A punter in his natural habitat

Just For Kicks: A Punting Fantasy Prelude

The background

I started this football season with a wicked case of sports depression. Living in Minnesota I have struggled through another exhausting year of Twins fandom only to see our two top prospects go through serious injuries. I have agonized over the fact that somehow the Kevin Love era for the Timberwolves was even worse than the Kevin Garnett era, and how bad I felt for Wiggins. All this leaves me to dreading the football season. I didn't, still don’t, know in what way the Vikings are conspiring to toy with my emotions, but I was having an excruciatingly hard time getting excited for football.

Every year I play in multiple fantasy football leagues even though I think the game is nowhere near as strategic or fun as either fantasy baseball or basketball. Smaller sample sizes mean more variances in performance and more randomness for determining the winner. Even so, I enjoy the social aspect of it. It’s fun to talk trash to your friends or commiserate with how close you were to winning if only Andre Johnson would have caught just one more pass. I view the entry fees to these leagues in the same way I view the costs of going out to the bar with friends, just a social expense.

This year my general sports malaise prevented me from doing a modicum of research before my first draft. I would not have known if Emmanuel Sanders was a worthy WR2 or the long last heir to a fried chicken empire. I just wasn't engaged in football, until I heard the idea of a all punters draft. I honestly wish I could remember where I first heard the idea, because it was not originally mine, but the idea took hold of me. What kind of strategies would one employ to get the most points out of punters? What categories would one use to measure their effectiveness? Suddenly football was interesting again because there was a new lens to view it through. Luckily I had 7 other friends who were gullible enough to agree this was indeed a worthy enterprise and the following rule-set was created.

The Rules

8 teams
4 punters per team
Each week 3 punters will start

Scoring categories are:

Punt: 1 pt
Punts inside the 20: 1 pt
Punt inside the 10: 2Pts
Touchback: -1 pt(Counterbalances the point gained from punting)
Fair Catch: .5 pts
Blocked Punts: -2 pts
Net Punt Average Less than 33.9 Yds: -2 pts
Net Punt Average Less than 35.9 Yds: -1 pt
Net Punt Average Greater than 44 Yds: 1 pt

As you can see the league is largely focused around a combination of volume and efficiency. It is also something you can do entirely using ESPN’s fantasy football categories (important to me because I already have one league scored manually using a Google doc and couldn't handle another). I spent more time studying offenses during this draft than I had for any of my “real” drafts. Football was interesting again. Field position became an epic game of cat in mouse. I realize its a little late to start a league now but I thought at least I would throw the rule-set out there as I will be using this blog as a way to do our weekly recap of all things punting.

This league is dedicated to Chris Kluwe, my all-time favorite punter, and one of my favorite athletes.

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