An Oral History of the Third Fouls League Draft

Chris S. (Young Sheed, league commissioner): This was the third year that we were doing this, and it seemed like things had been pretty well established through the first two seasons. I didn’t have to do much, really. This is my first year doing this as commissioner, as Dennis had been the commissioner the last two. The draft was always a favorite part just because things get really weird in an auction draft where the players are ranked according to negative value, and you have to do your own research.

Michael (QUELLISH!): I did the first Fouls League, but I was terrible at, like, finding hidden value in NBA miscreants, so I sucked pretty hard at it and skipped last year's. For this year, I named my team "Quellish!" because I thought Leonard, Part VI was dece enough, so why not. There is a scene in that movie where Bill Cosby strings up one of the main bad guy's henchmen by his feet and shaves him bald. That was weird.

Dennis (Sheed $200 Bid): I was originally planning on stepping down on November 1, 2040 to make sure I had exactly 30 years as Fouls League commissioner but I lost my password to the spam account I was 
using when I got a new computer and was too lazy to set a new league up.

Scott (Stern Looks): The Fouls League is a different kind of beast. Some players want to hitch their team to a single player and life and die by him. Case in point, last year I think I dropped $130-150 on Dwight Howard and sure enough his contract and injury issues sank my team to 3rd or 4th from last. I learned from that mistake.

Chris B. (Disgruntled Goat, 2012 league champion): [I] was pretty content with my team last year - only made six moves all year - and after winning it all I felt pretty compelled to go after most of the same dudes. 

David (Doo Doo Jump): I didn't really think about the draft at all before it actually happened. My strategy was to just prioritize technical fouls over all other stats, figuring lots of techs meant you were either a hothead or an idiot or both. 

Chris O. (Blatche to the Future): I was doing what I do every year during the draft – I drink one big Arrogant Bastard beer while I listen to metal in my bedroom because my wife hates metal and fantasy sports.

Michael:  I wasn't supposed to do the draft at all, because I had tickets to see Swans. Unfortunately, the subways got shut down, and because Michael Gira and/or the Bowery Ballroom are a big bag of dicks that didn't want to postpone, I ended up losing 80 bucks and cursing a whole bunch...wait, hold on I trailed off because Stern is on TV and just talked about needing to celebrate in the wake of Hurricane Katrina before this Miami ring ceremony, so not only is he the worst commish in history, the news apparently doesn't infiltrate his compound. God, what a fucking moron.

Turning Over

Chris S.: Early on, we had discussed doing turnovers as well as the other kinds of fouls because it was an inherently “negative” statistic that could be calculated easily. I think that the whole point of the league was to get Rasheed or whoever, really award some asshole, as well as anybody who would fly off the handle, like Kenyon Martin. But as far as turnovers being included this year, that was all me, and I don’t know if anybody else is excited about it like I am.

Sean: I like it, a couple extra points in other spots reduces the overall dominance of FF and ejections. 

Dennis: As a Fouls League traditionalist, I did not like the change to include turnovers. It’s not the fouls and turnovers league, but that's what I get for giving up my commissioner duties. It certainly changed my strategy in that I bid more for Jeremy Lin than I normally would. Also, I’m sure it factored into Dave taking Mustapha Farrakhan. 

David: I picked Mustapha as a joke thinking nobody would bid on him. Then someone did, which was crazy. Then I stupidly thought "I wonder how much I can get them to pay for him?" Then I bought him. I don't care. I figure if his grandfather could arrange the murder of Malcolm X, the least he could do for his grandson is pull some strings to get him farther up in the depth chart. 

Tom (Dunkoptimize): I don’t think turnovers will sway much scoring. You can only get 5 points for TOs - same as regular fouls, but if you get six fouls, you get a 30 point bonus [for a disqualification]. You'd have to get a double digit turnover game to come close to the value of fouling out. And last I checked, Gilbert Arenas wasn't in the league anymore, but Rasheed Wallace still was.

Chris O.: I was confused at the addition of turnovers — I might have missed that discussing, so it was a little funny seeing that during the draft. I like the addition of turnovers for one reason mainly: Fouls League has an actual basketball stat now. I suppose “personal fouls” are counted on stat sites, but they don't REALLY matter. Turnovers are important (have fun with Jeremy Lin, Houston!) and I think it adds a great new dimension to the usually boring PG/SG slots. Carmelo Anthony might win someone's league for with TOs added!

Scott: This year is going to be carried not by the big homeruns (FF/TECHS) but by turnovers and consistent fouls. To me, players like D. Will or John Wall will dictate the winner.

