In the novel "A Christmas Carol," Ebenezer Scrooge is a cold-hearted man who shows no emotions toward Bob Cratchit and his crippled son Tiny Tim. He dismisses all kind feelings with the signature line "bah, humbug!" Eventually, Scrooge undergoes a serious moral redemption, losing his cold-hearted demeanor in favor of emotional kindness and loyalty.
Fantasy football is "A Christmas Carol" in reverse. The successful fantasy football owner must shed his emotions and kindness on his/her way to transforming into a cold-hearted owner.
Fantasy football is, after all, a cold-hearted game. Fantasy football does not care if your stud running back is out this week. It does not care if you score the second-most points and still lose because you happened to play the team that notched the most points that week. It does not care if you've lost three weeks in a row and are desperate for a win.
Yet many fantasy football owners are not cold-hearted in return. They bring their loyalties to the game in the form of assorted attachments, emotions and fond memories, which often sets them up for failure.
As a fantasy football owner, you cannot make personnel selections based simply on fond memories of a player because he was a one-man wrecking crew for your team last season. Situations can change during the offseason that make it difficult to project future glory based on past success. The offensive line could feature inexperienced draft picks. Coaches can retire or get fired. With free agency, teammates at the skill positions can quickly become ex-teammates. Your decisions must be based on a combination of past production, future upside, supporting cast, coaching, environment, injury history and other similar variables.
Loyalty also comes in the form of "homerism," which simply means that you favor selecting your favorite team's players. It can also manifest itself in bypassing players on teams you don't like, such as your club's rivals.
For example, if a New York Giants fan refuses to choose anyone from the Dallas Cowboys, loyalty likely cost the owner some fantasy wins. Loyalty could also be in the form of your personal assortment of favorite NFL players. The key to winning fantasy football is acquiring the most productive players, not your favorite players.
Tough to Let Go
Keeper leagues are where loyalty is most likely to rear its ugly head. It's easier to develop an emotional attachment to players who have been productive for you in the past. The motto, "Stick with the guys that got you there," rings through your head. You start to feel bad or wonder if you made the right decision if you release the player, just like real-life general managers sometimes do when they cut players. If you've done your research, though, be confident in your decision. Whenever you start to feel that way, just remember that the real-life player isn't going to weep because you didn't keep him on your fantasy team. They won't know, and they won't care.
Even in single-year leagues, loyalty can still negatively affect your decisions before you realize it. A waiver wire pickup that sparkled for you for a couple of games could become hard for you to part with even if the player's usefulness has expired.
That's the nature of fantasy football. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Be cruel and cold-hearted. Leave your emotions for your real-life relationships. When it comes to loyalty in fantasy football, that bitter, old Mr. Scrooge was right: bah, humbug!
About Robert Tong
Robert Tong has been a KFFL contributing writer since 2007.
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