Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Update on New Quicker TSA Screening Program

A few weeks ago I wrote about a mysterious email invitation I got from American Airlines to invite me to opt-in to a new airport security pilot program.

The email was vague, but promised the potential for reduced time in security lines at Dallas Fort Worth and Miami airports.

Because I'm flying through DFW in a few weeks, I eagerly accepted.

Today I read an article that provided a little more detail on the program (if unfortunately, no details on what exactly it will involve)

Under the so-called "known traveler" program, some 6,000 to 8,000 frequent flyers at select airports will be directed daily toward dedicated lines that will zip them through security faster than you can get your shoes, coat and watch off and into the bins.

Only a chosen few of frequent flyers from AMR Corp.'s (AMR) American Airlines and Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) and members of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's trusted traveler program are being invited to join the TSA program--for free right now. The pilot program, which is open exclusively to U.S. citizens, will operate only at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Miami International and Dallas-Fort Worth International airports.

Seems pretty small for now, but the article also mentions they might roll out to more airlines and airports if it works.

Of course, there's the inevitable downside to this program.

Not the fact that you'd need to sacrifice lots of personal information. We're all on Facebook. That ship has sailed.

But the fact that if they try this out and it works, they'll start charging for it.

Also from the article.

TSA's website states that the known-travelers program is a work in progress and evolving as lessons are learned. And while it's free in its test stages, there's little doubt a fee ranging from $100 to $150 for processing to another $100 to $150 in annual or periodic fees will be tied to a full-fledged program. Pistole did not offer costs but noted that the program would include a fee.


But honestly, if airlines can get me to pay for a checked bag, or get me to pay for early boarding (I'm looking at you Southwest), then you can be real sure I'll be first in line for a faster security program, even if it's a couple hundred bucks.

Plus, I bet I'll be able to expense that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Moving to Costa Rica for Online Poker?

I used to play a fair amount of online poker. This was a while ago, around 2004-2005 or so, so 6-7 years ago (wow, I am old). But it was the golden age of online poker, as ESPN's new camera actually made televised poker interesting, and the availability of internet poker allowed so many of us to indulge our Rounders fantasies of rolling up a stake and heading to the World Series.

The game exploded, which was great for anyone who actually did a little homework or could do a little probability math in their head. Tons of people flocked to all different kinds of sites, although I remember Party Poker seemed the largest at the time. I think they even advertised on TV (Note: Indeed they did. I forgot about their 'oooooooh Party Poker!' jingle)

And I liked playing, for a while. But the game is a fickle mistress, and I eventually had to end our relationship. If for nothing else, my desk was taking a beating from all the punches I threw after particularly bad beats. It's not that I wasn't a decent player (38-40% ITM across my SNG's, which if I remember correctly is a pretty good clip [For those unfamiliar, ITM refers to my in-the-money percentage, or the number of tournaments where you take home prize money. SNGs refer to Sit-N-Go's, a tournament that starts immediately once enough players join. I really only played one table sit n go's, which would take 10 players and pay out the top three])

I stopped playing because, while I liked the game, I didn't see what I was really getting out of it. I never played for serious financial stakes (risk-averse, sue me), so the potential rewards were never that big. And even if it as great to outplay someone (or even to get lucky), a win only leaves you with smug self-satisfaction as you sit alone at your computer. What does that really get you at the end of the day? (Answer: Not a girlfriend)

So I cashed out, and was content to play only when I'm at a casino.

However, I do still pay attention to developments in the online poker world, particularly the legal problems it's been facing.

The U.S. government really doesn't like online poker. Leaving out their rationale (which I think is absurd, short-sighted, and hypocritical), they don't want U.S. customers playing poker online.

Recently, the feds shut down the biggest poker sites around the country in what industry players refer to as 'Black Friday'.

Bad news. Particularly for people who gave up other potential careers to 'play online full-time'.

While I typically don't like to generalize, the full-time online player has been profiled enough times in enough articles that I could tell you exactly how any of them will be described in any article that talks about the situation.

Rules for profiling an online poker player in popular media

1: They have to be young, in their 20's usually

2: They have to have abandoned a traditional career path. This is almost always college, but sometimes could also include a job of some kind

3: You have to talk about how they'll play multiple tables at the same time

4: You have to talk about how their parents don't really 'get it'

5: You have to talk about how much money they've made (which will be some ungodly high number, I'm guessing which is self-reported by someone who certainly doesn't want to tell you if they aren't making money)

All poker profiles will have those items, pretty much without exception.

But that wasn't what got me thinking about poker. It was this article in BusinessWeek, an article detailing how poker players are relocating to other countries where they can continue to play online.

What I'm trying to figure out, is if some of the U.S. legal action will have an impact on pro poker players ability to earn the same amount as they did previously.

The article focuses on a couple guys who are now in Costa Rica to play poker. Now, they obviously did this because they want to keep making money the 'easy' way (if by 'easy' you think sitting in front of dual computer monitors for long shifts without leaving the house sounds 'easy').

