Saturday - Jan 16, 2021

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When (and when not) To Be a Homer

I belong to a long-term fantasy football league. I don’t want to use the term legacy because that has a different meaning/connotation behind it. However, this league is five years running and has only lost one member due to lack of participation. This league is run out of
Milwaukee, Wisc., and every member does not live in this state, but is a
Wisconsin sports fan as a whole.

I think that this vague and general description likely fits most leagues. A bunch of high school/college friends that keep in touch via football, namely fantasy football. It is a great way to keep in touch, talk smack, have a man weekend (sorry ladies if you play, too, but the demographic is what it is) and possibly even gamble. However, to be a real fantasy owner you must learn to separate yourself from your team to some extent.

You need to stop being a “homer” now! What is a homer? I’m glad you asked. It is being a committed hometown or favorite team fan to a fault. This is a sports syndrome that many people get when they stop looking at something objectively and are subject to regional and cultural biases surrounding them. Fantasy football team owners: we are not general managers in the NFL, so stop saying “WE” when you address your favorite team. Stop jumping on your team’s, coaches, GM’s and owner’s back every time something happens that you didn’t like. I am guilty of this crime too. Let me give you a recent example of homerism from a fantasy football perspective.

Last year I went to a Green Bay Packers game and ‘we’ were playing the Carolina Panthers.  My running backs last year were interesting: Joseph Addai, Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams and Brian Westbrook. I was going to the game with three other guys in my league and with our wives/girlfriends (no we did not sit by the ladies, we sat by each other … men learn to separate your women from fantasy football; they impede our happiness/unhappiness). I was told by the three other owners you cannot play DeAngelo Williams vs. “our team.” I simply said, why? They didn’t have a logical answer, rather a typical homer answer: because they are playing “us.” Are you getting my point? The first person speech needs to stop now! DeAngelo did not have a ton of yards that day, but had four 1-yard touchdowns (yes I started him and won!)

If you fall victim to this type of homer thinking, stop now! You will not be a successful owner if you do this. Here are the other homer rules that you need to follow immediately!

1. Do not overdraft players because they are on your team. You likely have intimate knowledge of your team because you are obsessed, see local news promoting them, make sure to check your team website, etc.  However, every team has this same scenario and just because you focus 90% of your attention on one team doesn’t mean you just found the diamond in the rough. Draft appropriately, and if you are on the fence, look at your next round draft position. If you stretch by 10 picks that is one thing, but stretching by three rounds is another.

2. Don’t worry about who your hometown team is playing. If you have a good matchup and your team has a bad rush defense like the Packers did last year, start your stud against them; don’t hesitate. This is like playing poker – disassociate yourself from the money and you will be better (the money is your home team in that analogy). If there is truly (and this rarely occurs) a coin flip situation in who to start, by all means start either your hometown player or the player not playing against “your team.”

3. Read about other teams! We are all guilty of following our home teams too much. Stop being a homer! Say it with me: STOP BEING A HOMER! I promise you that if you learn to diversify your reading about the entire football league you will draft better, beat other owners to the punch on rookies and find the true gems that are waiting in free agency (see Pierre Thomas, Le’Ron McClain and Antonio Bryant of last year). Stop looking to be the guy who steals a terrible rookie or fourth wide receiver option on your home team. You would do much more justice in taking a flier on a possible breakout rookie, especially in keeper formats. 

4. Cheat and manipulate. Ok don’t cheat, but throw bad regional articles to your league message board, e-mail list and social websites. Make your league buy-in to players that have no business being drafted or at least as early as you sold it. I remember last year I was pushing all sorts of rookies that I want and was saying it just loud enough that players drafting the round before me were grabbing them, especially hometown players (yes I got a guy to draft Mason Crosby in the 11th round last year for Tim Hightower to fall to me). Have fun, manipulate people and win! It will be a great chance to rib the guy all year for drafting that guy.

Live by these rules and try to eliminate some of the ‘homer’ in you and I promise you will have more success. Being a homer is fine, but to a point. Do your research and plug in the best situational player and hope for the best.

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