One of my favorite things about writing an eBook that’s dedicated to losing at fantasy football is that I get to interview interesting people who share the same passion. This post highlights a few of those conversations. Note: This post previously appeared in my fantasy football newsletter which you can get here.
Relax folks, they don’t mean it, they’re only robots
Does your fantasy league website send out automated stories that critique your league’s weekly games? Our league’s website does this. Apparently, we fantasy players are thin skinned.
I interviewed a customer care expert who works for a fantasy sports website. He told me that he receives angry messages from fantasy players whose feelings get hurt by those automated stories.
“People have gotten quite upset. They take it personally. We get emails.”
C’mon people, lighten up. Remember this is still fantasy football. 🙂
Here’s a typical automated story about my team:
UndaDawgz had a bad week, and nobody is more at fault than Coach Mike Harms. Ouch.
“I will play WAFFL ‘til the day I die, because of you guys”
“Sweet Lou” is the most successful player in our league’s 24-year history: He’s a 6-time league champion who’s never lost in the finals. Sweet Lou is also the co-host of the weekly SLZE Sports podcast. Oh, and he televised the past six presidential inaugurations.
I love the above quote from Lou because it captures the thing I enjoy most about playing fantasy football: Competing against my friends.
Our league started in 1993. We were 12 guys living in Washington, D.C. We named our league the Washington Area Fantasy Football League (WAFFL).
Over time, we scattered from D.C. to places all around the country. A woman finally joined the league. A quarter century later, we’re all still playing together.
The thing that keeps us playing together is friendship. That, plus the desire to beat the crap out of each other.
“I want to win so bad it hurts me inside.”
That’s a quote from Mark, a long-time WAFFL member and co-leader in playoff appearances with 11*.
In the U.S., 43 million adults aged 18 or over play fantasy sports. That’s a lot of passionate people.
The majority of us who play fantasy sports care more about sports because of fantasy. 64% of us watch more live sports, and 61% of us read more about sports because we play fantasy**.
Anyway. Sweet Lou is a fantasy expert in his own right. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from our interview:
“It’s about winning games by the week. How are you going to get 100 points every week?”
Lou credits Matthew Berry for this principle. But Lou executes it extremely well: his team reaches the postseason 64% of the time, plus he’s got those six championship rings.
To give his team a legit shot at reaching 100 points (or more) each week, Lou follows these tactics:
He drafts a “Big 3”: A stud QB, RB and WR. These are his point machines. In 2014, his most-recent championship year, Lou’s Big 3 consisted of: LeSean McCoy (1st round pick), Antonio Brown (2nd round) and Cam Newton (9th round).
He goes for depth at WR and RB. A stable of steady performers supplements the Big 3 and helps Lou to accumulate points every week. Lou will wait as long as the 9th round to take a QB: This lets him use more of his early-round picks to stock up at the RB and WR positions.
He does his homework. Lou uses multiple information sources to inform his decision-making. During the draft he still uses handwritten notes to stay focused. And it helps that he reviews every NFL team for his sports podcast.
“I was not terribly comfortable going into the WAFFL Bowl* with Tebow.”
I gave Brett a ton of grief when he picked up Tim Tebow off of waivers in 2010 and started him in the championship game. The joke was on me when Tebow threw for 300 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another TD, leading Brett to the title.
I suck at waiver wire moves. I constantly second-guess myself, which leads to endless roster tweaking and frequently leads to disaster. Like the time in 2005 when I cut Thomas Jones, starting RB for the Bears, to pick up Chris Baker, a part-time TE for the Jets. That move killed my season.
Brett runs the second-most successful team in WAFFL history, with four championships, two runner-up finishes and a 64% playoff frequency. He’s also a VP at a major investment firm. It’s fascinating to hear how he uses his financial experience to make fantasy football roster decisions.
“Being in investing, you have to be unemotional. Make a decision and go with it. There are always going to be chances that some other investment would have gone better.”
I thought Brett would follow a conservative “buy and hold” philosophy toward the waiver wire. But he’s more aggressive and it works for him.
“I’m pretty opportunistic. If I think someone on the waiver wire is better than someone I have, then I’ll pick him up.”
Gronk if you’re horny
Rich is the reigning WAFFL champion. He’s also an experts league champ over at FFToday.com. Perhaps most important, Rich wins at best team name pretty much every year. My interview with Rich was a no-holds-barred affair full of gems like this one:
“I never draft wide receivers that just changed teams. It’s always a dumpster fire.”
I’ll share more of my interview with Rich, plus more tips from Lou, Brett, Mark and those awesome customer service folks, in the near future. I also keep a running commentary on the LoseAtFantasy.com blog. Finally, all of the in-progress book data (with charts and tables) is available here for download.
Three and out
Speaking of look backs: I loved reading Atlanta, Mike Vick’s honest, sometimes raw first-person piece about playing for the Falcons.
Draft edge: Add Inside Injuries to your Twitter feed for deeper insight into players’ health. I got to watch this company pitch itself at the Fantasy Sports Conference last month. Good things happen when a group of doctors form a fantasy company.
That’s about it for this issue. If you like what you just read, I would be stoked if you forwarded this newsletter to a friend.
Thanks for reading. Only 80 days ‘til the NFL draft.
*Playoff frequency percentage for Mark, Brett and Lou is from CBS Sportsline league history, 2003-2016.
**Demographic data citing 43 million fantasy players in the U.S., with 64% consuming more live sports and 61% reading more about sports, comes from a June 2016 report presented to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association by Ipsos.