The fantasy football season is a long, involved commitment which most of us undertake knowing the outcome may be bleak. Between the draft prep, the constant injury news and twitter updates, and waiver wire watching, being a fantasy football champion is hard work. But no matter how hard you work, sometimes you find yourself on the outside of playoff contention looking in, right around this time of year (week 9/10/11). With only a few weeks left before the playoffs begin, you now see there is NO chance you will make it, so now what?
Playing in two leagues, I will admit I am in 3rd place (out of 10) in one, and 11th (out of 12) in the other, though I’d like to note I am the reigning champion in the latter (before you start giving me a harder time than my brother-in-law already does). I look at these two teams as the perfect example of the luck, skill, and randomness of fantasy football. As a scientist, we conduct our experiments under the assumption we are only changing one variable and keeping everything else constant, and in this case, the constant is me as the team manager. Comparing these two teams suggest although I am the constant team manager, many (many) factors (variables) contribute to the success of a team well beyond the person making the decisions (duh, but still). I will end my science-y tangent by saying, I have suffered some brutal injuries paired with some questionable boom or bust drafting that clearly worked better for one team than the other. Regardless of how I got here, for my 11th place team I have a big decision to make. Do I keep at it? Watching the waiver wire, reading about streamers, tinkering with my lineup, with no hope of the late-December football? On the other side, as a 3rd place team in the thick of the playoff hunt, I need the out-of-contention teams to keep fighting so my opponents can’t leapfrog me in the standings!
In my mind there are 3 types of fantasy players this time of year, and I’m sure you’ve encountered all of them at some point:
The competitor: The competitor refuses to admit defeat. The competitor is still sniping players off the waiver wire, blocking the competition from a key move that could propel them into playoff stardom. The competitor loves to play spoiler for the remaining teams fighting for a spot and will relish in a losers’ bracket victory.
The settler: The settler is complacent, not devastated but also not enthused enough to fight to ruin other teams’ success. The settler will ride out the season, usually setting their lineup but also occasionally forgetting. The settler may indulge in an obvious waiver-wire add but probably not because fantasy football no longer consumes their life.
The loser: Ugh. The loser is the WORST. The loser is bitter and wants to drag everyone down with them. I’ve seen the loser go to such lengths as to ruin the entire league by dropping all their star players or refusing to set their lineups for the remainder of the season- intentionally. The loser is very much engaged, but in a bad way that makes everyone wish they just acted like the settler.
As someone in a position to be one of these three, I get it. I get that by week 10 its exhausting to care so much when you’re out of contention; however, the wanna-be accountability coach in me wants to remind you that you made the commitment to compete for an entire season when you embarked on this fantasy football journey, so please don’t be the loser.