The Fantasy Loser

The Fantasy Loser: Lessons learned

As of this writing, I am just coming back from a devastating loss that knocked me out of the 2016 FFB playoffs. 4 of the last 5 years, I’ve been knocked out of the playoffs in week 14 or 15 in this particular league. This is my home league, which I have never won, and it has become somewhat of an obsession to focus my energy in winning. While the loss is not new, the season in it of itself was different than most years. Through the years, I’ve sneak into the playoffs, I’ve been the #1 seed with far and away the best record, and I’ve once held the best scoring team for the year. But never have I began the season at 0-8 in the last place (our league plays 2 games per week) and made a come back to the playoffs, as I’ve done so this year. Every week was a must win after I went 2 – 12. Through combining different tactics and strategies, I was able to pull off that exact feat; even I was surprised.

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Never Give Up! 

That’s the theme of this year. I was really one substitution away from getting into the Finals. But the main idea of this article, is to present to you my process of how you can sharpen your fantasy football skills. While, there is absolutely no such thing as the golden formula, I truly believe that you must have a blueprint in team management if you hope to be a playoff contender every year. This year, I’ve been able to evolve in my process, which really what helped me made an improbable comeback. I’ll summarize what helped me become a better this year, and hopefully you take some things and apply it to your own process.

1. Combine Dynasty (Dyno) and Daily Fantasy Sport (DFS)

This is truly one of the most interesting combination of mentality that I’ve applied this year. While you may have very little interest in playing Dynasty or DFS, I think at the very least you should spend one season playing and trying to understand the mentality it takes to play each of these formats. So, how does one combine a strategy of long-term investment with a strategy that preaches “every week is a new week”? For me, dynasty helped me attack the waiver wire and create dept while DFS helped me focus on lineup decision making. The dynasty mindset helps you identify waiver picks up long before your leaguemates realize that a player is not a fluke. For example, this past year after Latavius went down, the waiver wire focus was immediately on DeAndre Washington. Even the mainstream media were quick to tell you to jump on DeAndre. I lost out on that waiver bid, but i needed a RB that week myself. There were some excitement in the dynasty community about Jalen Richard’s potential, however mainstream media had 0 idea who this guy was. I was able to pick him up for free, and play him in immediately. That week Richard outscored DeAndre Washington, and I won my week.

The DFS mindset also set in at the same time. Before I was serious about DFS, like most owners I would have been ecstatic about uncovering a gem like Jalen Richard, and tried to keep him on my roster hoping for repeat success. However, in the DFS world, every week is a new week. Attachment and superstition are roads to DFS failure. So, dampening some of my emotional attachment, I quickly dropped Jalen for the next best matchups. This emotional regulation was also very useful in attacking the waiver wire. It didn’t matter if I spent $1 or 50% of my Free Agent Budget on acquiring a certain player, I was quickly to move on for the next FA when needed or when matchups dictate that this is prudent.
In summary, I would encourage you, if you’re not a dynasty player or DFS player to try to at least learn the process of both formats to help you become better in fantasy.

2. Anti-Fragility/ZeroRB Philosophy still works

This past off-season, there were an enormous amount of debate between different strategies. Debate is putting it mildly, as I witnessed a lot of fantasytwitter taken the arguments quite personally. Some even came up with ways to disprove each other’s strategy by doing something dumb like an artificial league that ask half the league to adopt one strategy while the other take on the opposite strategy. Basically, it became about who has the biggest D***, and it really got out of hand.
Many of you probably either taken aback or questioning my credibility, because this year, more than the previous years, WRs were not safe. In fact, many of the stud WRs had one form of ailment or another which made them less reliable than usual. There was also supposedly a return of stud RBs, prompting people to scoff at the ZeroWR strategy.
Perhaps I don’t follow the strategy to the tee, but I fully still endorse the philosophy itself. It is not a matter about loading up WR early and ignoring other positions. The strategy is grounded on the  philosophy that is grounded on probability and sound logic. Here is my interpretation of what the Anti-Fragility philosophy is about. As many of you know, this philosophy was proposed by Shawn Siegle (@FF_Contrarian), and as you think about his twitter handle, Contrarian is truly the basis of Anti-fragility. Many owners are driven to draft and do their waiver wires chasing after a fear of scarcity. “There isn’t enough stud RBs” or “you need a safe guy that you can plug-and-play”, these are some of the mentality that drives majority of fantasy football owners. So, naturally, you see many driven to stock up on these supposed studs early, regardless of position. There are two main reasons why this fear-driven tactic will be the undoing of your team:

A.) You make your team very fragile. If your main player gets injured or become ineffective, you’re truly stuck in a difficult position. You can’t drop that player, because you invested a lot of value in that player, and you won’t be able to trade him for fair value. In Seigle’s research, he found that RB’s, despite their annual top end value-that is mainly based on the lack of great and consistent RBs-, are also one of the most often injured position or a position that sees a tremendous amount of turnover ever year (e.g. top 10 RBs in 2015 looks a lot different than top 10 RBs in 2016).

B.) You create a false sense of confidence that your stud will deliver you the same great numbers he did last year. The false confidence is also one reason why fantasy owners are reluctant to make appropriate moves in a timely manner. I would know, I once adopted that loser mentality. You’re left hoping, despairing, praying, or goat-sacrificing to the fantasygods, so that my player can stay healthy or bounce back fast and not suffer any ill effect. Well, if you built your team on a solid foundation, where even when injury strikes or a complete slump affects your player, you are still left with players who can keep your team afloat. It just so happens that generally speaking WRs are one of the most consistent positions from year to year. Therefore, building a team with high floor WRs will more than likely give you that sound foundation.

Anti-Fragility seems to be synonymous with ZeroRB strategy, because of this idea that WRs are more consistent. However, if you just apply the philosophy of drafting in an anti-fragile manner-regardless what position you take early on- then it stands to reason that your team won’t tank even if your 1st or 2nd round stud gets hurt/suspended/faceplants. With that said, there is something to be said if 3 of your top 5 players get season ending injuries. In such case you either suffered great bad luck or you drafted a very high injury risk player, and you can’t beat bad luck.

To illustrate this point, I went WR-RB-WR in the first three rounds. So, even though it wasn’t ZeroRB in its purest sense, I specifically ensured that my team focused on specific players and positions that are meant to keep my weekly scoring at a sustainable rate, even if 1 or 2 of my early picked studs go down with injury or ineffectiveness. Normal owners, instead of thinking about finding those kind of players, would rather chase high ceiling guys, while having this false sense of confidence that their studs are immune to bad risks.

So, these are some of the processes I’ve added to the way I play fantasy football in 2016. I look forward to continue in my development and learning through the offseason. With that said, I am now focused on the College 2016 prospects for the 2017 draft!

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