By Brian Cullen

Ah, fantasy football — the equivalent of Settlers of Catan for jocks. Every year, grown men and women get together and compete with their friends in an organized game of make-believe, all for the pursuit of glory of a fake trophy that everyone forgets about the following year. Case in point, I just looked up my 2012 stats. I won the championship! WITH A RECORD OF 13-1! I almost swept the season and I completely forgot! Still, I’ll be back this year because I’ve got an addictive personality and I like the imaginary feeling of having control over Jay Cutler’s life.

The question, of course, is how you should tailgate for your Fantasy Draft? Well, there are really two ways: you’re either doing it remotely via internet, or you’re having a good ol’ get together. But I think the storyline is less about how you should tailgate, so much as what you should bring. After all, Fantasy Football is all about your draft strategy. And how you play the game says a lot about your personality. So today, we’re going to recommend your tailgating dish based on your first Fantasy Football pick. Here we go:

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Buffalo Wings

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

If You Draft… A Running Back

You’re either extremely conservative or extremely lucky. Several real-life teams are opting for running backs by committee, third down backs, etc. This means that the old golden rule of “always draft a running back first” doesn’t necessarily apply anymore. Of course, there are exceptions (see: Peterson, Adrian), but if your automatic go-to is a running back? You may be operating out of a silver-era playbook, friend.

Your Recommended Dish: Buffalo wings. Tried and true, and as reliable as mom’s apple pie.

The Downside: Everyone knows what to expect. With the wings come ranch or blue cheese, carrots and celery. You’re not introducing anybody to anything new here.

The Upside: There’s a reason fantasy running backs and buffalo wings have been en vogue for years. They might not be new and fancy, but they work. Have you ever seen a leftover wing at a tailgate? Me neither.


Photo Credit: Thinkstock

If You Draft… A Quarterback

You’re starting to get wise to the new league. It’s no secret that the NFL is a quarterback’s league now, probably more so than it ever was. The number of records set in the past few years is staggering. Drew Brees regularly surpasses 5,000 yards like it’s a stroll in the park… Tom Brady’s 2007… heck, even Matthew Stafford appears twice in the top 10 list of all-time passing yards in a season. The league is getting more pass-happy. And if you’ve taken note and adjusted your draft strategy accordingly, that shows that you’re the type of person that pays attention to change.

Your Recommended Dish: Sliders. Sliders have peaked in popularity lately. Although I don’t know why, I suspect it’s because society somehow thinks that tiny foods are fancier. Note that they’re not a NEW phenomenon, just a RECENT one, just like Fantasy QBs. Plus, sliders lend themselves to creativity, meaning you could go for a standard slider (which is akin to a pocket passer) or something with, I don’t know, bacon, blue cheese and avocado (which would be like a scrambling quarterback).

(Note that I almost said “mahi tuna” instead of bacon and blue cheese, but that felt a little too “California” to me.)

The Downside: Unless you get there nice and early, all the best ones are picked over, or worse — completely gone.

The Upside: Those first few are so, so good.

Chips and dip

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

If You Draft… A Wide Receiver

You’d better know what you’re doing. Either that, or you’d better be the 11th pick with Megatron sitting there waiting for you. Wide receivers can yield amazing results for your Fantasy team, but drafting one first is a crapshoot at best. Don’t forget, for them to get their hands on the ball, it probably has to be a pass play, and they have to be selected out of the 2-5 people also vying for the ball. So the odds aren’t stacked well. Of course, you’ll need receivers, and plenty of them. And many of them are quite good. I’m just saying, be stingy with your first pick.

Your Recommended Dish: Chips and dip.

The Downside: Nobody’s going to be like — “Holy crap, Carl! Did you try Craig’s chips and dip!? I’m not sure how he dry aged those Ruffles, but they’re blowing my mind!” In other words, they’re reliable, but boring.

The Upside: Once all the sliders and buffalo wings are gone, you’ll have already feasted on all the non-broken chips and gotten the best scoops of dip. Those suckers will be left scraping with crumbs.

Check out the top players around the NFL.

Barbecue pork on grill with smoke

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If You Draft… A Tight End

You’re gambling on the future. Not necessarily in a bad way. It’s no secret that Jimmy Graham, Rob Grownkowski and Aaron Hernandez Prisoner #87452 have revolutionized the tight end position. But don’t forget that this road was paved by the Antonio Gateses and the Tony Gonzalezes of the world. It’s just that we’re seeing more explosive numbers now than ever. The thing is, drafting a tight end is an “all or nothing” play. Yes, you could be getting 17 touchdowns in a season. But, that same tight end could shatter like glass at crucial moments during the season (grumble grumble). Even worse, your other stud tight end could end up being accused of a very serious crime, leaving the tight end prospects of your favorite team in the hands of TIM FREAKING TE-

Sorry. I got off track. Anyway, lots of risk. Lots of reward. Choose carefully.

Your Recommended Dish: Homemade barbeque

The Downside: Crappy homemade barbeque is, at best, mediocre. And you’ve just wasted all that time “perfecting” it for nothing.

The Upside: Good homemade barbeque makes you look like a genius, a hero and the smartest guy in the room. It’s a hard trick, but if you pull it off, you are legend.


Photo Credit: Thinkstock

If You Draft… A Defense

As a first round pick, a defense might be ill-advised. But, if you’re lucky, you can land an amazing pick that not only stifles your opponents’ ability to score, but creates chances for you to score on your own. In general, defenses are big, bold, stalwart, hearty and oftentimes, statistically unnoticed, albeit necessary.

Your Recommended Dish: There can be only one selection: nachos. The best nachos are life-altering experiences. The worst are… fine. But, much like a defense, a tailgate without nachos feels like an incomplete experience.

The Downside: It’s hard to differentiate yourself as a nacho contender. The standard list of ingredients is so reliable that you’d need an amazing innovation to stand out from the rest (like… the nacho equivalent of Ed Reed. Probably bacon.)

The Upside: Everyone loves nachos. Everyone needs defense. They’re a natural pair.


Photo Credit: Thinkstock

If You Draft… A Kicker

You’re a big picture guy. The type of guy who noticed that the top 10 all time points scorers in league history are all kickers. Hey, you’re not here to argue semantics. The facts are all there right on paper.

You’re also an idiot.

Your Recommended Dish: Tofu? I don’t know. Or a cactus? Does it matter? You’re probably in the wrong room anyway.

The Downside: You’ve just wasted your evening and you’ll be stuck with leftovers.

The Upside: There’s no upside.

So there you have it. We hope we’ve educated you on some sound draft day feasting strategies. Remember to stay hydrated, and good luck this season.

Check out Brian’s Tailgating Top 10s.

Stop in at the Man Cave Daily, where the women are hot and the beer is cold.

Follow Brian and all his tailgating tips @bucketcullen.

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