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High-Stakes League Update: Recap and Blind Bidding Tips


By: — October 23, 2010 @ 4:53 pm
Filed under: Leagues & Contests

Since my last update (after Week 3), I’ve gone 1-1 in the league I was doing worse in, Footballguys Players Championship (FFPC), and 2-0 in the league I was doing better in, National Fantasy Football Online Championship (NFFC). That brings the FFPC team to 2-3 (9th in record; 10th in scoring) and the NFFC team to 4-1 (2nd in record; 3rd in scoring).

FFPC

Back in Week 4, this team got smoked. Ray Rice did nothing against the Steelers, Michael Vick got knocked out early against the Redskins and Santana Moss had his worst game of the season amongst other issues. In Week 5 the team posted a good, solid score but squeaked out the win Monday night when Adrian Peterson was held under (just under) 13 fantasy points. Whew, that was close.

I’ll keep battling in this league to see what happens. Now Ray Rice seems to have turned a corner – finally – and if the starting Philly QB can finish a game with regularity (only 60% of games so far), maybe we can run off a string on wins and get back in the hunt for the playoffs. The top four teams make the league playoffs.

NFFC

On the other end of the spectrum, this team posted its best two scores of the season the past two weeks. The majority of thanks go to Antonio “Superman” Gates and Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd made Brandon Marshall‘s bye week a non-event last week.

RB is still an issue for this team, with Ahmad Bradshaw at RB1 but neither Marion Barber nor Cadillac Williams doing much of anything in the RB2 spot. WR is strong with Reggie Wayne, Marshall, Lloyd and Dwayne Bowe if he can keep from dropping the ball at the worst possible times.

Big game this week as I take on the first place team, who sits at 5-0 even though they are seventh in scoring (got to love head-to-head). This won’t be easy though, as the team is built with similar strong receivers Roddy White, Miles Austin, Steve Smith (Giants) and Santana Moss, plus Jason Witten at TE.

A win will be a big boost but the outlook for my playoffs should be pretty good regardless. The top two teams in the league advance to the Championship Round.

Blind Bidding

Most high stakes leagues use what is considered the fairest method of waivers, blind bidding, over the more traditional worst-to-first waiver priority order. In both the FFPC and NFFC, teams start the season with 1,000 fictional dollars to bid on free agents all season. If you run out of money, then your team cannot pick up any free agents for the rest of the season, so money management is important.

As is to be expected, I have used more blind bidding dollars so far on the FFPC team than the NFFC team, but I did finally make my first bigger splash in NFFC last week. I picked up Brett Favre who was dropped the prior week, pre-Randy Moss trade of course, by a QB heavy team, and Javon Ringer, another drop.

In my humble opinion, I’ve done a pretty good job overall getting players I want for just the right amounts on waivers without overbidding. Here is a summary of my free agent acquisitions to date for each league, and I’ll follow that up with some commentary on key players missed in the FFPC bidding (can’t seem to get the detailed bid history on the NFFC website) and some general tips.

FFPC
Week Player Winning Bid Next Highest Bid
5 Sam Bradford (3rd priority) $12 $11
5 David Buehler (1st priority) $5 $4
4 Kenny Britt (3rd priority) $5 -
3 Mike Tolbert (1st priority) $212 $200
3 Tony Moeaki (1st priority) $55 $52
2 Kansas City Chiefs (2nd priority) $8 -
2 Michael Vick (1st priority) $176 $57
NFFC
Week Player Winning Bid Next Highest Bid
5 Brett Favre $325 $275
5 Javon Ringer $75 $66
3 Nick Folk $9 -
2 Brandon Lloyd $21 $1
2 John Kasay $3 -

Key Players Missed (FFPC)

Week 5, Brandon Pettigrew – I didn’t put an aggressive bid on Pettigrew, since I was already flush at TE with Brent Celek, Moeaki and Aaron Hernandez. At 1.5 points per reception, and the ability to flex 2 TE (to go with 1 starter), I would try to squeeze him in if I could though. I bid $55; winning bidder paid $333, way too much in my opinion.

