gufomel

How does someone become a good fantasy football player?

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Posted (edited)

Perhaps a silly, and certainly broad, question. But how does someone become a good fantasy football player?

I’ve played fantasy football for probably over 10 years, but really only started paying close attention in the last 2 years. I’m data-driven and detailed by nature and love sports, so I love the strategy involved in fantasy sports. But I also don’t know the game of football itself super well. Never played, and never learned the game beyond watching (a lot of) games.

I study rankings and data, read lots of forum discussions and articles, watch highlights, etc. After the past couple years I certainly have a much more in-depth knowledge base about players, teams, transactions, etc than I ever have before, but I feel like it hasn’t benefited me all that much from a strategy standpoint.

The more I read, the more it seems that everyone just has a different opinion and it seems random whether you make the right decision on a player or not. Even smart, successful players on the forum seem to battle each other and end up 50/50 right/wrong on their player expectations.

For those of you who have been highly successful in competitive leagues, what do you think has allowed you to be able to decipher “right” and “wrong” in your projections and strategies? Just a knack for it, or something more calculated than that?

I laugh at my draft last year. I prepared quite a bit and ended up drafting guys like DJ, Jordan Howard, DT, Baldwin, Burkhead, Rudolph, Corey Davis (though I did draft Melvin Gordon, JuJu, and Conner and snuck into the playoffs so I can’t beat myself up too terribly I suppose). Meanwhile one of my leaguemates and friends who is very similar to me in personality and knowledge level drafted McCaffrey, Mahomes, and Kittle among many other successful picks. I’m just sitting there a few weeks into the season and thinking how did you pick up on those players before the season? He dominated from week 1 and through to the championship.

Sure, you look at the guys I drafted and it seems obvious that they were busts. But that was not the vibe around them pre-season, despite how much you might think now that they were obviously going to be failures. If you are absolutely certain that you think it was abundantly clear before last season that my players were busts and my leaguemate’s players that I mentioned were breakouts - what did you base that on? Because that certainly wasn’t the info I came across. And who are the obvious busts / breakouts for the upcoming season - and what are you basing that on?

I know no one makes even close to 100% correct picks (it’s no fun if it’s obvious which player is going to do what), and I hope this isn’t coming of as whiny or whatever. I really am interested in input on what helps you decipher between all the bs and what’s real when looking at a player’s outlook.

Would you say it’s pretty much like poker? You develop a knack for reading the tea leaves, or you don’t?

Edited by gufomel

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It's a ton of luck. I usually consider a players situation over their talent.

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Kind of a loaded question, I'm pretty great at fantasy football though so things I do.

 

- Watch a lot of football. This is important. College and pros.

- Gather as much information as possible. Even is people crap on Matthew Berry, articles like his 100 facts one are usefully. All information is good information..

- Except all the obscure stats on PFF that people on here use to prove points. Most of those are useless. Y/A is about as deep as I'm getting into stats.

- Usually in August I'll sit down and make my rankings based on all of the info I have gathered. I'll usually edit it 2 or 3 times before the draft. I bring exactly one piece if paper with my rankings on it and a pen to my draft. That is all. Well, and weed, lots of weed.

- I don't pay any attention to ADP past the first 5-6 rounds, I just pick guys I want.

- Always draft a kicker very last. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

- Streaming D is the best way to do D if you have the time. 

 

I'll add more as I think of it.

 

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, dmb3684 said:

Kind of a loaded question, I'm pretty great at fantasy football though so things I do.

 

- Watch a lot of football. This is important. College and pros.

- Gather as much information as possible. Even is people crap on Matthew Berry, articles like his 100 facts one are usefully. All information is good information..

- Except all the obscure stats on PFF that people on here use to prove points. Most of those are useless. Y/A is about as deep as I'm getting into stats.

- Usually in August I'll sit down and make my rankings based on all of the info I have gathered. I'll usually edit it 2 or 3 times before the draft. I bring exactly one piece if paper with my rankings on it and a pen to my draft. That is all. Well, and weed, lots of weed.

- I don't pay any attention to ADP past the first 5-6 rounds, I just pick guys I want.

