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Drafting in Fantasy Football: Separating the Emotional Pick From the Logical Pick

By April 15, 2014No Comments

Sometimes, diehard sports fans need to be saved from themselves. This goes for both life and fantasy football.

If you go and look at all my baby pictures, you’ll find a very pudgy baby with a mullet, decked out in Buffalo Bills gear. A lot of Buffalo Bills gear. I know what you’re thinking: “But Matt, you’re an outspoken loyal Green Bay Packers fan, what are you talking about?” Yes, believe it or not there was a time where I could have been the poster child for Bills fans, but the choice was not mine.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

My dad, a New York native born and bred, had brought me up to love New York sports teams. Not the New York Giants, not the New York Yankees. Instead it was the Mets and the Bills. Of course. (I’ll spare you the New York Mets rants). My father, the proud New Yorker that he is, had always claimed the Buffalo Bills were the only “true” New York football team, being that the Giants and Jets actually played in the Jersey Meadowlands. This made sense to me, I respected it and who can pass up a chance to share the passion of sports with their father?

Now I was born in 1991, which was right in the middle of the height of the Bills popularity and subsequently infamy. I’m pretty sure I was almost named Thurman Thomas Rodgers which has a nice ring to it, but isn’t exactly practical. For those of you that don’t know, the Bills would go on to win four consecutive AFC championships, the only team ever to do so.

Of those four straight Super Bowl appearances, how many championships did Jim Kelly and the Bills walk away with? Zero. Yeah, that’s the infamy I was referring to. Now, I was too young to remember these Super Bowls first hand, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know all about the missed field goals, the blown calls and every single detail of those Super Bowls from my heartbroken dad.

By the time I was at an age to be aware of sports and all of the drama and passion that goes into it, I found myself becoming a lowly Bills fan, and Met fan (I promise you I’ll refrain from those rants. It’s a football website Matt…a football website). I didn’t mind it too much. My dad and I would watch the games together, and it’s kind of fun to root for the underdog sometimes.

When You Least Expect It, Things Might All Change

The thrill of victory feels a little sweeter when the “entire world” is against you, though I wouldn’t know firsthand. Losing year after year gets tiring as well. But whatever, it’s the Bills. It’s who I like and I don’t have a choice, I never considered “choosing”, it was just…how it was.

Then it happened. My dad and I had just watched the Bills lose by about 40 to the Patriots in a graveyard of buffalo wings and empty soda cans. My mom, cleaning up asked the extremely rhetorical question of: “Bills lost again, huh?” “Yeah mom they did, stop asking and clean up the Buffalo wings.” Damn those puns always hurt. I digress. My dad, sleeping on the couch (lucky bastard he missed the end) had not changed the channel and the next game was starting.

It was the Green Bay Packers. I leaned forward, eyes gleaning as I watched Brett Favre run around chucking up touchdowns. Their defense…DEFENDING. Favre ran around effortlessly, doing whatever he wanted. This was how football was meant to be played. This is what it was.

It was magical, the Packers won and there was no going back. I had seen the prettier girl, and I had seen her naked, and it was image I could never rid from my mind. A secret love affair began. My 11 year old self would scavenge the sports channels every Sunday, hoping for a glimpse of the Packers I had been seeing in secret. Just one pass, just let me see Favre complete one pass, and I’ll get my fix. “Ready to watch the Bills game, pal?” No I didn’t want to watch the crappy Bills game, they suck! I’m torn between the emotional pick and the RIGHT pick.

I chose the Packers and have been an avid fan ever since. For those of you that care, my dad handled it well, after all we still had the Mets (I WON’T!) and what ended up happening? I saved myself years and years of tortured football fanship, and in 2011 watched a team that I rooted for win a championship for the first time, a memory I will always cherish.

Seeing Aaron Rodgers hoist that Lombardi trophy is something I would’ve stolen from myself had I let my bond with my father interfere with the logical football decision of liking and rooting for a better team. A team I loved, and loved to watch.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Control Your Fantasy Decisions

The same goes for Fantasy Football. If your drafts are anything like mine they involve a lot of beer and even more competitive animosity among friends and rivals. Around round 5 it can be tempting to steal McFadden from the Raiders fan picking behind you, or Tony Romo from the Cowboys fan. Or it can be tempting to take your team’s rookie Running Back you anticipate to break out in the 7th, simply because you WANT it to happen so, so badly.

Sure, if you do these things and it works, it can make winning that much sweeter, but is it the choice that is BEST for you? Is McFadden in the 5th going to win you your fantasy league, or will the way less sexy Shane Vereen be exactly what you need to put yourself over the top?

I’ve done things like this, and have yet to win a fantasy championship. Why? Because I’m stupid, I’m vindictive and I’m stupid and I’m the Buffalo Bills of my fantasy league. Don’t choose your team based on the heat of the moment. Stick to your rankings and do what YOU know is best. You did all this research, use it. Let your friends worry about having all their eggs in one basket, while you make a run at the playoffs.

The Smart Pick May Not Be the One You Want, But It’s What You Need

Just remember, if the Buffalo Bills had won a Super Bowl, there would have been nothing better than sharing that championship with my dad, just like winning your league with your favorite RB leading the charge. But that didn’t happen, the Packers won, and I would have robbed myself of that if I let emotions get in the way.

Keep this in mind when you do your drafts in August: Yes, while fantasy football is supposed to be fun, what in the world is more fun than winning?

Matt Rodgers