T.U.F.F.K.L.: A History Lesson

Ahhh, T.U.F.F.K.L., where to begin?  I’ll start at the beginning, or at least as far back as I can remember.  My first foray into fantasy football was a nationwide league that the USA Today ran in which you assembled a team based on made up player salaries that they had in the paper each week.  There was a salary cap and the salaries fluctuated based on player performance each week.  You could call a hotline each week to find out your national and state ranking (this was before the internet), I think I made the top 200 in the country one week.

I also remember driving with my Father from Piscataway way the hell up near Paramus once a year to sit in a room with a group of middle-aged men and watch them call out player’s names.

What fat kids do, because they can't play Pop Warner.

Apparently this was a fantasy draft, I had no idea what was going on, but I like it.  This was way before I ever played Madden or played football in high school, because Pop Warner has a fat kid bias.  No one protests about that, but they should.  Regardless, I loved football and was looking for something else from it other than Dolphins playoff disappointments.

In ’97 a few of the middle-aged men started another 12 team fantasy league that was made up of guys older than me,  who worked for the light store where I worked.  My Father pulled a few strings at some point and got me in.  I wound up winning the league that year riding the backs of Terrell Davis (a middle round steal), Mark Brunell (who I think I got in a trade late in the season after Steve Young mushed up his head), and a stellar late season performance from Leroy Hoard.

World, Leroy Hoard. Leroy Hoard, World.

The schedule is set up so that each team plays the other 11 teams once, and every third week is a position week in which first place plays second plays, third place plays fourth place, and so on.  This gives you an opportunity to gain ground on the leaders if you’re a few games back and would otherwise be stuck playing games against bad teams that wouldn’t help you gain ground.  There are no playoffs, which the choker in me loves, but the last 2 weeks are position weeks.  In that fabled ’97 season I was in second, trailing by 2 games heading into the last 2 weeks.  A tie in the standings is broken by total points scored and that was fairly close between myself and the first place team.  So I would have to win two games by a decent amount of points to win the league.  I won the first game pretty handily, I don’t remember how, but I remember the last week clearly.  At least I remember the last Monday night game.  The 49ers played the Raiders and I didn’t have anyone playing.  (Side note: My memory thought it was the game that this happened, but it wasn’t.)  I was ahead by a few points and the team I was playing against had Terry Kirby and I think William Floyd going.  Long story short, William Floyd didn’t play that game as they were resting him for the playoffs, and Terry Kirby got pulled after the first half so they could rest him too.  I ended up winning the game and the league by a matter of 12 points, and a sleep stealing obsession was born.

I headed off to college the next year and as this was still before the internet took over fantasy football, I couldn’t attend the draft.  I wasn’t going to be a phone drafter either, because that’s just impolite.  So I gave up the crown and had to wait until ’04 when there was another opening.  I was a co-owner with a co-worker and we managed a second place finish.  In ’07 my co-worker dropped out and I partnered with a Life Associate of mine and we went on to destroy the league that year.

This was the year that we drafted new Patriot, Wes Welker in the 12th round and the words, “Who’s Wes Welker?” were uttered.  T.U.F.F.K.L. scoring awards 1 point for a reception to receivers, but not running backs, so Welker was a steal.  There are some years when you walk away from a draft feeling “eh” about your team and years when you think that you’re going to dominate, I felt like this was a dominant team.  We swung a trade late in the year for LaDainian Tomlinson which helped put us over the top.  We traded away Marshawn Lynch in that trade, mainly because he could be kept for 2 more years and Tomlinson could only be kept 1 more.

Fred Jackson says, "Take a seat on the bench, Marshawn."

Of course neither player has done squat since.

In T.U.F.F.K.L you are allowed to keep 2 players each year.  However, you can only keep the same player two years in a row.  In other words, the most a player can be on your team is three years, including the year he was drafted.  That’s why keeper status can be helpful in making trades between a team that wants to win now and a team that’s out of it and is looking ahead to next year.  I tend to be a manic trader and we gave away Beanie Wells, Vincent Jackson, and Reggie Wayne last year in a last ditch effort to catch up in the standings.  It was one of those years in which no team is running away with it, and 4 game winning streak could put you in first place.  That didn’t happen so here we sit with DeAngelo Williams as our only legitimate keeper this year.  Fortunately, if you don’t keep 2 players, you’re allowed a supplemental pick after the first round of that years draft.

I’ll go more in-depth into my thoughts about the league this year later today.  For now I’m off to get a form notarized so I can tussle with the DMV later in the week.

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