The Uniball season is almost upon us. As temperate Sunday practice sessions give way to bitterly cold gamedays, this year’s litter of rookies must prepare for the coming months. Only the strongest will survive the winter. (no refunds on the subs though)
However, fear not! Death by hypothermia is easily avoided by landing a starting spot for your Uni team. Here is a foolproof guide on how to achieve that. In fun list format!
1. Be American
For most, Uniball is your first foray into the world of Britball, and it’s where you’ll learn your most valuable lesson – everybody is terrible. The coaches know this, and so must pin all of their hopes on the one guy from the States like he’s the last lifeboat on the Titanic. It does not matter if he has the turning circle of an aircraft carrier, he knows what a ‘three-technique’ is without having to be told, so he will be starting.
Pros: As explained, any actual ability is not a prerequisite here, so you don’t need to even practice if you don’t feel like it.
Cons: If you’re not American – which, be honest, you aren’t – there’s not much you can do here. You can try affecting an easy West-Coast drawl and tell everyone you ‘played some JV out in Cali, yeah’, but no-one’s buying it.
2. Have previous experience
Little known to the general public, up and down the country there are a small number of youth Britball teams, if you know which rocks to look under. Picking up the game at a young age will give you a huge head start over the majority of Uniball players, and if you were actually quite good at U-17 level then you will have already been recruited to play at Birmingham. Not on an actual scholarship, but there were some not-so-subtle hints about how Lions head coach Wayne Hill will put in a good word for you with the GB head coach… Wayne Hill.
It’s a fair system, though!
Pros: Birmingham is a good university, if you can look past the local accents.
Cons: Again, bit late for you to join a youth team so this is out of your control, really.
3. Be naturally talented and athletic
Everyone was so kind to you at rookie day, weren’t they? All of the senior players and coaches, seemed so keen to get to know you!
This is a scam – they spotted that you’re 6’ 3" with arms like tree trunks and are now pulling every trick they can to get you on the team before you realise what a shitshow it is. It works, and despite having no prior experience at all, turns out the sport comes so naturally to you! Oh, and yeah, mate, no; yeah - you don’t even go to the gym that much, it’s just, like, good genetics, I guess?
Life is just one big picnic for you, isn’t it? I hate you.
Pros: See above; re: life, picnic. See also; without fail you will get laid at every social. And graduate, with a 2:1, straight into a £50k job in the City. Did I mention I hate you?
Cons: Once again, let’s not lie to ourselves, this is not you. Your numbers didn’t come up in the genetic lottery, and you’ve just spent £700 on pints in the last four weeks, somehow. This option is just not for you, friend! On to option 4 along with the rest of us pathetic worm people!
4. Lie about having previous experience
Now we’re talking! This one requires very minimal ground work, just turn up to rookie day already knowing what a ‘dig route’ is (ie. play lots of Madden) and look vaguely in shape. Nobody will actually check if you say you played youth ball at school in Germany. This is the perfect crime.
Pros: If you play it with enough conviction, you will blag a week 1 starting spot.
Cons: When it turns out that you’re actually terrible, you can either: A) admit that you lied (no chance), or B) double down on it and live out a three-year charade that’s fooling nobody (the noble choice, a choice of champions).
5. Play O-Line
Perhaps you’ve always been a big lad. An absolute unit. One thicc bihhh. Your dad, he used to joke about it, didn’t he! About how you were wider than tall, as a kid! You can look back on it and laugh, now, though, can’t you? Now, since the therapy, you can laugh about it!
Anyway, the guys on the American Football stand at the Freshers’ fair were nice to you, so you thought you’d give it a go, and now here you are. The coaches keep saying something about “Oh Line”. Just smile and nod.
Pros: Full 3 year ride as a starter, playing every single snap, couple of awards, leave at the end with a great group of mates and a newly found self-confidence.
Cons: Fuck playing O-Line, though, mate. Just, massively fuck that.