Michael: I had set my player values earlier in the week, and did silly things like assign DMC a value of 110 bucks, because I thought I was just going to autodraft, and who would pay more than a hundo for THAT guy?

What Tom Did

Tom: I lucked out and got the first pick. Usually that's not a huge deal in an auction draft, but in Fouls League, only a few players are truly valuable, and the valuable ones dominate the scoring. In an eight team league, the winner last year scored 8000 points over the course of the year, and his top two players scored 4000 of those points. So there's definitely a premium on only a few on-court jackasses: namely, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Demarcus Cousins.

Chris S.: There was a lot of restraint last season – the top pick was DeAndre Jordan with $175 out of $200. I did it, and it was a horrible mistake. I picked up Shumpert off waivers and he had 130 points less over the course of the season.

Scott: For any player, I think that DMC does have the highest ceiling, but I think to be successful in this league, it's not about the highest ceiling, but the highest floor. I expect most teams to crash out in some way.

Tom: Since DMC went for so much the first two years of the draft, and picking for value in a jokey fantasy league is kind of a boring strategy, I decided to go for the gusto: I would nominate Boogie Cousins at the maximum bid in the league ($193/200) so I was guaranteed to win him.

Chris S.: It blew my mind when Tom threw that down as the first pick and shut everybody back down as it happened. People were flipping out after – I called a time out and undid it just because I was so confused and needed a breather.

Tom: What happened after I did that surprised a lot of people. I don't think anyone expected that strategy, and a few people cried out about "fairness" (nevermind that DMC went for megabucks the previous year and was not on the winning squad). So Chris reset the draft and undid the pick, I think people thought I gamed the system. I realized I still had the first nom, and I didn't change my mind, so I did it again. People went a little apeshit. 

Dennis: That was classic Tom. He should've just dropped the mic and left after that. I liked it even better when Kelly spent $193 on Ivan Johnson thinking he was DeMarcus Cousins.

Chris B.: That was hilarious. It didn't bother me too much. I'm not sure how that happened but I seem to recall that dude being pretty upset.

David: I don't think I even understood what was happening when Kelly messed up. I was watching Boardwalk Empire at the time. If you miss even a moment of that show, you might miss a full frontal nude shot of Steve Buscemi.

Kelly (World B. Beasley): What did I feel when I picked Ivan Johnson for $193? Resignation.

Tom: I thought that when Kelly picked Ivan Johnson for $193, he was also doing it on purpose (referencing the extremity/hilarity of the DMC situation and reflecting the typical demeanor of the league). I got a weird feeling when someone said that we "weren't taking this draft very seriously". Isn't that the point?

Kelly: Ivan Johnson is probably worth somewhere between $18 and $180 in an auction draft.

Jacob: I was beyond excited to see some stupid high dollar bidding right off the bat, especially on DeMarcus, since I think he will continue to grow away from his [high] foul numbers during his rookie season (when I picked him out of the abyss like a boss).

Chris S.: A couple minutes later, I thought I was just undoing Kelly’s messed up second pick, but what the Yahoo! system did was actually reset the entire draft, aside from the first pick. I was aghast, and people were understandably baffled, but I had to pull a Basketball Mussolini. I felt awful about the dude who lost Millsap.

Chris O.: I feel like I stole Millsap at $74. He's a lock for 3-4 fouls and 2 turnovers every night, plus techs.

Chris S.: I went through with everybody and said, “Okay, so we’re going to redo these picks for what they were originally paid for, gentlepersons’ rules.” Of course, it didn’t work out that way.

Chris O.: He ended up going for about $100, so when he was ripped from my grasp, I was initially pretty angry. This draft is just so fun though, so I had to let it go and try to grab the next best thing.

Chris B.: The mess ups later on were frustrating in the sense that it it made the draft seem less legitimate but when it came down to it, I had other players in mind I was targeting and it all made for one big entertaining mess of a draft. The whole auction draft thing is inherently chaotic - so it was another wrench or two in the gears. If I had stepped up and drafted in the early going of it, I'd be a bit more upset if I hadn't landed one of those marquee dudes that went early.

Dennis: I think the whole thing was a ploy to deny my $85 bid for Blake Griffin for basketball reasons (i.e. it would make me a dominant force). I still got Sheed, Metta and Bynum for under market value though, they are all in the top 5 in flagrants over replacement (advanced metrics).

