News & Analysis

'You play to win the game'

Jun 5, 2018; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) during practice drills at Baptist Health Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor’s note: Every Sunday, we’ll wrap up the week on PFF Fantasy with some topic one of our writers has been thinking about of late, and recap the features, columns, and podcasts you could find on the site that week.)

I used to play a lot of poker — when I got out of college, it was my “job” for a while, before I started making better choices.

One thing that happens when you are college-aged and throw yourself into poker is that you play it all the time. I would play it at the casino, in the underground rooms, at friends’ houses. When I was killing time, I’d deal out random poker hands just to watch how things played out. When my buddies would hang out drinking, we’d end up dealing some hands.

I noticed some things about people. The stakes influenced the play style. When we’d have a few hundred in a game, they’d take it seriously, make smart choices, concentrate. When we’d have $5, $10 on it, they’d try, but they wouldn’t go crazy. If they lost, that wasn’t ideal, but oh well. And when we’d play for free because we were bored, they wouldn’t care even a little. All-in on a pair of 4’s? Whatever, there’s no stakes, we’d play again.

I wasn’t that way. I’m sure I played harder when the big money was on the line, but even in the free games, I’d try. I wanted to win, and I wanted the win to be legitimate. The money behind the game wasn’t the biggest factor for me; I just wanted to play it the “right” way.

I don’t say this to claim the moral high ground; I probably took the free games too seriously, and they went the other way. But it’s the same way I play fantasy — I don’t need to be playing for big money to try. And I don’t need to have a chance at the title to try, either.

There’s a debate every year about the so-called ethics of the eliminated teams. If you don’t have a shot at winning, improving your standing for something, or keep a contender’s game legitimate, what right do you have claiming players of waivers who could potentially matter for those contenders.

Here’s my take: You have a team. You bought in (literally or metaphorically) for a season of fantasy. Does that mean you use all your FAAB in Week 14 on a backup who has just been named the starter and could be significant in the playoffs? No, probably not. But if your starter gets benched or injured, and you need to fill a roster spot to play your matchup in a battle for ninth place? Pick him up.

We play this game to play the game. Yeah, the ones who have the money on the line at the end of the year are probably most invested, but if I’ve had a bad year, if I’m 3-10 and just filling out the losers bracket, than damn sure I want to be the winner of the losers. Make your additions. Add and drop. Ignore the money and play the game you signed up to play. Even if you aren’t playing *for* anything.


  • To Gronk Or Not To Gronk
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