Week 5, Kansas City Chiefs – Yes, I had them back in Week 2 and I was excited about this defense, but at the time I needed roster room. KC had bye Week 4, at IND Week 5 and at HOU Week 6. I figured if I dropped them prior to Week 4 I could get them back before anyone was interested in them again. Surprisingly someone bid, and bid a lot, earlier than I expected. I bid $12; winning bidder paid $67. I would never pay that much for a defense off waivers.

Week 4, LeGarrette Blount – RB is supposed to be a strength on my team with the early draft picks at that position. I wouldn’t mind taking a flier on Blount but I was pretty sure someone would outbid my passive bid. I bid $67; winning bidder paid $203. More than I would spend on a player who got a handful of “lets get this game over with” carries (PIT game) competing with two to three other guys for snaps and guaranteed nothing.

Week 4, Ryan Torain – Similar to Blount, RB is not my major concern with this team. Torain has more promise for production than Blount given less competition for carries and he has shown more in the past, but we also know his bad injury history. I still don’t expect to win this bid but I put in something in case the other owners are asleep at the wheel. I bid $67; winning bidder paid $256.

Week 2, Mark Clayton – Most people had to bid high to win Clayton’s services after his Week 1 performance, but were happy with their payback until his season ending injury last week. I wasn’t convinced of Clayton at the time given how long he toiled in obscurity in Baltimore, plus I needed to put an aggressive bid on Michael Vick since Kevin Kolb went down. I bid $76; winning bidder paid $355.

Week 2, Mike Williams (SEA) – I actually had Williams prioritized ahead of Clayton, but for similar reasons wasn’t sold on him, just figured he had slightly more upside. I bid $76; winning bidder paid $200.

Week 2, Brandon Lloyd – Now here is a player I really didn’t believe in based on his history ducking under balls and such. Had to be a fluke, right? Maybe not. The guy in this league who bypassed higher bids for Clayton and Williams has to be happy at this point. I bid $21; winning bidder paid $125.

Week 2, Brandon Jackson – This was the waiver wire darling after Ryan Grant went down for the season in Week 1. I never liked Jackson’s talent as he hasn’t shown anything, even in a limited role, in his three prior years in the league. Three years and nothing to make me say, “wow”. That is a long time for a RB. Plus I knew someone was going to blow their wad on this guy, a huge mistake in my opinion to drain almost your entire account after one week. I didn’t even bid on him. Winning bidder paid $991.

Tips

Here are some blind bidding tips to wrap up this update. The first thing I do every week is make a list of free agent targets at all positions, regardless if I have a need at a position or plan to drop anyone or not. I need to see what players are out there, not just for this week but future weeks too.

The big key to winning the free agent bidding war is to grab guys cheaply before they blow up, not pay top dollar the week after they blow up. I remember my second year in the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCOFF) paying just over $100 for Domanick Davis the week before he wrestled the starting job away from whatever other scrubs were on the Texans roster.

I’m not sure anyone else in my league bid on him that week, so the $100 was overspending, but in most of the WCOFF leagues he was still on waivers the following week and went for six or seven times that much. That move propelled me to the league championship.

Often the best place to look for your free agent targets is not in the stats reports, but at the prior week drop list. See what players other owners gave up on out of frustration or they just needed to make room for another position and couldn’t hold any longer. As late as Week 5 there are still players who were drafted but off to a slow start and may yet turn it around.

Now, I got lucky with Favre being available since he got value boost after the unexpected Moss trade (here is hoping the elbow holds out), but a player like Ringer, sure I would love to take a chance on him in the event Chris Johnson goes down. Ringer has shown the wow factor in his limited carries off the bench.

For positions like QB and TE, where there is normally just one starter per team, review the other rosters to try to judge just how much competition you might have for a free agent player. I did this with Favre, and each team was pretty strong at QB except I figured maybe one or two other teams would be interested in adding him. So, I couldn’t bid $100 or less and expect to get him. It had to be a reasonably healthy bid.

