Fantasy Football: Who Really Knows Best?

Going into my fourth season of playing ESPN Fantasy Football I have yet to figure out the key to success. I have ended every season broken-hearted and just shy of that championship title. Nevertheless, I still manage to somehow find myself believing that through the experience, I gained the insightful knowledge necessary to wining it all the following season—strategies to pursue and players to avoid. As I frantically prepare for this years Fantasy draft, I realize that I’m just as uncertain as ever, despite the 3 years of experience under my belt. You would think that after 3 years of using completely different strategies going into the draft that I would have figured something out by now. The question really is will I ever be able to figure it out?


Whether you understand exactly how fantasy football works or not, most people today are at least familiar with the idea behind it. It has become so widely popular that they even created a television series, The League, based on the madness surrounding Fantasy Football and its resulting humor. In the past couple of years I have become completely obsessed with Fantasy, spending entirely too much time trying to make the smartest decisionsand making my team as best as I possibly can. As result of this obsession I have become deeply invested in the game not only with my time, but emotionally. Although this emotional investment can be rewarding at times, it more often than not causes me great pain and a level of frustration unlike any other.

Fantasy football as a whole is based on the concept of depending on the individual players you drafted to be on your team at the beginning of the season to perform at a high level each week of the NFL regular-season. However, no one can possibly predict the exact outcome of a player’s performance on a given week before it occurs, simply because anything can happen and the number of factors affecting a players performance and amount of playing time are infinite. Injuries can occur on any given Sunday and it can take only one injury to ruin your season (I know from experience). A prime example of the unpredictability of Fantasy in a more positive way is Adrian Peterson‘s performance in the 2012 season. Prior to the start of the season, fantasy draft resources ranked Peterson lower than usual due to a season-ending ACL tear the year before. Peterson, however, came back from the injury stronger than ever and went on to produce the second-highest rush yardage total in NFL history. AP’s miraculous performance helps demonstrate why the activity itself is so addicting—you’re left thinking that if you use the right resources, or find the perfect advice from an expert analysis, that you will have the inside scoop that will give the upper hand, whether is drafting the season’s breakout superstar or simply winning your upcoming match.

Although there are some common sense aspects of the game, you’re forced to make decisions regarding your team based on statistics, resources provided by the sponsoring site of your fantasy league, as well as outside sources. You can’t simply base you’re decisions as owner of a team on gut alone because of the level of unpredictability behind fantasy sports. Therefore, users tend to make their decisions solely based on these resources and expert opinions due to the lack of trust in their own gut. However, this begins to create a sense of false hope as many people, especially myself, begin to depend on the outcomes predicted by analysts and computer generated statistics. Confusion and frustration inevitably arise when the one player you debated on starting all week doesn’t perform as you expected and it ends up costing you the match.

The number of horror stories I have from situations where I took the advice of others over my gut instinct and it went on to hurt me are endless. When you become obsessed with Fantasy football like I have, whether you’re playing in a money league or just want a taste of glory, you spend a large amount of time each day debating on how to set your lineup for the upcoming week, and making the best managerial decisions in the meantime.  One cannot help but become emotional when things don’t turn out the way you wanted or expected after all that timespent deciding on what is best. Although I might not ever crack the key to Fantasy Football, whether its strategy or truly just luck of the draw, I have come to the realization that you should always trust your gut because in the end anything else is merely speculation.


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