I don’t know how many fantasy football tutorials or how-to’s are out here on the web, I am sure there are many. I don’t plan on this being a how-to or a tutorial, but as I record my novice fantasy football experience you might pick up on a few things that can help you out.
Well my buddy is very much a football person. He lives football, breaths football, eats football, listens to football, sleeps football, and of course watches football. When I ride with him in his car its on some satellite radio football talk station. When we aren’t talking about work or movies, he is talking football. I hang out with him a the time, we even work together, so some football rubbed off I guess. I think the thing that had me pull the trigger was one of the other guys at work, someone who didn’t talk football all the time, said he had been playing fantasy football for a while now with the guys from the group he used to work with. Then shortly after I found that out, I think it was that weekend, I was at my in-laws house … board; so I whipped out my phone and Googled “fantasy football”.
Unlike my buddy I watch football when my team is on, Redskins, so I hardly watch based my own urge to watch football. I mostly watch because it has somehow become law that all games of my wife’s team, Cowboys, must be televised or small children will be punished or something. My buddy knows all the major players by name and where he would put them etc. but he doesn’t play fantasy football so I thought that if someone like him stayed away from it then it must be overly complicated or very time consuming. Two things that I don’t need more of in my life with three kids and assorted other hobbies. I had always wondered about fantasy football but that wonder never overcame the “mystery” that surrounded it. The mystery and hassle aspect that stuck my mind was reinforced by stereotypical portrayal in commercials, television, and movies where a bunch of guys sit around a fantasy football draft board ready to cut each other’s throats over Carson Palmer – he’s mine by the way ALL MINE!!!! (maniacal laugh) – like he is the last “Frozen Snow Glow Elsa” available on Black Friday. Well I found that thanks to the Internet none of the stereotypical aspects of fantasy sports has become obsolete and redundant.
Like I said I was board at the in-laws, lovely people and supper cool but there isn’t much their to entertain. I searched for fantasy football on Google and there were lots of sites but at or near the top was ESPN’s page. Seeing as I had their regular Android App it hit me that they probably have a Fantasy Football App. Well they did have a free fantasy football app so I downloaded and installed it. This is the icon for it:
When it launched I was greeted with the typical setup wizard where I could create an account or link to Facebook, I chose to create an account with my email address. I think it asked me for some demographic stuff like gender and birth date. Like I said this isn’t a tutorial or how-to so if you run into issues please look at ESPN’s FAQ. I was then able to pick a league which is just a group of people that make up the teams I could have created a custom league but I just joined one. There are 10 teams in the league I joined, I can only assume this is an ESPN standard, but I don’t know for sure. The league I joined goes along with the regular NFL season so it does kind of lock you in for a long go.
So once I joined a league it was time for the draft, this is where you are supposed to get nervousness where you know you will just mess up and screw your chances at winning and thus your chances to have fun. I know my buddy would probably spend days if not weeks in preparation working out his ideal draft and multiple contingency draft line ups. But I was just board at the in-laws and football is not my life or primary hobby so if I messed it up it was no big deal to me – hell I didn’t even need to tell anyone. This helped influence my draft strategy. If I was trying to sell you something about fantasy football this is where I would elude to my fantastic draft strategy. Hint at its mysterious magical type powers. Brag about the hours, neigh months, or research that I performed. And maybe I would lie a bit and drop a somewhat obscure name of some player or coach that I ran in to at the air port or something. But nope, here is what I did. I looked at the projected points, abbreviated to “Proj” in the ESPN Fantasy Football App, the guy that had the highest was picked. Remember I didn’t know what I was doing, I was having fun. I also really didn’t look at the name or the team the player was on. I just looked at that Proj number and the position. I don’t remember exactly how or what order I picked, but I am sure I picked quarterback first. I also knew that I would need some backups for bye weeks and injuries. As the draft continued, oh … I picked a round robin draft not one of those others like the salary based ones, I poked around a little while I was waiting my turn. I found that there were limits to how many players you can have for each kind of position. This positions by the way are Quarterback (QB), Running Back (RB), Wide Receiver (WR), Tight End (TE), Defense / Special Teams (D/ST), Kicker (K) there is also the Flex position which can be a RB, WR, or TE. So I was going about picking people which you can setup a queue of players to be picked. The way that works is you make your queue and when it is your turn you have something like 60 seconds to make your choice and if the next player in your queue is still available then the system puts that player on your team. If you want to make a different decision then you can or if the player was drafted by another team then he is removed from your queue and the next player in your queue is selected. I hope you get the idea, I got a little to my tutorial side there, if you need more explanation than just go to the ESPN FAQ etc. I’ll tell you this, I did not do an awesome job picking players but I also didn’t pick the worst. I picked some good guys like Andrew Luck (QB), Steven Hauschka (K), Seahawks (D/ST), Lamar Miller (RB), Michael Crabtree (WR). Actually I don’t think I made all of these picks during the draft, I know A. Luck and C. Palmer were done on draft day the others could have been replacements which I will cover next. At any rate don’t over stress about the draft and don’t get hung up on some key names that you know. Remove loyalties to players and teams, you only have one loyalty in Fantasy Football and that’s to YOURSELF!