Brandon Jackson this year is a perfect example why you do not want to bid north of 90% of your cap on any player. Of course, Anquan Boldin‘s rookie year was perhaps the exception to that rule, but it was a long shot that would work out at that price. Give me five to ten shots a season at the next Domanick Davis (is it Ryan Torain or Brandon Lloyd in 2010?) instead of putting all my eggs in one basket.

Final tip: If you really want a player, try to peg a reasonable value that most people would likely pay, and then bump it up a little beyond that to help guarantee the acquisition. Just how much to bump it will depend how much you want him. Don’t get emotional; get analytical to outthink the other guys in your league. That will help you spend wisely from start to finish.


Early High-Stakes League Recap


By: — October 4, 2010 @ 4:58 pm
Filed under: Leagues & Contests

With the late pre-season rush to keep projections updated, breaking news flowing and help people using the Cheatsheet Compiler & Draft Buddy to prep for their most important fantasy football drafts, my plan for a series of articles on playing high-stakes fantasy football went on the back burner.

As we hit Week Four of the season, I’ve told you the high-stakes contest options I compared and which two I finally decided to play in. Of course there is a lot to report since then – the draft, waiver moves, results through three weeks, current standings and future outlook for my teams.

In the interest of speeding things back up to the present, I’ll show you my drafted team and changes to get to the current roster, plus write a short blurb on each team with the results so far.

Overall, the competition in both leagues is TOUGH. Neither draft went very close to what I had hoped or planned. Either I was in leagues where I wrongly estimated where my top targeted players would fall, or I just happened to be in leagues with some like-minded owners.

In the Footballguys Players Championship (FPC), I snagged the third pick in the draft. Great! I’m all locked and loaded for Ray Rice, which I’m happy about. However, no WR I was excited for fell to me in the second round. Miles Austin miraculously fell all the way to 2.09 as the ultimate tease I might land him. When he went, I defaulted back to Ryan Mathews for a RB-RB start.

The third round, again, no WR available after I expected DeSean Jackson to get there. He didn’t. Okay, Jamaal Charles it is, for a RB-RB-RB start. For someone who preaches RB-WR balance to start your fantasy drafts, especially in a PPR league, this was not even close to the start I wanted.

Similarly in the NFFC Online Championship (NFFC), I had the ninth pick in the draft. With how far Austin fell in the other draft I was thinking a Miles Austin-Roddy White start was possible from nine. For whatever reason, I balked on Austin and took Reggie Wayne in the first round. Then the unexpected happened, in that the team drafting twelfth took Austin-White. Hey, that is my team! Ha.

At any rate in the first league someone could have had the choice of Austin or White at 2.04, and in this draft, neither one. I took Brandon Marshall instead, which is working out well, but again, not what I expected and it caused some fluster in my draft from there on out.

Okay, without further adieu, here are the cards I dealt myself and what I’ve exchanged them for, with my current record and brief outlook:

 Footballguys Players Championship
Pos Drafted Added Dropped
QB Kevin Kolb
Matt Cassel
Alex Smith
Michael Vick (Wk 2) Matt Cassel
RB Ray Rice
Ryan Mathews
Jamaal Charles
Cadillac Williams
Rashad Jennings
Mike Tolbert (Wk 3)  
WR Hines Ward
Santana Moss
Mohamed Massaquoi
James Jones
Mike Thomas
  Kenny Britt
Sammie Stroughter
TE Brent Celek
Aaron Hernandez
Daniel Fells
Tony Moeaki (Wk 3) Daniel Fells
K Dan Carpenter    
DEF Green Bay Packers Kansas City Chiefs (Wk 2)  

I started Kolb and he was a complete train wreck, even before the Clay Matthews induced concussion. Kolb was only part of the problem though, as none of my players seemingly knew where to find the end zone to start the season. Not a single starting RB, WR or TE scored a touchdown through the first two weeks except Charles in Week One against the Chargers.

Not surprisingly, I started 0-2. I since rebounded with a win thanks to adding Vick in Week Two plus Tolbert and Moeaki in Week Three, starting all of them last week along with Hernandez and benching Celek.