But isn't it going to be harder to do that now?

When the U.S. basically shut down major online poker sites, they effectively raised the costs of playing online poker for all American players. If you really wanted to play, you'd have to find another site, move your money around, and have questions as to whether the new site would actually be trustworthy. This wouldn't really stop the professionals, who you can assume will usually find a way to play. But the additional transition costs, combined with a new federal government boogeyman hovering over your poker budget, would be enough to scare the amateur, no?

And aren't amateur players how the professionals make most of their money?

So if all of a sudden these guys and girls leave, does the quality of competition improve? And do expected winnings decline as a result? If the online poker community is mostly international, maybe it's not an issue, but I've always assumed it's been primarily American.

I certainly would've thought about that before I moved to Costa Rica. But then, some of us have other employment options.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An All Simpsons TV Channel

From the LA Times, an idea who's time has long since come.

Ready for a channel devoted to nothing but "The Simpsons?"

Don't laugh, it is one idea News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey threw out when speaking Tuesday at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills...

...Carey said there have been a "number of meetings" to determine how to capitalize on its library of episodes of "The Simpsons" and he mentioned a digital channel featuring nothing but Homer and the gang as being a possibility. Carey said it is incumbent on the company to take advantage of a show that is "unique in television with a volume too that is unprecedented."

Let me be the first to say I would welcome our new animated TV overlords.

Anyone who's seen the 24 hour Seinfeld marathon understands the wonder and promise of a sole show television station. I remember the Seinfeld marathon well. Anytime you flipped around the TV, there Jerry was! It was a glorious time to be alive. And as I watched it, I was pretty sure that I would always watch it, anytime, even if it ran 365 days a year.

We're rapidly progressing to a world where one screen of entertainment isn't enough. I didn't get this way until 2009 when I started using my laptop while watching TV, but advances in smartphones and tablet computers should pretty much ensure that within 5 years we're all using two screens at a minimum when we're in the living room.

In such a setup, I place a premium on what I'd call, 'ambient content'. Stuff that I don't have to pay 100% attention to, because I have another screen that simply can't be ignored (e.g., Words With Friends). This is very different from what I'd think of as 'appointment viewing,' which are shows that you're so into you have to specifically set everything down and watch them (few and far between).

But as far as background content goes, sports is a pretty great ambient TV solution. It's always on, and rarely requires your full attention (which is why it's so popular at gyms). Of course, once you're married it becomes less a solution and more of a test to see how long before your wife explodes.

News programming also works, think anything with a talking head and a ticker. That's always my default when I'm on the treadmill and I can't find any sports.

And then, there's also comfortable programming, stuff that doesn't require a ton of thought or direct involvement. It's here where I'd put shows that have been on forever, with an established set of characters and plotlines.

I can watch any episode of Seinfeld and tell you the entire thing after about 2 seconds. Now, that may be really sad as an example of humanity, but my familiarity and comfort with it means that I would always be willing to have it on. The same thing could be said for a Simpsons channel.

Now, a 24-7 channel with nothing but the Simpsons would be fantastic, although I'm wondering exactly what the revenue possibilities are. The Simpsons must generate close to a bazillion dollars in syndication right now (looking for some answers online only gave me an estimate of $1 billion, and that was from 2003). It would be hard to see a model where Fox launches some kind of standard TV channel that would clearly undercut the syndicated value. From the article, I infer the execs are talking about incremental revenue streams.

Could they offer on-demand access to any/all episodes? Or unlimited access to some Hulu-like channel? Or hell, just put the episodes on Hulu itself?

They absolutely could, although I don't know if it would work quite as well.

You see, putting your content into the on-demand sphere forces a pretty big change in the user discovery/experience. When it's simply on TV, I'll stumble across it on my cable guide. But now in an on-demand world, all of a sudden I have to actively seek out the show. And what's worse, but in a completely on-demand environment, I'd have to choose from hundreds of episodes! The paralysis of expanded choice would set in, and I'm sure I'd probably never click through to an episode (incidentally, the same reason why it's so hard to watch a non-continuous plotline show on DVD. If I want to watch the Wire or West Wing [or another show that doesn't start with W], I can start at the beginning, set it and forget it. Not so with a show like the Simpsons or Seinfeld)

Such an on-demand solution from Fox would be interesting (and who knows, maybe this isn't what they're thinking about at all), but I feel as though it would be much harder to attract viewers. When you put it on-demand, you force me as a consumer to go out and find it. But honestly? I'm trying to watch TV...I didn't turn it on to do any work.

Monday, September 12, 2011

DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket

It seems like DirecTV has gotten really aggressive this year with pitching themselves, and in particular, NFL Sunday Ticket.

NFL Sunday Ticket, in case you don't know, is the only way to ensure you can see principally all the NFL games each week. Historically, it's been a godsend to nomads like me, people who have emigrated from their hometowns to settle in the savage and unforgiving wilderness (in my case, Chicago).

Of course, it's always been pretty expensive. And it also required you to get TV service through satellite, which isn't even an option for most of us in apartments.

