Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's In a Name

Every August, we spend absurd amounts of time preparing for our fantasy drafts. Sure, there's money riding on it, but not nearly as much money as the jobs we're neglecting. We read and re-read '32 Questions', check injury reports, and do endless, pointless mock drafts. Finally, we get to the point we feel like we're ready, put down our pencils, and triumphantly sign our teams up for our leagues, where we're first prompted to type in our team name.

Uh oh.

The Team Name. The ultimate measure of creativity. In some ways just as important as the team we draft, because like the players we ultimately pick, everyone's judging. Creativity can be scary and daunting, and this is coming from someone who does it for a living. Why think about a team name ahead of time and give ourselves something else to stress about? We'll just figure out a name when the time comes.

I did some research on the topic -- both on the internet, and past leagues I've been in on Yahoo! -- where I found quite a few recurring types of names that consistently succeed.

So if you're stuck staring at a Team Name prompt and a blinking cursor, here are some options to get you started.

The 'Play on Words Based on an NFL Player's Name' Name
EXAMPLES: Skittles Taste Dwayne Bowe, Texas Chainsaw Massaquoi, Vick in a Box
So much potential here. NFL players tend to have great names, and also seem to do stupid things on a daily basis. This well never dries up.

The 'Play On Words Based On Your Own Name' Name
EXAMPLES: The Jack Attack, Cleveland Stephens
You're restricted to your own name, and your non-headline-making life. But it still works, and it's often funny. And the bonus is that everyone immediately knows it's your team, avoiding any potential confusion.

The 'Making Fun of Someone Else in the League' Name
EXAMPLES: Chet's Gay, McGee Pees Sitting Down
Another tried-and-true technique, but to my point above, beware of confusion. "Chet's Gay" might be you, but people's brains will always go to Chet. And Chet may be a lot less willing to do in-season trades with you, putting you at a competitive disadvantage.

The 'Over the Top Vulgar' Name
EXAMPLES: (Not included, this is a family blog)
Quite popular in my league. If you're planning to go this route, make sure you have an understanding girlfriend, because she WILL find out at some point, whether she means to or not.

Inside Jokes
EXAMPLES: (I could put some, but you wouldn't get it)
My favorite example of this: My little brother and his friend Chris (who were ten years old at the time) were asking me about Alcatraz for a book report. I explained that it used to be a prison, but now it's defunct. They had no idea what defunct meant, so I explained that too. Things quickly got boring, so we started talking about something else. A month later, Robby told me Chris' team name: "The Defunct Alcatrazes". Don't even try and tell me that's not funny.

The 'I'm Not Creative so I'm Not Even Gonna Try' Name
EXAMPLES: The Punishers, Jeff
I actually have heart for this strategy, and in a weird way, I end up finding these names funny. These people know who they are, and they're not ashamed of it. No complaints here.

The 'Name You Used Last Year' Name
EXAMPLES: (depends)
A monster cop-out, and I'm ashamed to say I've been guilty of it. It's tempting if your team has a good year (or a good name) to want to keep it. But trust me, it loses its luster. Anything different, no matter how bad, is better than the status quo.

In closing, there's probably nothing you can think of that hasn't been thought of already, so don't beat yourself up over it. I think the most important thing is to write something you'll enjoy saying all year. If you set the bar too high, you're just gonna drive yourself nuts. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a fantasy team name to think of.

FVG Picks are Back!

Utah (-3) vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday, 8:30 ET). No better way to start off the year than betting against Dave Wannstedt.

USC (-21) @ Hawaii (Thursday, 11:00 ET). USC had a rough offseason, to put it lightly. Trojans take it out on the Rainbows in a big way.

UConn (+3) @ Michigan (Saturday, 3:30 ET). Ridiculous. How much does one team have to overachieve and the other underachieve before spreads start reflecting it?

Boise State (PK) vs. Virginia Tech (in Landover, MD, Monday, 8:00 ET). Why do they always play these "neutral site" games 5 miles from one team and 3,000 miles from the other? It makes no sense. Anyway, I still like Boise. V-Tech's rebuilding on defense, and this isn't a good place to start.