Fantasy Doctor: Fandom and fantasy can coexist

I don’t like rooting for some players.

When Aaron Rodgers fakes a handoff and connects with Randall Cobb for 5-yard touchdown pass, I’m not happy by any stretch. I’m fuming, I’m screaming and usually I want to throw something from my 24th-floor balcony. Why? Because I’m a Chicago Bears fan, and the Packers just scored.

In regard to my fantasy team, though, I’m at a crossroads. My team always comes first. I would rather lose the week than see a strike against the Bears’ record. But if the Packers are going to score — and trust me, they are — it may as well go to my fantasy player.

As owners, we’re drawn to fantasy football because of our shared love for the sport. Most of the time, that love entails allegiances to a favorite team. Fantasy football tests our loyalties, though. It forces us to look at the player’s statistics alone, as if everything else about them is unnecessary.

Before I started playing fantasy, anything resembling a Lion or Viking caused me to lose my temper. Fantasy has helped me take a step back and appreciate the player for his performance. Now I can admire players like Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson — even though I’d rather see them have an off week when in or hosting Chicago.

It’s tough to swallow, but fantasy actually makes owners more tolerant of other teams and players in the league. It can sometimes feel like you’re cheating on your team when you root for another. But if you’re a Dolphins fan, there’s no shame in feeling a little excited when Tom Brady throws another touchdown pass. You’re a fan first, and no one knows it better than you. So quit feeling guilty and accept that you live in two worlds.

My Bears are always No. 1 in my life as a fan. That will never change. But as an owner with Matthew Stafford, Peterson and Cobb on his roster, I can find a happy medium. Not just because it’s my duty to trust the Bears to do their jobs and win, but because it’s my welcomed obligation as a fantasy owner to celebrate good, quality football.

So if Sunday rolls around and the game breaks to a highlight video of Stafford throwing deep one into the end zone, you can bet I’ll crack a smile. Just remember, Chicago. I still love ya.

With the bulk of Week 5’s games about to get underway, it’s time for the fantasy doctor’s weekly picks for starts and sits.

START

Philip Rivers (quarterback, Chargers, 88 points in ESPN leagues) — I know, this goes against my every belief. Nearly every time I have relied on Rivers, he has found a way to let me down. But this isn’t about me. It’s about you, the owners, and Rivers seems to be in your best interest. His 74 percent completion rate after 142 passes is supplemented by his 11 touchdowns and 1,199 yards. Having only been picked off twice, Rivers has only tossed for over 400 yards in two games this year. Against the Raiders this weekend, Rivers’ numbers are convincing enough to make anyone believe in him — and that’s coming from me.

Greg Olsen (tight end, Panthers, 24 points) — The former Bear has made a decent living over with Cam Newton in Carolina, and going against a Cardinals defense that lacks on tight end protection, Olsen is a hot start target this week. Steve Smith can be expected to attract the secondary like mosquitoes to legs on humid summer nights, especially coming off the bye week. While Arizona is caught up watching Smith, Newton is likely to look to big No. 88 for several first downs and even a grab or two in the end zone. 

SITS

Eddie Lacy (running back, Packers, 12 points) — Analysts and commentators everywhere are setting the expectations for the returning Lacy awfully high. Against San Francisco in Week 1, Lacy took 14 for 41 yards and a touchdown for an acceptable 11 points. In Week 2, he suffered a concussion after one carry. With Starks ruled out, Lacy is the looked-to running back for the Packers, but putting much faith in him just seems too risky still. Unless the bye week has you without any other options, I’d advise leaving Lacy out this week against Detroit.

Coby Fleener (tight end, Colts, 26 points) — Last week, I plucked Fleener from the waiver wires and started him. He hauled in five for 77 yards and 1 touchdown, good for 13 points. But this week against Seattle, I wouldn’t dare expect as much production. Fleener will get his fair share of looks, but after letting Houston’s tight ends abuse them, a Seahawks lockdown is imminent on one of Andrew Luck’s favorite targets. Your best course is to let him ride out the Seattle invasion on your bench.

DOUBLE SIT

Josh Freeman (quarterback, formerly Buccaneers, 23 points) — For those of who haven’t heard, Freeman was released Thursday by Tampa Bay. Officially, the release was “in the best interests of both Josh and the Buccaneers,” according to general manager Mark Dominik’s statement. This translates to Freeman being a nuisance to the team’s well being, which makes sense after the Sports Illustrated report of his two fines in the past month “for conduct detrimental to the team.” Odds are good you didn’t have Josh Freeman on your team anyway. But just in case you felt like taking a leap of faith with the 17th overall pick in the 2009 draft, don’t do it.

J.J. is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Wilsonable07.