But DirecTV has been willing to pay the NFL a fortune to be the exclusive provider, and since the NFL is in the interest of making money, DirecTV gets a monopoly on providing comprehensive coverage.

But lately, I've noticed a harder pitch from the satellite company.

Exhibit A: Recent offers of Free NFL Sunday Ticket for subscribers (caveat in that it requires a two year agreement and is only for new subscribers, so you can see why it's worth it for them)

Exhibit B: NFL Sunday Ticket To Go - An idea which seems to be an unlikely offer from a TV service provider...Streaming over mobile devices and even things like a PS3. The price is pretty outrageous (over $300 if I remember correctly), but one of the first breakthroughs for those of us waiting to get the NFL through something other than a traditional TV channel (finally following the NHL and MLB and basically every other sport out there)

Exhibit C: An email offer I got today offering me 12,500 American Airlines bonus miles if I got DirecTV. They must really know me well to come after me with streaming access AND airline miles!

Now it's possible they've done this type of stuff every year, but I really can't recall these types of promotions for what's really the company's only unique product offering.

Two questions come to mind. Well, one question and one comment.

How is the wider availability of NFL Red Zone impacting DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket package?

My dad got the Red Zone channel at least a couple seasons ago, and last year, with an Eagles Thursday night matchup on the docket, I forked over the extra $8 a month for the sports package to get it and the NFL network.

And to me, the Red Zone channel has all but destroyed any inkling I'd ever have of getting Sunday Ticket.

The Red Zone channel just shows football, continuously, as long as there's a game on. Cutting from one game to another, it's like football nirvana (except for those who need the occasional bathroom or 'my wife's trying to talk to me' break)

So it's better than DirecTV, and at ~$8 a month, it's a lot cheaper than $300+.

The only argument is that you can't watch an entire game of your favorite team, but since I'm an Eagles fan, I get most of them on national broadcasts anyway. So until they start going 6-10 every year, I'm pretty OK with the access I've got.

So, since I'm a football fan, and Red Zone has completely won me over, is that why we're seeing such aggressive promotion tactics? It's also worth noting that DirecTV seems to have rolled out a ton of additional features and wrinkles (like a player stat tracker for fantasy purposes, or access to coaches' pre-game shows), obviously including their streaming access as well.

Could it be they're starting to feel the heat from some (albeit slightly indirect) competition?

While I think it's pretty safe to say yes, I also noticed this article.

It's the first NFL Sunday of the season, and DirecTV's $350 Sunday Ticket To-Go doesn't work.

We bought the $350 service — which lets users watch every NFL game on their computer or mobile device — over the weekend, and were hoping to use it for a kick-ass live blog complete with scores, commentary, and highlights.

But instead, we can't even sign into To-Go because the "Start Watching" button on the website is disabled.

A ton of users are having this problem, and DirecTV is getting killed for it on this forum.


If you're going to launch a new product, and it's going to be a major focal point of your ad campaign, and it's going to be purchased primarily by tech-savvy early adopters...you have to make sure the freaking thing works!

Obviously, that's obvious. And I'm sure someone has been fired, disciplined, or buried in the desert for it. But that type of thing just pushes me further away from considering the technology.

And that's kind of a shame. Because I had seriously been considering buying a PS3, and getting our own Wi-fi network, just to pay DirecTV over $300 for NFL Sunday Ticket.

But I'm happy with Red Zone, and while my wife isn't happy with football in general, she'll at least be glad to hear I won't be able to watch it on my phone.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Top 50 Documentaries List

I'm a big fan of documentaries, so when I saw an article with a new list of '50 Documentaries to See Before You Die,' I was intrigued. How many of them have I seen, and how many of them would I have to run out and rent before a wayward asteroid obliterates us?

I included the list below, and was disappointed at the relatively small number I'd seen.

Link to Show

50. Spellbound (2002)
49. Truth or Dare (1991)
48. The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)
47. One Day in September (1999)
46. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998)
45. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)
44. Burma VJ (2008)
43. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
42. Catfish (2010)
41. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
40. When We Were Kings (1996)
39. Biggie & Tupac (2002)
38. March of the Penguins (2005)
37. Inside Job (2010)
36. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
35. Paragraph 175 (2000)
34. Brother’s Keeper (1992)
33. Tongues Untied (1989)
32. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
31. Jesus Camp (2006)
30. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
29. Man on Wire (2008)
28. Gasland (2010)
27. Tarnation (2003)
26. Murderball (2005)
25. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
24. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)
23. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000)
22. Shut Up & Sing (2006)
21. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
20. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
19. Touching the Void (2003)
18. Food, Inc. (2008)
17. Street Fight (2005)
16. Bus 174 (2002)
15. Crumb (1994)
14. Dark Days (2000)
13. The Fog of War (2003)
12. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
11. Paris Is Burning (1991)
10. Grizzly Man (2005)
9. Trouble the Water (2008)
8. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
7. The Celluloid Closet (1995)
6. The War Room (1993)
5. Supersize Me (2004)
4. Waltz With Bashir (2008)
3. Roger & Me (1989)
2. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
1. Hoop Dreams (1994)

Now I'd only seen ~10 of these, which is kind of sad I guess. There are a couple on here that I've been dying to see, like Street Fight, but I haven't been able to. (We might have to add the newly released 'Senna' to the list, which I want to see but can't persuade my wife that a film on a dead Brazilian formula one driver would be good). But in looking at the list, I noticed a couple things that got me thinking about it and documentaries in general.

