1) Play Like A Fan
Normally, I don’t advocate letting your fandom make your lineup decisions for you. But this week, it would have been the best thing I could have done. I had a Rams TE option to pick up in my quest to fill in for Kyle Rudolph’s bye week, but Lance Kendricks hasn’t been a standout. He’s been a contributor – which is what I was really looking for – but I wanted a surer thing, if I could get it. I ended up with Dennis Pitta, who had 3 points. Not the end of the world, but I would have liked to have seen more. (For the record, the other guys I was considering had similar scores. Charles Clay had 5, Richard Rodgers had 1. So it’s not like I made a “wrong decision” between the three of them. Like I finally convinced myself, there was no wrong decision to make. And also for the record, Gary Freaking Barnidge had 5 points. So even that trade didn’t hurt me as much as I had feared.)
The LA/Detroit game, however, was way higher scoring than I had anticipated. And the high score on the field translated into high fantasy points. Case Keenum had 28 points. What in the heck is that? Case Keenum? Really? The Rams QB? Really??? And as a part of that, Lance Kendricks had 9 points. So not only was he available for me to pick up, and not only would he have earned more points for me than almost anyone else on the waiver wire, but I would have gotten to enjoy rooting for a Ram on my team while he earned them. More fun and more success. If I’m gonna settle for a mediocre score and hope for a breakout from a streaming piece, I may as well get some fandom fun out of it. If I find myself in a similar tight debate in the future, fandom is as good a deciding factor as any. I need to remember this.
2) Play Matchups, Not Names
I want so badly for Julian Edelman to perform like Julian Edelman. And I do not want to get off the Julian Edelman train just before it finally picks up steam. But he let me down again this week. Tom Brady went Brady, as you knew he would, completing 376 yards passing. But Edelman only caught 30 of those. Brady = 27 points. Edelman = 3 points.
I am looking forward to the moment that Brady throws a touchdown to Edelman. It would be worth 10 points to me, 6 from Edelman and 4 from Brady, plus whatever yardage is involved in the play. I know it’ll happen, and it’ll be beautiful. But as I keep hanging on for that, I keep missing great opportunities from other wide receivers.
I have a good bench corps of WRs who can break out week to week. I could fill in with any one of them. Randall Cobb was an option, and with injuries to Green Bay, I knew in advance that he’d be more involved in the Packers’ offense. 11 points. Jamison Crowder was an option, and with injuries to Washington, I knew there was an even better chance that he’d be more involved in their offense. 11 points. Robert Woods was an option, as he’s developed lately into a good role in Buffalo’s offense. 10 points. I could even have done the fandom thing (see above) and gone for Kenny Britt off the waiver wire. I don’t want to drive the LA game into the ground – I would never have seen such a high scoring game coming, so I can’t beat myself up too much for missing those opportunities – but Britt has been serviceable thus far in the season, and he was money today, going for 2 TDs and 25 points. You’d best believe I’m getting him off the waiver wire in advance of the bye weeks I have coming up, especially looking at some of the Rams’ upcoming schedule. The Giants game next week is likely to be as ridiculous as the Lions game was today.
I also don’t want to let A.J. Green off the hook here. I needed him to be amazing, and he was only alright. 8 points. Not enough. I knew that he’d have a rough time scoring in New England, but he’s such a star that I knew I had to play him anyway. But if all his star power can give me is 8 points… I need better from my wide receivers than this. Their performance week to week is killing me.
3) Start Drinking
Not really. But that’s what’s gonna end up happening if I build my Sundays around watching every rise and fall in my fantasy fortunes, especially in matchups like this weekend where it’s projected so close.
I had no plans today, so I got to sit down and watch football. Great from a football-watching standpoint, as I got to actually watch a whole Rams game for the first time all season. (I wish it had ended up as a win, but it was a tight game and a fun one.) Great from a NASCAR-watching standpoint, as I got to watch the last half of the Kansas race and see my boy Kyle Busch solidify his place in the next round of the Chase. (It’s not decided yet, but he has a formidable points lead heading into the next cut race. Even though that next race is the crapshoot that is Talledega, I still feel good.) But not so great from a fantasy-football-watching standpoint. I had the app open on my computer, watching every rise and fall in my fortunes. Watching Team GooDfoRyoU and I trade the lead back and forth as Cam Newton didn’t have his shit together in the first half of his game. Watching Team GooDfoRyoU pull away when Cam Newton got it together in the second half. Watching that lead shrink back up as Ezekiel Elliott went on a tear. When it came down to the Sunday night game, I was almost physically ill. I had Frank Gore, he had T.Y. Hilton, and I was starting 3 points behind. It was maddening.
It makes me anxious and puts me in a bad mood to watch the games this closely. Even when I’m ahead, when it’s a narrow lead I don’t trust it. And when I’m behind, it just makes me upset, and I feel so helpless watching it all unfold. It’s a different kind of helplessness than watching sports in general, because I have no control over the teams I root for, really. There’s an anxiety in the pit of my stomach in close games, or a depression in blowouts of my teams, but it’s not like this fantasy stuff. The fact that I create the lineups here gives me the illusion that I have control, even when I don’t. So I can second-guess myself, I can reanalyze all my decisions, I can figure out what I should have done differently to succeed. And even when I know I can’t have known that ahead of time, I somehow manage to convince myself that I should have known. I have to stop it. Once I’ve done all I can do, I need to find something else to do on Sundays. For the sake of my mood, for the sake of my sanity.
Fortunately, I work next Sunday morning until about 4pm, so most of the matchup should be decided by the time I get to really follow the action. That’s optimal, I think. I’ll still get to watch the Sunday night game if I so choose, but I can’t watch the app all day as my frustration and my helplessness mounts. And that will keep me from going crazy over it all as it happens.
4) Celebrate The Victory
Yeah, you read that right.
I should not have won this one, you guys. And I am not exactly sure how I eked it out. I had it close in the fourth quarter of the Indianapolis/Houston game. Gore had earned 9 points, and Hilton had earned 4, so I had managed to sneak into a 2 point lead, but of course I was nervous that it wouldn’t hold. One big play could have turned the tide. But I was in a good position – Indianapolis was leading by 14 in the fourth quarter, and every time they got the ball I assumed they’d put a drive together, run out the clock by running the ball (meaning my RB might touch the ball but my opponent’s WR wouldn’t), and put the game away.
But it didn’t go down like that. Houston came back to tie the game in a way they absolutely shouldn’t have been able to do. And then it went to overtime, and I’m tearing my hair out, because of course the Colts are going to drive it down and try to score. Even if they didn’t rely on Hilton on the drive, if he caught a TD it was all over for me.
But it didn’t go down like that either. Indy couldn’t get a drive going, and Houston took the ball back, kicked a field goal, and ended my misery.
And I wind up with a 3 point victory.