, seems more like the Ruxin we know and love.

After his run-in with Frank, Ruxin’s determined to bring his very hot wife to the reunion to prove her existence. So Pete makes a game out of it. The league members agree to go to the reunion in order to name the newly-created last place trophy after the worst person they find there.

Back at Taco HQ, Taco catches a piggy bank to the face mid-sexing and explains the battle wound to the guys as a casualty of his “vinegar strokes,” another one for The League lexicon.

Vinegar Strokes — The point during a sexual experience when a man is about to orgasm, and he makes a face like someone put a spoonful of vinegar up to his nose. As Kevin puts it, a bee could be stinging your eyeball, but you gotta finish.

According to Taco, if you look into a man’s eyes during his vinegar strokes, you can peer into his soul, but, strangely, no one among the league has ever seen another man’s vinegar strokes to prove this theory. Thus, a new Taco obsession is born.

At Andre’s, Taco shows Andre a DVD of his attempt at filming his own vinegar strokes that just so happens to take place all over Andre’s apartment and, more specifically, right on the desk at which Andre sits.

By the way, how does Taco get into everyone else’s place? I would change my locks…

Taco explains that he is putting together his masterpiece, his vinegar strokes symphony, and wants to complete it before his high school reunion. But unable to capture his own vinegar strokes, Taco asks if he can watch Andre have sex.

You just can’t count on your buddies anymore these days.

At the reunion, the very first person Andre runs into tells him how sorry she is to hear about what happened to him. He finds that his perfectly-crafted bio has been ruined with an even more fictional addition about Andre getting sack-tapped so hard that he lost a testicle and had a nudicle implanted in its place. Now Andre won’t be able to tell anyone that the nudicle is a lie without creating suspicion about the rest of his masterfully crafted bio and success story. Kevin truly is evil.

Ruxin and Sofia arrive dressed like Barbie and Ken and showing plenty of PDA. She leaves Ruxin only for a second to get drinks, but that’s long enough for him to get stuck with one of his more “Herdsman” ex-girlfriends and for Frank “The Body” to swoop in to introduce his model wife.

Lucky for Ruxin, Sofia returns to save his pride. The burn of seeing Sophia, a true hot wife, sends Frank running for Andre to ask about plastic surgery to get his “6″ wife up to an “8.” (You get what you pay for when you import.)

Not to be left out, Taco attends the reunion as well, even though he wasn’t in the same class as the rest of the guys. Taco’s there for a different reason–vinegar strokes. After all, reunions are always a place for “sexing” and bad decisions.

Meanwhile, Kevin and Pete single out “Box of Frogs,” the guy who broke into Pete’s mom’s car, had sex, and left the condom on the steering wheel, as the No. 1 contender for the loser trophy name. Pete ends up at the bar talking to “Box of Frogs” Stu, who offers him a six-figure job finding and securing local bands for Stu’s music website. Even though Pete loves the sound of this job…he won’t get it. And this will also be Kevin’s fault.

While tearing up the dance floor to the quietest dance music ever and singing his own song entitled “Look At How Hot My Wife Is,” Ruxin confesses his fantasy of having sex in a high school to Sofia. Whether it’s the hot wife thing going to her head or just the punch, Sophia agrees. Clearly, the rich just get richer.

Those two immediately slip away, but Ruxin stops to remove a “Ruxin Call Me!” sign from the school mascot, a bull, and unknowingly unlocks the fence that’s holding the bull at bay.

Pete, being that mature individual that he is, chose to think over the job Box of Frogs offered him while smashing Box of Frogs’ window and hanging a used condom that he “made” from the steering wheel. But in the midst of explaining this victory to Kevin, Shiva, and Andre, Shiva drops a bomb on Pete.

Kevin was actually the one who had sex in Pete’s mother’s car…with Shiva. Shiva took Kevin’s V-card. And Kevin was so excited when he finished that he kicked through the window and screamed her full name. So the first Shiva blast was Kevin’s vinegar strokes.

Pete tries to undo the damage he’s done, but he runs into Box of Frogs a minute (and a clean-up job) too late.

In search of the roaming bull, all the reunion guests start wandering the school and end up walking in on Ruxin’s vinegar strokes with Sofia while the bull, which found its way to them, watches and while Taco films what he hopes is Ruxin’s soul.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know if there was really a soul inside there.

After the events of the reunion, Pete decides the last place trophy will be called “The Sacko,” named after a bull scrotum in honor of the league itself. And that’s fitting because the league members themselves are the worst people he knows.

Memorable quotes from Episode 10

RUXIN: “Pete, do you have anything to fill your sad existence of a life besides fantasy football?”
PETE: “Absolutely not…do you guys?”

PETE: “It should be wrong to have this thing. I mean, literally, like showing up on an airplane with a tuna fish sandwich.”

RUXIN: “I see all the people from high school that I wanna see, and I don’t even enjoy that.”

KEVIN: “Ruxin, if we lined up every girl you had sex with in high school, we could run for 1,000 yards behind them in the NFL.”

PETE: “That is how we embrace. Ridicule.”
KEVIN: “Yeah. And shame.”

ANDRE: “The vest WORKS. You seen Mark Harmon on NCIS lately? It works.

TACO: “High school reunions are like office parties except, the next day, you don’t have to see the other person at work. Trust me, mistakes will be made tonight. People will be sexing. And when they do, I’ll be there to capture it!”

[ Jump to Episode 11: "Ramona Neopolitano" ]