Fantasy truly better than reality

This story has been corrected. Read below

If you had a flat-tire season in fantasy football, you're not going to want to hear this.

Nathan Harrington of Salem, Mass., finished No. 1 among prize-eligible fantasy football leagues this season on ESPN.com, and he didn't even have a computer.

Harrington had to move out of his apartment in October, leaving him to manage his teams from borrowed computers at the local library, old folks' homes and the kindness of strangers. Didn't matter. His Boston Beatdowns averaged 114.2 points per week to top the nation.

Even Harrington, 33, has no idea how he did it.

After all, in this one season, he underwent back surgery, was on medical leave from his marketing job and was evicted from his apartment building because it was condemned. "I must've killed 100 rats last winter," he said. "It just got worse this winter."

He, his fiancée and his 3-year-old son moved into a cheap motel in October. His desktop computer had to be put in storage, so he had to manage his team by begging time off friends, hotel desk clerks and Internet cafés, all while his back howled at him.

All that constant stopping at friends' houses, libraries and his mom's house drove his fiancée mad. "She thought I was the Antichrist. She kept saying, 'It's just fantasy football!' And I kept saying, 'Honey, you don't understand!'"

"I got [wide receiver] Brandon Lloyd at my dad's nursing home," he said of the Denver Bronco who led all receivers in fantasy points this season. "I was going to pick up Michael Vick before anybody else in my league, but I couldn't get online."

All that constant stopping at friends' houses, libraries and his mom's house drove his fiancée mad. "She thought I was the Antichrist. She kept saying, 'It's just fantasy football!' And I kept saying, 'Honey, you don't understand!'"

Sound familiar?

For being the champ, Harrington won a $3,500 Best Buy gift card, which is about the last thing he needs right now. What he needs is first-month and last-month rent to get out of the roach-infested motel he's living in and into an apartment. So his mom will give him cash for the gift card, which means he and his family hope to move into a real apartment again by the end of the week.

"I'm selling it to her for $2,500," he said. "After all, she's my ma."

The 6-foot-4, 330-pound Harrington exceeded beyond your wildest expectations with multiple trades and a team that included Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Chris Johnson and Dwayne Bowe. But you won't believe what vaulted him from seventh to first place in the final week.

"Tim Tebow," he said.

Believe it or not, Harrington found himself without a healthy quarterback in the final week-- he went through six all year -- so he took a chance on Tebow, who was making only the second start of his NFL career against San Diego, the NFL's No. 1 defense. Tebow gave him 27 points with 205 yards passing, 94 rushing and 3 touchdowns.

"When I saw I ended up No. 1, I just couldn't believe it," Harrington said. "It was like a fantasy."

Yes, he really did say that.

Charles Campbell of Cordova, Ala., finished second. Third place went to Dennis March of Indianapolis. All three of them had Foster on their teams.

Here are March's top 10 tips. If you want to succeed in fantasy football next season:

  1. 1. Don't draft a kicker until the last round.

  2. 2. Don't draft a defense in the first 10 rounds.

  3. 3. Have a plan when drafting. Know whom you want to target. It doesn't always work out but will help guide what you're looking for.

  4. 4. Avoid players from your favorite team. You'll surely overpay and won't want to bench them during the regular season.

  5. 5. Don't get lazy. Always check the inactives list on Sunday morning/afternoon.

  6. 6. Always look to improve your roster. You never know when a player might be done for the season. Tony Romo owners who picked up Vick with no intention of playing him probably fared pretty well.

  7. 7. Have fun. Nobody likes the fantasy guy who lives and dies with every snap.

  8. 8. Don't put too much stock in one bad/good week. Nor in past years' performances.

  9. 9. Make your own decisions. Eyeball the stats. Anyone who listened to the experts this year was lucky to win one game.

  10. 10. Be a football fan. If you're watching just because you have a fantasy team, you need to find a real hobby.

And if you don't have a laptop, don't panic!

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A Jan. 17 story on ESPN.com incorrectly stated the number of players Nathan Harrington beat out to win a $3,500 prize in ESPN Fantasy Football. Harrington beat out the participants in the prize-eligible game only.