I’m an old curmudgeon and I’m also a serious competitor. Above all else, I’ve always felt that fantasy football should be fun. It’s like grilling a tender filet mignon. If you’re not having fun doing it, then chances are your steak is going to have the consistency of a boot.
Draft prep, the draft itself and the weekly finagling are the most fun for me – oh, and collecting the prize after Week 16.
But every year it seems there is at least one player who tries to suck the fun out of the game. Don’t be that player.
Here are some examples.
1) This player picks up a four-month old fantasy magazine on the way to the draft. He then realizes he arrived without a pen to cross off names. He then stops the draft to a screeching halt as he spends his turn in the draft flipping through the pages. He will then proceed to ask in the 13th round, “Is Tom Brady still available?” Don’t be that guy.
2) This player looks at a couple of fantasy websites a few days before the draft. He will likely breeze through a few articles about sleepers and rookies. He’ll then show up for the draft with a cheat sheet from somewhere online for a league that awards six points for passing touchdowns when your league allows four. Don’t be that guy.
3) This player starts draft prep the day after the Super Bowl and arrives at the draft with a 100-page notebook, separated by color-coded tabs, and loaded with statistics. Problem is, he has too much information. Because of this, he can’t access the right info fast enough and is just as bad as “magazine guy.” Don’t be that guy.
Be this guy: Start a few weeks before and follow a process that culminates in arriving at the draft with a one-page custom cheat sheet and a plan. There’s no one process, but it should center around gathering only information you need to make smart decisions. Always be prepared for surprises and be ready to pounce on mistakes. Check player stats for the past three years. Thoroughly understand your league’s rules, including the draft itself, scoring and waiver/trade procedures. Selectively read, read, read everything you think will help you develop your strategy and draft a plan without information overload (For instance, if you’re in a 10-team league, there is bound to be more “sleepers” than in a 12-14 team league). I like to start with a cheat sheet from online that reflects my league’s rules and scoring. Then use it as my sole working document to build my custom cheat sheet.
AT THE DRAFT
1) This manager talks about players still left on the board. Nothing ticks me off more than sitting on a player with only “desperate magazine guy” in front of me when someone at the table starts talking about the guy I’m sitting on. And magazine guy says, “Oh, yeah, I’ll take him.” Don’t be that guy (at risk of injury). I’m all for helping newcomers but when magazine guy is in his fifth draft, he’s on his own. Don’t help him. Try to get your league to set this as a draft rule.
2) This manager makes his pick, then spends his time screwing around until it’s his turn again. He hasn’t thought about his next pick or crossed off interim selections. Often you have to interrupt or find him just to tell him it’s his turn. Don’t be that guy. Yes, the object is to have fun. But don’t do it at the expense of others and turn what should be a 90-minute draft into four hours.
3) This manager had a few before he got to draft central, had a couple more before the start, and then tries to put away at least one per round. By the fifth round he and his picks make no sense. Don’t be that guy. Sure part of the fun is, well, having fun with your buddies. But getting out of control is an insult to the other players. Especially to the one who has to drive the player home.
Be this guy: Pretty simple really: Come to the draft prepared – prepared to have a good time AND prepared to accomplish the task at hand quickly and efficiently.
AFTER THE DRAFT
1) This player quits managing. It’s Week 5 and he is 0-4. Three of his studs are hurt and the waiver wire is bare. So by this time he’s figuring the season is shot. One week he forgets to replace a guy who’s hurt or on a bye week, then two guys, then he ignores his team altogether. Don’t be that guy. You owe it to the other teams in the league to field the best team you can each week. Why? I honestly can’t name the number of times a player fielded less than a full line-up against a team I am vying for first place with. The player who doesn’t care is essentially conceding the victory. Meanwhile, I’m facing the No. 3 team who just got the hot waiver wire pick. Failing to field a full line-up is unfair to the rest of the teams in your league. Make this a rule, with sanctions if you can.
2) This player says it’s over before it’s over. It’s Week 6, he’s 0-5 and there’s apparently no hope in sight. So, of course, they throw in the towel. Don’t be that guy. I once started 0-6, made it into the playoffs on a tiebreaker at 6-7, and finished with the third-place prize. Last year I won my regular season at 11-3, had four guys hurt early in my first playoff game and finished out of the running. The team that won it all was the fourth team in at 8-6. Even if the fat lady has sung, you can still play spoiler against that guy who’s been talking smack all season.
Be this guy: Everybody gets bad breaks, so enjoy the challenge of each week. Have fun making waiver claims, trades and line-up changes so you can at least try to win that week if not the season. Treat it like a game, because that’s what it is.
Oh, and if you’ve got “that guy” in your league, take advantage of him at every opportunity. I did mention I’m a serious competitor, didn’t I?