Everyone’s been there. The afternoon games are wrapping up, your team’s done well and you’ve got an insurmountable lead. You’re about to finally turn the corner and make a playoff push. Your opponent has one guy playing Sunday night, and yeah he’s good, but there’s no way he can bring his team back against the lead you’ve built. So you crack a celebratory beer and settle in to watch the game and enjoy the final moments of your well-earned victory.

Then the unspeakable happens. That guy playing Sunday night? He goes off. It might happen in one play, or it might be a slow, painful death, single point after single devastating point. Either way, you’re stuck helplessly watching as your game, and quite possibly your season, go down the drain.

As your lead withers away and your hopes burn to ashes, an emotional whirlwind overwhelms you. It’s confusing. It’s maddening. It’s scary.1 You may be miserable, but you’re not alone. You’ve gone where many, many others have gone before you. You’re experiencing the 5 Stages of a Fantasy Football Loss.

Denial – When you can’t believe it happened like this.

No. It can’t be. You worked so hard to get to this point. You studied matchups. You picked up the top waiver wire player. You changed your lineup at least seven times. You can’t lose. Not like this. No, not like this. THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING.

Anger – When you flip off your opponent’s player for way longer than socially acceptable.2

Admit it. You’ve totally cursed out your TV. We understand. You can’t help it.3 There’s just something inside of you, an invisible force that pushes air up out of your lungs and through your larynx and mouth, causing a vibration in your vocal folds, and across your tongue and lips. It’s only chance that the resulting noise sounded suspiciously like “Go fuck yourself Rodgers.” That’s not who you really are.4

Bargaining – When you text the manager of your league to beg him to retroactively start that guy on your bench you totally meant to start.

But what if I just…or if only I would have…or what about the trade I could have made with…but you didn’t. There’s no going back. Maybe next week. Or maybe never. But certainly not this week.

Depression – When all hope for this season seems lost.5

It’s not fair. What about that light you had in your soul at the beginning of the year, the shining moment when you were sure that you had drafted your “best team in years”? Yeah, the shining light has dimmed to a barely visible flicker and is in danger of going out all together. The world is a dark and terrible place.

Acceptance – When you pick yourself up, dust yourself off6 and get your shit together.

It’s official. You lost. Now there are two options. Sit there and wallow in your defeat, bitch about it for the next week or so, and be a loser. Or just suck it up and do better the next time around.7 After all, you’ve got next week to look forward to, your QB is coming back from his bye and both your WRs are staring at pretty good matchups. There’s always tomorrow. There’s always hope. Then again, there’s a chance that you’ll lose another crushing defeat next week, too. But no, that can’t happen. You worked so hard to get to this point.

  1. Although maybe you should chill out a bit, you know? It’s just fantasy football.
  2. The rule of thumb is five Mississippis.
  3. What you could have helped was setting a better lineup that didn’t leave 45 points on your bench but, well, here we are.
  4. Right?
  5. Usually after you start picking up the pieces of the computer you threw across the room.
  6. Seriously though, what were you doing on the floor?
  7. And technically, still be a loser…

Alex Schillinger is an editor and contributor at The Read Option.

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