6. Popularity contest
Another look beneath the veil of Uniball here – there are a few spots where you can field a total passenger with almost no risk; one of the outside linebackers; an entirely nominal tight end*; strong safety, full back. The good news for you is that these spots are available to be filled by sheer force of personality alone.
Alpha dog your way into the team by necking 100 VKs** on the first social and disappearing for a threesome with two terrifying rugby girls. Congratulations – I now pronounce thee King of the Rookies.
Pros: You have basically no responsibilities on the field, so you can be a bit shit and get away with it.
Cons: Alcohol poisoning, mostly.
7. Lie to yourself
Hey, neat! You’re starting… on special teams! On kick return! Not, like, actually returning the kicks, though; you’re just blocking… but it still counts, right?
Pros: Technically, yes, it still counts.
Cons: It really doesn’t, though.
*Uniball Tight Ends fall into two categories – really tall lads that nonetheless cannot catch for shit, and you - the noble VK Prince - 1 catch for 6 yards on the whole season, Rookie of the Year award by a landslide.
**This article brought to you by VK, the official drink of Uniball.***
***OK, it isn’t really. But, VK – hit me up in the DMs if you’re interested.
3rd of October saw BAFA release an official statement to say that they had in fact made updates and changes to the competitions and regulations of the game. Let’s take a very quick look at what is actually going on here. Firstly, the press release was coupled with a quote by Operations Director Steve Rains which was fairly promising:
BAFA have clearly heard what people have said about the state of British Football and one of the biggest issues which was forfeitures. What was also interesting though was in his quote he stated that there may well be consequences for teams failing to meet deadlines. The emphasis seems to be that in fact it is the club’s inability to meet deadlines that will prevent the release of a timely schedule. A vague reference to consequences may well make this a toothless threat, as clubs fail to meet the target. Will an example have to be made for the rest to fall into line?
Next, here’s the changes from the actual regulations. Will have a look at the main additions as this is what will likely be of interest to most.
The hot topic of payment of players was addressed in reference 2.7 (ignore the incorrect reference, BAFA pushed this out without the usual hyperlinks in the text etc) and reads this:
What impact might this have? Very little in my opinion. When people say they know certain players get paid in teams, what they mean is they ‘know’. That is, they likely have little to no evidence. This ay well simply have the effect that those teams that deal in such manners simply try harder to cover their own tracks. The key here is proven breach, meaning circumspect evidence will be of little use. Expect teams that have done what they’ve always done to continue.
The next rules changes are regarding forfeitures and the consequences. A quick look through brings up a few interesting paragraphs:
The important points to note here are:
If you cancel, you will pay. You’ll pay the other team’s cost, you’ll pay £500 as a surety, you’ll also pay with a yellow card. In reality, the financial will be interesting as many teams have barely enough finances to operate. But the biggest one is this, two forfeits in a 24-month period will see you placed back into associate status. To clarify teams that as of this moment are within the 24-month period under new rules to go to associate if they cancel a fixture:
· Jurassic Coast Raptors
· Farnham Knights
· Bury Saints
· Carlisle Sentinels
· Worcestershire Black Knights
The Etone Jaguars are not included until clarification on their league position. Current mutterings are they will be at associate status. Whether these teams will be on a yellow card for this season will need to be decided by BAFA, hopefully a press release of some sort will follow.
As mentioned, we saw a little about the threat of consequences of failure to register intent to compete, shown below:
This seems strange for a number of reasons. Firstly, if you register a home ground by the 14th of October have you not committed or at least signalled an intent to play. What’s more the threat of Associate status in 2019 if you fail to register in time seems hollow if teams did the right thing and submitted an intent to compete alongside their home venue and dates.
