Dear Mr. Fantasy

Dear Mr. Fantasy

Friday, December 18

As you might expect, me being a bartender, Im expected to help fulfill fantasies. Tough work, but somebody has to do it. The unfortunate part is its usually (?) only to provide advice to fantasy sports geeks. The rock-star lifestyle of a high profile bartender never ends! Ill admit that for years, I didnt quite get the guys who obsessed over fantasy sports. They talked a foreign language, kind of like back in college, those guys who used to play Dungeons and Dragons. (Thats one fantasy world I never understood: Sit around a basement table, casting charm spells? Why dont we go to a bar, and try to cast real charm spells?)

As the years passed though, my fascination with the numbers of sports and the ease of getting into a league on the computer, combined to get me started. Oops.

Once youre in, its hard to get out. I think the thing that hooks you is the fact that, for the most part, that it doesnt make sense. Until its over, then it makes complete sense. Most times. Churchill described fantasy football the best when he was asked about it and responded: Fantasy football is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. That dude was ahead of his time, because he couldnt have described all fantasy sports any better.

As much as you think you know, you dont know. But I know that I know more than most of the guys in my leagues. What do they know? (And by leagues, Im using a plural to represent different sports, not playing 5 football leagues at the same time. There is nothing more annoying than the guy who has every stud or surprise player because he plays in 11 leagues! Stop talking now!)

Another part of the intoxicating effects are the definite results. They might not always be indicative of what happened, but they are there none the less. This is in contrast to most bar discussions that usually dont have a definitive beginning or end. Fantasy sports give you a result. My favorite part of these results is, if they go against you, they dont matter anyway, and if they go in your favor, they cement your genius.

And isnt what its all about? 99.9 of sports conversation is about proving that youre right or at least understand whats going on. Fantasy sports, or shall I say, prowess in them, give you credibility. Doesnt it? In a word, NOT!

While they are based in fact, their results are not. The results are based on luck, in most situations. If you have Larry Fitzgerald, and he only has 3 catches because hes a decoy or the Cardinals are running against an inferior opponent, does that make him less of a weapon? Of course not, but if his lack of production comes at the wrong time, it can cost a fantasy owner a game, or heaven forbid, a championship. Great play- bad result. It depends on so many variables. Over the course of a season, Fitz on your team will give you great results, but for one game? Flip a coin. Isnt that awesome?!

Im writing this blog during one of the biggest weekends of the year, for me the biggest, for just about every fantasy football format. Its the 1st of two rounds of playoffs and I think this is the most important because, lose this weekend and all of your work is down the drain. Loser Bowl? Thats for losers! If youre playing for a little more than just pride, the big payoff is for the top 2 teams so you need to get to that game. But its a definite be careful what you wish for scenario, because my brain is being twisted into a pretzel. Ive examined every option I have for my team, and the other 250 or so free-agents that are out there that I can acquire. Im not kidding. I have serious issues!

This is especially where that luck thing comes in. Study all you want. Examine every match-up. One of your studs has a bad game and youre done. Have two Indianapolis Colts who have helped carry your team all year questionable because they have nothing to play for, and you roll the dice. Go for it Caldwell, go for it!

Anyway, I think that this fantasy adventure that Ive been on these last couple of years (football, and the root of all evil, baseball) have taught me something. Ive learned that fantasy is a lot like real life. You can study and prepare all you want, but just when you think you have it all figured out, something happens that you were never expected. Good or bad. What that teaches you is that, as much as you want to be in control, most times you have none at all. Just like being married!!

And the most important thing it teaches you, if you take it, and yourself, too seriously, theres never going to be a happy ending. And whats the fun in that? Its supposed to be fun, right??

So enjoy the weekend my fantasy brethren, and may the bounces go your way, (Unless, youre in my league!!) and remember: Jamaal Charles is my Boy!

Bears sign veteran wide receiver Victor Cruz to one-year deal

Bears sign veteran wide receiver Victor Cruz to one-year deal

The Bears added some veteran depth to their wide receiver corps on Thursday.

Former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz announced on Instagram that he's signing with the Bears.