At 1-2 this team is going to need to keep clawing to earn the wins as I wait and hope for the Rice-Mathews-Charles trio to breakout. Santana Moss has been great but I am going to need some WR help from one of the prospect receivers Massaquoi, Jones and Thomas sooner or later.

 NFFC Online Championship
Pos Drafted Added Dropped
QB Eli Manning
Josh Freeman
   
RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Marion Barber
Cadillac Williams
Kareem Huggins
Tashard Choice
Bernard Scott
   
WR Reggie Wayne
Brandon Marshall
Dwayne Bowe
Bernard Berrian
Mike Thomas
Nate Washington
Anthony Gonzalez
Brandon LaFell
Brandon Lloyd (Wk 2) Anthony Gonzalez
TE Antonio Gates
John Carlson
   
K Joe Nedney John Kasay (Wk 2)
Nick Folk (Wk 3)
Joe Nedney
John Kasay
DEF New Orleans Saints    

This team is doing better than the FPC team, which goes to show why the label fantasy football expert can be a farce sometimes, as I thought this draft went somewhat worse than the first one. Gates has been superb though, as have Wayne and Marshall to a lesser degree. Thankfully Barber and the Cowboys running game showed some life last week, as did Dwayne Bowe, not that I started Bowe of course.

I’m 2-1 but I’m “kicking” myself for not being 3-0 right now. The first two weeks there are no head-to-head matchups, but rather the top six scoring teams get a win. In Week Two I finished seventh in scoring by under three points. The “kicker” (see where this is going)? The 49ers looked so bad Week One I dropped Nedney for Kasay, who scored a grand total of one point in Week Two. Now we know how bad the Panthers are, and really how the Giants aren’t that good either, which disguised the fact the Panthers were this bad after Week One. It goes without saying I hate kickers.

QB is sketchy on this team but as long as Bradshaw can keep it going and Barber comes through more consistently, the team looks in pretty good shape to compete in the league.

If any other FF Today members are competing in the FPC, NFFC or other high-stakes contest like WCOFF, let us know how you are doing. Right now I want to send props out to FF Today forums member madd futher mucker who is off to a great start in the FPC currently in the top 70 overall. Nice job mfm!

Keep it going and maybe we’ll change your team name to “FF Today” and mine to … uh … “Joe Fantasy Website.com”.


My High-Stakes Fantasy Football League Choice(s)


By: — September 22, 2010 @ 10:41 am
Filed under: Leagues & Contests

I’ve decided to try my hand at high-stakes fantasy football this year, after taking a number of years off from spending little more than a pittance on league fees in the couple of annual money leagues I do compete in. I see that big grand prize up for grabs and think, why not me?

Sure, it sounds like my parents’ retirement plan to win the lottery, but in this case my odds are considerably better. Plus, even if I crash and burn, I’ve written some articles for FFToday and you guys can have a good laugh at my expense.

In terms of just weighing the options, the Footballguys contest operated by Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) does set itself apart by escrowing the prize fund. I find the 1.5 points per reception for TE interesting, but I’m not sure I’m that in love with the TE position being so valuable that they jump off the draft board before players normally more worthy.

The National Fantasy Football Championship Online Championship (NFFC), despite its tongue-twister of a name, seems to strike a great balance between unique rules and strong payouts. I like the Kentucky Derby Style (KDS) draft preference system, which gives you some opportunity to choose your draft pick. The jury is still out for me on 3rd Round Reversal (3RR) draft order. I’d probably just prefer a regular serpentine draft order.

WCFF has a nice-looking smaller-scale contest here, as it is capped at 144 teams. And for those who love head-to-head competition rather than total points deciding things, this is the one to go with. The league championship is a head-to-head game between the top two teams through eleven weeks, and the championship bracket uses a 16-team head-to-head elimination bracket to determine the grand prize winner. Honestly, I don’t mind total points, as I do think it reduces the luck associated with head-to-head matchups and better recognizes the best teams.

