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Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Live your fantasy

By Kyle Carter
Bassmaster.com

NEW ORLEANS -- Tired of reality? I am.

Reality means getting up early, working late and paying bills.

Reality means the Cowboys went 6-10 this season and watched other teams play the Super Bowl in their spectacle of a stadium.

Reality is I'm not even 30 and am just flat bald.

OK, so maybe reality isn't too bad. I am in New Orleans covering my fifth straight Classic in a hotel two blocks from Bourbon Street, but regardless, let's leave reality for yesterday. Today, let's talk Fantasy -- in particular, Fantasy Fishing.

I'll start here: If you don't play Fantasy Fishing, why not? What's there not to enjoy? Pick an angler. In fact, pick five, and then see how hard it is to lay off the real-time leaderboard come weigh-in time.

Let me tell you this, when I'm sitting in a trailer at the launch all day Friday, eating unhealthy amounts of Chex Mix, staring at BASSTrakk and updating the blog, five anglers will be more important to me than the other 45.

I can't help it. Those five guys become my guys. It adds another layer to the overall enjoyment of the sport and if you haven't given it a shot, you should. The easy part is signing up. The hard part is which five guys to pick.

The 50 Classic anglers are broken up into five groups, and you the user get to choose one angler from each group.

Want both Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam on your team? Sorry, same group. Also in that group are Hackney and Klein. Unfortunately, experts "picks" don't really help you pick a fantasy team because a large majority of the favorites are in the same group.

This column, and the groups of picks that will follow, is for fantasy purposes only. If you're looking for reality, you've come to the wrong place.

Here is how I picked them:

Group A
Pick: Kevin VanDam -- Shocking? Not so much. If I gave you even odds on whether VanDam will make the top 10 or not in this tournament, which side of the bet would you take? You can't turn down something as sure as KVD.

Honorable mention: Greg Hackney -- It just feels right for Hackney. He's local but has flown under the radar for some reason. Good pick but not as good as KVD -- and neither is Klein.

Group B
Pick: Stephen Browning -- He felt good about the three-day practice last week and he just has that look about him like he knows something you don't. He was pretty hush-hush about his practice and it's not his nature to be hush-hush.

Honorable mention: Jeff Kriet -- I like Kriet's passion for this event and his near-win last year, but honestly, any of the guys in the group would be a good pick for one reason or another. This is by far the hardest choice of the five groups.

Group C
Pick: Kelly Jordon -- I think this is going to be a big-fish tournament and he catches as many big fish as anybody on tour. I'm rolling the dice with Jordon and hoping a lucky 7-pounders.

Honorable mention: Mark Davis -- He's a solid pick for any group. In fact, he's a safer pick for Group C than Jordon, but I just decided to take the risk here and not in Group A.

Group D
Pick: Edwin Evers -- Why is Evers in group D? Don't ask, just except the gift and move on to the next group. It's the easiest pick on the board.

Honorable mention: Edwin Evers -- Did I mention you should pick Evers here? Although if you want to be different, you could pick & nope. E-V-E-R-S.

Group E
Pick: Paul Elias -- You have to take an Elite angler here. One of the Federation Nation anglers will have a good tournament, but it's too much of a risk to try and guess which one.

Brandon Palaniuk has gotten a lot of attention and might have a decent showing, but I definitely take Elias against him heads up.

Honorable mention: Morizo Shimizu -- Pretty much the same reasoning as above. Take the guy who has proven himself on the highest level. Don't try and get too creative.