1 - Why is Best Worst Movie not on here? I mean, sure, a documentary on the lasting cultural impact of Troll 2 might not have the same emotional heft as climate change, the plight of the modern worker, or some of the other topics covered in the listed documentaries, but still.

2 - Did they not make documentary films in the 1980's? Or the 1970's? Just about everything on this list comes from the last ten years. Does that imply that people have only recently started making good documentaries? Or is the implication that anyone who's a serious doc fan has already seen all the older stuff and thus doesn't need to go out and rent them before the reaper comes?

Let's assume it's the first one and not the second, that raises another interesting question. As technology and the ability to film/edit/produce higher quality video has become more accessible, has that led to advancement in the documentary field? More simply, is it easier to make a high-quality documentary now? Probably. You might even be able to do the whole thing on a smartphone by now.

But I also wonder if, as an audience, people are developing more of a taste for stuff that's, 'real'. Since the late 90's, which is when I believe Survivor came out and started the genre (even if MTV's Real World would've been earlier), lots of major network programming has swung towards reality shows.

I would argue that's a result of the lower production costs, but people also watch it, and both major networks and cable channels have fed the beast.

The umbrella of television's reality universe has several distinct sub-genre's...

1: Game Shows - Survivor (is that even still on?), Amazing Race, Wipeout (funniest ACL tears you'll see anywhere)

2: Slow Motion Train Wrecks (i.e., shows that allow you to feel better about yourself because everything on it is such a cluster-F of 'Who could actually be like that?' moments) - I'm assuming this would include MTV's Teen Mom, that I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant show, Hoarders, and basically everything on Bravo

3: Class Tourism - Shows that are the closest to documentaries, in that they seem more apt to put you into a world you don't know much about, and that remains the focus more so than the actual people involved. I'd put all the job porn shows in here, Ice Road Truckers and their ilk.

Now all of those aren't really documentaries, but they share a lot of similarities. There both ostensibly non-fiction (although reality shows have writers, which I can't figure out). They also have very similar camera usage, cutaways to interviews, and the occasional 'Oh Crap What Just Happened' moment.

And as people watch more of that stuff on TV, from my perspective, it stands to reason that they'd become more interested in films made in a similar style.

As usual, I have absolutely no facts or research to back this up, but if there has been a recent renaissance in documentary film-making, maybe all that TV is a part of the reason why

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Amazon Delivery System Could Lead to...More Buffalo Chicken Wraps!

I stumbled across a report today about a new project Amazon is working on, one that has pretty cool implications for my life and the lives of other yuppies everywhere.

No, it's not their new tablet (although that also sounds pretty cool)

New Delivery Lockers

As the report explains, a Seattle 7-11 store has a bank of lockers in the back. The lockers will serve as a drop-off point for Amazon purchases, and allows the customer to select a drop off location, receive a bar code via smartphone, and use it to pick up the package.

It's unclear whether they based their design for the system off a complete analysis of my life, but it seems highly likely at this point.

What this would mean is the end of package receiving as we know it for tons of city dwellers everywhere. For those of us who live in high-rise apartments, it means we finally might have somewhere else to pick up a package beyond the cramped building receiving room run by the dry cleaner downstairs (which would allow them to focus on ripping you off for your dry cleaning instead of manhandling your packages).

That's been one of my biggest hesitations around ordering from Amazon for certain items, the fact that it comes to my dry cleaner downstairs. A dry cleaner who closes at 6 (i.e., before people with jobs get home), and isn't open on Sundays. This would free up a good 20 minutes of my Saturday morning when I ask the dry cleaning lady for our packages and then she stumbles around trying to find where they might be.

The idea that I can just walk a block over to my 7-11 and pick up the packages on my own terms. Xanadu!

Of course, the idea is not without its questions.

Is there going to be a time limit for picking up your packages? I'm a self-entitled elitist liberal, which means I order a lot of books but I want them on my terms!

Also a concern, is whether a bunch of package lockers that hold Amazon goods would attract people who would love to crack me over the head and take the contents of my locker. To them, it could be anything and could be super expensive (even if it's just a used copy of Tina Fey's Bossypants.

And couldn't people use this service for evil? I don't know Amazon's shipping policy or security all that well, but I feel like that merits looking into, just to ensure I don't go over to the 7-11 and pick up my books right next to some enriched uranium.

