January 5th, 2010

WCOFF Co-Winner Turned to Fantasy When NFL Left Town

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

When the Browns abandoned him and other Clevelanders after the 1995 season, Jason Conn would have been justified in turning away from the NFL. Instead, he turned down a path that has led to a share of $300,000.

“I have been doing fantasy football since 1997,” Conn told FSB.com. “The Browns had left town and I needed a reason to watch football. I was introduced to fantasy football by some co-workers and have been hooked ever since.”

When the World Championship of Fantasy Football debuted in 2002, Conn said, he tried to get one of those co-workers, Ed Oszterling, to split the cost of a team with him and enter the tournament. Oszterling resisted the first two attempts, but in 2004, the two combined league winnings and started making Vegas plans.

“Ed and I met in the Super Bowl of our local work FF league,” Conn said. “Even though I won, I agreed to combine the first-place money with his second-place prize money and put it toward the WCOFF. In 2006, we had two teams with four people contributing financially, and then this past year we had 10 people buying into four teams.”

Thanks to the diligence and some hefty help from Titans running back Chris Johnson, Conn and Oszterling claimed the 2009 WCOFF grand prize.

Conn pointed out that Johnson wound up a necessity for any team with title hopes, as four of the top five WCOFF finishers owned the 2,000-yard rusher. The bit of luck that helped the championship team get Johnson certainly didn’t hurt, along with the group’s usual patient approach.

“We always go into the drafts with the mindset of getting value no matter what the round, not reaching for players and letting the draft come to us,” Conn said. ”By Tennessee playing on the Thursday night prior to the draft, C.J. fell to us in the second round after he posted under 8 points. Had the draft happened before the first game, we would not have been able to grab both Andre Johnson and Chris Johnson.”

Conn credited another co-owner, Craig Gillete, with pointing the team toward the ultimately strong value of Jets running back Thomas Jones in Round 6 and said that Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles — an 11th-round selection — was another key piece.

The team hung around the top 50 through most of the season before averaging 180 points in the three-week league playoff stretch to open the overall playoffs in the top spot. Although Conn’s group had to sweat it out from there, Tony Romo’s solid performance at Washington on Sunday night in Week 16 finally iced the championship.

The money will be split 10 ways, but Conn says he’s looking forward to putting his share toward big home projects that might have looked a bit too expensive in the past. Of course, there’s more to the prize than just what it gets spent on.

“More importantly, this win allow me to particpate in fantasy football for life without hearing any complaints from the wife about me watching the games on TV while simultaneously looking at stats on the computer all day on Sundays,” Conn said.

He said the group will certainly return to the WCOFF event next year and might even add a fifth team.

As for his NFL squad, the franchise that ran off to Baltimore more than a decade ago and then started anew? Conn apparently didn’t take the move too hard. He remains a Cleveland Browns season-ticket holder.