Don’t go on tilt

While the importance of stats are always emphasized by fantasy sports writers, there is more to fantasy success than stats alone. Managing your fantasy team also involves managing your own emotions. You can’t afford to go on tilt.

Going on tilt is a poker term used to describe someone who is letting their bad luck affect the way they play. For example, if someone has lost a bunch of hands in a row, or suffered one bad beat, he or she might start playing recklessly.

Let me show you how this applies to fantasy sports by sharing a story from my own experience. This is a story of how I went on tilt in my fantasy football league in September 2018. Hopefully, you will learn what not to do from this story.

As the curtain went up on the NFL season, I drew the No. 1 pick in my league. That year, the choice was between Le’Veon Bell and Todd Gurley. These two were the best, but I took Bell because he had more touches than Gurley the previous year.

It’s been well chronicled why Bell held out and why he never report to the Steelers.  When I realized my No. 1 pick wasn’t going to play in the opening week, I made a smart move. At that time, I didn’t realize just how smart it was.

On the Wednesday before week one, I made the decision to pick up James Conner, Bell’s backup. He was available on the waiver wire, and I added him. I only wish I could go back in time and stop there. If only I had known.

If only I had known how Bell’s handcuff was going to play like an elite running back until he was injured later in the season. But I didn’t know. Worse, yet, I didn’t think it through. After a restless night, I traded Conner away one day after I got him.

The trader on the other end of the deal was my own flesh and blood, my son. Nathan could see my emotions had kicked in as soon as Bell failed to report to training camp. He knew his father, the defending league champion, was on tilt.

While anger is usually the emotion that puts the poker player on tilt, fear is often the emotion that puts the fantasy player on tilt. It was only the first week, but I feared my season would be ruined if Bell held out the entire season.

Nathan told me he would trade for Bell. Like me, he knew I owned a rapidly depreciating asset, and he wasn’t going to pay top dollar. Nathan is a risk-taker by nature, and a smart trader. He would give up his RB1, but it would cost me.

Nathan would trade me Christian McCaffrey for Bell, but I had to throw in Conner and Devante Adams. In retrospect, I can justify trading Bell and Conner for McCaffrey. But putting Adams in the deal was a fear-driven decision.

I knew how good Adams was when I traded him. He was my No. 2 pick, and he went on to lead the league that year in fantasy points. But it gets worse. Later, I actually traded McCaffrey back to Nathan for David Johnson.

In summary, I managed to trade the top fantasy back (McCaffrey), the top receiver (Adams) and one of the top backs (Conner) for David Johnson and some other players that I later dropped. This is what a man can do on tilt.

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