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What Fantasy Football and Personal Finance have in Common

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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.

      Posted on November 16, 2010.

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      7 Responses to “What Fantasy Football and Personal Finance have in Common”

      1. Andy Hough says:

        Fantasy football can be rough. This is my first year playing too. I think I’m learning though.

        Speaking of overconfidence it is hard to predict what will happen. I was comfortable with my lead going into Monday Night Football this week but my opponent had Michael Vick and that lead disappeared quickly. At 4-6 I’m probably out of the playoffs now. The really sad thing is when I lose to teams that don’t even switch out their players on bye weeks.

        I think there should be a PF bloggers fantasy football league next year.

      2. I’m not a fan of Fantasy Football because the draft basically seals your fate. Sure, you can make a good move here and there, but it doesn’t compare to fantasy baseball, where you can have a mediocre draft and manage your way to the top.

        My wife continues to add me to her league each year. This year I have done absolutely nothing my my team. I didn’t adjust rankings, haven’t made any moves, haven’t benched players on bye weeks.

        How am I doing? About .500 – and ahead of my wife (who is NOT pleased).

        In my opinion, fantasy football rewards luck too much and hard work too little. Back in 1999, I needed a QB after a week one injury. On a fluke, I picked a guy who had gone to college 45 minutes from my hometown. I’m sure there were some raised eyebrows from other team owners when I wasted that waiver wire pick on that obscure quarterback … Kurt Warner. I romped to the title that year, beating people who had actually done their homework – simply because of the coincidence of K-Dub and I both being from Iowa.

      3. Big - D says:

        It is all about the draft and some shrewd trades, and a ton of luck. I had 3 quarterbacks one year as someone lost both theirs for the season, I traded for a little known guy called Maurice Jones-Drew (as he was the kick off guy) and he started playing backup running back .. I won that league hands down. Next year I traded for Wes Welker when he was with Miami (as the kick off returner, and 3rd down wide out). Cleaned the floor again. I lucked into Dallas Clark and went to Purdue so I knew what a beast Dustin Keller was going to be for the Jets last year. We all have stories like this.

        I posted the above more so I would have an excuse to say .. may the best team win in foxboro this weekend (Colts fan).

      4. Dan says:

        I love fantasy football. Not solely because of the football but the research (scouting) and planning of roster updates from week to week. I won in my league last year but struggling this year. I am hoping to put a run together to get the last playoff spot.

        I play at Yahoo. Where do you all play?

      5. Mathew says:

        I’m a Patriots fan too. One thing I’ve learned in FF, is to stay away from players on your favorite team, because you will probably over value them (and reach for them too early in the draft). Also, if your favorite team is struggling then your fantasy team will also be struggling, which just makes for a terrible football season.

        • Lazy Man says:

          Well I feel comfortable with the player choices I’ve made. I think that the results of the Patriots season show that. It wasn’t like I’d take a bunch of a Carolina Panthers if I Panthers fan.

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