Ready for fall, and fantasy football

Courtesy of Lindsay Whalen

Lindsay Whalen and husband, Ben Greve, spend weekends watching their fantasy stars rack up stats and talking a little trash.

With September here, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect a little bit on my favorite parts of fall. Not only are the WNBA playoffs coming up, but football season is just getting started. This means my free time on weekends will be filled with Minnesota Gophers football on Saturdays and the Minnesota Vikings on Sundays.

September also brings the return of one of my favorite hobbies: fantasy football. Every year, I have a couple of different teams in leagues with varying groups of family and friends, including my husband, Ben. The leagues are about having a good time and, of course, bragging rights. Fantasy football gives you a rooting interest in every game. It doesn't matter if your favorite team is playing, all you need is a player from your fantasy team to be involved and any game is suddenly important!

When you've been in the same league with a group of people for five-plus years the way I have, trash-talking is natural. Whether it's poking fun at a family friend for reaching on a Packers player in the draft or someone drafting a player who's hurt and will miss the first half of the season, trash-talking is part of the game. Ben and I try not to talk trash to each other, but when your player comes through in a game we're watching together, it's hard not to say something!

On Sunday, we held our draft in one of my leagues, and I'm pretty happy with my team. With my first couple of picks, I like to target running backs who can give consistent production week in and out. This year, I ended up with LeSean McCoy and Chris Johnson, a pair of running backs who can certainly be dominant. McCoy scored a league-best 20 touchdowns and still managed to run for more than 1,300 yards in the process. On the other hand, Johnson is coming off a down year, but he was unquestionably one of the top running backs in the NFL just two seasons ago, making him a big rebound candidate this season.

AP Photo/Tony Avelar

Lindsay Whalen is hoping Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew is the steal of her fantasy football league's draft.

Next, I turned my attention to quarterback, where the big names like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers had already been taken. I opted to go with Philip Rivers, who has thrown for more than 4,000 yards in each of the past four seasons. There's a little bit of risk with him, but he's a good bet to throw for 250-plus yards and a couple of touchdowns each week, which is all I need.

It's always tough to find dependable production at tight end, but this year I was able to pick up Brandon Pettigrew from Detroit. Pettigrew is in a perfect situation for regular fantasy production, making him the steal of the draft! He has a young quarterback in Matthew Stafford, who is coming off an excellent season, and every opponent needs to focus its attention on Megatron (Calvin Johnson) to make sure the wide receiver doesn't take over. This means Pettigrew will have some more space to work with, which can only be a positive for my fantasy team!

With my fantasy team picked and the preseason over, there's only one question left: Are you ready for some football? I know I am!