The Art of Fantasy Football: Volume 1

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Published: September 10, 2012

The Art of Fantasy FootballSeveral years ago, I became enthralled in playing poker with friends.  We would play every week or two, for low stakes.  Maybe $20-$40 per person.  After losing, a lot, I realized my problem was always playing the cards in my hand. If I had great cards, I bet, and maybe won.  Bad cards, I folded.  This will only result in a nominal return however, as I will need the luck of the draw to win.  The problem with that is everyone is playing with the same amount of luck as me.  Played out over enough hands, all things will turn out equal.

You increase your odds of a great payday by winning hands when you do not have the best cards at the table.

Fantasy Football is a lot like poker. It appears to be a lot of luck.   But then why are Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, and the modern day equivalent (I don’t get out much) almost always one of the last guys in the World Series of Poker?

Like poker, a huge advantage can be gained by statistical research in fantasy football.  Another factor in a weekly matchup can be chalked up to luck, but again, everyone has the same chance to be “lucky” any given week.  The missing link, and maybe the most important portion of fantasy sports, is in your strategy.  That is leveraging your ability to beat other people when you do not have the best players on your roster.  Not possible you say?  Improbable you think?  That is why you will forever be a depositor in my fantasy bank account, and will rarely make withdrawals.  If the only way you win is by playing the “projections” made by Yahoo or ESPN, then you can only win if you are “lucky” enough to have all your players meet your projections and your opponents miss.  That is about a 50/50 proposition and will result in you waiting a long, long time between your fantasy championships.

There has been a strategy and tactics manual read and studied by military professionals for literally thousands of years.  “The Art of War” has widely been used since first written by Sun Tzu over 2500 years ago by several of the world’s most famous military commanders, including Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great, George Patton among other.  It is still required reading of U.S. Generals to this day.

In the last 30 years, it has been brought to the business word as a blueprint of modern day business tactics, mirroring battlefield techniques.  If you have every been forced… err… I mean have been fortunate enough to have been asked to read Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” for work, you know it is fantastic for sales and business techniques, especially if you are Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.  Fantasy football is a tough racket.  If you can’t handle it, hit the bricks buddy!  My watch costs more than your car!

I am here to bring “The Art of War” to the fantasy game.  “The Art of Fantasy Football” will be a New York Times best seller… perhaps.  Each week I will bring you a bit of knowledge from the brain of Sun Tzu and we will apply it to the best game in the world; fantasy football.  In addition, I will be giving you the best pick-ups of the week and some sneaky fantasy strategies to help ensure that you can obliterate your competition.

“The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”  ~ Sun Tzu

Week one is always one of the most frantic weeks of waiver wire pick-ups.  Rookies emerge as viable options, and undrafted fantasy players are unleashed in a team’s offensive plan, hidden during preseason.

This year is no different as several players dazzled in their opening games.  If you followed Gridiron Experts advice pre-draft, you probably had the fortune of winning your week one matchup.  This will leave you in a precarious position of not being able to pick up the best waiver wire options that are available however.  Fear not, your success will be revealed soon.

Most leagues have a policy of the waiver order is in reverse of the standings.  So if you won your game this week, you will be in the bottom half of the waiver order.  You might decide that you will just put in several claims in on a few players so that you do not miss out on everyone.  I am here to tell you not to.  Picking up substandard players and dropping people you drafted is a fool’s game.  You will surely release a player that will perform later, but will be on someone else’s roster.

Instead, you need to be patient.  Put in a waiver claim ONLY on the players truly worthy of your roster.  That maybe just one or two guys that surely will go before your turn, right?  Perhaps.  There is a chance that you will still get them though.  Stranger things have happened.  The Kardashians are famous, and people still go to see Nicholas Cage movies.  So Dexter McCluster making it to pick six isn’t out of the question.

Let’s assume all your claims go unsatisfied though.  If you put in several other claims on players that you don’t really want, and get one of them, you will be put at the end of the waiver list again, as you had a claim that was successful.  Instead, you should let the waiver period pass with your one or two claims that were unsuccessful, but then you will be atop the waiver order.  Then, look at the players that were dropped to get waiver claims by other teams.  This is the secondary waiver market that no one talks about.  The secondary waiver market is often times as valuable as the first.


In desperation to get Kevin Ogletree, teams might drop some underperformers from week one, such as a Titus Young or others.  Once you see who has been dropped, you can then put in a waiver claim for those dropped players, and you will be first in line to get your pick of the litter.  Thus your victory against your enemy can be provided, directly from his hands.  Sun Tzu enlightens us again.  Follow me on Twitter @FFootballGuru for more insights to conquer you enemy, because simple beating him allows him to fight again.

Top waiver wire picks of the week:

Kevin Ogletree – Cowboys

I wouldn’t give up anyone promising on your team to get him, could have been a one-week fluke, but worth a bench spot just in case.  When Jason Witten is back to full health, I imagine Ogletree’s targets are greatly diminished.

Dexter McCluster – Chiefs

Especially in PPR leagues, led team with 10 targets.  Showed last year he can be dangerous.  Will be terribly inconsistent and rarely gets into the endzone, but in PPR formats is a decent start.

C.J. Spiller – Bills

Fred Jackson is out for at least a month and C – J – Blew – Up.  Don’t expect that same performance again.  But definitely at least a flex starter, probably not available in your league, but check!

Alfred Morris – Redskins

Shanahanigans latest “starting RB.”  Proceed with caution starting him, but performed well enough to earn a bench spot.  Sit him next week to see if a pattern emerges, but I would suspect that pattern, is inconsistency on who is getting the rock week to week.

Jay Cutler – Bears

I am still not a believer in Brandon Marshall, and Jay cutler will have his four interception days, but if you need a QB because you drafted Michael Vick against my wishes, he’s the one to get.

Jacob Tamme – Broncos

I recommended against Tamme in the preseason, but simply put, I was wrong.  Peyton Manning has shown in the preseason and in Sunday night’s game that he loves him!  I feel like Manning must have some dirty laundry that Brandon Stokley and Tamme must know details on, because for some reason Manning won’t stop throwing to those guys.

Coby Fleener – Colts

Andrew Luck’s safety net, and based on Luck’s three interceptions and a fumble this week, he will need a lot of safe throws.

Tampa Bay

Really slowed down the high-powered Carolina offensive attack.  Tough schedule the next few weeks though.  Only pick up if you are desperate.  Otherwise play a team with a better schedule next week like Cleveland or Oakland.

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