Fantasy Football – Play for fun or play to win?

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Owning players you hate – This is a big one for me. For whatever reason, there are always NFL players that I can’t stand. Some are pompous fools (I’m looking at you, Terrell Owens), others have decimated my real NFL team too many times (look up Brett Farve’s record against the Lions sometime) and the rest have killed my fantasy teams before (too many players to name).

Anyway, every year I have a list of 10-12 players that I just can’t draft because I just don’t want to root for them under any circumstance. This can make drafting even more difficult than normal, especially when almost all of the players on my list rank in the top 20 at their respective positions. There have been numerous times where I’ve skipped over a player I don’t like to take a lower ranked player at the same position. More fun for me, but overall it makes my team weaker and less likely to win.

Playing players against your real NFL team – Owning Adrian Peterson is great except for the two times a year he plays my team (the Lions). You’re not benching him no matter what, but at the same time it’s hard to want him to go off for 150 yards and two touchdowns. It gets even more difficult when the Vikings and Lions play late in the season, and both the Lions and you need a win to make the playoffs (it’s hypothetical, bear with me). So what you’re really pulling for is for Peterson to go nuts…but still have the Lions win. Usually, that’s not going to happen. In this instance, you are playing to win in fantasy but aren’t having a lot of fun if he’s running wild on the Lions.

Playing a certain player AND playing against that player – Most people who play fantasy football now play in more than one league. If you’re one of those players, it’s inevitable that at least a couple of times each year, you’ll be starting and playing against the same player. So how much do you root for him? Do you want him to go crazy, knowing that he’ll be helping you win in one league and lose in another? Or do you just hope for moderate stats, looking for a small contribution from the player in question?

The worst part about this one is, depending on the scoring systems you could get the double kick in the pills and lose both! One year, I had a certain WR in a relatively standard, low scoring league and played against him in a high scoring point-per-reception league that also rewarded bonus points at 100 yards. This particular player caught 8 passes for 101 yards – or something close to that, I’ve blocked the actual details out of my mind. In the league I had him that was only good for 10 points and I lost by 3. In the other league, he totaled 23 points…and I lost by 3.

Surprisingly, I’ve been moderately successful (a couple of championships, lots of playoff appearances) in my leagues while still having fun, so I think I’ve struck a pretty good balance between playing for fun and playing to win. How about you?