Bill Parcells’ famous quote, “You are what your record says you are,” sums up life in the NFL perfectly. Excuses don’t matter, injuries don’t matter. Nothing matters except your record. If you’re 4-1, that’s who you are, no matter how you’ve played. Same with 1-4, or worse. James Robinson might think his 0-5 Jaguars are a “really good team" (yes, he said that) but he’s wrong. No matter how well he plays individually, the Jaguars aren’t a good team. Four of their five losses were by 10 points or more. But that doesn’t even matter. If they were all overtime defeats, they’re 0-5. They are what their record says they are.
Just don’t use that philosophy with fantasy football. Because it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Of course, if you’re sitting at 5-0 or 4-1, you feel good about your team. And if you’re 1-4 or worse, you feel terrible. But is your team really that good or bad? In the NFL the team plays offense and defense. In our game, we can’t do anything to stop our opponent. We’re really just comparing scores, like golf or bowling. So our record doesn’t mean we actually stopped or overcame our foe that week. It means our guys scored more than their guys.
So what’s the point? You have to look a little deeper into the stats to see how good your team really is (or isn’t). Are you 4-1 with a point total that’s below the league average? That means you’re lucky, and your team needs work. Are you 2-3 or 1-4 with the most points in your league? You have a good team, and bad luck. Not much you can do but hope the latter changes.
In fact, you really don’t want to do anything in that case. If your record pressures you into making changes to a high-scoring team, you’re actually hurting your chances at future success. And if you sit around thinking your lucky 4-1 team will keep playing the lowest-scorer of the week, you might find yourself on a long losing streak in the near future. Your team’s health, your total points and your future schedule will tell you more about your team’s prospects than just a simple record.
Many leagues utilize total points component, or keep track of your record against everyone in the league. Those methods provide a better snapshot of who’s performing and who’s struggling. You might not like what you see in those numbers, but it’s better to know than to fall into a false sense of security.
In one league, I’m 3-2. Not bad, right? No, not bad. Terrible. As in, lowest points in the league. If not for the Raiders throwing an interception in overtime of week 1, and Rodrigo Blankenship missing three kicks on Monday Night Football in week 5, I’d be 1-4. And that win was a nail-biter as well.
On the other hand, if Aaron Rodgers had thrown three TDs instead of four in week 2, I’d be 4-1. So what’s the difference between 4-1 and 1-4? A play here or there. But it’s still been a bad team so far, and I have no delusions that any of the teams below me in the standings are my inferiors. They’re all better than me from a scoring standpoint. Changes need to be made.
Now, in my case I’ve been starting the wrong people (my bench routinely beats my starters) and I have some players due to come back from injury. So it might just be a decent team that’s starting slow with, ahem, poor management. You might be in a similar situation. If you have a winning record with low scores, you can’t expect that whatever luck you’ve had will continue. You should assume it won’t, and act accordingly. If the answers aren’t on your bench, look to that desert of a waiver wire, and consider trades. But you can’t do nothing and expect to have a charmed life through January.
And if your record is awful but you’re scoring a lot of points, you have to be careful not to make changes in a fit of panic. You have a good team and a bad record. You control the team part; not the schedule. Eventually it evens out, and you have to hope that “eventually” means later this season. There are plenty of games left. Look at your team without the record and evaluate based on ability and production. You have some control over that, but you don’t control your opponent.
So remember, you are not what your record says you are. Unless you have a ton of points and a great record, or very few points and a rotten record, of course. Then, sure. That’s you. If that’s the case, I hope it’s the former. Good luck this week.
Are you better or worse than your record? How closely do your wins and losses reflect how good (or bad) your team is? Share your thoughts below.