You can do pretty much everything right in your fantasy preparations: Have a strong draft and utilize your depth. Scout the waiver wire and make your team better. Go over matchups and pick the guy with the best opportunity, and who should score the most points. Then, on game day, everything comes together and your players out-perform your expectations.
All that can happen, and you still lose by 40 points in a game you never really had a chance of winning. It can happen every week, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Sometimes it feels like fantasy football is a game about avoiding unforced errors. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes comes out on top. I look at my bench and my opponent's bench and think What are we doing? I remember my bad decisions more than my good ones. It's a terrible feeling to throw a game away.
But you know what's also bad? Making the right decisions and facing Dalvin Cook on the wrong week. Or Christian McCaffrey when the Panthers were going to "ease him in," which apparently means limit him to 28 touches. Or a quarterback who scores four touchdowns, or a 100-yard rusher, or both in one lineup spot (thanks, Kyler Murray). What exactly are you supposed to do then?
First, it's not always a death sentence. There are plenty of fantasy teams that faced Cook this week and escaped with a win. The other matchups have to go your way, and you'll have to hunt for points like cable news pundits scribbling on whiteboards breaking down votes in obscure counties. It helps if you have your own superstar, but either way, sometimes you really can make up the difference.
But if you don't, all you can do is appreciate the performance. We love to win our fantasy games, but we also love football. Every team is made up of the best football players on the planet, and sometimes one of them makes their fellow players look like schoolyard pickup opponents. It's unfortunate that it happened against you, but it's still impressive. And if you enjoyed football before you played fantasy football, try to get into that mindset when you see amazing plays. Even when they go against you.
There's the other side of the coin, too. Maybe you're the one bringing the storm to your opponent, and you're watching a player rack up more points than you had any right to expect. Have you ever wished they'd actually pull one of your players because you don't need any more points, and you don't want them getting hurt? Have you ever had a player going in a Sunday night or Monday game, and you didn't care how they performed because you secured the win hours ago? It's a great feeling, right?
Please, remember that feeling. Cherish it. They don't come around too often. We spend more than enough much time fretting over a touchdown vulture, or a missed field goal, or a dropped pass that costs us a win. Don't let your reward be "not stressing over the outcome for a change." Truly appreciate that rare occasion where you had more ammunition than you needed. You won big, and you should feel great about it. Even if your playoff hopes don't look good. Even if it's a lone bright spot in an otherwise-disappointing campaign. We play for moments like that. You see NFL teams celebrate a win in a losing season they know will end in week 17. They still won, and they're still happy. Why can't you do the same?
If a guy comes through with a heroic performance and helps your team, enjoy it. If it hurts your team, try and respect it. You don't control when it happens, after all. Over time, you'll celebrate about as many as you'll suffer. And in an age of parity and risk-averse coaching, we don't really get enough of these moments. And sometimes getting blown out isn't as agonizing as benching the player that would have helped you win. All you can do is shrug your shoulders and move on to the next game. And there are still quite a few remaining, after all. Good luck this week.
How do you handle seeing a player single-handedly destroy your team? Can you appreciate the performance? Was it your guy who smashed your opponent this week, or did you survive a one-man wrecking crew? Share your thoughts below.