The Life of a Fantasy Football Addict
It’s hard to explain my love of fantasy football to some people. I admit that I’m overly passionate about it more than most people should be. But I guess there’s people with entire careers telling people what to do for fantasy football, so maybe I’m not too crazy. From the months of September to December, there’s a good chance you’ll see me constantly on my phone looking for Twitter updates scrounging for any worthwhile update.
I first started doing fantasy football back in 2011 when my friend Matt invited me to his league. To no surprise, I had no idea what I was doing. Outside of the Packers, I didn’t know the players too well in the NFL. I drafted a quarterback in the Round 2, a WR with no capable quarterback in Round 3, and a defense in Round 7. No bueno.
Needless to say, I fumbled right out of the gate when it came to fantasy football. Something crazy happened that season in fantasy football though. I won the championship that year through a series of free agency pickups in which I picked up A.J. Green, DeMarco Murray, and Laurent Robinson. My first and second round draft picks (LeSean McCoy and Drew Brees) went on to have some of the best years of their career. The Ravens defense also went on to have a stellar year that year.
I took some pretty strong gambles last year in fantasy football and they came back to bite me. I prepared more than any other year for this draft by making adjustments to my draft board constantly and participating in countless mock drafts to ensure that I’d succeed. I took my chances with the 4th overall pick and chose Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Bucanneers, more commonly known in fantasy circles by his nickname “Muscle Hamster” for his ability to churn out yards and TDs. Martin had just come off a phenomenal rookie year with 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns. At the #4 pick, he was a “steal”. Again, in the 2013 season I took more gambles by drafting an injury prone Reggie Bush in Round 4 as my second running back and an injury prone Rob Gronkowski in Round 5.
They were such great values though! How could I ever pass them up at those spots? Despite having one of the top 4 scoring teams in the league, I missed playoffs by 3 games. The season was a massive failure by my standards. My first round pick Doug Martin went down six weeks into the season and I hadn’t built any depth to my already risky approach to the season. I remembered thinking heavily that I should take a risk on picking up Zac Stacy but I clung to my off and on again waiver wire pickup Pierre Thomas thinking he had more value. I was wrong. Zac Stacy went on to have a monster season for a waiver wire pickup. All I had to show for that year for waiver wire pickups was Keenan Allen who while good didn’t provide me the depth I needed in order to make it to the playoffs.
I took this year with a very different approach to the draft. I participated in barely any mock drafts well because they’re not real. When you draft in fantasy football, you have to be prepared to make adjustments. I try to individually be prepared for each round knowing who might be a good value in those rounds but somebody huge could fall to me and I’ll have to make an adjustment to my plan. I employ a very similar approach to fantasy football to Packers GM Ted Thompson’s draft approach and that’s always taking the best value. It may not be exactly what I need at that moment but throughout the season, it might be what takes me to the playoffs.
With my first round pick in the 2014 draft I had two clear choices to choose between, Marshawn Lynch and Calvin Johnson. My draft board said draft Calvin Johnson and so I went with it. Lynch went on to torch the Green Bay defense this last Thursday for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns.
I don’t fault myself for my pick of Calvin Johnson though, I still believe it was the right pick. Lynch is 28 years old and one of the most overworked runningbacks in the league, he could easily break down by the end of the season and lose carries to Seattle’s other runningbacks. When it comes to fantasy football, at least in the earlier rounds risk should be avoided at all costs. All we’re doing is guessing here week to week and season to season about how a certain player will perform in their respective positions.
When the clock started ticking with Round 2, I faced another tough decision between DeMarco Murray and Montee Ball. DeMarco Murray has had injury concerns in the past but performed well when healthy. Montee Ball doing well this year is purely speculative based on his performance at University of Wisconsin and the fact that he’s a runningback under Peyton Manning’s offense. Ball has yet to be the starter in an NFL team. Despite drafting Montee ball in one of my other leagues, the choice was clear to me, take the calculated risk of DeMarco Murray instead of the unproven Montee Ball. Again, I could be completely wrong. Murray may become injured and Ball could go on to have a top 5 season for practically peanuts.
As the draft chugged along, I saw myself going for value all across the board as any fantasy football player should do. In order to make the playoffs and hopefully win the championships though, I’ll have to be risky. I’ll have to drop players that I perceive as having value in order to pick up players that may have potential upside. It takes a confident person to win at fantasy football, that and pure dumb luck. To win at fantasy football, you have to take chances and embrace your inner Riverboat Ron.
Facing his imposing firing, Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera, began to gamble big last year because well he had nothing to lose. Faced with 4th and 1 from the 2 yard line against the New York Giants in the 1st quarter, Rivera opted to go for it on 4th down instead of taking the field goal. Rivera proceeded to convert 10 out of 13 fourth-down conversions the rest of the season and win NFL Coach of the Year. Rivera himself prefers the term “calculated-risk taker” and that’s really the mentality that one should take with fantasy football. Make drastic moves and be bold but understand the risk one takes with it.