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COUCH TOMATOES: Anatevka Redux

Warning: Reading this column about fantasy football can be hazardous to your health. If you cannot handle humor and satire, mixed in with a few juicy tidbits of NFL facts, this may not be for you. But if you are ready—read on my friends.

As the 2016 season winds down I face my first week without a single lineup to be entered. There will be no need to setup our fantasy game Couch Control Center on Sunday. The feeling I have right now is bittersweet, something like sitting around after 99% of the fans have left the stands after a game. You know what I mean. The cleanup crew is moving through the aisles and rows, staring at you with that what the heck are you still doing here look.

They don’t understand. Nobody does. My mind is in another place, another time. Bruce Springsteen wrote a song about those times called Glory Days. It is one of those songs like Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle that really makes you think. My life has taken another turn once again.

We are born and we establish a sense of reality. As we grow a bit older we realize that with all the “reality” in the world we need a dose of fantasy to temper the nasty stuff a bit. Then we hit a time when the alarm buzzer sounds and reality comes back with a vengeance. That is the transition I face as 2016 winds down.

Speaking of that transition, I wanted to mention this in regards to keeping the fantasy football party alive after my retirement:

The other night I had a brainstorm. With my pending retirement from fantasy football writing, what I will miss the most is my interaction with readers and my fellow writers. As I was writing player comments last night it hit me.

We need a Facebook discussion group. So come one, come all. Join us at the new Couch Tomatoes. Indicate you want to join and I will get you setup.

I automatically put a bunch of friends in there already. If you are in it and want to opt out, let me know.

We will get the thing working now and see what diverse directions we go in. One rule basically–keep it clean and do not be mean.

I have setup the basic discussion group and you are all invited to join. It will be a meeting place of fantasy football crazed folks just like you and me. We will have friends there who are writers, readers and anyone else who is seeking a great place to meet people and explore other people’s opinions on our great game.

The whole concept is kind of new and I do not have a firm grasp on how it will all work. For right now, just join and over the next few weeks we will get the ball rolling. I think the principles of dynamics and momentum will get us off and running.

We can help each other and have a great time doing it.

On another front, I am sorry to say that Toby. Mollie and Mabel were last scene at a rural rail crossing west of town here. They were carrying their tiny suitcases as they boarded the train to take them back home to Rabbitika in the former Russian republic known as Rabbitakastan.

It was as moving a scene as anything I have seen since Tevye sang about Anatevka in Fiddler on the Roof. It seemed that once, as Toby said so bluntly, I lost my fantasy stud-muffin status by retiring, that living with Bonnie and me was an albatross around his neck, not the great honor that made other rabbits jealous.

When we play fantasy football we are so busy with our teams that we forget about the football game as a whole. Be sure to remember that the answers to our fantasy football questions can usually be found within the numbers. And if all else fails, feel free to ask me. You can reach me at All fantasy football questions are welcome.

Good luck! Have fun!


When we look at reality for a bit, this is a month of disappointments and despair. With all the celebrating and joy, many of us are going through rough times. I am including here a blog article that my friend Lise Schleicher wrote that was published in the Huffington Post that just might help us all as far as understanding and dealing with depression.

Originally Posted August 12, 2014

I’ve talked about writing this blog for several years, but the timing never seemed quite right. It’s rather heavy for a blog about gift baskets, and yet such an important topic that ignoring it seems the wrong thing to do. And then, as you will understand after reading, there is the fear of opening myself up to criticism and disapproval. All these factors have conspired against my doing this.

But the world just lost Robin Williams, a source of light and joy for so many people. People everywhere are trying to come to terms with how he could do this, unable to wrap their brains around clinical depression and how it impacts its sufferers. So, with deep respect and thanks to Christine Miserandino for her article “Spoon Theory” on living with sickness, I am going to try to explain depression with what I call the Gorilla on my Back.

