PALLISTER: Fantasy football wife lessons: Don’t play it safe

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

My wife says I never listen to her, but that’s not true. Just the other day, she was saying something about Russell Wilson. I can’t remember what it was, but I vaguely recall thinking she had a point.

In all seriousness, I listen intently when my wife talks about things she knows, and she knows football, fantasy and otherwise. If not for a rare receiving touchdown by Marshawn Lynch last season in Week 16 (his only one of the year and only the third of his seven-year career), she would have won my family’s longtime fantasy league she joined a few years ago. As it was, she settled for the co-championship by virtue of a title-game tie.

Our debate over Wilson boiled down to the difference in how we approach putting together a team. As I’ve said numerous times in this space, I limit my risk as much as possible. My wife, however, takes chances. Last year, that included drafting Adrian Peterson when everyone else was worried he’d never be the same coming off a serious knee injury. She also took a chance on Peyton Manning, who had missed the entirety of the previous season after spinal fusion surgery. Those risks proved to be more than worth it. I played it more conservatively and finished third, which is what I get for overthinking and underdrafting.

Anyway, in my preview column last week, I said I liked the Big Four second-year starters in this order: Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. As I pointed out to my wife, I was correct in predicting before last season that Wilson would account for more TDs than RG3 or Luck, and I had confidence he could outperform them, as well as Kaepernick, again. Why not? He doesn’t have the athletic talent of Kaepernick or RG3, and he doesn’t have the quarterback talent of Luck. But he’s got all the intangibles. He’s smart, limits mistakes and makes big plays. I had convinced myself that he was the safest pick among the Big Four. You can’t really argue that he’s not. He plays on a very good team with a strong defense and a stronger running game. But the safest pick isn’t always the best pick in fantasy football. And I realized, as my wife argued for the potential of Kaepernick or RG3 over the steadiness of Wilson, why I was left the final week of the fantasy season last year rooting for her team and not my own.

My analysis of Wilson has nothing to do with the Seahawks losing free agent receiver Percy Harvin for most and possibly all of the season after hip surgery. Wilson excelled without him last year; he can do it again. But I’m in the minority with that thinking. As soon as Harvin’s surgery was announced, Wilson dropped about 20 spots in ESPN’s draft projections. He and RG3 basically switched places.

Kaepernick remains the highest rated of the Big Four, and that’s understandable. He lost his own No. 1 WR, Michael Crabtree, but the 49ers added Anquan Boldin, and Kapernick’s athleticism allows him to make plays with his feet — even more so than RG3, and that edge is especially acute this year with the Redskins’ savior recovering from his own serious knee injury.

My wife likes Kaepernick. I argued that he’s the kind of QB that could account for five TDs one week and five turnovers the next. I don’t like that type of uncertainty. My wife, though, thinks it’s more than worth it to take the chance on a possibly transcendent player (who, by the way, I wrote glowingly of after he dissected the Bears defense in his debut start on national television last year). And who am I to argue? She took a chance a few years ago that worked out almost as well as drafting Adrian Peterson.

Fantasy football is a game. Games aren’t supposed to be safe; games are supposed to be fun. It usually takes a discussion with my wife to remember such things.

In thinking about our upcoming draft, I am reminded of our trip to Busch Gardens a few years ago. She was more than willing to try out any number of roller coasters; I flat-out refused to ride all but a couple that we’ll describe as kid-friendly (and even those were scary!). I had a good time that day, but I probably would have had a great time had I taken a chance or two.

Remember that when you sit down to draft your team this year.

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