FRIDAY FANTASY FOCUS: Be the best loser you can be

Now isn’t that the most inspirational title you’ve seen in a while?

It’ll get better. I hope. Or else the next 939 words will be all for naught. Just like your fantasy football team will be if you can’t be held accountable for your (trans)actions in your league.

You know who I’m talking about. If not, you need not look any further than the closest mirror. There’s one (if you’re lucky) in every league. The type that’ll be the first guy (or gal) to tell anyone within earshot that you drafted C.J. Spiller — or worse, that they anticipated the lump of coal’s, Andre Brown, metamorphosis in to a fantasy diamond. The same type that conveniently forgets to mention they shell out eight bucks a month for ESPN’s Insider fantasy access until they curse Eric Karabell for telling them to play a deep sleeper that didn’t pan out.

Riiigghtt. Not cool, brother.

Be your own man. Own up to your mistakes. If you were dumb enough to enter a draft not knowing Clinton Portis was no longer playing in the league and took him — like someone I know did — you haven’t earned the right to applaud or be appalled by your moves. Forget fantasy football — that’s some good advice to live life by. But before I dive into Tony Robbins mode, let’s keep it light with the fantasy talk.

I bring this up because I have this friend, let’s call him Zack Rubenfeld. I’ll start off by saying he is a good friend and, at that, a good guy as well. But with that off my chest, he has not been the best loser he can be. This article is for you, Zack.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2012, 11:44 PM:

“Trade help?”

It started off harmless enough. That was a text I received from Zack, attached with a picture of his team and the other manager’s team he was hoping to trade with. His team desperately needed a running back after losing Fred Jackson and CJ2k registering four yards against the Patriots. And he had a depth at wide receiver, so after some deliberation I sent back this text.

SEPTEMBER 13, 9:17 AM:

“Kinda ballsy but how you feel about giving up [Dwayne] Bowe/[Tony] Gonzalez for [LeSean] McCoy/[Brandon] LaFell.”

“Lafell is cam’s number 2 and you’d get a legit #1 rb”

“I also like Spiller and Hunter for smaller moves. Spiller might cost you more now, but Hunter is def dangerous despite limited carries”

My bro-ish verbiage aside, I was quite proud of myself. I thought that trade would help both teams — a Bowe/Gonzalez severance package for Shady seemed adequate — but mostly get Zack a legitimate threat at running back. I tried to sell him a little more onSpiller, but Zack insisted he wouldn’t be worth much down the road. His reply. (If you haven’t noticed, I am the guy who told everyone within ear shot that I drafted C.J. Spiller. ;) )

SEPTEMBER 13, 2012, 2:52 PM:

“I feel like Spiller won’t be as valuable in a month”

SEPTEMBER 13, 2012, 3:16 PM:

“Just hit him up about the bowe/gonz trade. That was genius of you”

“Hopefully he’s dumb enough to give up McCoy”

SEPTEMBER 13, 2012, 3:33 PM:

“Drop lions D for chiefs D this week?”

Don’t pay attention to the ego-swelling compliment, like I did. It’s not the focus here. His last text is what’s important. This is the apex of the story. I, like anyone who even slightly pays attention to football, hated both plays for starting defense. Lions D? Are you smoking 2C-I? And, as we know now, the Chiefs defense is among the league’s worst. So I reply with two plays that, on paper at the time, seemed like safe plays.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2012, 3:34 PM:

“I like Oakland’s D vs. MIA or MIN vs Luck & Indy.”

“I was looking at Oakland..Sleeper D. But I should get ride of Lions eh? I own Alex Smith too haha.”

“Yah Oakland vs rookie QB I like”. (insert Yoda voice).

“I like that.”

End of conversation. Sunday comes and I’m just about to dive in to some supremely spicy hummus and homemade cajun potato chips and watch the Jets game when a tweet from our dear friend Zack pops up on my iPhone that read:

Mentioned by @ZackAttack_: @Wesley_Sykes hey remember that time  you suggested the raiders D was a viable option. #neveragain #negativefive #rage

Can you believe this guy? I help him out with getting a consensus top-3 fantasy player and what do I get in return?  Not a public pat on the back. But I suggest a defense he already had his eye on and I get a swift electronic kick in the crotch.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a guy like Mike Westhoff (above) providing motivational speeches for your fantasy week? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Wouldn't it be great to have a guy like Mike Westhoff (above) providing motivational speeches for your fantasy team? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Riiigghtt. Not cool, brother.