Lastly, and this might just be me, but building Amazon lockers in 7-11 stores would dramatically increase my exposure to 7-11. Normally not a bad thing, but I have a habit of buying their Buffalo Chicken Wraps for meals when I don't want to make anything or walk across the street to Jimmy John's. And for whatever reason, buying them drives my wife absolutely crazy (not that she has to eat them, just that I'm willing to). It gets her unusually upset.

Maybe if I buy her gifts from Amazon, she'll be OK with it

Friday, September 2, 2011

Football Auction

God, another dollar. And then another. Then a few more. It was so much, was it worth it? My wallet was emptying faster and faster. But I couldn't just stand there.

I needed a freaking running back!

My fantasy football league switched to an auction style format last year. After trying it, I've become convinced it is absolutely the only way to go. Now that most of the readers have realized this is about fantasy football, I'm sure most have already X'ed out their browser (particularly the wife), but I still care a lot about it (much to her dismay). But doing an auction draft is just so much fun, maybe it requires a bit of an explanation.

In fantasy football, you build a team of NFL players who, based on their play each week, earn you points. Things like touchdowns are really good and earn a bunch of points. Other things like fumbles are bad, they can lose you points. Each week you face off against a different opponent from your league, one-on-one, and try to set the best lineup to get more points than your opponent (which can make for good trash talking).

The draft is how you build your roster, and in an auction format, you're awarded a certain budget to start with, and as each player gets nominated by someone in the league, you have the freedom to bid however much you'd like to have them on your team. It opens up a whole new world for fantasy football players who are used to randomly ordered drafts, where you just take turns selecting, in that you are now free to pursue all kinds of strategies and aren't limited by your draft slot.

Want to build around a franchise quarterback? Or two stud wide receivers? Or maybe a great kicker? (Hint: Don't try that last one) But that's the idea, that you have so much more flexibility in what you can do and how you can build your team. (As an aside, our league also adds some more complexity by adding 'keepers', players you can keep on your team from last year's roster for a certain raise over the price you paid last year. Again, it opens more strategic options)

Only one thing annoyed me about last year's draft, and all fantasy football drafts, was that I couldn't remember exactly how I approached it. I know how I felt about some players, and why I tried to acquire others, but the memory was a little hazy and probably falls victim to revisionist history (e.g., of course I didn't pick that guy who ended up sucking, I knew he would be terrible) Well, I don't want that this time. So I thought it would be helpful to quickly blog up some notes on how the draft went. Not for you guys, who almost assuredly won't care, but for me. If nothing else, it'll keep me honest and I can't pretend like I knew Felix Jones was going to rush for 2000 yards.

Below I've listed out the draft picks in the order they were selected, complete with the price someone ended up paying for them. I've also included my recollections, and also bolded the players which I took.

A couple of notes. You'll notice some major players aren't listed here (Tom Brady for example). That's because of those keepers that I mentioned. In my case, I kept Michael Vick ($5), Mike Wallace ($23), and Mike Williams ($5), so I already had a quarterback and two wide receivers. Also, our league is slightly different from most in that we are what's called a PPR league. PPR refers to point-per-reception, which means that each catch by a running back or receiver is worth a fantasy point, whereas in many leagues they are worth nothing. Just mentioning because it skews the pricing on some of those players (those with lots of catches are more valuable obviously).

What I mean by all this is, don't call me totally crazy.

Pick Player Cost

1 Rashard Mendenhall (Pit - RB) $38 - The first person up for auction is an interesting case, as no relative prices have been set. There's a school of thought that you should definitely try to buy a big name guy if available early in the draft, because bidders might be skittish about paying a lot. That may be what happened here for Mendenhall, who's not typically thought of as a top 5 guy but had a good year last year. I don't like him because a) he's a Steeler, b) he had a ton of carries last year and may have a greater likelihood of getting hurt, and c) I don't think he gets a lot of receptions (which is a big theme for me). So I passed entirely.

2 Adrian Peterson (Min - RB) $52 - AP is a well known fantasy stud. He's been very consistent, always rushing for a ton of yards. But again, not a big receiving threat, so I didn't really want to jump this early. The guy I really wanted was Ray Rice, who hadn't been put up yet. Rice always catches a lot of passes, and will also rush for a bunch of yards on a decent team. Let's cut to the chase, I had a Rice crush.

3 Chris Johnson (Ten - RB) $47 - Big play threat, but was holding out this year (and then agreed to a contract after we were done). Again, I know he's a great RB, but I wanted more of a pass catching threat.

4 Drew Brees (NO - QB) $32 - Now a player I was finally happy to see. While I coveted Rice, I also wanted everyone else to spend as much as possible to leave me in a position to outbid others for him. To me, the key to that was nominating players at positions I already had. Brees was a textbook case of that, given I already had Vick. I was thrilled to see him out there with other people bidding on him.