The other big introduction is the health checks:
There were many teams who cited failures in maintaining roster numbers for reasons why they were unable to fulfil fixtures. When schedule addition is mentioned does this make reference to the playoffs? In other words, if a team fails to meet its health checks will they be ineligible for the playoffs? Again the two paragraphs are a little bit vague in terms of what they threaten. Clarification of clear consequences may well go a way to make it a more real threat for those teams. Ideally it’d also be nice to have publications of which teams fail to meet these deadlines so that these teams can be held accountable.
To conclude, this looks like a mixed set of changes. It has some teeth with forfeits and that’s fairly big. This year, be aware that teams that forfeit will be under the keen eye of the Britball public, as we all become aware of the changes.
The rest is as I said a mixed bag, there could be some consequences, but without a proper investigatory wing and with only threats of consequences it’s difficult to imagine what they could be. But let us know your thoughts in the comments, what do you think BAFA failed to address and could have clarified!
We approached BAFA with some questions about the above from our followers, here's their answers.
The BAFA full statement can be found online here
The full BAFA 2018/19 Rules and Regulations document can be found here
So, for blog post 2, I thought I’d look at something now on the horizon. I’m of course talking about fantasy football. Already some people are discussing their fantasy football draft. You might play in a keeper league (one in which you keep your players after a single draft, supplemental drafts reflect more closely the actual NFL draft) in which case the draft needs deep analysis and trading has been probably going for the whole of the offseason.
I’m not here to discuss that, if you’re in a keeper league, you should have a very good understanding of the moves made. This one is for the newer guys. Try to lobby your league not to have their draft before training camp is finished. There’s nothing worse than an ACL in week 2 of camp and your premier running back is done. Already Hunter Henry is out for the season, who had potential as a valuable TE pick.
What am I looking for?
You’ve got yourself into a league now with teammates, the ten pounds you’re all throwing in is paid up but being new you don’t know what to look for. Well first things first; let’s start somewhere logical. The goal of fantasy is to score more points than your opponent in every given week. Although consistently scoring high points is important, the reality is you have to win each week to progress. With that in mind, you’ll want a strong start. But how do you go about getting that strong start? The answer is analysis. With this in mind let’s look at the age-old question. How early, is too early, to draft a QB.
Looking here, you can see that Russell Wilson was the highest scoring Fantasy asset in 2017. But what you need to consider is that you have 2 running back picks normally, and only 1 QB. If you take a QB early, you risk missing two RB picks.
What’s more noticeable though is that the third highest scoring QB is Cam Newton. Newton didn’t have a particularly good season, but what is notable is that he picked up 754 yards, over a third of the Panthers rushing yards. Equally, Russell Wilson had a hand in every touchdown by the Seahawks except one. So, the reality here is that it is worth considering a few QB’s as running backs in their own right.
Conventional wisdom states, take running backs and then move on, there’s a lot more to consider. It’s also worth thinking about when to take premier receivers. You also need to have an understanding of how the targeting system works. By that I mean, how often do receivers get targeted over other receivers in the same team:
Here these stats reflect that Deandre Hopkins was not only the highest scoring points wise. He was also the most targeted. Would you pick up Deandre Hopkins this year? Looking down the list you can see that for many the points and targets aren’t dissimilar. Only Jarvis Landry appears that he was targeted over 10 times on average per game but failed to break the top 10 in terms of points scored. Combine this with a move to the Browns, a poor QB selection at the Brown and problems within the O line now Joe Thomas is gone, would you pick him up?
So how will I be forming my team, and what tips would I give based on my picks. Well first, I’m going to have a look at the top scorers from last year and make evaluations based on previous years. It’s important to remember that there have been off season moves and how that will affect the teams. I’m also going to look at the rookie class of this year and the injuries that occurred last year. For example, Odell Beckham Jr averaged 8.2 targets a game, but that includes his injury game. Where had 0. In reality, he averaged probably closer to 10 targets a game. Combine that with Barkley strengthening the run game in New York, the passing game will likely become far more dynamic.
Thanks Stats, who should I pick?