1) Anything I write in this column format, or when I’m speaking casually to you, it is not me telling you to do anything. I’m simply sharing my thoughts on who I think will perform. Never will I tell someone what to do or who to play. This is your fantasy team. Bottom line is, you’re your own bottom line. Simple as that. 2) HE PREVIOUSLY AGREED THAT THE RAIDERS WERE SLEEPER D!

My point is this: be your own general manager. Everyone takes advice from everyone, but only you hold the keys to your own success. If you decide to pull the trigger on a trade that a friend suggested, go for it. At the end of the day you made the decision not me. If you feel iffy about something you hear from someone else. Don’t do it. No one is forcing your hand. Unless your wife is your co-manger. If that’s the case, you have no choice. Take her advice.

There. I feel better. Thanks for listening. More importantly, thank you Zack for being a good sport.

START ‘EM:

  • Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Ride the Red Rocket to a win this week. Yeah, I said it. The Washington Redskins are the worst Yahoo! Sports fantasy defense vs. QBs through two weeks giving up an average of 34.73 points per week. The Skins did have to face Drew Brees (24 comp /339 yards/3 TDs) at the Superdome, but that doesn’t explain simple Sam Bradford (26 comp /310 yards /3 TDs) going off. Losing Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker on the line doesn’t help their cause either.
  • Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins: The Jets have had all types of troubles with all-purpose backs like Bush. Last five all-purpose back’s numbers vs Rex Ryan since 2001: Spiller – 162 yds/1 TD, McCoy – 102 yds/3 TDs, Bradshaw – 54 yds/2 TDs, Rice – 102 tot yds/ 1 TD, McFadden – 171 yds/2 TDs. Expect a healthy dose of Bush, as he’s turned into the team’s top playmaker.
  • Stevie Johnson, WR, Bills: The Cleveland Browns have given up the fourth most fantasy points to WRs in Yahoo! Sports leagues. With top corner Joe Haden still serving his suspension, the Browns continue to shake up their defensive backfield. Averaging seven targets a game from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, expect Johnson to have plenty of opportunities to unveil a couple questionable touchdown celebrations this week.
  • Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings: This is for deep leagues only. Call it my coma pick of the week. I realize he’s going up against the dreaded San Fran defense. But hear me out. Rudolph is Christian Ponder’s second favorite target after Percy Harvin (8 rec/ 102 yards / 1 TD / 12 targets). Meanwhile the 49ers have given up a touchdown to a tight end in both games this season. We know no one can run on Patrick Willis & co., but maybe you can strike some gold with Rudolph.

SIT ‘EM:

  • Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Did you see how that Falcons defense made Peyton Manning look like he missed a year due to neck surgery? I sure did. The combination of Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel is quickly climbing the charts as one of the most feared tandems in the league. They have a pretty turnover-to-touchdown ratio of 2:1 vs. QBs. Rivers is going to have to sling the rock to stay in the game against the high octane Falcon offense. There’ll be plenty more turnover chances for the Dirty Birds this week.
  • Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: Someone needs to tell RunDMC he should lace up his shell toes. Zero touchdowns is not a good start if you want to be considered an elite fantasy back. This week isn’t a good week to start, as he faces the Steelers — a stout team against the run, averaging 10.95 points to fantasy RBs in Yahoo! Sports leagues.
  • Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: If Calvin Johnson is Megatron, does that make the Madden cover Optimus Prime? Eehh. The jury is still out as he has put up numbers (7 rpg/ 102.5 ypg), but it hasn’t come as easy as it did for Johnson in 2011. No touchdowns through two games. I’m not just referring to Johnson. The Titans defense has yet to give up a touchdown to a wide receiver this season. And they faced Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker and Robert Meachem. It won’t come any easier for Johnson this week either.

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