The Giants will forever be family. But for now, Bear down!!! 🐻⬇️

A post shared by Victor Cruz (@teamvic) on

Cruz visited Halas Hall early last week and announced on his radio show earlier Thursday that he had narrowed down his choices to the Bears and Baltimore Ravens.

Cruz, 30, missed the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but bounced back to play in 15 games with the Giants in 2016. He had 39 receptions for 586 yards and a touchdown.

[BEARS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Cruz has appeared in 67 career NFL games and has accumulated 303 receptions for 4,549 yards and 25 touchdowns. Cruz earned Pro Bowl honors in 2012 and second-Team All-Pro honors in 2011.

Cruz helped the Giants capture the Lombardi Trophy over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. During the 2011 playoffs, he had 21 receptions for 269 yards and a touchdown.

Cruz joins a crowded wide receiver group which includes Cameron Meredith, Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Daniel Braverman, Titus Davis, Tanner Gentry and his former Giants teammate Rueben Randle.

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

The deadline for underclassmen to pull their names out of the NBA Draft passed on Wednesday at midnight.

There were a few surprises, and a handful of decisions had an effect on how the Bulls will go about next month's draft.

Staying in the draft

Caleb Swangian, PF, Purdue: The sophomore All-American surprised many by keeping his name in the draft. Swanigan actually tested the waters after his freshman season but returned to the Boilermakers in 2016. He averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35 games, earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors and was a National Player of the Year candidate. It's no secret the 6-foot-9 Swangian can score  - he had 15 games of 20 or more points - and showed some ability to shoot from deep, making nearly 45 percent of his 85 3-point attempts. Quickness and conditioning will be the real test for the 245-pound Swanigan, who has already lost significant weight since high school. Questions about his defense (he had just 27 steals and 36 blocks in two seasons) also stand out. With Nikola Mirotic's future in Chicago unknown, the Bulls could be in the market for depth at power forward. He wouldn't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14, but if he slides out of the first round he could be an option at No. 38.

D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan: After averaging just 6.1 minutes as a sophomore, Wilson burst onto the scene as a junior, averaging 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 30.4 minutes for the Wolverines. He did his best work during the postseason; during Michigan's Big Ten Championship run and Sweet 16 appearance, Wilson averaged 15.6 points on 54 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Standing 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Wilson leaves some to be desired on the defensive end but has the ability to play as a combo forward - he had a 3-inch growth spurt after high school. Like Swanigan, Wilson won't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14 but could be a second-round option. He'd give the Bulls a similar look to what Bobby Portis does with a little more versatility on the wing.

Going back to college

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky: The NBA Draft's biggest mystery could have been a home-run selection for the Bulls in the first round. Alas, Diallo has decided to play a year under John Calipari at Kentucky and likely boost his draft stock. Having not played since December, where he played at a prep academy in Connecticut, so there wasn't much film of the 6-foot-5 leaper. Still, after Thon Maker went No. 10 to the Bucks last year there was thought that a team would take a gamble on a high-upside mystery.

Andrew Jones, PG, Texas: There was little surprise that Jones, a five-star recruit who put together a solid freshman season, returned. He's still a bit raw as a prospect despite having elite size (6-foot-4) and solid athleticism, and another year running the point with incoming five-star recruit Mo Bomba could really improve his draft stock. The Bulls clearly have a need at the point (less if Rajon Rondo returns) and if Jones had made the leap he likely would have been around at No. 38. Even still, Jones is a player to keep an eye on during next year's draft, assuming Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant don't make significant improvements.

Moritz Wagner, PF, Michigan: There's a need on every NBA team for a stretch forward with 3-point potential. But those teams will have to wait at least another year after Wagner decided to return to Michigan for his junior season. Like Wilson, who kept his name in the draft, Wagner had an excellent postseason run for the Wolverines. That stretch included a 17-point effort against Minnesota and a career-high 26-point outing in a win over Louisville. He weighed in at just 231 pounds and only averaged 4.2 rebounds per game, so adding some strength to his game will help his draft prospect for next year. He could have been an option for the Bulls at No. 38.