Our Bets is a blog about everything we bet on, so fantasy sports cannot be spared. With the 2021 NFL season about to kickoff, I think it's only right to give a shoutout to the planet's craziest fantasy football league. There are fantasy football leagues...and then there is the JUNGLE fantasy football league. I don't know if calling it a "fantasy football league on steroids" justifies what it has evolved into. 36 managers, in 3 separate leagues, all grappling for the right to hoist fantasy sport's holy grail - the Jungle Bowl. The idea of starting a fantasy football league of our own was born in the summer of 2008. We (Godfather B & I) were sick & tired of playing in recreational leagues where the majority of participants would give up around Week 6. "I have a lot of sportsbook guys that I know will play hard until the end" I explained to the Godfather. "Set it up Pisk, if we're going to keep doing this, it has to be done RIGHT!" he exclaimed. A few mouse clicks later, "Welcome to the Jungle" became the newest Yahoo fantasy football league. The first couple seasons were alright. We still had a few sleepy managers, and a couple of guys that got pissed off about trades and decided to never come back. In 2011, the unfathomable happened (see Kings of the Jungle list below) and I felt that changes needed to be made. "The league isn't competitive enough" I told the (ugghhh) newly crowned King. As I'm sure most of you can guess, I received a lion's roar of laughter in response to that statement. I wasn't being a baby though. Ok, ok, maybe I was, but I had a point. As the summer progressed, the reigning King of the Jungle & I went back & forth as if we were capo's of the NFL's competition committee. "How about a second league? Oh, and a trophy!" I suggested. If looks could kill, I'd be a goner. "So let me get this straight...One league isn't enough, AND you want to get a trophy for the season AFTER I win the title?!?!?" shouted the Calabrese King. PRECISELY!
After a few weeks, the Godfather warmed up to the idea. "Pisk, you may be onto something. We need to trim some of the fat from the Jungle. But I still don't like the trophy idea, that's an asshole move." Alright, so first order of business, a trophy! The Jungle Bowl couldn't have come out more beautiful. For all your trophy making needs, hit up Lou Silver Trophies in Markham, Ontario. They do beautiful work. Next on the agenda, the second league. How would a second league improve the overall competitiveness, you ask? One word; RELEGATION. Common amongst real-life European soccer leagues, unheard of in the realm of fantasy sports. The rule? Finish in the bottom two of the Jungle league, and the next season you're demoted to the minors, aka, the B-League. We all know how aggravating Fantasy Football can be. The under performing players, the injuries, the chirping league mates that never seem to shut the F up....Now add the humility of relegation to that mix. I don't think the Godfather's coined phrase of "Gesu F'ing Cristo" has ever been more fitting. The story doesn't end there, folks. After a few seasons of punishing/humiliating the weak, the popularity of this wild league format began to percolate. "Godfather, you're not going to like or believe this, but I think we need a THIRD league!" Cue the Gesu Cristo's. There were too many knocks at the door. Everyone wanted a shot at climbing the ladder to the big leagues for a chance to engrave their name on that beautiful trophy. We didn't have a choice, the uber demeaning C-League was born! We're now 36 managers, in 3 sperate leagues, with relegation & promotion in-play, scratching & clawing for Fantasy Football's sexiest trophy. Does anything like this exist?!
The 13th Jungle draft hits the auction block tonight. Auction format for the top league, missionary position snake draft for B & C. The rules remain the same; bottom two of each league get relegated, while the champ & runners-up (of B & C) get promoted. Has the evil tactic of relegation worked? Absolutely. Aside from the fact that some of the initially perceived "fat" has never been relegated (LOL), I would put the Jungle's level of competition on par with any other fantasy football league out there. Any future plans? There has been malicious murmurs of relegating the C-League basement bums into a tryout style CFL fantasy league, but I feel like that's a bit harsh hahaha. My mind has wandered into the sphere of adding a supplemental high-stakes Champions league every 4 years or so, but all this new Banfield Group stuff has that idea on the back burner for now. In closing, worst of luck to all my fellow managers competing for the right to be crowned the 2021 King of the Jungle. 2019 was a fluke, and Pesky Pisky is back and thirsty for revenge! (Yes, full disclosure, the guy that bets for a living was rehabilitating in the B-League last season). Also, now that I'm back, let's not forget about the official hashtag for tonight's draft: #MakeBennyPAY
Kings of the Jungle
2009 - Robert Kraft (J-Pac)
2010 - TurnMySwagOn (Gerry B)
2011 - Godfather (Beniamino M.)
2012 - Those Bastards (Brad L.)
2013 - Wheatmonkeys (Jeff G.)
2014 - Pesky Pisky (Yours truly)
2015 - Fluffy Bunny Feet (Aron B.)
2016 - ShinetheShark (Mark R.)
2017 - Godfather (Beniamino M.)
2018 - Fluffy Bunny Feet (Aron. B.)
2019 - ShinetheShark (Mark R.)
2020 - Petangoo (Adam P.)