How a Yahoo Fantasy expert saved draft day for mother in labor

Yahoo Sports
Fantasy Football diehard Sara Alton with newborn son, Woods Alton. (Photo courtesy of the Alton family)
Fantasy Football diehard Sara Alton with newborn son, Woods Alton. (Photo courtesy of the Alton family)
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It all started with a tweet. A husband’s wife was in labor, but they weren’t worried about which route to take to the hospital or last-minute debates over baby names. This was shockingly about Fantasy Football and a diehard player named Sara Alton, who wasn’t going to let anything, even the birth of her second child, get in the way of drafting her team.

This takes being a dedicated fantasy player to a whole new level.

Sara’s league draft had been scheduled well in advance, so she thought it would be fine with a due date of Aug. 23. However, everything changed when Sara and husband Zach went for a routine checkup last Thursday.

“We go to the doctor that morning and the doctor said ‘you’re not leaving. You’re probably going to have the baby today,'” Zach recalled. “As things were progressing and all timing out we knew we were in big trouble [when it came to the draft].”

Zach, wasn’t surprised by Sara’s reaction to possibly missing out on drafting her team. She has been playing Fantasy Football for five years and often for higher stakes than the leagues he plays in.

“I get it. I don’t think anyone wants to auto-draft,” Zach said. “I want my team to have some human touch.”

When Yahoo fantasy analyst Liz Loza saw Zach’s tweet and the predicament Sara was facing, she knew she had to do something. Liz, a mother of two herself, immediately reached out to Zach to see if she could step in to draft for Sara.

Zach was admittedly shocked that someone with Liz’s fantasy résumé reached out and offered to help.

“I think this is a pretty good alternative,” Zach told Sara. “Mostly I was hoping for virtual sympathy from the world.”

Sara thought Zach was joking at first when he explained Liz’s offer to help, but then quickly bought in.

“Do you need my password?” she asked Zach, who was communicating with Liz on Twitter.

“I could go into labor without any worries now because I knew I was in good hands with Liz,” Sara said.

[Yahoo Fantasy Football leagues are open: Sign up now for free!]

So with the parents-to-be in agreement, Liz reached out to Yahoo colleagues to see what could be done from a technical standpoint to get her in the draft room in place of Sara. Liz then jumped in her car to battle infamous 405 traffic in Los Angeles hoping she could make it in time to draft. It was a race against the clock.

A fight that the 405 won, at least for the first few rounds. Liz entered the draft room 12 minutes after things started and saw that she had missed the first three rounds with Antonio Brown, Mike Evans and Jordan Howard being taken by auto-draft.

“I was disappointed I missed the first three picks, but given that auto-draft picks are set to Yahoo experts rankings they worked out,” Liz said. 

In the midst of trying to find out the league settings (standard, three receivers), she took Lamar Miller and Kerryon Johnson. Things started to settle in from there, but she admittedly got caught up in the emotion of drafting for a fellow mom in labor.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Liz texted a co-worker in the middle of drafting.

Liz could relate to Sara’s passion.

“I had my second [she’s 20 months now] during Week 15 [of 2016]. That was the second week of the fantasy playoffs,” Loza said. “I get it!”

When the picks were in, Sara was still in labor but wanted to see her team.

“I really like the Cooper Kupp and Kirk Cousins picks,” Sara said after seeing her roster.

As for the most important part of the story, Sara and her baby boy are both doing well. Woods Michael Alton was born at 9:07 p.m. on Aug. 16 at St Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville. He weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was 20 inches long. Fourteen-month-old Porter is also enjoying playing big sister and helping her parents with Woods.

As for Sara’s league mates, they didn’t seem to mind that she got some expert help with her team for the season.

“They were cool with it and more excited we had a happy, healthy baby and a happy, healthy fantasy team,” Zach said.

Liz said this was an experience like nothing else she’s had in her years in the industry.

“I’m grateful I had the opportunity to help out a fellow mom and connect with wonderful family,” Liz said. “That’s what fantasy does… it brings people together.

“What can I say? Moms deliver!”

A final look at Sara’s 2018 fantasy team.
A final look at Sara’s 2018 fantasy team.

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