Blowout losses hurt; but knowing you never had a chance helps you move on more quickly.
Building a comfortable lead early on a Sunday, then watching your opponent slowly chip away at your margin is much more painful. Every handoff to his running back, every pass to her receiver, makes the stomach churn just a little more. By the time the final nail is driven into your coffin, and your lead vanishes late on a Sunday or Monday night, you’re emotionally exhausted.
But there’s nothing worse than watching that lead slip away simply because you made a boneheaded lineup decision.
Hello, my name is Ladd, and I sat Todd Gurley against the Lions.
Yes, I often preach that you stick with your studs at crunch time; but Gurley had been rendered essentially impotent in recent weeks by the lousy team around him. His talents were being squandered in St. Louis, and I had other options that seemed safer.
True, I picked a lousy time to face the guy with Russell Wilson and his BFF, Doug Baldwin. The Seattle duo went bonkers for the third consecutive week – accounting for eight TDs against the toothless Ravens – meaning my team couldn’t afford any slip-ups.
But I had all the firepower I needed, thanks to Drew Brees, A.J. Green, Michael Floyd, Golden Tate and my other starters. Until I made the fateful, last-minute decision to bench Gurley for the first time since Week 5. Now I’ll have the entire offseason to stew over it, fueled by the relentless trash talking of my league-mates.
Perhaps you feel my pain, having been burned by Andy Dalton’s broken thumb, Thomas Rawls’ broken ankle or the untimely disappearances of Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant and Mike Evans.
Indeed, the fantasy gods can be cruel.
But it’s the self-inflicted wounds that cut deepest.
I still have another team in the hunt, but it’s small consolation. “The one that got away” is going to haunt me for a while.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup during the postseason.
Catch ‘em while you can
Tim Hightower, RB, Saints. Many of us grabbed Hightower on Sunday morning when the Saints revealed he would be the primary replacement for Mark Ingram. With his 85-yard, one-TD performance against the Bucs, the former Redskin and Cardinal paid immediate dividends. Grab him if he’s still available. C.J. Spiller clearly is on the outs.
DuJuan Harris, RB, Seahawks. Harris took over the lead rushing duties after Rawls was lost for the season, but he fumbled and mostly looked like the fourth-stringer that he is. (I, for one, think Wilson should have given him more chances…) Fred Jackson is expected to remain in his change-of-pace role, so Harris is the Seahawks back to pickup. He’s no sure thing, but in this offense, he’s worth a gamble. [UPDATE 12/15/15: Harris was released today by the Seahawks, after the team signed Bryce Brown. Marshawn Lynch is not yet ready to return to the lineup, so Brown vaults to the head of the class.]
Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars. If rookie workhorse T.J. Yeldon misses a game (or more) due to his knee injury, Robinson will get a chance to remind us how valuable he can be as a fantasy performer. He had a nice, albeit brief, run in 2014, and that was in a lackluster offense. The Jags can pass now, which will open the running lanes for Robinson.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks. The way Wilson is playing, investing in Seattle’s passing attack can be a very profitable move. Lockett just notched his second two-touchdown outing in his last four games, and he has amassed 194 receiving yards over the last two weeks. With the Browns and Rams up next, the rookie’s arrow is pointing up.
Don’t be fooled
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns. Out of nowhere, Crowell had a career-best game, with 145 rushing yards and a pair of TDs. Of course, it came against the mediocre 49ers defense and – uh-oh – the Browns will be facing Seattle and Kansas City over the next two weeks. I’ll pass on Crowell, thank you.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints. Colston has been a favorite target of Brees for years, but not this season. He is clearly in the twilight of a stellar career, and his two-score outing on Sunday was more a reminder of what once was rather than a glimpse at what is still to come.