Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Seasons Change...

Yes, it's almost that time of year... incredibly, we're less than a month away from the start of the 2007 NFL season. If you're like me and an ever growing percentage of the population, then chances are that you have a little studying to do in preparation for this little thing called Fantasy Football.

Although most people will tell you they play more fantasy football than fantasy baseball, I personally prefer to play the latter. The reason being is that it takes a lot more skill to win a fantasy baseball league as opposed to a football league. There are many reasons I say this. First, you have more active roster spots (usually 22 in baseball as opposed to 8 in football). Secondly, your outcome is based on more than 10 times as many games in baseball (162x16) than in football (16x16). Third, the fantasy baseball season usually lasts a full 6 months, while in football, you have a 3 month regular season and four weeks for the playoffs. Additionally, the most popular form of fantasy baseball is called "rotisserie," whereby you accumulate stats over the course of an entire season and you try to build leads or make up deficits in the various statistical categories. In fantasy football, your stats only count from week to week as you play a different team in what's called a "Head-To-Head" format. There is also a "Head-To-Head" format in fantasy baseball, but it's not nearly as popular as "rotisserie." Curiously, it's rare to find "rotisserie" fantasy football.

Since you're dealing with a larger "sample size" in fantasy baseball, a lot less is left to chance. Typically, the best team will win, or at least finish in the money (the top 3). In fantasy baseball, you can still win if one of your key players goes down. Typically, studying and drafting well is instrumental in your team's success. Wise free agent pickups are also important as are shrewd "buy low/sell high" trades, but in the end, it's the draft that usually will determine the champion. In fantasy football, there is a lot more left to chance. If one of your key players gets injured, such as Shawn Alexander or Donovan McNabb last year, your season can be all but over in an instant. Conversely, if you happen upon a little diamond in the rough late in the draft such as Maurice Jones-Drew, then you may do very well, even if the rest of your draft wasn't that great.

I'll admit here, that I hardly did any "homework" last year before the fantasy football season started... I played in seven leagues, and had one team which looked like it was unstoppable. I had Larry Johnson, Torry Holt, Antonio Gates, and a QB who was on his way to a career year, Donovan McNabb, among others. I put up 107 points the first week, 91 the next, and 78 the following week. Yet, I was only 1-2 after three weeks. Over the next five weeks, I tallied: 124, 106, 112, 138 and 98 points - I won 4 of those 5 games. At 5-3, I was leading my league in points and looking like a sure bet to make the playoffs with a good chance at winning the league. In week 8 though, McNabb went down for the season with a knee injury and my team was never the same. I went 1-3-1 the rest of the way, and despite being 2nd in the league in points scored, I missed the playoffs with a 6-6-1 record!!!

Conversely, I had one team go 6-7-0 and not only make the playoffs (winning a 6-way tie for the final playoff spot - I was 3rd in points scored, winning the tiebreaker), but go on to win the league!!! From the outside, that team appeared to be a juggernaut too - Peyton Manning at QB with Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne at WR, but once again some bad luck in matchups held that team back during the regular season. The whole key to that team winning though was that two rookie running backs of mine got VERY hot late in the season - the aforementioned Maurice Jones-Drew from UCLA and his college rival, Reggie Bush from USC... In fantasy football, it's not how you draft, or start, it's more how you finish. The teams that usually win are the ones that are hot going into the playoffs, and those that avoid key injuries.

Another of my championship teams last year was only 7-6-0 on the regular season... I also won a league with a more respectable 8-4-1 record. So yes, I won three of my seven fantasy football leagues last year, while being a combined four gaves over .500! It was probably a lot more luck than skill, but don't think for a minute I'm thinking about giving any of those titles back! I'll be fortunate to do as well this year, though I will certainly give it my best effort!!!


No comments: