Despite the current negative climate surrounding the NFL I’m still an avid fantasy football enthusiast. That being said, the focus of this post isn’t related to that unfortunate side of game, rather it’s designed to discuss some of the parallels between playing fantasy football and the business world, and how skills acquired and enhanced via the former can help improve those in the latter, and vice versa. These are just a few of my observations, so if you have others, or even want to elaborate on some of mine, please feel free to leave a comment. Here goes.
Knowledge and Information = Currency
Knowing things before the rest of your league can be very lucrative, assuming that information leads to action. The rate at which information is distributed nowadays has reached breakneck speeds and the definition of instant is constantly being redefined. Access to these information distribution tools is pretty widespread, I remember the days when Rotoworld was my secret weapon, then NBC Sports acquired it and now its common knowledge. The key differentiator in a world of instant information however, is having the courage to act on it. Most people see the world the way they want to see it so when they hear things their initial reaction is disbelief, which creates hesitation. If you hesitate that lotto ticket sitting on the waiver wire gets scooped up and leads someone else to fantasy glory.
Perception is Reality
In the crazy “Twitter-Mob-Rule” world of today facts are often secondary to perception and propaganda with regard to the establishment of market value. Perception tends to be molded by which information source you use, the writers you read, talking heads you watch, etc. When you have a level of familiarity it leads to trust which leads to bias, which is ultimately the basis of perception. For example, if you use ESPN rankings rather than Yahoo’s you’ll notice they both are mostly different despite being made up of the same players. Therefore if you do a draft in Yahoo you can find value from guys who are ranked much lower compared to ESPN where they may be priced more accurately, and vice versa. As such, whether you get your stock news from Yahoo Finance, CNBC, or Fortune, you can read many different opinions about the same stock which could lead to different actions, one says buy, the other sell, your preference for information will directly impact the subsequent transaction. Before many drafts the buzz surrounding guys like Toby Gerhart reached deafening heights, causing many to reach, the current reality however is most likely nauseating for his owners (I wouldn’t know though as I wasn’t buying what they were selling).
The Rich Usually Get Richer
Having a wealth and depth of assets gives you leverage. In fantasy football it allows to you to offer two-for-ones and three-for-twos trades, the things that lead to upgrading your weaker positions. It also gives you the ability to have a higher tolerance for risk, the kind that can lead to a higher reward. Having the knowledge and foresight to identify “sleepers” and get them at a discount is crucial for success. Whether you play them yourself in lieu of your “busts” or trade them for more proven stars having the knack for picking winners is valuable. This often requires an objective mindset, leaving emotion and the persuasive rants of the so-called experts out of it. Be more like Buffet than Cramer when it comes to finding value and you’ll end up rich.
Sometimes Past Performance is Trumped by Upside and Potential
This lesson is more something to be aware of than a fact of life. Everyone is different and the human element and opportunity play a huge role in dictating future performance. I will say this though, people often have a burning desire to be the one that “discovers” the next big thing. Therefore they will reach for someone with high upside rather than take a boring old veteran with a well-established and predictable floor. The results of which are always mixed. Guys that took Monte Ball over Demarco Murray are probably second guessing themselves right now; then again that feeling could change tomorrow. I feel that you need a mix of both to truly do well, coupling a high upside with a high floor as well.
Starting Well Doesn’t Mean Ending Well and Vice Versa
Nearly a decade ago Netscape Navigator came roaring out like gangbusters, while Google was a little late to the search engine game (remember Ask Jeeves?!). In hindsight we now see how both of these stories turned out. The market and fantasy landscapes change literally every second of every day as they are impacted by a variety of external forces. Sometimes they’re changed by politics, more or less demand, or emerging competition. Sometimes they’re changed by injuries or suspensions. Just because you’re in 1st place today doesn’t mean your whole team won’t get injured tomorrow, it’s the NFL and crazier things have happened. In addition, being in last place after 2 weeks of the season doesn’t mean you’ll stay there (I’ve experienced both phenomena many times)! The key is to never rest on your laurels whether you’re failing or succeeding. Always be open and aware of potential changes and opportunities coming down the pike and be prepared to act accordingly.
Aside from the time consuming distraction of keeping track of my teams, players, injuries, etc. required for playing fantasy football it can actually be quite a learning experience. The correlation between fantasy football approaches and techniques with that of the business world are many and lessons that applies to each in order to be successful. It even goes further than business as it’s undoubtedly made me a better write too, you should see how clever yet vicious some of the trash talking/verbal lashings get. Perhaps I’m simply trying to justify my obsession, or perhaps I’m on to something here. Regardless I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!