This column will explore ways for us to get an edge on our opponents. Any schmohawk can keep an eye on the daily updates and make moves accordingly. You’ll win weaker leagues that way. Maybe you’re OK with that. This is about people who are not OK with leaving winning to chance.
I think we can learn a lot from other competitive endeavors (business, games, the market, sports, etc.) and apply these lessons to our Fantasy Football strategy. I don’t have all the answers but if you read this column at the very least I’ll supply you with great questions, ideas, and strategies to explore. — Drew
Do you play No-Limit Hold’em poker? It is a game that, like Fantasy Sports, is won on the margins. People love to glorify the “All-In” or the huge bluff. Lower caliber players whine about getting unlucky and cry that if they “just would have gotten a hand they would have won.” Their insistence on luck makes them feel safe; it’s their Snuggie. Warm and fuzzy, holes for your arms, doesn’t judge you. It feels so nice to condone my lack of success! It’s all luck, right?
Any good player will tell you that they love to sit at a table full of losers who think that way. Over the course of time these novices do not stand a chance, they have written the outcome off to chance. Once in a while they will catch the right cards (or happen to draft the right players and avoid injuries) and win. This will confirm their belief in their flawed system. It is like they are “playing Checkers” while the successful players are “playing Chess” and thinking moves (in the case of Fantasy, weeks) ahead.
A good poker player, like a good fantasy football owner, falls in love with the small decisions that go unnoticed. Winning/being successful in any endeavor is about finding an edge; a margin on your competition. Margins give you ways to win with or without luck more often than you would otherwise.
So what is this margin you speak of?
The margins in Fantasy Football are your Bench positions. My benches contain exclusively (other than 2 QB Leagues) Running Backs and Receivers who have the most potential to break out and put up big numbers.
On my bench last year I stashed away Steve Slaton and Tim Hightower. Both were backups on the depth chart and ranked very low preseason. For weeks they sat there doing nothing for me except making me feel secretly clever. Later in the year they made me look publicly clever.
Most of those “types” of dudes will not work out. You know who else I rostered last year? Chris Perry- he crapped in my cheerios big time. Ryan Torain- I gave him my class ring and he pawned it off. The list goes on and on. All these dudes did not pan out. What was I thinking? I could have been solidifying my back up Tight End spot and rostering a second Quarterback! . . . Oh wait never mind; if I had done that I might have dropped Steve Slaton or Tim Hightower and I would not have won my league.
Keep in mind I am talking about 1 QB and 1 TE leagues here (if you are in a two Tight End league come on, seriously?) In standard leagues with 1 QB and 1 TE rostering backups at these positions costs you the diamonds in the rough. I won’t even mention Kicker and Defense because…. I shouldn’t have to.
Look, I get it. They make you feel safe. They make you feel warm. It’s just you, your Snuggie, and that creepy bear from the fabric softener commercials together cuddling on the couch and watching Golden Girls. Awwwww……
After you get done talking about your feelings and tickle fighting in your Rainbow Brite pajamas can we discuss how to win your league this year? That is the goal, right?
The allure of Fantasy Sports is that you get to make the decisions. But sometimes people get trapped into a narrow-minded view and fail to adapt and learn. You might disagree with this whole idea but aren’t you at least curious? If you’re dead set against it then you should try to disprove it by using it.
In one of your leagues this year make a “No Snuggie” vow to yourself. Of course on the Bye weeks for your Starting QB, TE, Kicker, Defense you will have to drop one of your Sleepers to plug in someone. Do not leave points on the table obviously.
When I was bad at Poker I felt like the people at the table winning were playing a different game than I was. After I got a lot better, learned a few things, and got some experience I started to feel the opposite. Most people are not observant enough to even realize it. It goes back to “Checkers or Chess?”
Are your decisions robotic? Did they come out of the typical fantasy strategy playbook? If so, then winning your league is more or less going to come down to luck. You may as well set it on Autodraft.
There’s always an edge, a small thing you can do differently. Try ditching the marginal backups at non break-out positions; you may just find this year’s Steve Slaton if you do.
Wondering who to target? I’ll take it to another level. I’ll tell you who to target now and give you a system to use so you can ideally match Sleepers to your roster all season in the next Game (Day) Theory.