Like I said above it was the weekend when I started, I think a Raider’s game was on – my Father-in-law’s team – and there were other going on as well as I think it was week two. Once the draft was done I was then shown the other fantasy team I was playing and some scores that my players were racking up for me and had racked up since the Thursday before which is the start of the Football week. All of this took up about 30 minutes of my time and I kinda just forgot about it. Once I got back to work on Monday my buddy and the other guy at work were talking Football and how different players had done. After answering some emails I chimed in with “I started a fantasy team”. Well that got me in the discussion really quick with questions like who did you draft etc. Well I read off the names and told them how I picked them, remember my draft strategy? Well I got a few of those well that’s not how your supposed to do it looks and then I showed them that I was winning for the week so far and with the remaining game that night and the projected points I should win. Well I did win. They did suggest that I make some changes to my team, mostly the number of each position I had. I had like 3 kickers and 4 quarterbacks only one tight end stuff like that. Well I couldn’t make any changes to my team till the next day so I just waited till then. The other guy at work helped me out with how to add and drop players. It was the adding part that was a bit hard, dropping was easy just touch the name and then there was a drop button right there. Adding was not as apparent because it was in the hamburger menu, you know the three lines stacked like a hamburger. So anyway what I was left on my own to do was manage my team and so far I have done a good job. I made sure that when a player was injured I swapped him out with someone that was on the bench, if I didn’t have a backup then I had to go recruit. I also spend time every once in a while, maybe once a week, looking over the players that are available. Again I base my decision on the proj points, if there is a guy out there that is better then I pick him up and drop the guy on my team with the lower proj points.
As of this writing, Week 9 just finished, I am in First place in my Division and Second place in the League. My record is 6-3-0 with 834 Points For (PF) and 738 Points Against (PA). My team is projected as team two (2) in Round 1 (Wk 14 – Wk 15) of the playoffs.
Post week 11, my team is now in first place over all in both record and PF. I am 8-3 with 1015 PF.
So we are moving in to the first week of the playoffs and I am well in first place both by record, 10-3, and PF, 1218. Second place has a record of 9-4 and 1097 PF. My team will be going against the fourth place team, 7-6 and 980 PF, in the first playoff game. I will have to say that it is very exciting. So what have I done to keep up the winning streak and get where I am now. I just kept up with monitoring my team, when a player got heart or became a poor performer I dropped them and picked up the next best guy according to their projected points. I also made sure that I rotated players from the bench to fill in for those on a bye or had some injury that could possibly bench them in real life. For something like the last 4 weeks every team I played had players that were on a bye as starters, this basically gave me free points as that player had no chance of putting up points. With the ESPN FFL app there was really no reason for this to happen. The app did very well alerting me when a benched player was projected to out perform a starter and the convenience of having it in my pocket meant I coulddo a quick check whenever I was waiting on someone or something.
Update (and its a late one):
Well this is a late update because dispite having a winning record I still wound up in 3rd place overall. It just goes to show that you have to win the right games and injuries can kill your plans. In all I had fun and I was not too upset. If I had some money on it then those last two statements might not be there.
Good Luck and I hope you found this informative and perhaps entertaining.
Now that this is all done I would have to say that I have the confidence in my skills to “play for keeps” – Thanks Ricky Bobby for the quote.