- Always draft a kicker very last. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

- Streaming D is the best way to do D if you have the time. 

 

I'll add more as I think of it.

 

 

Thanks for the info. I know it’s a loaded question, so thanks for responding. 

Edit: I responded with more, but realized I misread what you said, so nvm

Edited by gufomel

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, gufomel said:

Would you say it’s pretty much like poker? You develop a knack for reading the tea leaves, or you don’t?

When I play poker I don't read tea leaves. But what is for me an important similarity between poker and fantasy is that even if you make the right choice, you may not always get the right outcome. 

Say you have a good flop, you trick your opponent into going all in, you call and he turns out to have a terrible card with only one out; but he manages to hit both the turn and the river. Did you make the right choice? Yes. Did you get the right outcome? No.

Fantasy is like that, luck plays a large part, especially fantasy football. Even if you make all the right choices, you shouldn't expect to hit all the right results.

It is completely reasonable to miss the draft on a relatively large number of your players. If you want to have fun, take the 2018 preseason ADP and match it against the final standings - you'll be appalled at how many misses there are.

But on average, the ADP still outperforms a random draft. And it is still possible to outperform the ADP on average, if you draft smart; just don't expect to do 100%, but say 60%. In fact, a smart draft strategy should assume that you will have 40% misses, and cover for those.

Of course, drafting well is only 40% of your season. You can still make up for a lot by managing your team well.

4 hours ago, gufomel said:

what do you think has allowed you to be able to decipher “right” and “wrong” in your projections and strategies?

I don't think there is a right and wrong, or black a white, just shades of more right and shades of more wrong. Try to take the right sort of decisions. Don't expect to get every pick; don't expect to win every hand or every game or every Championship. A good fantasy player will still lose a lot; but you should consistently get to say 70% of your play-offs. Never forget that our hobby is mostly a betting game; but even if you have a 51% chance on your bet, you should come out on top on average.

4 hours ago, gufomel said:

The more I read, the more it seems that everyone just has a different opinion

Correct, and you know what they say about opinions.

Don't follow; lead. Form your own opinions. Listen to others, listen to criticism, but in the end, it's your decision that will make you better.

I personally prefer not to be too dogmatic. There are few absolute truths. In fact, enter many leagues, and try different strategies. Once in a while, do the opposite. Learn. 

4 hours ago, gufomel said:

Even smart, successful players on the forum seem to battle each other and end up 50/50 right/wrong on their player expectations.

Again, just remember you don't need to be 100% right all the time. Just try to get 51% a lot of times, and you'll be successful on average :)

Edited by Boudewijn
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1 hour ago, Boudewijn said:

When I play poker I don't read tea leaves. But what is for me an important similarity between poker and fantasy is that even if you make the right choice, you may not always get the right outcome. 

Say you have a good flop, you trick your opponent into going all in, you call and he turns out to have a terrible card with only one out; but he manages to hit both the turn and the river. Did you make the right choice? Yes. Did you get the right outcome? No.

Fantasy is like that, luck plays a large part, especially fantasy football. Even if you make all the right choices, you shouldn't expect to hit all the right results.

It is completely reasonable to miss the draft on a relatively large number of your players. If you want to have fun, take the 2018 preseason ADP and match it against the final standings - you'll be appalled at how many misses there are.

But on average, the ADP still outperforms a random draft. And it is still possible to outperform the ADP on average, if you draft smart; just don't expect to do 100%, but say 60%. In fact, a smart draft strategy should assume that you will have 40% misses, and cover for those.

Of course, drafting well is only 40% of your season. You can still make up for a lot by managing your team well.

I don't think there is a right and wrong, or black a white, just shades of more right and shades of more wrong. Try to take the right sort of decisions. Don't expect to get every pick; don't expect to win every hand or every game or every Championship. A good fantasy player will still lose a lot; but you should consistently get to say 70% of your play-offs. Never forget that our hobby is mostly a betting game; but even if you have a 51% chance on your bet, you should come out on top on average.

Correct, and you know what they say about opinions.

Don't follow; lead. Form your own opinions. Listen to others, listen to criticism, but in the end, it's your decision that will make you better.

I personally prefer not to be too dogmatic. There are few absolute truths. In fact, enter many leagues, and try different strategies. Once in a while, do the opposite. Learn. 

Again, just remember you don't need to be 100% right all the time. Just try to get 51% a lot of times, and you'll be successful on average :)

 

Great post all around. Thanks for your input. 

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Easy, win more $ than you wager.

 

...seriously, your time isn’t free. IF you are going to spend the time it takes, “to become a good fantasy football player,” don’t play unless you’ve got a vested interest 🤑

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I've been playing for more than 10 years myself and I'm usually good on my draft every other year. Usually really really good at that. I'd say the way I do it is complete luck lol. This year I let other people change the way I ranked people, and I wish I didn't. I'd say just pick who you want, not who someone says you should want. I don't consider myself a good fantasy player, this is why I only play in 2-3 money leagues and play in around 6 every year. Touching on the every other year thing, I started to get into dynasties b/c I was tired of hitting and missing. I wanted it to be shown if I suck at drafting in a year. I'll hurt a lot. For example, my main dynasty I'm top heavy as s---. I have David Johnson, Zeke, Julio, Evan Engram, few others, and that's really as far as it goes. I traded my first round pick, too. So I really probably don't have a shot until I can draft again next year. That's what it more is to me, having fun. I'm very competitive by nature, so it pisses me off to see big points burning on my bench, but it really shouldn't be a stress to get better at FF. If you're losing hairs over it, don't play for money... Or don't play. Guess it's just me, I'm not sure I'm stoned. Cheers. 

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3 hours ago, V3X said:

I've been playing for more than 10 years myself and I'm usually good on my draft every other year. Usually really really good at that. I'd say the way I do it is complete luck lol. This year I let other people change the way I ranked people, and I wish I didn't. I'd say just pick who you want, not who someone says you should want. I don't consider myself a good fantasy player, this is why I only play in 2-3 money leagues and play in around 6 every year. Touching on the every other year thing, I started to get into dynasties b/c I was tired of hitting and missing. I wanted it to be shown if I suck at drafting in a year. I'll hurt a lot. For example, my main dynasty I'm top heavy as s---. I have David Johnson, Zeke, Julio, Evan Engram, few others, and that's really as far as it goes. I traded my first round pick, too. So I really probably don't have a shot until I can draft again next year. That's what it more is to me, having fun. I'm very competitive by nature, so it pisses me off to see big points burning on my bench, but it really shouldn't be a stress to get better at FF. If you're losing hairs over it, don't play for money... Or don't play. Guess it's just me, I'm not sure I'm stoned. Cheers. 

 

Haha. So should he do opposite of what you said?

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Posted (edited)

Luck.
Draft Andrew Luck.

Just kidding. This is probably my 10th/11th year playing fantasy "seriously" (I'm in a $40 dynasty league and a $100 re-draft league). Between all my leagues in that time I've made the championships four times but only won one title. Won money back with things like "Regular Season Standings Leader".

Because most of it is luck, its easy to get too attached to names you like. So the two rules that I abide by every year to be "good" is:
1) Win the waiver wire
2) Don't get attached

Drafting is the most fun part for me. But every year there are players I have my mind set on, and I'm usually wrong with most of them. A big thing I fail at most years is drafting a player I like on a team with a crappy offensive line. No use in drafting a running back who has a poor supporting cast.

I believe that I went to the championship last year by winning the waivers with people like George Kittle, Tyler Boyd, and Sony Michel. Patching up your team as you go along week to week. Also, watch football.

Edited by dropshadows
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3 hours ago, dropshadows said:

Luck.
Draft Andrew Luck.

Just kidding. This is probably my 10th/11th year playing fantasy "seriously" (I'm in a $40 dynasty league and a $100 re-draft league). Between all my leagues in that time I've made the championships four times but only won one title. Won money back with things like "Regular Season Standings Leader".

Because most of it is luck, its easy to get too attached to names you like. So the two rules that I abide by every year to be "good" is:
1) Win the waiver wire
2) Don't get attached

Drafting is the most fun part for me. But every year there are players I have my mind set on, and I'm usually wrong with most of them. A big thing I fail at most years is drafting a player I like on a team with a crappy offensive line. No use in drafting a running back who has a poor supporting cast.

I believe that I went to the championship last year by winning the waivers with people like George Kittle, Tyler Boyd, and Sony Michel. Patching up your team as you go along week to week. Also, watch football.

 

I have Luck as QB1 this year. Go get em.

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My main motto is "get your guys" I'd much rather lose knowing I got the guys I felt I needed than watch someone else win with a guy i really liked but didnt draft because so and so said he wasnt worth it. 

Example: I do an auction draft every year. 2015 I thought I just had to have matt forte and shady McCoy.. they sucked. But I swallowed the pill and kept going.

In 2017 I wanted todd Gurley but felt 30$ was too much cuss a friend told me so and he becomes fantasy MVP and I couldn't get to sleep on Sunday nights becuase I wanted to kick myself.

Lying and Cheating always helps too.

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18 hours ago, dmb3684 said:

 

I have Luck as QB1 this year. Go get em.

 

Honestly though. He was as consistent as you could get last year. I picked him up off the waivers last year in Week 4.

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8 hours ago, dropshadows said:

 

Honestly though. He was as consistent as you could get last year. I picked him up off the waivers last year in Week 4.

 

He started slow and cooled off a bit at the end. But he was a beast during the middle part of the season. Im thinking he beasts all year this year.

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Posted (edited)

The fantasy football season is 12 months long. 

Jan - Feb is coaching changes: TB got better; CIN got worse; Jets are a mess; MIA hired a bunch of Patriot coaches, this usually doesn't work; ARI got bad last year when Arians left, this year is another inexperienced (0.500 Div 1) coach and rookie QB; DET hired Beast Mode OC; DEN offense is just going to be really bad: Trust me.  They could have had Kubiak running the offense, but they went with Garoppolo's QB coach?  Sure, that's cool.  Good luck.

Mar - April is free agency and draft - offensive line changes: CIN got bad 2 years ago, better last year; Saints lost a GREAT run blocking center to retirement (that effects Kamara); CLE traded a stud guard to NYG; Pats lost an OT to the Lions and drafted a Guard in the 1st round they want to use at left tackle?; MIA lost an OT to DEN

May is rookie minicamp and OTAs - what's the deal with depth charts?  Most depth charts you find are not accurate. 2 vs. 3 WR sets.  Who is the guy between the 20s.  Who is primary 3rd down target?  Who are the red zone guys?  Does this coach run or throw TDs?  RBBC? Goal line backs? Is 3rd down / COP back capable of 10 TDs?  Eagles RBs are weird. They're like NE.  

June is coach speak - There is "some" good information.  Most is trash.  WASH: AP signed a 2 year contract, but Guice is good and healthy?  Who is the QB? Do they have receivers?  Is anyone on this team worth one of my roster spots?  Maybe Guice / AP with a low ADP?  Anything good in MIA? Who does Jimmy G like in SF? SEA has a lot of open targets.  Megatron retired at 30 with bad knees. Baldwin was 30 with bad knees last year.  Lockett was an easy breakout pick last year.  I don't think Metcalf can get off the line and catch footballs.  Somebody is getting targets and TDs.  Figure it out.  Same in PIT. I like McDonald

July is training camp - Pay close attention to injuries.  Hammy problems mean players are not conditioned and won't be ready.  Ankle sprains with 4-6 week recoveries are high ankle sprains and the guy won't be right for a long time. 

Aug is preseason QB targets. - I always use this to pick TEs.  Got me Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas before anyone knew who they were.  Ebron stood out last year. Kittle was not Jimmy Gs top target, but Jimmy G wasn't his QB. 500 yards 2 TDs as a rookie.  BAL and NYJ had rookies like that last year.

