Fantasy Files: The Devil in Binary Thinking

Binary thinking can ruin you as a fantasy football player.

I know you hear it a dozen times a day. Something is ruining American culture. I have an idea. Binary thinking. Take reality TV, for example. There’s a show called Duck Dynasty. Until a month ago, I had never heard of a show and it’s a big hit. Almost because it’s a big hit, I don’t want to watch it. The more I hear about what a great show is, the less I ever want to see it on my HD TV. You see it in our political process, in that if you like one of the two “teams”, you must hate what the other team’s up to or at least snort any time there’s any attempt to pass legislation. I could go there with religion but I won’t.

Back to fantasy football. One great example is Ryan Mathews. Two years ago, I went a little trade-crazy in my keeper league and I didn’t have three keepable players anymore. I made a last-minute deal to get Mathews after his rookie year, trading away a 7th round pick. He had a not-so-great rookie year, followed by a very good second year, although I did draft Mike Tolbert as well, aka the biggest third-down back in NFL history. I kept Mathews in 2012 and it was a big mistake. A collarbone injury limited him all year and the coaching staff obviously didn’t trust him as he was kept off the field for most third downs and red-zone opportunities. I cut him a couple of weeks before his second shoulder injury of the season that ended his 2012.

It’s going to be hard to be open-minded about a player when he has single-handedly ruined your dreams. I initially rated Mathews very low in my first set of 2013 rankings. It’s possible that I was hasty. Even if I wasn’t, there should be a point in which he’s a value. It may be when it’s time for teams to get an RB4, but he will be a bargain eventually.

At least acknowledge the idea that you are an emotional creature who is influenced by shiny objects. Hatred of a player because of previous fantasy frustration could lead you to dark places. It’s going to limit your options on draft day. Dez Bryant had been a frustrating fantasy commodity for his entire career. I took him last year to howls of laughter by my local fantasy league. He struggled at first but became one of the top options by the end of the year.

What happened to us in the past will influence our future. That’s understandable. At least acknowledge your own personal demons and leave the option open that a player will surprise you. I know it seems crazy now, but players aren’t going to perform as projected.

Unless you drop a player from your draft list due to injury, and that’s a completely different blog post, there’s no reason to red-flag a guy due to one bad fantasy season, or in Arian Foster’s case, one fumble during your fantasy playoffs that ended your year in a loss to your most hated rival. Yeah, I could use a little fantasy therapy.

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