RotoBowl doesn’t appear to be associated with FHM anymore, but Ray Rice is the commissioner. Yes, that Ray Rice! That is pretty cool, but really not a huge consideration here. No offense to the RotoBowl players out there—although I’m not sure how this can come off any differently—but I have a feeling the competition in RotoBowl may be not quite as tough as the other contests. Hey, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right? That is a good thing for someone planning to win. What I’m not crazy about is the uncertainty about the number of teams in RotoBowl. Those estimated payout percentages may be too low, but they may just as easily be too high depending on how RotoBowl entries are selling.

As mentioned last time, some of the decision about which contests to enter is going to come down to scheduling. For example, the WCFF draft dates and times just didn’t work for me. Ultimately, I decided to join the FFPC drafting on Thursday August 26 at 10:00pm Eastern, and the NFFC drafting Monday September 6 at 9:00pm Eastern.

Wish me luck! I’ll be back with draft reviews from each event. 


Comparing High-Stakes Fantasy Football Contest Options


By: — August 31, 2010 @ 10:13 am
Filed under: Leagues & Contests

A few things have changed in the high-stakes industry in recent years. First, there is more competition. It used to be that high-stakes fantasy football meant the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCFF). The first ever WCFF event was held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in 2002.

Given the early success of WCFF, a number of other companies opened up shop (and have since closed in some cases), trying to earn their piece of the then-growing high-stakes fantasy football pie. From the increased competition came more options not only between contest providers, but also in terms of different contest options from the same operator. This is the second big change.

Now there are some moderate-stakes contest options in the neighborhood of $300 instead of the typical main event fees north of $1,200. For those of us on a budget—or with a wife who happens to be an accountant (who’s with me?) —a few hundred dollars is easier to justify.

I’m sure some veteran high-stakes players may take issue with me lumping the $300 entry fee contests under the high-stakes umbrella, but I’m going to do it anyway. The contests I’m looking at are structured as traditional fantasy football leagues and have a five- or six-figure grand prize, which fits the definition of high-stakes for me. Plus, a blog series on high-stakes fantasy football just sounds better than one on moderate-stakes.

The third big change in recent years is, of course, due to technology. There are now online options for drafting in many of these contests. Yes, they still have the big city venues, too, which are great fun but require a bigger budget and more time commitment to participate in. At this point, an online draft is a better fit for me.

Now I just need to figure out which contest or contests I am going to join. I currently have four options I’m looking at. There are a lot of things to consider, including the cost and prize payouts, how the game is structured, whether the draft dates and times fit my schedule, the professionalism and customer service of the contest provider, and the security of the prize pool.

That list is not in any particular order, and by no means is it meant to be exhaustive. Some items are going to be more important to some people than others, of course. Some points, if they aren’t sufficiently met, will completely eliminate a contest from consideration. For example, if a contest does not appear to be professionally run, and you have concerns about the security of the prize pool, then the rest of the stuff really does not matter.

Do not take the security of the prize pool for granted just because a contest has a fancy website. While I have no firsthand knowledge, there have been reports of a few contests in recent years failing to fully pay out to their prize winners. Can you imagine the once-in-a-lifetime experience of winning the grand prize in a big fantasy football contest, only to find out later you won’t be receiving the grand prize because the contest organizers spent the money and went out of business? I can only imagine, but I imagine that feeling would be downright awful.

I’m not trying to scare people off from legitimate businesses in this industry, but just be aware there is a history of problems with some contests. Do your due diligence as best you can, which isn’t always easy, and realize nothing is guaranteed. If you are willing to take the risk playing in these contests, fine. If you are too risk averse, recognize that up front, and take a pass.

As an aside, one source of research you should use to help investigate the history of a contest you are considering is the newly founded Fantasy Players Association, initiated by high-stakes player Scott Atkins. Check the blog and message board, or post a question, to try to get some answers before putting your hard-earned money at risk in a shady contest.

