Posts tagged “ESPN Fantasy


I took the last week and a half off from the blog to focus on my semester long project, State of Change, but I’m back just in time for the playoffs (don’t forget Week 15 starts tonight).

Fortunately, I had a bye last week and didn’t have to pay too much attention to fantasy. However, I did see the craziness that was Week 14 in Fantasy Football. Duds by Aaron Rodgers, Dwayne Bowe and Adrian Peterson probably lost many managers their leagues. Meanwhile, Deion Branch, Jason Witten and Derrick Mason ushered many to Week 15. So, how do you plan for this stuff?

What could be the better system for executing fantasy playoffs in the NFL? For one, ESPN Standard Leagues need to eliminate the idea of playing the championship into Week 17. Plenty of players are unusable at that point. But what about weeks 15 and 16?

Playoffs in fantasy sports are so unique because oftentimes the team that has led the league all season, for one reason or another, gets knocked out in the playoffs. Last year, I dominated my league until Week 16, when I started Chad Ochocinco over Jonathan Stewart. Stewart of course had a monster week and I lost by three points. But the common methodology for approaching fantasy playoffs differs depending on who you talk to. Some experts say to play the players that got you there. In other words, don’t get cute about lineups at this point of the season. However, some would argue that matchups and situations are never more important than the playoffs. In my example from last year, Stewart became the primary back and had a great matchup against a bad New York Giants defense. I should have played him, but Ochocinco had been my guy all season.

Which brings me to this year. So, I got Kenny Britt who I just picked up and have never played all season. He’s got a great matchup against the lowly Houston Texans secondary. Do I start him over the proven, fairly consistent Mike Williams of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Is there a better system for fantasy playoffs? I’m not so sure there is, but it does tell you one thing: anything can happen.


You Think This Is Funny?

A better question from the reporter: You just cost my fantasy team the playoffs. What were you laughing about?

For years, there’s been a strange connection between crazed sports fans and their beloved athletes. Athletes rely on a familiar connection in order to sell their merchandise, but then they shut the fan out when it involves their personal life.

It’s a different manipulation than actors, musicians or politicians. The best actors reveal a part of themselves in every role they play, musicians invest their personalities into music and politicians, although seasoned manipulators, are inevitably required to disclose a portion of their personal life. Athletes? Not necessarily.

They make money with their physical skills. We know very little of Peyton Manning from a box score. In fact, we can’t even get a good shot of his facial expression as he naturally wears a football helmet.

Yet, despite all this, sports fans still oftentimes feel that truly they know the athletes. Following Kobe Bryant’s well-publicized denial of an alleged rape, a friend told me, “Kobe Bryant wouldn’t do this.” How could she know this? She had never met Kobe, never even come in contact with a Bryant acquaintance. So how did she know?

Perhaps it’s because he seems pretty trustworthy in his Nike commercials, right? Or when he’s putting up 81 against the Raptors.

I’m not trying to bury Kobe. Rather, I think it’s okay for me to admit that I just don’t know Kobe Bryant.

I don’t know Kobe Bryant, I don’t know Michael Vick, I don’t know Peyton Manning.

So this unwavering devotion to our favorite athletes is fairly astounding and I contend that fantasy sports has enhanced this phenomenon.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the individual athlete has taken over the sports landscape, and when we draft, trade and add/drop real players, we believe we know them even better. How well do I know Carl Crawford, who I’ve owned for four consecutive fantasy seasons? Not enough to know which team, other than my fantasy team, he’s going to play for next season.

However, many fantasy sports players feel that they must hack into the psyche of their fantasy players to prepare for their seasons. “Fantasy experts” will consider a player’s mindset when releasing their player rankings. How crazy is that? We have no idea what their mindset is.

Which brings me back to Derek Anderson. I blame his post-game meltdown on fantasy sports. In ESPN Fantasy leagues, 3.7% of fantasy players own him; therefore, less than 1 out of 20 players “knows” or even cares about Derek Anderson. That’s fairly frightening in a world of jersey sales and Nike contracts.

Hey, I’m not laughing either.

Why Cheat?

What would you do for pride? And what is pride if you manipulate the system?

This NFL season, I am participating in two fantasy leagues, one for money and one for free. I am so stupidly fanatic that I remain fairly active in both leagues. Unfortunately, as would be expected, many who play in free leagues lose their motivation as the season progresses. So by Week 12, which we are approaching, only four or five managers are still paying attention to their teams.

Josh, a manager in my free ESPN league, is not one who has lost his motivation. In fact, he is so motivated that he is ostensibly cheating to win the league. Convinced that his team is far inferior to mine (I’m currently in first place with a record of 9-2), Josh made a trade with another manager, John, presumably his brother, that is blatantly uneven.

I’m not here to wage a war on Josh and John (of the same last name) but rather to express my curiosity over a manager that cheats to win a free league. In the ESPN free leagues, there are really no prizes for winning a league. The only true prize is pride. Along with that, the winning manager is invited to play in a Winner’s League the following season.

So why cheat? The answer goes back to the very origins of this blog. I’ve argued since the beginning of my research that I don’t think people play fantasy sports for the money. Sure, I’ve discussed the massive monetary totals that are spent on fantasy sports, but that’s a byproduct. People play for pride. Brothers try to outsmart each other. Women try to prove their sports smarts over their man. Friends establish their dominance over one another. They play for PRIDE!

But again, how proud can you be if you cheat to get there? Josh declined to comment.