This year I finally gave in to the pressure and decided to play fantasy football. In the past, I've skipped it because I never wanted to get in a situation where I'd have to choose between rooting for my favorite team and rooting for my fantasy team. I would like to say something magical resolved the issue. I wanted to find out what all the hubub was about and the pressure finally got to me. In hindsight, it was a great learning experience... and I'm not talking about learning about football X's and O's. In the end, I learned a bunch of lessons that can be applied to personal finance:
- I was unjustly over-confident - Another reason why I wanted to play is that I thought I could win... easily. My co-workers never seemed to talk about football. I knew this stuff. Sometimes I think I know a player, team, stock or industry, but it turns out that...
- ...I didn't account for uncertainty - Picking football players is a lot like picking individual stocks. Sometimes there are winners who don't seem to perform as you'd expect (Tom Brady's fantasy football numbers until Sunday Night's game) and sometimes you things play out just like you thought (Aaron Hernandez' rise from obscurity to being a great value at tight end). Even if you feel you have a great team, a number of unexpected factors can sideswipe you.
- I wasn't diversified - You may have noticed from the previous point that I mentioned two Patriots players. To avoid having to root against my favorite, I drafted nearly an entire team of Patriots players. I have QB Tom Brady, WR Wes Welker, TE Aaron Hernandez, TE Rob Gronkowski, and K Stephen Gostkowski. If the Patriots don't have a good day, I'm practically sunk that week. Plus with the Patriots, you never know who is going the target that week. Hernandez has lead the team in receptions and only 10% of the leagues in CBS Sports had him drafted. Randy Moss and Wes Welker were drafted at the top. This past week Gronkowski got all the playing time as Hernandez sat. Gostkowski got injured for the season, so I had to pick up another kicker.
While I can't related it to personal finance, I've learned that football isn't at all like fantasy football. In the world of fantasy football, my backup Kyle Orton is better than Tom Brady because he can pick up a bunch of garbage time statistics. Maurice Jones-Drew, one of the top picks, almost had to bench himself in his fantasy league because he got off to a slow start. Brandon Marshall, one of the most talented players in the game, has been a bust as he gets all the attention from opposing defenses. Stephen Jackson, one of the best runners in the game, has been pretty good, but not his usual self.
What is the result of my "superior team"? I have a 2-8 record. In fantasy football you control how many points you score, not how much your opponent scores. In a 12 team league I have scored more points than 6 teams, yet I have the worst record. The team with the 3rd best record has scored fewer points than me.
I think my fantasy football experiment is going to be a one-time only thing.
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