Wednesday - Jul 17, 2019

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Keeping Ahead – Escapism

It was a huge weekend in the NFL in Week 10, including sudden benchings, breakout performances, a Detroit Lions victory, and more than a few players for me to crow about. I will get to it all in a bit, I promise, and if you are only here for the fantasy content, feel free to skip ahead to Page 2 now. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t first address what happened in the rest of the world.

Here at Fantasy Sharks, I am blessed with having the best management and editors in the industry. They give me the space of ‘Keeping Ahead’ to play, essentially, using the column to entertain, riff, and, more often than not, vent. I have found it to be a cathartic experience, especially after a difficult fantasy football weekend, and due to the amount of feedback I receive weekly, it seems as though it is helpful to many of you as well. What has started as a simple column discussing keeper league strategies has begun to grow into a little community, and for that I could not be more thankful. I say this all, because on Saturday, I received this from a reader:

“MJ,

 In the wake of the attacks on Paris, I’ve found myself unable to focus on football this week. My team really needs a win this weekend, but it just doesn’t seem important anymore. Ever feel that way?

Jeremy”

My response was simple, and (probably too) curt. “Absolutely,” I responded.

I, along with Jeremy and countless others, was heartbroken at the tragic events that unfolded in Paris. My first action was to reach out to any and all friends I had living in the area to make sure they were unharmed. Thankfully, none of them were hurt and their families were all safe. Next, I painfully soaked up all the details I could from a variety of news outlets, putting together a rough sketch of a timeline in my head. Then, I tried to make sense of it all. This is where I got stuck.

As fantasy football players and sports aficionados, we attempt to deal in logic and reason. We look at numbers, trends, projections, matchups, and the like, attempting to make educated guesses at what will happen that coming week on the field. Often, we are wrong, and a player fails to live up to lofty expectations (cough, cough Peyton Manning), but occasionally we are absolutely correct and reap the benefits as a result. But underlying all the variance is still a sound base of logic and reason, acting as the keel to our fantasy decision-making ship.

What happened in Paris makes no sense because it was senseless.

The victims of the cowardly attacks in Paris were not soldiers.

They were not political leaders.

They were not prisoners of war.

They were men, women and children.

They were concert-goers. Restaurant patrons. Sports fans.

They were us.

This is why an attack like this, much like the 9/11 attacks more than a decade ago, hit us collectively so hard and make us question all the “unimportant” aspects of our lives, like fantasy football. That could have been any one of us in that restaurant, or in that stadium, or listening to that band. That realization makes you want to hug your family members, pray for safety, and concentrate on things other than which wide receiver will score the most points this week.

But, here is the thing, Jeremy: it’s moments like these that highlight exactly why we play fantasy football in the first place.

In life, we need escapism. Sometimes we try to escape our jobs, or our relationships, or the weight of finances. Sometimes it’s just a bad day where we were cut off in traffic and the last glazed donut was just sold to the dude in front of us in line. Whatever it may be, we play because we need to play. It helps us through these moments and forces us to concentrate on something that, in all honesty, just makes a little bit of sense to us. That is logical. That we can understand.

So, Jeremy, my longer response to your question is simply to encourage you to keep playing fantasy, keep setting your lineups and keep enjoying the game we love with those we love.

In the wake of unspeakable, illogical tragedy, what more can we do?

About MJ Brown

MJ Brown has been an avid fantasy football keeper league enthusiast and player for over a decade. A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, MJ delivers weekly content on multiple platforms, bringing a combination of advice, humor, and tips to keep your team at the top of your league.