So, you’ve started looking through all the statistics and you’ve made no picks, all you’ve done is read 100 articles on who to pick up. Firstly, don’t panic. Look through the points scored and start to pick by round. On NFL.com you can do a number of mock drafts on their fantasy. My suggestion would be to look at statistic websites and print off the top scorers at each position. Don’t be afraid to make a pick like Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson in the first round, just because everyone is picking up a running back.
When it comes to your draft, make sure you have a list of who you want to pick and in what round. Have contingency plans. Aim to have 3 picks for each round, prioritised. If your pick is available in that round, pick them up. If they’re off the board move on. Separately to tracking the top scorers from previous years, have some of the rookies you might like to pick up. It’s important to not just be dazzled by the big names.
Someone will pick up Barkley in the first round, that’s a guarantee, but in the later rounds, Mark Walton is coming into a Bengals side that sat 21st in the NFL in rushing and will want to turn that around. If you do your homework right, you might find that some of your flex players become your most valuable. Kareem Hunt was the 86th overall pick, but for the 1% of fantasy owners who started him by accident in week 1 after messing round with their line ups, they had some of the greatest returns.
Need Vs Ability
In a Forbes article discussing the draft they said, ‘Teams identify and prioritize their needs by position. Some teams follow the theory of drafting the highest ranked numerical player available when their turn comes, regardless of position. This theory argues that by taking the best talent year after year a team may have a significantly more gifted roster and can deal in other ways for team needs.’ This is something to consider. If you numerically pick up the highest points player in each round you could potentially be left with an excellent team, but this leaves you to then rely on trade ability.
Teams are often reluctant to trade after the draft, trusting that they made good decisions during the draft and they’d like to see that bear out. In this case you may be stuck with a very good but unusable team for a few weeks. This would potentially leave you looking to make up positions through the season but might leave you with a strong finish. Alternatively, drafting for each position you need might leave you short on decent players as you leave better players on the board, but you’ll have a viable team from the off.
Let’s try to wrap up this post into a few cogent points:
- Prepare – If you’re not sure who to choose at least find out who scored best last year. Look at who they played for and try to analyse if that team is a run or pass team. If you’re thinking of picking up a Bills WR, maybe see whether or not Shady is suspended.
- Be bold – Once you’ve got a strategy in your mind, don’t let decisions around you affect it. If you’ve done the reading and are convinced you’re picking up Aaron Rodgers in the fourth, don’t panic if Adam, the team’s ninth choice kicker, picks him up in the first. Instead, go to an alternate. Fantasy football can be unpredictable.
- Don’t mix and match – If you’ve decided to draft for ability, stick with it. If you mix and match you risk having half of nothing, as you fail to quite meet either requirement.
- Enjoy it! – Fantasy football adds a fun element to football as a fan. You suddenly find yourself intrigued by games you would never be interested in. You’ll also find you begin to know the game a lot better as you see how players most don’t know suddenly appear on your radar.
- Analysis – Understand what makes a good pick: For QB’s, how many TD’s did they throw and how many yards. For Running Backs, how many are there in the team. Kamara and Ingram were an excellent set up for the Saints but meant that neither represented an out-and-out number one. Receivers, how many targets, how many average yards. Julio Jones may not have had as many TD’s as some but if he has a 300-yard game he more than makes up for it. For Kickers, how many times did a team kick. If a team notoriously couldn’t convert 3rd downs they’ll kick field goals galore. On Defence, which teams had the most turnovers. Turnovers score points.
So, there it is. A brief intro to fantasy football. It’s hard to talk about fantasy in depth without creating a blog that is geared purely towards fantasy. I don’t want to do that, but equally might dive in with updates on my own league. Also, you’ll find that as you dive deeper into fantasy you’ll also be able to talk more about the NFL in general. You’ll be able to talk about how you believe that the struggles Bo Scarborough is having at running back, all stems from the fact he’s a system RB produced by ‘Bama. Your depth and knowledge will increase and it becomes a cycle of a better understanding leading to better decisions.