5 Calvin Johnson (Det - WR) $39 - Another non-running back at a position I already had two players! This was actually my nomination, and I threw him out because I knew we didn't have a lot of available WRs in our league. I was thrilled to see the bidding get to $39, thinking that Rice would be the next RB available and I would be in a good position to grab him (long story short, I had one of the highest budgets because of my cheap keepers)

6 Maurice Jones-Drew (Jac - RB) $32 - A bit of a surprise to see him nominated, as he's lower on the rankings. He's a guy I desperately wanted last year and wasn't able to get (hint: he catches a lot of passes). But there are concerns about his health, and the Jaguars aren't particularly good, so I didn't really want to grab him, and again, I was waiting on Rice.

7 Jason Witten (Dal - TE) $19 - A great tight end, but man, I wasn't sure I wanted to spend a lot of money on a tight end when I could get one really cheaply much later in the draft. But damn, I think he's going to have a pretty good year. He's also a Cowboy though, and owning him in previous years was never fun to see him against the Eagles.

8 Ray Rice (Bal - RB) $71 - The guy I was waiting and saving for, and I couldn't bring myself to get him. That's not a misprint. He went for over $70, and by the way, our standard budget is $200. The bidding got really crazy, and while I gained infamy in our league for paying around that much for him last year, I couldn't bring myself to do it again. He had been the centerpiece of my strategy, but apparently he got around. I still think he'll have a great year, just sadly, not for me.

9 Nate Kaeding (SD - K) $2 - Yeah, a kicker. Actually not a bad strategy to nominate one and try and buy them for a dollar. If someone else bids, they spend more of their budget and you'll just get another one. But you have to endure the complaints from the other guys for nominating one. So I usually pass.

10 Antonio Gates (SD - TE) $36 - Again, a stud TE, but wow. Too rich for my blood.

11 Michael Turner (Atl - RB) $41 - I don't know what it is about him, but I've always hated this guy for my fantasy team. Never wanted to ever get close, and wasn't about to start.

12 Shonn Greene (NYJ - RB) $27 - $27 may be a pretty good deal for this guy, but I wanted a pass catcher and I was sick of waiting

13 Steven Jackson (StL - RB) $38 - Finally, my first purchase. My strategy going in had been to spend a bunch on two stud running backs, because I was pretty set on QB and WR. Then of course, I waited for Rice and wasn't able to get him. So I quickly needed to get myself some talent at running back. I wanted a pass catching running back, and Steven Jackson does that. Plus, everyone's expecting big things from the Rams this year, and I guess I'm no different. For the same price as Mendenhall, a guy I don't like as much, I was able to get a guy who I'm now trusting to carry me. Hope I don't regret not buying Rice.

14 Peyton Manning (Ind - QB) $19 - Another QB, good news for me. Of course, this doesn't begin to describe the panic that set in when I bid on Manning and the auction clock got to two seconds before someone else bid. I was trying to push the price up, and almost got cracked with an expensive backup QB (although, it wouldn't have been the worst thing for me with a guaranteed injury victim like Vick).

15 Matt Forte (Chi - RB) $44 - My second acquisition. Another ride on the Matt Forte Pain Train. I just can't help it, he's too tempting a pass catcher to let go. I ended up in a bidding war with another guy over him, I'm guessing he thought along the same lines as I did. But as someone who had Forte last year, I should've been able to convince him that it's not worth it. The guy has so much potential, but last year the combination of his terrible offensive line and Chester Taylor (scourge of 3rd down carries), got me perpetually upset at every Bears game (could've been worse, I could've been a Bears fan). But, I can't resist, even if it cost me more than Steven Jackson. He could catch 60-80 passes this year. Once I got into the game, things stabilized a little bit. In a reflection of that, my notes will now be a little more concise.

16 DeSean Jackson (Phi - WR) $26 - Love him as a player, would hate to own him in fantasy. The guy weighs less than I do.

17 Frank Gore (SF - RB) $37 - Miffed to see the next running back go for less than Matt Forte, but what could I say, free markets.

18 Miles Austin (Dal - WR) $31 - Another big time WR I was happy to see go for more than $30. Again, don't like those Cowboys

19 Wes Welker (NE - WR) $29 - I bid a fair amount of Wes Welker, who I used to love as a Miami Dolphin, then hated once he joined the showboating Patriots train of jackwagons. But he's really really good in our type of league. I tried to get him, but as the price rose, I really thought about some of the other wideouts still available and concluded I could manage without Wes. Probably for the best, I'd hate to have to root for Tom Brady.

20 Green Bay (GB - DEF) $5 - Defenses for more than a dollar? Questionable.

21 Pittsburgh (Pit - DEF) $5

22 DeAngelo Williams (Car - RB) $15 - A low-rent running back option, a guy who splits time and has gotten hurt. No thanks.

23 Brandon Marshall (Mia - WR) $21 - I had Marshall a couple years ago. At the time he could've carried my team for weeks as a time with a ton of catches and big plays. I tried to get in for him, but the fact that he's a little crazy made me think twice.

24 Matt Ryan (Atl - QB) $13 - Overrated, perpetually.

25 Felix Jones (Dal - RB) $23 - Cowboy. Sorry.

26 Mark Ingram (NO - RB) $14 - As someone who tried out Reggie Bush, and looked at Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, I can't in good conscious support a New Orleans running back. I feel like Sean Payton just lives to screw over fantasy players across the country.

