Fantasy Killers
By:
Jason Thomas

Fantasy motocross is one of the most frustrating games I have ever participated in.

My favorite version on fantasy moto is the one stemming from the old Motoxdream website but now is known as Motocrossfantasy.com. The game consists of choosing four riders in each class as your “team”. To give incentive for choosing lesser known riders in the field, they are all assigned handicaps based on their recent success or struggle. The further back the rider is projected to finish, the higher the handicap. They are also eligible for double points if their handicap boost puts their finish into the top ten. The elite level riders are not eligible for double points and are only boosted that exact number from their handicap. 

Example: 

-Eli Tomac would be a handicap 0 since he is winning races. If he goes 1-1 at Southwick, he scores 25+25 for 50 on the day. 

-Dakota Alix is a handicap 7 but is designated as a double points rider. So, if he scores 17th or better, his handicap will boost him into the top ten and double his points total. If his scores were 17-15, he would get 10th place points times two in the first moto. So, 10th is 11 points and doubled is 22. His second moto would be 15th boosted to 8th, then doubled for a total of 26 points. His daily total would be 48, just short of Tomac’s total.

-Here’s where it gets fun and also brutally agonizing. Ronnie Stewart is a handicap 14 and double points of course. Let’s propose that he has a good day and finishes 16-19 on the day. His first moto would be 16th boosted 14 spots to 2nd place (22 pts) doubled to 44 points. His second moto was 19th place boosted 14 spots to 5th place (16 pts) then doubled for 32 points. That 16-19 day was good for 76 points! 

That is why fantasy moto is so tough. Eli Tomac is the safe pick but maxed out at 50 points. Ronnie Stewart is a huge gamble but if he has a good day, the upside is tremendous. Now imagine navigating through riders like Michael Bidus, Max Tannenbaum, Morgan Burger, Bobby Piazza, etc. There is no way to predict how they will do on a given day and the variance is massive. That unpredictability creates wild point swings and for me, mood swings. Gambling can pay big dividends but can also make for a downtrodden Saturday night when riders do poorly. 

Now that we know how the game works, let’s take a look at some of the riders who have routinely permeated my psyche and caused countless nightmares. 

*Important: Just because some of these riders tortured my fantasy team doesn’t mean they aren’t great people, great riders, better than I was, etc. This is simply referring to fantasy motocross agony. This is all in fun.

Shawn Rife:  Ohio native Shawn Rife was a brutal one for several years. His qualifying times were always really good, putting him on everyone’s radar. He would even race really well, giving everyone smiles for the first half of the moto. For whatever reason, though, Shawn had a tough time finishing motos. Whether it was bike problems or legit injuries, he was hard on fantasy teams. It got to the point that I completely swore off him no matter what the scenario. I would not pick him under any circumstances in the later years of his tenure. He became my green eggs and ham. 

Martin Davalos: Marty, Marty, Marty. One of the fastest 250 riders on earth at any given time, Martin Davalos was a mythological siren to many a fantasy team. His sweet songs of pole position would lure you into his voluptuous trap before snapping your team into tearful fragments. He has washed out his front tire while scoring max points so many times that there was a standard text that floated around main event or moto waiting for its inevitability. The last few laps were a Marty Party and he was about to do a keg stand with your fantasy team. The toughest part about Davalos was that he would pay off at times, too. It wasn’t possible to simply avoid him at all costs like some others. If you timed it right, you were rewarded. I have never watched a front tire so closely as when Martin Davalos is on my team. 

Kyle Cunningham: Oh, Kyle. I have cursed your name so loudly in my house that you would have thought we were getting a divorce. We actually might have because I definitely sworn off of you dozens of times over the course of your career. I was teammates with Kyle in 2008 so I know him and he’s such a nice guy. I also know that he likes to push the edge and is not scared to careen off that edge like Thelma and Louise. He is a rider that always thinks he can be on the podium or at the front. That leads to taking big chances when things aren’t going well and those big chances lead to my fantasy team charred at the bottom of a ravine. Similar to Marty, he will pay off now and again, though. His Thunder Valley ride (while I was in Japan) had me screaming Japanese insults at the hotel maids and I don’t even know Japanese let alone how to insult anyone in Japanese. His typical fantasy scores go something like 0-0-0-0-100-100-0-0-0-100-0. That, my friends, is fantasy moto agony. It also might be some sort of binary nuclear launch code.

The Eleven/10 Mods Hondas: Back in 2011 and 2012, Chad Sanner was building very fast Honda 250’s. His engines were the talk of the pits, grabbing holeshots and putting up big HP numbers. The problem is that those very fast 250’s didn’t last for more than 15-20 minutes. The even bigger problem is that outdoor motocross moto’s are 35 minutes long. I am no mathematician but those don’t add up to a successful afternoon. Nico Izzi, Darryn Durham, Phil Nicoletti, Alex Martin, and others all suffered the fate of 20,000 RPM. I could feel my face turn red as I watched my fantasy riders pushing their time-bomb back to the pits while the half-way flag flew. Yes, they would qualify well. Yes, they would holeshot the moto. Yes, they would run inside the top ten and be in line for 50 point motos. Yes, they would explode their engine cases like Chernobyl. Chad knew exactly how to build power but without the resources to rebuild the engine every hour, choosing one of his guys for your fantasy team was Russian roulette with a full cylinder of bullets.