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Zero Means Nothing

The "O" doesn't have to mean "Oh no!"

Zero is an interesting number. When it was invented (or discovered, depending on who you ask), it opened up so many opportunities in communication, finance, science and technology. The device you’re using to read this column couldn’t operate without zero. It’s that important.

It also has the ability to ruin your fantasy season when it’s barely started. Obsessing over a zero on your record encourages panic, frustration, overconfidence, arrogance, and bad decisions. Be careful.

Now, I know this is easier said than done. If you’re 0-3, it’s hard not to be worried. You just have to remember that not all 0-3s are the same. Did you start your very best guys and they weren’t even average? That’s one thing. But if you ran into high-scoring opponents, or suffered untimely injuries, or simply left better options on your bench, that’s a manageable 0-3. You can turn it around. Even underperforming guys can start out slow and still prove their value over the course of the season.

Remember, NFL teams go through slumps. They can feel dejected, coaches can see that their time is short, and panic can spread through a franchise. You think Chargers head coach Brandon Staley is looking to buy a house in Los Angeles, even after winning last week? I wouldn’t. And I’m not sure what you’re supposed to say after another disappointing loss, but Justin Fields sounds deflated and defeated. This is a guy who lost a total of two games in college, and 23 (so far) as a pro. He’s frustrated. The Bears are not a playoff team.

But your 0-3 team? No such emotion. Your guys don’t even know they’re on a team together! And that works to your advantage, because there’s no negativity to overcome. They don’t have a brutal schedule, or have the media questioning every move they make. You don’t have an angry owner breathing down your neck. The team can just start winning. An underperforming fantasy team has an easier time shaking off losses than an underperforming NFL team. As long as you don’t panic, that is. You can’t consider wholesale changes, or drop good players, or sell low in a panicky trade. You need to react, but don’t overreact. Start fresh this week and get ready for week 4.

Dak Prescott called Dallas’ loss to Arizona humbling. In truth, it might be good for them, because their record is a more-accurate reflection of what they really are. Meanwhile the 0-3 Vikings are probably about the same team they were last year. They’ve lost three games by six points or less; last year they were winning all their close games. They could easily be 3-0, but they aren’t despite not being that different. They’re just losing the games they won last year. Whether the Cowboys and Vikings can bounce back will depend on emotion, team morale and what the owners and coaches want to do.

But you don’t have to deal with problems like owners named Jerry Jones or team morale. If you can stay calm and refrain from making hasty decisions, you can help your team. That’s it. It shouldn’t feel good to be 0-3, but it’s not the disaster you think it is.

Oh, that zero is dangerous on the other side, too. Feeling awesome about your 3-0 team? That’s great, but take a look at what kind of 3-0 team you have. Are you a product of an easy schedule? Opponents getting hit with injuries, or just off games from their best players? Is one guy bailing out a mediocre team? If you loved your team before week 1, you’re probably head over heels for a 3-0 squad. You might not want to make any changes, and not be as aggressive on the waiver wire. You might not be looking to improve, top to bottom, like you would if you had a loss right now. And that relaxed mindset can really hurt you later.

Ironically, the most stable fantasy managers are probably 2-1 or 1-2 after three weeks. They know their team can win, and it can lose, too. They don’t have to panic, but they can’t sit back and coast, either. In reality, nobody should be panicked or cocky after three weeks. But the zero is powerful, especially when you look at it all week long. Just don’t let it affect your decisions, or your attitude. Good luck this week.

How are you feeling at 0-3, or 3-0? Are you panicking, or proud? How do you talk yourself off the ledge, or keep your optimism in check? Share your thoughts below.

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