In terms of my decision, I’m going to give just a high-level overview of different options I’m considering, and the particular points about each that stick out and differentiate them from each other. The four options I’m looking at are:

  1. Footballguys Players Championship
  2. National Fantasy Football Championship Online Championship
  3. RosterDoc RotoBowl Tournament
  4. World Championship of Fantasy Football Super Satellite

Note that these are specific contests I’ve narrowed down to include in my search. Each of the above companies has alternative high-stakes offerings, including live drafts, so if the ones I’m outlining aren’t quite what you are looking for, check what else is available from each company.

Here is a comparison chart I put together for the four options listed above.

 High-Stakes Comparison
  Footballguys PC NFFC Online Championship WCFF Super Satellite RotoBowl
Entry Fee $350 $350 $350 $259
Contest Structure 12-team
leagues
12-team
leagues
12-team
leagues
12-team
leagues
  Weeks 1-11 regular season; Weeks 12-13 head-to-head league playoff Weeks 1-13 regular season Weeks 1-11 regular season; Week 12 league championship game Weeks 1-11 regular season; Weeks 12-14 league playoffs
  Weeks 14-16 total points championship and consolation round Weeks 14-16 total points championship and consolation round Weeks 13-16 head-to-head championship bracket playoffs and consolation bracket Weeks 15-16 total points championship and consolation round
  Regular season team with best head-to-head record and team with highest points scored advance to the championship round, along with league playoff champ if different than the first two teams Regular season team with best head-to head record and team with highest points scored advance to the championship round,
along with wild-card teams that ranked in the top 10%
overall but didn’t otherwise qualify
League champion plus top four scoring league championship game–losing teams advance to the championship bracket playoffs Top three teams in the league playoffs plus regular season
team with best head-to-head record, if not otherwise qualified, advance to the championship round
Unique League
Rules
Point-per-reception (PPR) scoring at 1 PPR for RB/WR and 1.5 PPR for TE Point-per-reception
(PPR) scoring at 1 PPR for WR/TE and 0.5 PPR for RB
Point-per-reception
(PPR) scoring at 1 PPR for RB/WR/TE
Point-per-reception
(PPR) scoring at 1 PPR for RB/WR/TE
  Starting lineup: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE plus dual-flex RB/WR/TE All-play format for Weeks 1 and 2, whereby the top six scoring teams each week earn a win, and the bottom six scoring teams each week earn a loss   Starting lineup: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE plus dual-flex RB/WR/TE
    3rd Round Reversal (3RR) draft order   Double-header
regular season schedule
    Kentucky Derby Style (KDS) draft preference system    
League Management
Software
RTSports Fanball RTSports RTSports
Prize Payouts $1,600 1st place
$350 2nd place league
$1,400 1st place
$700 2nd place
$150 3rd place league
$2,000 1st place
$350 2nd place league
$900 1st place
$300 2nd place
$100 3rd place league
$100 credit 4th place
  $50,000 1st place grand prize at 50 leagues (600 teams) $50,000 1st place grand prize $10,000 1st place grand prize $20,000
plus two tickets to “the Big Game” (a.k.a. Super Bowl) 1st place grand prize
  Smaller cash prizes for finishing top 10 championship round, consolation round, regular season overall, and toilet bowl Smaller cash prizes for finishing top 10 championship round
and consolation round
Smaller cash prizes for finishing top 3 championship bracket;
free entry in future Super Satellite league for finishing top 4 consolation bracket
Smaller cash prizes for finishing top 8 championship round
  Prize pool increases above 600 teams, mainly the championship round If the contest increases from 600 to 720 teams, the prize pool increases at the same payout rate League payout: 56.0%; overall payout: 90.4% at 144 teams or less* League payout: 41.8%; overall payout: 78.6% at estimated 360 teams*
  League payout: 46.4%; overall payout: 84.1% at 600 teams or less, 79.0% at 900 teams* League payout: 53.6%; overall payout: 90.5% at 600 teams or less    
Additional Points The prize pool is kept in an attorney escrow account, providing assurance of the security of the prize fund.      

* The above league payout percentages are estimated calculations. They exclude discounts for multiple contest entry purchases and future subscriptions, free entries, and credits where no cash alternative is provided.

