Learning from the Losers

“Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat.”
Jean-Paul Sartre

Like most circumstances in life it’s easy to look at the winners, marvel at their good luck, excellent strategy and vow to follow their successful formula next time. But like gamblers falling for a survivor pool scam we can sometimes be led into trying to create strategies from something that can’t be recreated.

The lessons the victors give us are easy to understand; pick good players, play them every week and scan the waiver wire to pick up more good players and manage your team to success. Yes that sounds like there’s a bit of luck involved, and of course we all need that to win a championship, but we shouldn’t underplay the work required to build a playoff team. However, it’s the lessons we learn in defeat and from the defeated that hold the key to future success.  So here’s the recipe to avoid disaster next season taken straight from the cookbooks of those who came last or flamed out.

  1. Don’t make the risky pick in the first 4 rounds- You need to build the foundation of your season in rounds 1-4. A mistake here can be very costly, but two will in all likelihood be catastrophic unless you’re a waiver wire wizard.
  2. Trust the Average Draft Position (ADP)- ADP is like the wisdom of the crowd if you follow it you’ll minimise your risk. I’m not saying be a robotic drafter, but if the ADP says he’s a round 6 guy then leave him till round 5 at the earliest.
  3. Trust in teams with good QBs, distrust those without them- It seems obvious until your under the bright lights of draft day and the pressure mounts. We all make mistakes- Blake Bortles was never going to make Toby Gerhart look good and neither was Chad Henne.
  4. Don’t make hasty decisions in September- Give your squad a chance to get going. Offensive lines and running games can take a few weeks to build chemistry.
  5. Make bold decisions in October- At this point of the season your probably pretty sure where your season is going. If your winning don’t be afraid to get rid of dead wood and if you’re losing…..yep you know the score.
  6. Trade- If you have weaknesses fix them. If you have assets use them, there ain’t enough weeks in the season for you to sit on the league’s TE5 if you’re starting the TE4 and you need a running back.
  7. Prepare for injuries- You need those handcuffs. Don’t get caught without them.
  8. Manage your team- It goes without saying, but manage your team on a week to week basis, but look ahead. Not too far though 2-3 weeks is usually enough.
  9. Build a squad not a set of starters- You’re always one injury or a bye away from it all going wrong in a hurry. If the team are scoring well make sure your bench is prepared for the inevitable.
  10. Study for a degree in sports injuries- Or use a reliable ff doctor like football guy’s Jene Bramel (@jenebramel) or espn’s physical therapist Stephania Bell (@stephania_ESPN) to help you get the lowdown on those pesky injuries. Keep ’em or cut ’em? They’ll cut through the b*ll541t.
  11. Do some research- Research your starting lineup, but do it in more than one place. If you pay for a service they’ll adapt as the season progresses.
  12. Play matchups- The NFL is a match-up league. If a team shows a weakness then everyone will exploit it until they can show they stop it. So if a team can’t stop TE’s and you don’t have Gronk perhaps it’s time to stream Mychael Rivera.
  13. Play your studs- Just because Marshawn Lynch is playing a tough run D it does not mean you put him on the bench for a “match-up” play.
  14. Don’t give up-The season is NEVER over. Even with an 0-6 start, you may not make the playoffs, but you sure as hell can spoil somebody else’s trip. Does that not feel good?