By Dustin Shandri
Fantasy football is now a common phrase in workplaces across the country, and that’s no different here! As a research guru who loves statistics and analysis, it’s safe to say I’m the Bill James of Register Media leagues (if you don’t know who that is, you’re behind the curve). While I could ramble on incessantly for hours about fantasy football, I’ll take a page from Inigo Montoya of “The Princess Bride” – “Let me explain… no there is not enough time, let me sum up” – on how to win your league this fall and mirror it to how you build a successful business.
Completely off-topic, but does anyone else see the irony in that, for every hour spent managing your team, it costs your employer $5 an hour, multiplied by 17 NFL season weeks, multiplied by 27 million fantasy players? Fantasy football costs American companies $1.2 billion a week, or $20 billion every year, in lost productivity! Hey it’s only money – this is about fantasy glory!
Enough with that – how do I win?
1) Understand Your League
If you walk into your league’s draft blind – not knowing what site you’re on, or what draft format you’re using, or what the scoring rules are, etc. – you might as well as chalk it up to having some fun like losing money at the local casino, because you stand no chance! Think of it this way: If someone came to you looking for a business loan but they couldn’t tell you about their customers, their competition, and their general business, would you give them a loan? HECK NO! Your fantasy draft should be the same way.
2) Have a Strategy
Once you understand the format and scoring of your league, it’s time to start developing a strategy to get the players you need to win. The most critical aspect of this is developing what are called “tiers,” and it’s exactly as it sounds. By position, group players who you feel are statistically close. For example, at tight end, Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints is the clear No. 1 at his position, and there is no other player in his tier. Gronkowski, Gonzalez, and Witten are in the next tier, and then every other TE is in the last tier. This will help you avoid making mistakes in the draft.
3) Practice Using Mock Drafts
It shocks me how few fantasy players actually use mock drafts; it’s a great way to practice your strategy. Lots of fantasy websites now offer this for free to practice. In fact, I would use the site your league is using for real to practice on. I would recommend doing this multiple times in the format of your draft, and if it’s a standard snake draft, practice from multiple draft positions. As a rule of thumb, when you start ending up with the same players on your team, you are ready for the real thing!
4) Start Runs – Don’t End Them
Often times in business, we tend to have a pack-mentality where we follow each other. Fantasy drafts are no different when position runs start to happen. Case in point: Back to tight ends, that position has enormous scarcity. If you miss on taking the top 4 guys, don’t panic on using a mid-round pick like the rest of your league is going to do, because for the most part there is very little difference between the 5th and 15th tight end this year. When it comes to value, give me Brandon Myers a full 4 rounds later than Vernon Davis or Dennis Pitta. Remember step 2 – you built a winning strategy. Don’t get scared because something unplanned happen and you panic into a bad selection. Logic dictates that if other people in the league are reaching for players because of position runs, someone of value has to fall down the draft and on to your roster!
5) Value Based Drafting, or VBD
Since I brought up the topic of value, you should really look into the concept of Value Based Drafting (VBD). Much like in business, you are looking for ROI – VBD is a very similar concept. It measures the gap between any player and the estimated value of a replacement player you could get on the waiver wire. For example, the gap between Adrian Peterson and the 36th best RB was well over 200 points last year – by contrast Calvin Johnson had one the best statistical years ever in fantasy last year for a wide receiver, and his VBD by comparison was about half that! Fantasy drafts are like golf tournaments – you can’t win it on Thursday but you can sure lose it by making a terrible pick in the first 3 rounds!
So are you ready now? If you answered “yes,” you clearly did not get this article. As Brian McKnight would sing, “Start Back at 1” and prepare yourself for success!by