Things I've Learned Playing Fantasy Football

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Three years ago I began a pathetic foray into Fantasy Football. I had no idea what I was doing. I drafted two kickers (I had not yet seen The League, so it wasn’t for humor -- I felt drafting two kickers was a legitimate strategy), and drafted T.O. in the first round (who was no longer playing in the NFL). That’s all you need to figure out how my season went. The next season wasn’t much better.

This year was different. I researched. I drafted well. I looked for little things here and there that could give me an edge (matchups for RBs and D/STs being a primary strategy). I’m currently in the first round of the playoffs after a 5-game winning streak with a 9-4 record. I’m 38.14pts ahead going into Monday Night Football with only M.Crosby(GB-K) left to play from my lineup. My opponent has E.Lacy(GB-RB) and Green Bay(DEF). Yahoo has me as a 90% favorite. Win or Lose, I’ve picked up a few things.

The Best Laid Schemes of Mice and Men...

“Sure things” are never sure things. A 10% chance of winning is closer to 30%. Anyone who plays poker knows the odds don’t always fall in your favor. A flush with only the river coming sometimes yields a full house for your opponent. It happens. And too many guys have put up 40+ points in the past few weeks. I’ll save the champagne for mimosas.

How this applies to life: You may have all your cards in order, or a “guaranteed” raise coming, or a date coming up on Friday night, etc. But, until it comes to fruition, it may as well not exist.

Research Matters

I’ll admit it: I tinker. I tinker a lot. To date I’ve made 56 moves. They were in aid of weekly matchups and stowing away possible studs. Some worked out (Tre Mason, Jeremy Hill), some didn’t (Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Charles Sims), and some are so-so (Martavis Bryant, Davante Adams). Those that showed talent but fell short of greatness due to playing alongside a more experienced pro remain on radar for next year. Theo Riddick, for example, I believe will be a monster. Same goes for Davante Adams. You can quote me if I’m right.

How this applies to life: Everything is a guess, really. Especially if you work in any creative realm, or a profession where you have to account for audience reaction. Do the best you can, educate yourself, and practice the craft. After that it’s out of your hands.

Experts Aren’t Always Right

For the first half of the season, the go-to Defense was whichever team was playing Jacksonville. But, that strategy stopped working because Jacksonville started figuring out to play football. A few weeks ago I picked up St.Louis because they were playing Oakland. Why? Because Oakland hadn’t figured out how to play football yet. They still haven’t. For as bad as Jacksonville was at the beginning of the season, Oakland was way worse. It paid off and they put up 32 points, with Detroit D on my bench with a meager 8pts. This past week I consulted FantasyPros and FantasySP on which D to start. They both said Detroit by a considerable margin. But, why? St.Louis D had way more points for the season, a higher FP/G average, and were on fire the past few weeks. Detroit was up against Tampa Bay, who give up 4th most points to Ds, and St.Louis was up against Washington, who give up the 3rd most. It was a coin flip. I ignored the experts and started St.Louis. In other words, I sided with momentum over perceived skill. They shut out Washington and put up 27pts while Detroit put up 13.

How this applies to life: You can learn anything in almost any arena through reading and practice. While Fantasy Football is a small example, everything I’ve learned for my profession came from research and practice. This isn’t to say formal education is pointless. But if you really want to perform well and compete, and have the passion and drive to do so, personal study can go a long way.

Obsession Only Hurts

There’s a fine line between diligence and obsession. Sometimes I would go back and forth on a player (even putting them in the lineup only to re-bench them minutes before the game), only to see the benched player put up more points. This of course left me thinking, “I knew it! I fucking knew it!” But, I didn’t know anything. If I knew, I’d have made the right move. The smart thing to do is make a decision and stick with it. Only if some specific new data comes to light -- and it’d better be very specific -- should you change your mind at the last minute.

How this applies to life: Don’t obsess. It’ll only drive you crazy. You didn’t “know” anything just because you went back and forth on a decision before landing on one that didn’t work out. Make educated choices and have confidence in what you decide to do. If it doesn’t work out, use the result to make a better decision next time.

As of this writing I've fallen to an 84% favorite. The score is 165.38 to 149.34...

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