27 Greg Jennings (GB - WR) $35 - I actually had Jennings last year, and he was fantastic. My price to keep him this year would've actually been $34. I tried to buy him back for less, but I don't think he's going to repeat his performance given that Jermichael Finley is back and healthy. Again, a pass.

28 Ryan Grant (GB - RB) $14 - Was injured pretty bad, pass.

29 Neil Rackers (Hou - K) $2

30 Jermichael Finley (GB - TE) $24 - I think he might have a fantastic year, but I decided money would be better spent elsewhere. Man, I really hope my TE selections pay off.

31 Kenny Britt (Ten - WR) $13 - This guy got arrested three times this off-season. We run a clean ball club here...well, except for Vick obviously

32 Matt Schaub (Hou - QB) $13 - This is one of my bigger regrets of the draft. I thought Schaub would be a great pick as a back-up, and someone I could spend a little more on. I was bidding him up, and just didn't keep going. I kind of wish I had.

33 Jahvid Best (Det - RB) $23 - Maybe another one of my regrets. I think Best has sick talent, and he catches a ton of passes. I was tempted a lot (obviously, enough to buy the guy). But this guy wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and gets dinged up. He stays healthy, this might be my best pick of the year. He doesn't? It's 23 flushed away.

34 Mario Manningham (NYG - WR) $22 - I think he'll have a great year. Wanted him pretty badly, but at the time I thought there were still a couple other guys I could grab for less. In hindsight, I think he'll have a better year than the guys I ended up with.

35 Mike Tolbert (SD - RB) $13 36 Ryan Mathews (SD - RB) $13 - Two San Diego running backs, both splitting time, which I really hate a lot. I have enough frustration in my life with this stuff.

37 Julio Jones (Atl - WR) $12 - Didn't want to trust a rookie WR.

38 Knowshon Moreno (Den - RB) $14 - Moderate risk, potentially high reward. I had him last year off waivers and still like him a lot. You guessed it, he catches passes. My hesitation with him was twofold, one was Tim Tebow, who I didn't think would throw to him a lot. Two was his injury history. But Tebow, despite his direct line to Jesus, isn't starting for the Broncos. Kyle Orton is, and Orton will throw him the ball. Not a bad chance for my fourth running back in my view.

39 Anquan Boldin (Bal - WR) $15

40 Vernon Davis (SF - TE) $18

41 Marques Colston (NO - WR) $12

42 Philadelphia (Phi - DEF) $5 - They should get a bunch more sacks this year, but again, not $5 for a defense

43 Jeremy Maclin (Phi - WR) $18 - Maclin was a flat out great fantasy player last year (and a great real player, and from all reports, a great person). Had a lymphoma scare in the off-season and lost 15 pounds. I don't know about you, but to me that always screams BUY. I didn't buy him for the first couple weeks, but if he can regain form by mid-season, that'll help me out for the playoffs.

44 Eli Manning (NYG - QB) $8 - Another good backup option, I thought long and hard about him but didn't think he was as good as Schaub. I also saw Stafford, Bradford, and Freeman available, and while I need a decent backup QB, I thought one of those guys could be fine.

45 Tim Hightower (Was - RB) $22 - One of my favorite sleeper picks. I really wanted to be able to buy him, I just had four running backs already.

46 BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE - RB) $12

47 Stevie Johnson (Buf - WR) $17 - Someone has to be good on Buffalo right? And Ryan Fitzpatrick as a QB is underrated. Now we're really going to get brief...even though this is the area of the draft where you make real winners (Because anyone you get here, you'll be able to keep easily for next year).

48 C.J. Spiller (Buf - RB) $5

49 Joseph Addai (Ind - RB) $10 - I drafted this guy in the first round maybe 4 years ago, and like him a lot this year, but it's funny how quickly you plummet as a RB in the NFL

50 Owen Daniels (Hou - TE) $10

51 Sidney Rice (Sea - WR) $6 - Tavaris Jackson? Ha!

52 Santonio Holmes (NYJ - WR) $22 - He was the last big WR I would've targeted, but thought Maclin and Johnson were better than him by himself

53 Chris Cooley (Was - TE) $3 - I was the guy who bid $2. But I don't love the Washington QB situation

54 Beanie Wells (Ari - RB) $13 - No way.

55 Chad Ochocinco (NE - WR) $9 - My wife's favorite player, but that wasn't enough for me.

56 Santana Moss (Was - WR) $16

57 New York (NYJ - DEF) $6

58 Kellen Winslow (TB - TE) $6

59 Mason Crosby (GB - K) $2

60 Stephen Gostkowski (NE - K) $3

61 Danny Amendola (StL - WR) $5 - The world loves a white wide receiver! I should've bought this guy. For $5, man, that was dumb. I was just worried about other new WRs taking his catches

62 Reggie Bush (Mia - RB) $8

63 Chicago (Chi - DEF) $1

64 Plaxico Burress (NYJ - WR) $8

65 Cedric Benson (Cin - RB) $10

66 Michael Bush (Oak - RB) $6

67 Baltimore (Bal - DEF) $2

68 Mike Thomas (Jac - WR) $5

69 Sam Bradford (StL - QB) $7 - The start of my backup backup QB list. I would've liked to get him, but I think I was saving money for a TE. Not sure exactly why. Bradford should have a good year.

