In July, Eric Olinger penned an article about DLF’s collective Burn List, or group of players who have “wronged” us in the past. As Eric stated, perhaps these players were “on our team and stinking up the joint or thriving on someone else’s team.” Whatever the reason, it makes you sick just thinking about the ways they’ve tortured you in the past.
In spite of that, this is fantasy football, right? You’re obviously invested in the end game, but as many fantasy detractors have told me, “Who cares, it’s not like it’s real!” When Brian Westbrook purposely fell down on the one-yard line in a 2007 game against the Cowboys, many a fantasy heart was likely broken. However, deep down you understood that he only did it to ice the game for his team. The fantasy player in you disapproved of it, but the football enthusiast understood it was the right move. You, only temporarily, “hated” Westbrook.
Well, this article is about something more visceral. There are some players out there who the majority of us legitimately don’t like. This dislike can subsequently manifest itself in all aspects of how we manage our teams, including drafting, lineup decisions and trades. We subconsciously undervalue these players, and wouldn’t shed a tear if we sent them packing. The more averse we are the seeing them do well, the more likely we are to leave them on our benches, or avoid them completely!
As a shrewd fantasy owner, you should try to use this knowledge to your advantage. While it’s folly to believe you can completely divest yourself of emotion, you can certainly use it to your advantage by preying on the emotions (and lineups!) of your league-mates. What follows is a short list of players who can undoubtedly help your team, and who might just come at a discounted “hate rate.”
Ben Roethlisberger, QB PIT
Why We Don’t Like Him: For a man who had it all, Big Ben’s 2010 indiscretions at that Georgia bar were inexcusable. All we could see was an immature, entitled star athlete thinking the rules didn’t apply to him. As Caretaker similarly described to incarcerated former quarterback Paul Crewe in The Longest Yard, “Most of these old boys don’t have nothing. Never had nothing to start with. But you, you had it all. Then you let your teammates down, got yourself caught with your hand in the cookie jar.” Additionally, Roethlisberger is arguably the only player in the NFL who could land you a night on the couch if your significant other finds out you drafted him!
How He Can Help Us: If the Steelers ever solve their offensive line woes (as they tried to do by drafting guard David DeCastro and tackle Mike Adams with their first two draft picks in 2012), look out! Big Ben has as strong an arm as any in the league, and would’ve finished in the top ten of pass attempts per game last year had he stayed healthy. Couple an elite group of wide receivers with Roethlisberger’s uncanny ability to keep plays alive, and you’re looking at potential QB1 value at a QB2 price. At age 30, Roethlisberger could still have a few years of potentially elite play ahead of him.
Tony Romo, QB DAL
Why We Don’t Like Him: How long do you have? Grab a chair, take your jacket off and stay awhile! First, Romo is the quarterback of America’s Team, which is a misnomer on par with a “Gentleman’s Club.” Next, there was that lightly publicized relationship with Jessica Simpson. Did that come up once or twice during Cowboys games? It didn’t work out, but fortunately he rebounded and ultimately married a former Miss USA contestant. Suffice it to say, when Romo chokes like an Anderson Silva opponent in the octagon, we all rejoice a little inside.
How He Can Help Us: The fact that Romo’s game is identified by late-season collapses and playoff failure is actually beneficial. As the majority of fantasy football leagues don’t take postseason production into account, this reputation camouflages his regular season fantasy success. Despite missing virtually all of week 16 due to injury, Romo’s 2011 stats included top five finishes in touchdowns, completion percentage and quarterback rating, while just missing in passing yards. At 32 years of age, Romo is no spring chicken. However, buoyed by an excellent supporting cast, he could without a doubt serve as the anchor for a contending team for the next two to three years.
Marshawn Lynch, RB SEA
Why We Don’t Like Him: There was a time when Lynch’s consumption of Skittles more accurately described his offseason diet than his post-touchdown ritual. Apart from his first two seasons in the league, as well as last season’s contract year explosion, Lynch’s game was more synonymous with “Least Mode” than “Beast Mode.” Of course, he celebrated getting paid with a DUI, coupling nicely with previous hit-and-run and gun charges. While he’s not quite at the Nuke LaLoosh “million-dollar arm, ten-cent head” level, Lynch’s knucklehead factor certainly grates on our nerves.
