I play fantasy football. I’ve played in the same league, with the same group of friends, for 24 years. During that span, I won the league championship once.
That’s a 4% success rate. The other 96% of the time, I’ve been bad.
My team is named the UndaDawgz. A more appropriate name might be the UndaPerformerz, since I finished in dead last place 29% of the time.
This season was going to be different. For starters, I had more time to prepare: 67% of all fantasy sports players have a full-time job. I had no such distraction. Suckers!
The average player spends $9 on fantasy magazines. I had no desire to be merely average. I spent twice that amount.
A good fantasy draft strategy is critical. I created a spreadsheet of nearly 250 players that stack-ranked, color-coded and annotated all of my potential draft picks.
Jen and I even attended the real NFL draft in Chicago. Talk about next level preparation.
I had the #11 pick in my fantasy draft. Statistically speaking, #11 is the worst draft position in our league.
How do I know this? Because I analyzed our league’s historical data. I might have too much time on my hands.
I was confident on draft day. My draft headquarters, the couch, were distraction free. I had good snacks.
The first 10 picks proceeded as I expected. My spreadsheet was on point. Then it was my turn.
I chose Le’Veon Bell, star running back for the Steelers. Almost immediately, I started second-guessing my decision.
Bell was suspended for the first four games of the NFL season. He’s a high-impact player, but did I draft him too soon? He wasn’t even going to step onto the field for another month.
As a backup plan for Bell’s suspension, I drafted his backup, DeAngelo Williams, with my fifth pick. More hand wringing and second-guessing. Did I just waste a high pick on a part-time player?
I wasn’t the only one second-guessing my decisions. CBSSportsline gave my final draft a mediocre B-minus grade.
In week one, the backup Williams had a monster game. Unfortunately, the rest of my fantasy team lived down to its B-minus rating. I lost the first game by 12 points.
My second game was against another team that received a B-minus grade. I lost by 16 points.
I made reactive changes. My team reacted by losing in week three by 21 points.
I made more changes. In week four I suffered my worst defeat yet, by 34 points.
It took five more weeks before I finally won a game. By then, all hopes of making the playoffs were gone. I won two games the entire season.
New technology, same results
Fantasy sports have changed significantly in 24 years. When our league began, roughly 3 million people played fantasy sports. Today, it’s 57 million.
We relied on the newspaper for stats and we calculated points by hand. There were no fantasy football websites. We submitted our weekly roster via a landline.
Today, stats are available in real-time and scoring is automated. Nearly 40% of all fantasy players get their information via cell phone.
My (lack of) fantasy success hasn’t changed much over the years. But I keep coming back. Our league began as a tight group of friends living in the same city. Today, we’re flung across the country. Fantasy football is the one remaining thing that we all have in common.
There’s always that tantalizing thought that this could be my year. Historical data suggests that my future fantasy prospects are dim. But who needs data, anyway?