Mind games with yourself: The fantasy football dilemma

I’m in an interesting predicament here. You see, my fantasy team is playing for the championship this weekend, and I’m counting on Wes Welker to put up some points.

Winning a fantasy football championship is very important to me. And here lies the problem with fantasy sports: My favorite team doing well is also very important to me.

It’s a mind game people across the country will play against themselves this weekend. Do I root for my team, or my fantasy players? The obvious answer is, “How about my guy does well but my team still pulls out the victory?” In theory that’s the perfect storm, but in reality, 99 times out of 100 that won’t happen.

As sports fans, sitting in front of the T.V. and letting a game play itself out is absolutely out of the question. That feeling of helplessness in our everyday lives is half the reason we became sports fans in the first place. We must pick a side to root for, because (for some inexplicable reason) we feel our silent cheering will affect the outcome of the game.

Rarely can I turn on a game and watch it just for the sport. After approximately 3 minutes and 11 seconds, I am secretly rooting for a team in my head. And it’s for the stupidest reasons. The quarterback might have a cool name, or maybe I have a friend who goes to school there.

The $8 jacket I bought from Steve & Barry’s back in middle school had absolutely no effect on Michigan State’s basketball performance, but to this day I still root for the Spartans (Drew Neitzel is the man!).

This only highlights the stupidity of it all, but this how we live as sports fans and we are not likely to change our ways. This is all very interesting and I’d love to talk more about it (seriously), but right now I have a bigger problem. Tomorrow when the Bills take on the Patriots, I don’t know who I’m going to root for.

My team that has Welker is in the league I run. I’ve been the commissioner for seven years and I’ve never won the championship. Last year I lost in the championship game, to my brother. I can’t lose again. It’s bad enough that my first-round pick I’ve banked on all year (Maurice Jones-Drew) probably won’t play.

Now just at this moment when fantasy owners are about to feel sorry for themselves, the other voice inside their head speaks up, reminding them that they love this team. Remember driving out to training camp to see players who shouldn’t even be on NFL rosters? How about all that time you weren’t doing homework because you refused to turn off a 34-7 blowout until the final whistle? That’s love! You can’t bail on them now for some wadded up cash and bragging rights only 11 other guys know about.

I gave this a lot of thought, and I decided that as long as you don’t openly cheer against your team, you should be okay. I should mention my decision was made a lot easier by the fact that the Bills have been out of playoff contention since day one. I’d hate to be Giants fan starting Aaron Rodgers this week.

So what happens if the Bills are up by five with one second left and the ball on the 6-yard line? All I can say is “Throw it to Welker.” I won’t say anything about him catching it or scoring. Just throw it to him. That’s all I want. You’re not a bad fan if you do the same. We all really hope Arthur Moats hits Tom Brady so hard his Bieber hair falls out and the Bills take the fumble back for six.

But be serious. The reality is, Brady is a very good quarterback who will more than likely throw a well-executed pass with the game on the line. And when he does, all you can hope for is it’s intended for your guy.

Here’s the real question: Would you take a loss for your team if it meant your fantasy team would win the championship? I’m willing to bet the majority of people would say yes. On regular weeks, I generally tell myself the Bills are more important than my fantasy team. I can take five fewer points from my defense if it means Ryan Fitzpatrick has the red zone offense working.

But not on Championship Week. I’ve been trying to avoid saying that throughout the post because I know how bad it sounds. I’m not necessarily proud of it, but it’s the truth.

I just hope it’s not too long before the Bills matter enough this late in the season to change my mind.

Week 16 NFL picks

While the NFL looks ahead at its Week 17 finale, most fans have their focus set on week’s round of games, where their fantasy championships will be won or lost.

I didn’t realize the Buffalo News people picked Saturday’s game until it was too late. I think I might have taken the Cardinals, but it’s easy to say that now. I’ll just pick one less game.

New England at Bills (+8)–Pats. Bills usually keep Welker in check, but we haven’t beaten the Pats in our last 18 tries.

Dallas at Arizona (+6 1/2)

Detroit (+3 1/2) at Miami–Lions

Minnesota (+14 1/2) at Philadelphia–Vikings. Gotta make up ground somewhere.

Washington (+7) at Jacksonville–‘Skins. Sloppy one.

San Francisco (+2 1/2) at St. Louis–49ers. If this was Twitter, I’d tweet “#6-9divisionleader” but we all know the hashtag would cut out after the dash.

Seattle (+6 1/2) at Tampa Bay–Tampa. #6and9divisionleader. Much better.

Jets (+1) at Chicago–Bears

Baltimore at Cleveland (+3 1/2)–Remember last week when I asked if a line was serious and I lost? Maybe I learned something. Browns.

Indianapolis at Oakland (+3)–Colts

Tennessee (+5) at Kansas City–This is where I usually lose on KC and other people make money on the Titans. Look out for Moss. Titans.

Houston at Denver (+3)–Like Tebow and Lloyd, dislike everyone else. Texans.

Giants (+3) at Green Bay–GB

San Diego at Cincinnati (+7 1/2)–SD

New Orleans (+2 1/2) at Atlanta–Yikes what a game. Gets decided by a last-second field goal. Take the points. Saints.

Overall (best bets)
Sullivan: 117-93-5 (11-4)
Northrop: 116-94-5 (10-5)
DiCesare: 111-99-5 (9-6)
Wilson: 103-107-5 (11-4)
Gaughan: 101-109-5 (8-7)
McKissic: 100-110-5 (7-8)
Game Seven 91-119-5 (10-4-1)

Last week:
Bills (+5 1/2) at Miami–Bills
Bills 17-14. Win
Kansas City (+3) at St. Louis–Rams
KC 27-13. Loss
Houston (+1 1/2) at Tennessee–What? Is this a misprint in the Buffalo News? They spelled Tennessee wrong too so it could be. Houston*.
But then again, every time I pump a team up like this, they lose.
…..Eh. I hate being right. Tennessee 31-17. Loss
Jacksonville (+5) at Indianapolis–Jags
Indi 34-24. Loss
Arizona (+2 1/2) at Carolina–These teams might try to lose the game on purpose so they can get a leg up in the first overall draft pick sweepstakes. I honestly don’t know who is worse. I guess I’ll go with Carolina. I think.
Carolina 19-12. Win
Cleveland (+2) at Cincinnati–Cinci
Bengals 19-17. Push. Apparrently they didn’t have any pushes last week. Further review says final line was PK. Win.
Philadelphia (+3) at Giants–Eagles
Eagles 38-31. Embarrassing for the Giants. Win
Washington (+6) at Dallas–Dallas. Rex Grossman is starting for Washington. In my league, he currently has -1 fantasy points on the year.
Dallas 33-30. Loss
Detroit (+6) at Tampa Bay–Tampa
Detroit 23-20 (OT). Loss
New Orleans (+1 1/2) at Baltimore–Saints
Baltimore 30-24. Loss
Atlanta at Seattle (+6)–ATL
ATL 34-18. Win
Jets (+6) at Pittsburgh–Steelers
Jets 22-17. Loss
Denver (+6 1/2) at Oakland–Denver
Raiders 39-23. Loss
Green Bay (+9) at New England–Pats
GB 31-27. Loss
Chicago (+1 1/2) at Minnesota–Bears
Bears 40-14

6-9