Don't Eat the Home Cooking
Posted Aug. 23 at 04:34 AM
You're probably just days from your draft or auction, and you have access to the information you need. Unfortunately, you also have access to information you don't need, and you're being served a steady diet of it whether you realize it or not.
If the offseason didn't hammer the point home, let's be clear now: The NFL is a business. A team impacts other businesses in its home city, especially its media. Newspapers, radio and television stations compete for access and information with their competitors. In order to get that access they either pay the team directly (to air a radio broadcast, for example) or they pay indirectly, with flattering coverage and biased reporting. That's because if they upset the owner or coach, they might be privy to less information that they would if they simply played nice.
In other words, your local media outlets (certainly not all, but too many of them) will give you information as if it came from the team itself. A young rookie is "making great strides," even if he's nowhere close to seeing the field. An aging veteran "came to camp with renewed enthusiasm," even if he's too slow to dominate at his position. A quarterback has "turned the corner," a receiver "is ready to break out," blah, blah, blah. In some cases, they're almost press releases designed to boost ticket and merchandise sales by exciting local supporters. As a fan they're fun to read and watch, but as a fantasy owner they can be very dangerous.
I don't live in St. Louis, but I can appreciate what Sam Bradford accomplished in his first year. I think he has a bright future ahead of him. But I can just about guarantee that Bradford will be drafted earlier in St. Louis than he will in Syracuse. His auction values in Missouri will be higher than in Minnesota. The newspapers, the radio and the television stations all want him to succeed. It's good for business and it would keep fans happy and spending money. Therefore, their coverage will be more forgiving, more upbeat and more personal. After all, he showed that he can succeed in the NFL in 2010 so why wouldn't they give him the benefit of the doubt?
It all makes sense until you sit down and pick your players, when all those weeks of positive coverage will impact your decision-making. Not in the first round, of course...but what about the sixth or seventh? If you have to choose between two receivers, and you just know how well the hometown guy has looked in camp...might you choose him? If you're a fan anyway, wouldn't it be fun to have a guy you root for on Sundays?
Everyone knows the person who stocks up on his favorite players, donates his entry fee and watches his team flounder through the year. You definitely don't want to be that owner. But you also don't want to allow local media to impact how you feel about your late-round starters and reserves. You have to either make a conscious effort to block out local reporting, or remind yourself to discount everything you see, hear and read.
I'm not telling you to stop being a fan. But for fantasy purposes, if you want to read up on your hometown team, do it through more objective eyes. Go to a newspaper in a different state and read about how they view your local team's players. Most outlets give special coverage to a team's division rivals, so they have incentive to cover the team without the pressure of being biased toward them. In this day and age you should have no trouble going outside your local media to read up on those players, and make your fantasy decisions without as much bias seeping in.
Hopefully, your fellow owners will do nothing of the sort. Let them stock their rosters with the hometown heroes while you take the best available player regardless of city or logo. This won 't affect the early rounds or biggest auction bids, but at some point you'll have to consider local players as potential starters or valued backups. That decision should be made by you-- not the local reporter who wants to stay on good terms with the team and not the radio station that broadcasts the games. Ignore what they say, go outside your local media coverage and make your decisions with the cold, calculated eye of a financial analyst instead of a fan. Please avoid the home cooking provided by local coverage. It might make you uncomfortable for one day, but you'll be happier in December.
Have you seen biased coverage of your hometown team, or does your local media do a good job of playing it straight? Share your opinions below. You can also reach Michael Murillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Jay Monahan | Aug. 23 at 06:52 AM
Kind of hard to feel good when local team is the Bengals and they make me sick to watch their games.
Posted by Ken Rose | Aug. 23 at 06:56 AM
Same here for Buffalo.
Posted by CURT GOLDGRABE | Aug. 23 at 08:14 AM
And in Seattle.
Posted by Roy Sherman | Aug. 23 at 09:36 PM
I have you all beat. I may not live there now, but Detroit is my hometown.
Posted by JUSTIN ELEFF | Aug. 24 at 08:56 AM
Roy: Not for nothing, but as a Bills fan I'm with Ken on this. We'd GLADLY trade rosters with the Lions.
Posted by R. C. Campbell | Aug. 27 at 06:54 AM
Well, I have no problem. I live in LA. No home teams since the Scrams & Traiders left.
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