70 Jimmy Graham (NO - TE) $3

71 Marshawn Lynch (Sea - RB) $11

72 Matthew Stafford (Det - QB) $9 - The second of the three QBs. I was in the bidding but dropped when I remembered that he pretty much always gets hurt. I decided to throw my lot in with Josh Freeman (this may be a dumb choice)

73 Sebastian Janikowski (Oak - K) $1

74 New York (NYG - DEF) $3

75 Matt Bryant (Atl - K) $1

76 Fred Jackson (Buf - RB) $5

77 New Orleans (NO - DEF) $1

78 Joe Flacco (Bal - QB) $4

79 Josh Brown (StL - K) $1

80 Rob Bironas (Ten - K) $1

81 San Diego (SD - DEF) $1

82 Brandon Jacobs (NYG - RB) $8

83 Jay Cutler (Chi - QB) $4 - Wow, why didn't I buy Jay Cutler? $4, that was pretty cheap. I think I remember him getting the benefit of lots of dropped interceptions, so maybe that's what was going on.

84 Mark Sanchez (NYJ - QB) $1

85 Detroit (Det - DEF) $1

86 Ben Tate (Hou - RB) $4 - Oh, if Arian Foster gets hurt, this will be a really smart pick. I bid on the guy, but wanted to make sure I could still afford Josh Freeman.

87 Jonathan Stewart (Car - RB) $5

88 Braylon Edwards (SF - WR) $3

89 Davone Bess (Mia - WR) $5

90 Mike Sims-Walker (StL - WR) $4

91 Lance Moore (NO - WR) $3

92 James Starks (GB - RB) $1

93 Malcom Floyd (SD - WR) $1

94 Tony Gonzalez (Atl - TE) $3 - I almost bought Tony G, and was debating bidding an extra dollar, but couldn't rationalize the fact that his projections are so much worse than other top guys

95 Zach Miller (Sea - TE) $3 - So I spent the same amount on a guy who'll be catching his passes from Tavaris Jackson? But this guy simply owned when he was with the Raiders a couple years ago, and got hurt a bunch last year. A bounce back would be big from him.

96 Kevin Kolb (Ari - QB) $3

97 Daniel Thomas (Mia - RB) $12

98 Thomas Jones (KC - RB) $3

99 Josh Freeman (TB - QB) $10 - Here's where I blew the rest of my cash. At this point I was basically backed into a corner. I needed a decent second QB, and while he won't have as good a year as he had last year (more INTs, definitely), he was the last guy before Donovan McNabb that I'd take.

100 Nate Burleson (Det - WR) $2

101 A.J. Green (Cin - WR) $6

102 Lee Evans (Bal - WR) $3

103 Marcedes Lewis (Jac - TE) $3

104 Darren Sproles (NO - RB) $4

105 Alex Henery (Phi - K) $3

106 Pierre Garcon (Ind - WR) $3

107 Steve Smith (Car - WR) $2

108 Kyle Orton (Den - QB) $2

109 Pierre Thomas (NO - RB) $7

110 Antonio Brown (Pit - WR) $5 - Saw him in a pre-season game and he tore it up, so what the heck. He's also good Mike Wallace insurance.

111 Atlanta (Atl - DEF) $9

112 Ronnie Brown (Phi - RB) $1

113 Garrett Hartley (NO - K) $1

114 Jordy Nelson (GB - WR) $3 - I had nominated this guy, and had really kind of wanted him, but I didn't have enough money to outbid the last guy with a lot more cash than me. The same thing happened with Crabtree a couple picks down

115 Matt Cassel (KC - QB) $1

116 Jacoby Ford (Oak - WR) $1

117 Michael Crabtree (SF - WR) $3 - Bid $2, wasn't enough.

118 Jacob Tamme (Ind - TE) $1

119 Emmanuel Sanders (Pit - WR) $1

120 Brandon Pettigrew (Det - TE) $2 So I spent it here, I couldn't figure out what other wideouts to nominate, so I figured even though I normally hate having two TEs, if the Lions do turn into the 1999 Rams, he'll be a good guy to have.

121 Montario Hardesty (Cle - RB) $1

122 LaDainian Tomlinson (NYJ - RB) $1 - Wow, not too long ago a consensus #1 overall pick. Yikes.

123 Robert Meachem (NO - WR) $1

So that was it in a nutshell. I think my team should be pretty good, but I have a lot of health concerns. Vick, Best, Miller, Maclin. That's probably a lot of risk, but I do have faith that if healthy, it should be a decent year.