I have both a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) and clinical depression. In my universe, they are separate beasts that I struggle with on a daily basis to control. My friends and family are supportive and loving, but had trouble understanding what depression felt like until I came up with the Gorilla concept. To help my father, who also had clinical depression, convey his emotional state to his medical teams.

Depression is an ape on your back. Every day presents a different ape to deal with. The goal in living with depression is to have a spider monkey. Spider monkeys are tiny little fellows. They cling pretty tightly, and can certainly get in the way, but hey, you can manage a spider monkey. You can put a leash on it, you can walk around with it on your shoulder and it might require some attention, but you can breathe, you can think, and for a while, you might even forget it is there. A spider monkey isn’t perfect, but it’s absolutely reasonable.

Some days you have a monkey on your back. This guy is bigger than the spider monkey. He is probably still controllable, but he’s certainly more of a problem. He is going to steal your food, so you won’t eat much. He is going to distract you so you can’t focus on what’s in front of you, and he’s going to trip you up, but you can probably work around him with some extra effort.

Orangutans are harder. They are big, heavy and have really long arms that reach around and cause trouble. They push away things that give you joy, make it hard for other people to get near you, weigh you down. They will literally cause you physical pain and block your ability to see the path to relief. If you live with depression, you develop the strength to carry around an orangutan, but you are aware of its presence 100 percent of the time. It impacts the way you eat, sleep, play, work, and interact with friends and family. Having an orangutan on your back is a huge, heavy weight to bear.

Then there is the gorilla. Imagine how hard it would be to get out of bed with a gorilla on your back. Think about how difficult it would be to get dressed, to brush your teeth, to go to work and do your job with the crushing weight of a gorilla on your back. Imagine the pain — both physical and emotional — that the gorilla is going to cause. Try to breathe or eat or think; the effort is exhausting.

Now, live with your primate of the day when no one else knows it is there. They can’t see the monkey, orangutan or gorilla, and you can’t make them believe it’s there. They want you to shake it off, ignore it, think about something else. They haven’t lived with a monkey on their backs, and they cannot begin to understand how overwhelming life is with a monkey.

Those of us suffering clinical depression are given tools to help control and tame our beasts — medications, therapy, exercise — but some days those are not enough. If we aren’t using all the available tools, finding the strength and energy to pick them up is sometimes more than we can do, because simply being is an exercise in emotional and physical endurance.

So, how do you help someone like me — or like Robin Williams — live with a monkey on his or her back?

One: Don’t be judgmental. Trust me, no one wants to live like this. No one would choose to deal with this. It might look like we are not doing what we need to or that we are wallowing in the pain. But from where we sit, we don’t see any way out. We are too busy just trying to breathe.

Two: Respect it. While you may never be able to fully empathize, respect that this is a very real pain, in every sense of the word. We know that what we are feeling may not be logical, may not be reality, but that doesn’t change how it feels — and it feels lousy.

Three: Offer the help you can. Be a friend, show the love. Don’t walk away or get angry — that just feeds the monkey. Ask (gently) if we have taken our meds, help us make a doctor’s appointment, come by and just spend time, even if we can’t tell you we want you to. Listen to us, let us cry and encourage us to not check out from the world. And know that sometimes we are doing all the things we are supposed to be doing… and yet King Kong is moving in. It is just like that sometimes.

Finally, watch for cries for help. I am blessed; my family and friends know that when I have gorillas, I need support. And thanks to this analogy, I am able to tell them how I feel with just a few words, instead of trying to explain how the day is going. I have a monkey, I have an orangutan, I have a gorilla.

The gorillas are real.

About Mike Nease

Mike Nease is a member of the FSWA and has been playing the game since 1985, while also writing about it since 2001. Over the years he has sampled about all the playing scenarios that fantasy football offers, including re-drafter, keeper, dynasty, auction, IDP and salary cap leagues. He and his wife Bonnie reside in West Chicago, IL You can contact Mike at anytime and during the football season follow him @mikeinsights.