Chris O.: This is my third Fouls League team, and this league is easily my favorite fantasy league each year. It's unique, totally baffling to my friends and coworkers, and there are guys with "99% owned" Yahoo statistics sitting on the waiver wire because they are awesome at basketball but not very good at screaming at refs. The wonky beginning of the draft aside, in which Millsap was unjustly stolen from me, this year should be great. I ended up nominating Iman Shumpert and having to take him for $1 even though I'm a Knicks fan and I KNOW he is injured, but whatever. The next DMC is out there somewhere on the waiver wire, a young man from Baylor or Vanderbilt or Kentucky who will start throwing elbows and jawing at Joey Crawford in no time.


Scott: When I was drafting I had two game plans: nominate people I thought others would pay a lot for, and stakeout the ones I wanted at the halfway point after the high rollers blew their cash rolls. I nominated Ivan Johnson second overall, but I thought he'd go for more than $18. Metta was second, who went for a solid $36. Millsap, Perkins, LBJ, Westbrook, Carmelo all went for over $100. Chris Paul, Smith, D Will, and Howard all took some good money from the other bidders.

Jacob: I always try to keep the same strategy in auction drafts of not blowing huge dollars on players through the first half so that I have the flexibility to comfortably go after value later on. There’s no point, to me, in figuring out a list of targets before-hand since auction style is so chaotic and unpredictable. [You’ve] gotta build a list of guys during downtime bidding on guys I’m not interested in, and then do my best to grab them whilst other people are distracted or broke.

Sean: LBJ and [Josh] Smith were autobids, which left me with less than $2 per remaining player, so I had zero incentive to actually locate a decent player for any nomination because I could be outbid at $2. The most frustrating was that I had my phone, but an iPhone won't run the Yahoo draft app.

Dennis: All technicals all the time. The rest takes care of itself.

Michael: I think my top twenty players were centers, and I was cool with that until I realized I had to fill every position. Oh well. I got Perkins first because he is bad at doing anything other than being mad and fouling people, so how can you really lose there? Then I got him again because the draft was reset twice because apparently blowing your entire budget on DeMarcus Cousins raises some red flags. Whatever, I still got Perk. Everyone says he is a nice guy, but he is clearly that dude that only ever got to play basketball because he was tall and strong. I should know, because we smell our own.

David: I think I deserve some points for Matt Barnes' pre-season suspension. Also if a player threatens to beat up fans on Twitter, that should be worth something, too. 

Chris B.: I chased techs w/ Kobe, Joakim Noah, Deron Williams – all chippy enough dudes, with D-Will the real hothead/X-factor of the group. Plus, after signing with BKN, I'd like to think he feels he has something to prove/is on some sort of mission/etc/whatever this year. D-Will, Kobe and Nash (who I also drafted) were 4th, 5th and 7th in turnovers last year - so feeling good on that front. I’m also feeling good about Ekpe Udoh (who had 174 PFs last year, right in the middle of the pack) and Brandon Knight (who had 171 turnovers (!) in his rookie campaign).

Dennis: [I'm] most proud of Andre Drummond. I think he is by far the Fouls League ROY.

Chris O.: The player I was most proud of getting was Dwight Howard. It’s kind of cool having someone who picks up a lot of fouls, gets a lot of techs AND is actually a good player. I also snagged DeMar DeRozan late when I had the most cash left. That’s always a good feeling.

Scott: I'm extremely excited for my team this year. The core of Griffin and Chandler is going to be awesome, and I have a big boost coming from Wall when he comes back. I don't think I'll get my 35 bucks worth from Larry Sanders, but if there's a player to go hard for, with a low cap he might be the one.

Jacob: I think David Lee and Luis Scola are gonna have great (terrible) years with baaaaad teams where there are too many expectations of them. And I would looooove to see Kyrie embrace some bad boy attitude if the Cavs don’t suck as much.

Michael: I can't remember off the top of my head who else I got. Rondo for sure, because I bet he's going to punch a ref this season. Austin Rivers, because he's a dumb rookie guard who sucks and will turn the ball over a million times and pout and get Ts all day. LaMarcus Aldridge because...he's big? I dunno about that one. I think I had a lapse and thought I was drafting good players. Linas Kleiza because at that point in the draft he was still on the board with like 6 techs last year, so sure. He's a Euro and they get pissy, I guess. 

David: I'm sorry if I seem flip about it. I can no longer get excited about fantasy sports if money isn't involved. I'm dead inside like that.

Chris S.: My team is going to be awful. I am so ashamed. I might as well have picked Aaron Brooks

Michael: Everybody seemed to get annoyed at the auction draft, but whatever. I was watching The Walking Dead and only half paying attention. I'm glad it wasn't a Rick-centric episode. I am sick of that dude.

For exclusive commentary on basketball and culture, check out more Negative Dunkalectics, follow @negativedunks on Twitter, and become our fan on Facebook.