So now I am left with the decision of how to allocate my funds. Every contest has different things I really like and some things I’m not as keen on. It isn’t an easy decision, and unfortunately (or fortunately, to make my decision easier), a lot of it will probably come down to the draft dates and times that best fit my schedule.

At this point I’m going to take some time to consider these options and check the available draft schedule for each contest. Next time I’ll make my decision on which league or leagues I’m going to sign up for.


High-Stakes Fantasy Football Contests, Here I Come


By: — August 25, 2010 @ 2:19 pm
Filed under: Leagues & Contests

I’ve decided to throw my hat into the high-stakes fantasy football arena this season, after taking a pass on it for a number of years.

I competed in the high-stakes contest that started it all, the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCFF), back in its inaugural year in 2002, and again in 2003. I won my league in the 2003 event. It was a great time, travelling to Las Vegas and soaking up the experience of drafting in a huge ballroom with more than 600 fantasy football nuts.

However, while I loved the experience, I found that at that time of year, after running the gauntlet of tech support for the Cheatsheet Compiler and other updates to help keep FFToday humming along, I was pretty much in burnout mode by the time I had to board the flight to Vegas. I really wasn’t in the best frame of mind to draft a championship fantasy football team in the most expensive league I would participate in. The entry fee was in the neighbourhood of $1,400, and that excluded travel, hotel, food, and drink. After some back-of-the-napkin cost-benefit analysis, I decided to take a pass in 2004 and have done so since.

It sure hasn’t left me short of leagues to compete in over the years, as I participate in numerous showcase leagues against guys from different websites. These are usually just for bragging rights, and they are drafted earlier in August. Plus I play in at least a couple local leagues with just a moderate buy-in.

While all of these leagues are fun and exciting in their own way, there isn’t that big carrot at the end—the big payoff, the five- or six-figure grand prize that, sure, you’re going to need things to seriously break right to pull down but, hey, you’ve got a chance.

So it’s about this time of year that I always get the itch to take my shot at fantasy football immortality. (Is that a little too melodramatic?) I did try to scratch that itch by playing in RotoBowl in 2007—the online option instead of the live draft option in Atlantic City. RotoBowl, now part of RosterDoc.com, was sponsored by FHM Magazine at the time. With the FHM connection, it had an impressive draft afterparty. However, the main reasons I picked RotoBowl were its online draft, lower-cost entry fee, and how well it worked with my schedule.

Sadly, I came within striking distance of the grand prize, holding down 2nd place overall heading into the championship bracket before Brandon Marshall, not a member of Team MacGregor, was force fed the ball over three games. That was too much to overcome, and the top team remained in that spot while a handful of others leapfrogged me in the final standings.

If I remember correctly, upon researching the top finishing teams that season, I found that in many cases the rosters could not even be assembled in my league draft. For example the top six players on other teams all went in the first five rounds of my draft.

That soured me a bit at the time on the whole concept of these contests. In fantasy football, not only are you already dealing with your everyday run-of-the-mill fantasy luck factors, like head-to-head scheduling, and fluky injuries to key players, among numerous other issues. Now, if you want a chance at the grand prize, you need to deal with the luck of the draw of who you’re drafting against in your own league. It didn’t seem fair.

However, I’ve now come to the conclusion that this is just another factor to accept while playing in these contests. Like I said at the top, a lot of things are going to have to break right to pull down that grand prize. Consider the strength of the competition in your own league as one of those things. You don’t have any control over it. It’s just something you have to deal with. If you’re going to play in a contest like this and it is true fantasy football—with a traditional draft against other players rather than a salary cap game—there is really no way around that.

Well, I can tell you at this point, the itch to play high-stakes fantasy football is still with me. I’m ready to give it a go again in 2010. Next time I’ll review some of the options I’m looking at, and make my decision on what league (or leagues) I’m going to play in.

Here I am taking my first step towards fantasy football immortality…or at least a series of blog posts about my high-stakes fantasy exploits for you to follow along this season.

Immortality would be nice though.


 
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