Last Week's Question
In last week’s
column, I asked readers whether they subscribed to online fantasy
expert services for advice about the management of their teams.
Since the question was posed on a free fantasy football
website, it should be clear to everyone that the responses I received
cannot possibly be construed as representative of the thinking
of fantasy participants in general.
Nevertheless, I was surprised to learn how overwhelmingly
averse the readers of FF Today seem to be when it comes to paying
money for fantasy advice. Mike’s response sounded almost
identical to dozens of others:
The only expert I hire is myself. I rely on FF Today
and its forums (useful once you know how to wade through the BS).
I also utilize FF Bookmarks for bench/start help, browsing many
to formulate info that is beneficial for my league rules.
Heck, my league's software program that we use online even updates
player news and has pay info available also.
Sean seems to think much along the same lines:
I can see 1st year owners possibly paying—along with FF
owners with little time to browse the web to update player info.
I recommend against paying with so much free access to player
info. For those with limited internet time, I would recommend
browsing Thursday/ Fridays when injury reports are out and bench/start
sites are updated.
As far as sites strictly for info, I only use free sites,
and your site is the only one I use strictly for fantasy football
news. I also use Yahoo, AOL, CBS Sportsline,
and ESPN. For the most part, I go to individual newspapers
that give you local coverage of the teams. That is where you compile
your best info. I usually pick up one yearly publication just
as a quick stats reference. I do subscribe to the Sporting
News, but that is just so I have something to read while
on the john.
I agree wholeheartedly with Sean about local papers being the best
source for NFL news. I’m sure there are all sorts of links
to relevant papers on the Internet, but I’ll offer readers
bookmark that I’ve found handy for tracking down local
information pertaining to any team that concerns me. If you know
of a more comprehensive list of links to local papers covering NFL
teams, please let me know about it so that I can share it with readers
(and start using it myself).
I think most fantasy football players have evolved with technology
and search a broad base of information and come to their own conclusions
-- at least, those of us who win money.
A number of readers have extremely elaborate strategies for deriving
all the information they need from free sites. I appreciated the
time these readers took to tell me, point by point, how they prepare
for the season without paying for expertise from any websites.
Unfortunately, these methods are so complicated and idiosyncratic
(and yet, ultimately, so similar) that I can’t justify including
more than one as a sample. Here’s the method employed by
a reader who calls himself “Junk”:
I’ve almost got a standard practice at this
point in terms of the annual pre-draft routine. Probably about
a month before our draft is scheduled, I will go to the newsstand
to pick out a fantasy mag. There were so many this year that it
took me forever to pick out the one I wanted. However, after spending
around 45 minutes reviewing various magazines, I finally chose
one based on the idea that I am just looking for a good team overview
for the year—a little discussion about last season including
injuries, what player and coaching changes were made for the coming
year, and a preseason depth chart. I’ll also skim some of
the player rankings for the coming year... I am looking for a
magazine that I feel thinks for itself, and makes a bold prediction
or 2, but in my opinion has sound analysis to explain it, the
latter being critical. It can’t be too crazy (compared to
what I may think), such as Drew Bennett being # 1 WR this year,
or Rod Smith at # 4 last year. There has to be enough evidence
that it’s not just a standard, thoughtless ranking.
No doubt there are plenty of FFers just like Junk—those who
insist on doing their own research and making their own decisions
about player value. But those who subscribe to fantasy websites
know that they are paying for the burden of this research to be
lifted. It may be extremely rewarding to pick up Willie Parker because
you found out about him in late July by studying the Pittsburgh
newspapers, but the person who picks him up because his hired fantasy
expert told him to do so gets just as much productivity out of Parker.
If it’s important to you to keep FFers in charge of their
own research, consider what Mark has to say:
I will start with the team overview section and read the mag cover
to cover, and make mental notes of players whose situation I think
allows for a jump in production. Sometimes I am correct, such
as LT2 and Ricky in 2002—and sometimes I am wrong, Amos
Zereoue in 2003. I used to purchase 2 mags, but have switched
to one from now on given the amount of free internet content there
is. There’s also the fact that most mags are printed in
June or July and don’t account for player movement/injuries
closer to the season.
After that, I use FFLM to download all previous year
league stats, and then make basic projections for each and every
player to arrive at my rankings. I do this myself first, and then
go to the web and look at what others have to say, what players
others view as sleepers and busts, and make changes to my projections
as I see fit. I do not pay for any
services that give player rankings. I would rather live
and die with my own projections, my own thoughts. I love football;
I am a football fan... I work on my projections until I have confidence
During the season, I spend lots of time on free sites looking
through articles and forums and trying to keep the right players
on my waiver wire radar. This has been critical to my success
in fantasy football. I have it narrowed down to around 4-6 sites
that I trust and will check regularly. Knowing about players like
Mewelde Moore and Willie Parker before the rest of my league,
and knowing which of these players to pick up (we have limited
transactions) has enabled me to succeed in my league. I have not
and will not pay for a service as long as there are a handful
of free sites out there that I feel give me this critical information.
