A little secret that no magazine will ever tout, no expert will ever mention and most owners won’t admit, is that fantasy football doesn’t begin and end with a championship. Though failure does not seem like an option to anyone playing against their friends, or competing for cold hard cash, the reality is that in each league, every year, every owner save one will be crushingly disappointed by their fortunes at some point in the season. Think about it. Hundreds of media outlets – magazines or websites – are claiming they will provide the information necessary for you to win it all. And yet in a typical 12-team league you have a one-in-twelve chance to walk out with the trophy. Does this mean you aren’t good if you can’t win it all? No, and learning how to handle adversity is a great life lesson we can glean from the maw of failure.
Unless you are playing against perennially inept owners, you are going to encounter bad years. No matter how prescient you are at picking rookies, or how terrifically you trade talent, at some point you will be the owner of a pathetic fantasy team – that’s a guarantee. This happens because there are factors that are simply out of your control.
For instance, the catastrophic knee injury to Daunte Culpepper, the general ineptitude of Kevin Jones and Nate Burleson, the confounding starting status of Corey Dillon and the diabolical deactivation of Terrell Owens have hurt some of my fantasy teams this season. If you are sitting at 2-8, 3-7, or 4-6 this year, you probably have no chance of making the playoffs. But, that doesn’t mean you can cash the check on the season. There are lessons to be learned, and other reasons you can create to go on.
Put on a stoic demeanor, soldier, and carry on. You signed up for this commitment, and you can’t back out now just because it’s hard. Any idiot can ignore his losing team. Make it so that when owners go up against you, they know they better bring their “A” team, no matter what. Be determined to give every owner a tough matchup. Don’t you be the owner in charge of the squad competitors salivate about when contemplating an easy win.
To be known as a true competitor, you must put your effort on the line even during times when it likely won’t pay off.
When the rabbit you were chasing (championship) has already run into next year, it’s time to focus on some new game. Instead of looking outside for accolades, create some goals for yourself the rest of the season, and work diligently to achieve them.
Perhaps your ultimate desire at this point is to reach .500. So see which players you can add or trade for to help you improve now. Some owners destined for postseason success may have stars sitting on their bench they are willing to part with.
Or, maybe you have not cracked the 100-point barrier all season and decide to test whether you can at any point. Start a number of huge risk/reward players and try to hit the jackpot in a particular week. Another experiment would be to see whether you could field a lineup that won’t feature any players producing below a certain predetermined point total.
Any effort you put into improving your team when it is in a sorry state will only make you a better owner in the future. Nietzsche’s neat adage “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” is so very true in fantasy football. The trades you make yet this year, or the players you pick up while prospecting for talent provide experience in learning how to constantly improve a team. This way, when you do have a winner on your hands, you’ll know how to do the tweaking necessary to give yourself a legitimate chance to come out on top.
Playing the Spoiler
If you can’t motivate yourself in a positive way, then stay the course simply to trip up others. Since you aren’t going to the playoffs yourself, why not make some instant enemies by dragging down as many contenders as you can? If you accomplish this with good friends, it may end up as one of your favorite fantasy football memories. After all, if you can’t beat them, then at least screw them up.
Here are some appropriate players to use right now, no matter your current inspiration:
Chris Simms – He had a breakthrough game against Washington. You’ll notice he’s been hooking up with Galloway all along. In this attacking offense, anything is possible.
Kurt Warner – Anquan Boldin will be back soon, and Warner has already proven he can hit the 300-yard mark with regularity. This team will continue to pass a lot.
Sam Gado – If you can get him some way, then start him, because he is the spark that is changing the Packers’ offense. They are committed to him the rest of the way.
Greg Jones – What Jones offers is consistency. If he continues to play in place of Fred Taylor, you will have a solid fantasy starter.
Adrian Peterson – Obviously a healthy Thomas Jones will relegate Peterson to the bench. But, if Jones remains out for a time, Peterson has the talent to produce. He really has only needed the opportunity to make an impact.
Roy Williams – Will be hard to pry away from someone after his three-touchdown tromp against Arizona, but he and Harrington may be developing a hot streak.
Matt Jones – Don’t count out Jimmy Smith, but it is more than safe to say that Jones will be a major part of this offense the rest of the season, more so as he polishes his routes.
Hire Joe Levit for corporate or client appreciation events at fantasyfootballspeaker.com. His fantasy football columns appear on SI.com and thehuddle.com. Joe, a PFWA and FSWA member, writes about the NFL for patriotsinsider.com and is a fantasy football analyst on radio. He is the creator of the Sleeper League and FF Hold ‘em League concepts.