Football season officially begins September 7 with a match between the Andy Reids (aka Kansas City Chiefs) and the Tom Bradys (aka New England Patriots). This means within the next two weeks NFL fantasy football leagues will kick off another year of pig-skinned voyeurism and, most importantly, wholesome trash talking.
Whether or not this is your first year joining a fantasy football league, let’s brush up on the gentleman’s dos and don’ts of trash talking, which, if followed correctly, will add to the fun of your season and add another competitive element to Sunday games.
The first and most important do:
Do trash talk
There’s nothing worse than an inactive league. Odds are, you’re putting up actual dinero to join in for the season, banding up with a group of long-time buddies, work colleagues, or couples, so for goodness sake do some trash talking. If you’d prefer to keep it zipped, you might as well join a public league full of anonymous randos, or just skip the fantasy league altogether and play Madden.
When should you begin the trash talking? Immediately.
Do trash talk during the draft
You’ll notice in the corner of your draft screen a little box at the side for messages. Use it. Odds are that you’ll get at least one of your players stolen by a pick before you, so let that fuel the fire. This will also help set the standard of trash talking for the season and give you a taste of your competitors’ style. If it makes you feel more gentlemanly, think of it as ‘healthy debate.’ But remember, the draft room is only a warm up. Keep the smack light and don’t go out fists a-blazin’.
Pro Tip: Use your team name as a form of smack talk, with the option of changing your name each week depending on your opponent and a smart joke at their expense.
Do not keep conversations private
Once the season begins, your trash talk will naturally gravitate to certain members of your league, whom you’ll build a rapport with. Maybe they drafted your favorite or least favorite player/team. Maybe they beat you in the playoffs last year. But the moral of the story is, that during any and all trash talking, keep it open for the whole league to see and take part in. In fact, if your buddy’s girlfriend is new to the league, call out one of her draft moves as a way to welcome her into the fold and get more people involved in the conversation. If you’re a more seasoned fantasy trash talker, this gives newer players a sense of what to expect (aka what is and is NOT up for ridicule)… and with that being said:
Do know your crowd
There’s a debate on whether the topic of mothers is fair game in trash talking. The answer is: depends on your crowd. If you’re in a league with people you grew up with, sure, mothers are 100% game. However, if you’re participating in a league at work with your colleagues, use common sense… so no, don’t trash talk your boss’ mom.
Do not worry about memorizing stats
The gentleman’s art of trash talking has little to do with knowing every single player and team stat every week. Winning or losing comes down simply to points, and the singular team you’re playing each week. Keeping track of everyone’s stats is too time-consuming. That time could be better spent zeroing in on your immediate opponent, looking at their performance the past couple weeks, and crafting a witty remark. Plus, it’s better to know the people in your fantasy league than their pro players. Yes, you should play on their biggest annoyances.
Pro Tip: You can always fall back on using your opponent’s Win-Loss Record and overall History to provide kindling to your trash talk fire. (Like the time Tom lost in the playoffs by exactly one point to Lou’s girlfriend who was a rookie. Ohhh!)
Do think about what you’re going to say… but do not think too long
If you devise a savage comeback and for an inkling of a second think, ‘Is this too far?’ odds are it’s too far. You’re better off taking a step back and finding a different attack. We’re not trying to turn friends into enemies. Also, if you take too long trying to craft the perfect comeback you’ve lost this bout. You have exactly seven minutes until you officially forfeit the trash-talk session. Similarly, if you respond with a full block paragraph that took you the full seven minutes to type, you also lost. Keep your trash talk short and surface-level. Brevity is the soul of wit.
Pro Tip: Your seven minutes are up and you sink into silent defeat. If the member of your league brings up later on that you didn’t have a response, pull out a simple ‘sorry I was talking to your mom/ex from high school/person you like… what I was going to say was…” Boom.
Do not cut deep
You joined a fantasy league because they’re fun. In style, keep all trash talking light and as much about the NFL players and teams as possible. Another reason to keep the jib-jab civil is on the off chance that you’ll need to do a trades later on.
Do not take it personally
If another member of the league takes it too far (this is a common occurrence), don’t take their comments personally. More likely than not, they were having trouble coming up with a good response and in the heat of the moment aimed under the belt. The less emotional and aggravated you get during trash talk, the more you win.
Do keep the conversation going
Trash talking is a dish best served leading up to the games that week, during the games, and after. Don’t be that guy who only jumps into a back-and-forth after winning the week. Nobody likes that dude.
Do target everyone
At the end of the day, there will only be one winner at the end of the season. Even if you came in dead last, you have the right, neigh, the obligation, to trash talk every single other member for not coming in first. Remember: a loss at second can feel a lot worse than a loss at twelfth.
Overall, boosting your fantasy league trash talk standards will build camaraderie within your group of friends and co-workers in the league. Which is the point of joining a league. Oh, and if you win (for a week or the whole season) be sure to remind everyone.