This is plain and simple. We have a rule that no one is allowed
to pay for premium websites. All information has to come from
free websites or magazines. Of course, this is on the honor system,
so a player might be paying for it. Our view is that [the use
of] premium websites means you are focusing too much on the money
and not enough on the fun. If you have to rely on others to tell
you who to play, you shouldn't be playing in the first place.
Of course, there were a few readers bold enough to confess that
they do, in fact, rely on the help of hired fantasy experts. Joe’s
response was representative of this group:
I am probably on the extreme side when it comes to managing my
teams and thought I'd give you an overview from my perspective.
My thanks to all those who wrote in—and apologies to those
whose responses I was unable to include in this week’s column.
I’ll conclude by mentioning that a number of readers voiced
the same concern as Nathan:
I currently participate in three contests, each with different
scoring systems: 1) Fantasy VIPs, 2) a basic scoring, eight-team
league with the local guys and 3) TSN's Ultimate game (we've set
up a league and play for $$).
This year I [paid for and used an online drafting aid] for my
two drafts, and I feel it gave me a big advantage. The strengths
of the system include customized scoring and projections, ADP
information and a dandy mock draft feature that I utilized a great
deal before the drafts.
[During the season,] I subscribe to four paid services. The "free"
services I use include Fantasy Football Today and Football
Diehards. Each service has its strengths and weaknesses,
but each plays a part in the weekly management of my team. I consolidate
my key information on Excel spreadsheets and use a personal formula
to make my start/bench decisions.
The number of services I subscribe to has probably remained the
same over the years but I've tried out and discarded many in a
search for the next new thing. I'm a sucker for software and try
out two or more [fantasy programs] every year, most times never
using them. I probably spent over $150 this year on software before
making my final decision.
Like I said, I’m on the extreme side, but I firmly believe
in the saying, "there's a fine line between hobby and mental
Was this only an idle question? Are you guys thinking
of making FF Today a pay site?
Rest easy, readers, as I know of no plans to convert FF Today to
a pay site. I am only Mike Davis, not the all-powerful Mike Krueger.
My questions are my own and come out of my own less-than-pretty
little head. I don’t talk to Krueger about the management
of the site—and have never been asked to do nefarious research
for him into the willingness of FFToday’s patrons to pay for
access to the site. In fact, the only thing I ever do talk to Krueger
about is how he screwed me out of Willie Parker in our auction,
but he doesn’t even talk back. He just laughs and ignores
This Week's Question:
When I started in fantasy football, I heard over and over again
about how championships are won or lost on draft day. I was pretty
well convinced of the truth of that assertion a few years ago,
but I’m less and less sure as time passes. I’m not
saying that waiver wire activity is more important than the draft,
but I definitely sense that weekly match-up decisions end up mattering
more than stealing a particular player late in a draft. What about
the rest of you folks? Are you willing to agree that who
you start is more important than who
is on your team? And if you are willing to concede that
much, then is it fair to say that we don’t just trade players
in fantasy leagues because we are always also trading the players’
remaining schedules? Take Willie Parker, for example. If you traded
him after Week 2, you traded him after his games vs. Tennessee
and Houston. You traded a guy with some tough match-ups ahead
of him after his easiest match-ups were behind him. To what extent
do you allow logic such as this to influence you when it comes
to making trades?
Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt)
I didn’t hear from Matt this week, but that doesn’t
mean you’re stuck with my picks. Fortunately, another reader
named Stewart decided to write in with his LMS suggestions for Week
3. Oakland over Dallas. The Raiders
are better than their 0-3 record, but look who they've played...
the defending champs, the runner-ups, and the Chiefs, who—Monday's
loss notwithstanding—are a tough 2-1 team. Dallas is 2-1,
yes, but came out flat against a woeful San Francisco team after
a 4th quarter meltdown versus the Skins. You used to be able to
count on Parcells to motivate his teams to resounding comebacks
after poor games. Yes, they won, but barely. I see the Raiders finally
getting one in the win column this week.
2. Tampa Bay over Detroit.
The Leos appear to have lost a little faith in Mr. Harrington,
and with the pressure of a boisterous crowd and the Bucs' strong
defensive front, I see more interceptions in Joey's future. (Incidentally,
did you know that you can't spell Harrington without I, N and
T? I'm just saying.)
1. Cincinnati over Houston.
Cinci is really clicking on all cylinders, and Houston is still
searching for an offense. If the OL can't provide a little better
protection for David Carr, we'll be reading his obituary by Week
For responses to this week's fantasy question or to share your
LMS picks, please email
me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football
Readers who want to have their fantasy questions answered live,
on the air, by Mike Davis are invited to tune into FFEXradio
on Friday afternoons at 5:00 p.m. EST. Archived
programs are also available.