How He Can Help Us: Still only 26 years old, Lynch should offer RB1-level production as long as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is willing to ride him into the ground. In 2011, Lynch was the ball carrier on an amazing 73.5% of Seattle’s designed running back runs, despite recurring back issues and a one-game injury absence. In last year’s final nine-game stretch, he carried the ball no fewer than 19 times in each one! Lynch is also the goal line back, and not completely inept in the passing game, so target him knowing that the thorn in your league-mate’s side could become a blossoming rose on your roster.
Kenny Britt, WR TEN
Why We Don’t Like Him: For starters, we can’t rule out the possibility of Britt winding up in handcuffs before you’re done reading this paragraph. He’s been arrested an amazing seven times since joining the league, a number which is almost half his career touchdown total, and over twice the amount of games he played last year. His “rap sheet” is so extensive it could’ve been written by Jay-Z. In other words, the only thing reliable about him is his unreliability. Who needs that kind of headache?
How He Can Help Us: Even though he’s entering his fourth year in the league, Britt is still younger than AJ Green. He sports a career average of over 17 yards per catch, despite being the recipient of passes from Kerry Collins, Vince Young and Matt Hasselbeck. He’ll now be targeted by rocket-armed quarterback Jake Locker, while underneath threats Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and Jared Cook alleviate double coverage. The window to buy him at his lowest might have passed, but you can still possibly get him for quarters on the dollar. When healthy, and unencumbered by shackles, Britt offers top-ten upside at the receiver position.
Santonio Holmes, WR NYJ
Why We Don’t Like Him: Like a yoga instructor threatened by his (or her) star pupil, we’re jealous of Holmes’ flexibility. After all, his ability to limber up, stretch deep and stick his foot in his mouth time after time is nothing short of awe-inspiring! Shipped from Pittsburgh for a measly fifth-round pick, Holmes has continued his locker room cancer ways with the Jets. As recently as a week ago, Holmes proclaimed to the media that starting quarterback Mark Sanchez was rattled by the signing of Tim Tebow. With “friends” like that, right?
How He Can Help Us: Currently, Holmes is the perfect storm of diminishing production and boneheaded behavior. However, much like Concorde, Sir Lancelot’s attendant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Holmes is “not quite dead.” His present situation on a run-first team with uninspiring quarterback play is not ideal, and he won’t be a free agent until 2016. Despite that, there’s no guarantee that Sanchez (or Tebow) will be under center for the long haul. Holmes has flashed potential with competent quarterback play in the past, and could be the ultimate “buy low” candidate. At the cost of a low future draft pick, the reward could easily be worth the risk.
Ndamukong Suh, DT DET
Why We Don’t Like Him: Suh is the headliner of a Lions crew who are doing their best to rival their 1980’s Detroit brethren, the “Bad Boy” Pistons. Whether it’s his thuggish on-field behavior (stomping on the arm of Evan Dietrich-Smith) or his questionable actions off it (reckless driving, lying to 911 operators), Suh has established a reputation of being “dirty.”
How He Can Help Us: For those in IDP leagues that require a defensive tackle, Suh could be a useful addition to the lineup. Though he’s regressed since his standout rookie season, he’s only 25 years old and still possesses the same raw skill which helped make him the second overall pick in the 2010 draft. The combination of character concerns and recently declining play could net you a prospective long-term stud. If you want to Cash in like Johnny, then a boy named Suh might be your best bet.
As hardcore dyntasy footballers, we endeavor to utilize every possible advantage in order to create a lasting contender. Ultimately though, the actions which determine the outcome of a game, season, or even a multi-year run can inevitably come down to gut response. While no one is devoid of these primitive feelings, the ability to exploit another’s predispositions can go a long way toward enhancing your own positive emotions, as well as your roster!
Follow Eric on Twitter: @EDH_27
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