Fantasy Football Advice (from a non-professional)

For reasons I’ll never fully understand, I always, ALWAYS read Matthew Berry’s weekly fantasy football column, specifically his Love/Hate list.  If you aren’t aware, Matthew Berry is a “fantasy football expert” who provides ESPN (the worldwide leader in sports..real sports) insight regarding fantasy football.  As you might remember, I’m an active participant in fantasy football, and I’ve played every year since I was 14 years-old.

That being said, I’ve read an awful lot of Matthew Berry’s advice.  I’m not a huge fan of Berry, but I don’t hate the guy.  I mean he’s just a guy.  He’s not a former athlete, he’s not a former coach, he’s a guy with a journalism degree who gets paid six figures to talk about a game within a sport, which happens to be a multibillion dollar industry.  This, I guess, qualifies Berry as a “fantasy football professional”.  Berry is among many analysts hired by ESPN and other networks to be the go-to fantasy guru, providing expert advice that somehow isn’t available to the public.

I’ve never understood how on earth he gets paid to do this.  Or anyone.  I mean, I read his columns, so clearly I’m actively participating in granting him an audience, but I’ve noticed a lot of times his advice (and the advice of most analysts) is often incorrect.

A weatherman is paid to report weather.  However, every weather man is trained in meteorology to a degree, and has a team of professional “weather experts” tracking weather to determine if it’s going to snow on Tuesday.  I don’t have numbers in front of me, but I predict weathermen are probably correct 90% of the time.  The other 10% they are wrong, and people lose their minds.  If a 90% success rate is low enough where people call for your job, then what hope is there for anyone else?  The weather, even though you have a good idea at predicting it, is unpredictable.  Sure, you can give a good educated guess, but at the end of the day things can change at a minute’s notice.

I look at every weekly fantasy football ranking as a weather forecast.  I’ll use Cordarrelle Patterson as an example.  Patterson, according to Berry, was projected to have a pretty decent game, scoring 11 points in standard leagues.  How did they arrive at this specific number?  It’s just like weather.  Let’s pretend like Cordarrelle Patterson is a tornado.  Tornados can be a devastating, disruptive force of nature (like the dynamic Patterson).  To predict when a Tornado (Patterson) will strike, several factors are considered.  Setting is a good thing to look at.  A tornado is much more likely to do horrendous damage to a flat area (the Chicago Bears defense) than a rocky, mountainous region (Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman).  Another factor to consider is trends.  Let’s say this tornado struck with devastating effects at the very beginning of the season (Patterson scored 18 points week 1).  Even though the tornado has been a low-end EF1 (Patterson has been having a poor season), we still know it’s capable of delivering EF4 results because of earlier happenings.  So, the tornado, hitting a flat, plained area (Chicago Bears, who allowed 50 points the week prior) and with the tornado’s ability to produce lots of damage (Patterson’s playmaking and explosive athleticism) means the tornado was projected to score 11 standard points against Chicago on Sunday.

Tornado Patterson ended up scoring 1 point.  One catch for 14 yards.  Not only did the tornado fail to touch down, it barely produced any gusts.

This is week I decided maybe the “fantasy experts” don’t know what they are talking about, and people need to quit flooding Matthew Berry’s inbox with hate mail.  The dude isn’t Nostradamus, he’s basically the weatherman making guesses you could probably make.

That being said, I thought maybe I would try my hand at some fantasy football advice.  Most 10-12 team standard leagues have playoffs coming up, and week 13 of the NFL season plays a huge part in determining seedings.

Trust your gut

If you are the type of person to rely strictly on projections, then this bit of advice is specifically geared towards your sheep brain.  In almost every week of this season, Pierre Garcon has been projected to score in the double digits for most of them.  He’s actually completed this task one time. Yet, week after week, there he is with a “12” next to his name indicating the “experts” believe this glowing symbol of mediocrity might catch a garbage touchdown.  Don’t be a rankings slave.  Make your own decisions, which means…

Do your homework 

Fantasy football is 75% luck.  At least.  Sure, you put the work in drafting the team, conducting trades, and working the waiver wire, but all of that is meaningless when it comes to fantasy football itself.  One of my best friends possess as much football knowledge as I’ve ever heard and he’s never won a league.  Another one of my close friends knows almost nothing about fantasy football other than the sparse details he’e read in Sports illustrated, and he is dominating his league.  These are both instances of good and bad luck.  However, both of these guys did well in the other 25%.  Nate, the unlucky guy, always drafts well, but has often been the victim of injuries or bad circumstances.  But he’s always towards the top of the league in roster moves, meaning he’s studying the trends and picking up guys he thinks can help him.  Logan, the lucky guy, read up on fantasy football, drafted a great team, and things have definitely worked out in his favor.  I’m not saying his season has been entirely luck, or Nate’s seasons have been entirely bad luck, because luck is a variable you just can’t account for.  But doing your homework is a good way to try and overcome.

Use your brain

If it’s December, don’t start a guy who kicks outdoors in a cold weather city.  I don’t care how good he is.  If Robert Griffin is the quarterback throwing to your wideouts, don’t be surprised if they don’t see a pass thrown their way all game.  Some things in fantasy are unpredictable, and some things aren’t.

Ignore the experts

In other words, don’t become a slave to the rankings.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone.  We tend to marginalize a guy’s worth based on where he sits in a weekly composite ranking from four dudes who know nothing more than you, but are paid exponentially more money to do so.  Part of this involves using your own brain.  As an adult, making your own choices is just a good life skill.  Most importantly…

It’s just a game

If you are in the playoffs, awesome.  If you aren’t, that’s fine too.  Don’t be a gloating, arrogant moron if you are, and don’t be a whiny, crying sore loser if you aren’t.  It’s okay to fail in life sometimes, especially when you are playing a game entirely dependent on the performance of someone else.  Sure, overweight guy in the Cowboys hat, you would’ve made that catch.  Dez Bryant is the worst football player on the planet for dropping that ball that was tossed into triple coverage that he had to jump four and a half feet in the air to even touch.  I’m sure next year Jerry Jones will marvel at your 5’8″ 260 pound doughy body and be in complete awe of the magnificent physical specimen he is beholding.  But Dez Bryant and his back-to-back-to back 1000 yard 10 touchdown seasons suggest maybe it’s okay for him to drop the ball once in a while.  Don’t be an idiot.  Remember, the players don’t care whether you win or lose, and neither do your friends.  No one remembers (or cares) who wins the league if it isn’t them, so do your best to not alienate fellow members in the process.  And please, for the love of God, remember it’s just a fun thing to do with friends that’s supposed to make watching football more fun.

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