Picking TEs takes the most work.  Jets, Ravens, and MIA had decent rookie TEs last year.  Andrews from BAL might be worth keeping an eye on.  Flacco likes targeting TEs.  Fant is the guy there for now.  Butt is still recovering.  DEN still doesn't have an experienced offensive coach, so just avoid that mess.  Carr threw to Cook a lot last year.  Is his replacement worth following?  Jesse James and AB both left PIT.  McDonald has to get more targets? Right? No OBJ should help Engram. If you're not ready to reach for Kelce/Ertz, you need a backup plan, and it better be a good one if you want to win.

For draft day, I print an ESPN cheat sheet and highlight the players I want.  After the first 3-4 rounds, I already know who I'm taking.  Back end of the snake is the place to be.  Everyone guesses on first round busts and I take best available without bias.  Then you look at the next 24 players and pick the two you want. 

 

Edited by jmausen
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20 hours ago, jmausen said:

The fantasy football season is 12 months long. 

Jan - Feb is coaching changes: TB got better; CIN got worse; Jets are a mess; MIA hired a bunch of Patriot coaches, this usually doesn't work; ARI got bad last year when Arians left, this year is another inexperienced (0.500 Div 1) coach and rookie QB; DET hired Beast Mode OC; DEN offense is just going to be really bad: Trust me.  They could have had Kubiak running the offense, but they went with Garoppolo's QB coach?  Sure, that's cool.  Good luck.

Mar - April is free agency and draft - offensive line changes: CIN got bad 2 years ago, better last year; Saints lost a GREAT run blocking center to retirement (that effects Kamara); CLE traded a stud guard to NYG; Pats lost an OT to the Lions and drafted a Guard in the 1st round they want to use at left tackle?; MIA lost an OT to DEN

May is rookie minicamp and OTAs - what's the deal with depth charts?  Most depth charts you find are not accurate. 2 vs. 3 WR sets.  Who is the guy between the 20s.  Who is primary 3rd down target?  Who are the red zone guys?  Does this coach run or throw TDs?  RBBC? Goal line backs? Is 3rd down / COP back capable of 10 TDs?  Eagles RBs are weird. They're like NE.  

June is coach speak - There is "some" good information.  Most is trash.  WASH: AP signed a 2 year contract, but Guice is good and healthy?  Who is the QB? Do they have receivers?  Is anyone on this team worth one of my roster spots?  Maybe Guice / AP with a low ADP?  Anything good in MIA? Who does Jimmy G like in SF? SEA has a lot of open targets.  Megatron retired at 30 with bad knees. Baldwin was 30 with bad knees last year.  Lockett was an easy breakout pick last year.  I don't think Metcalf can get off the line and catch footballs.  Somebody is getting targets and TDs.  Figure it out.  Same in PIT. I like McDonald

July is training camp - Pay close attention to injuries.  Hammy problems mean players are not conditioned and won't be ready.  Ankle sprains with 4-6 week recoveries are high ankle sprains and the guy won't be right for a long time. 

Aug is preseason QB targets. - I always use this to pick TEs.  Got me Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas before anyone knew who they were.  Ebron stood out last year. Kittle was not Jimmy Gs top target, but Jimmy G wasn't his QB. 500 yards 2 TDs as a rookie.  BAL and NYJ had rookies like that last year.

Picking TEs takes the most work.  Jets, Ravens, and MIA had decent rookie TEs last year.  Andrews from BAL might be worth keeping an eye on.  Flacco likes targeting TEs.  Fant is the guy there for now.  Butt is still recovering.  DEN still doesn't have an experienced offensive coach, so just avoid that mess.  Carr threw to Cook a lot last year.  Is his replacement worth following?  Jesse James and AB both left PIT.  McDonald has to get more targets? Right? No OBJ should help Engram. If you're not ready to reach for Kelce/Ertz, you need a backup plan, and it better be a good one if you want to win.

For draft day, I print an ESPN cheat sheet and highlight the players I want.  After the first 3-4 rounds, I already know who I'm taking.  Back end of the snake is the place to be.  Everyone guesses on first round busts and I take best available without bias.  Then you look at the next 24 players and pick the two you want. 

 

 

Don't do the majority of these things.

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