Winning at Fantasy Football for Dummies


If you’ve invested heavily in a fantasy football league, are a New England Patriots fan or take everything you see seriously, please stop reading now. I’ve spent enough time in courtrooms fighting speeding tickets. I really don’t feel like being sued when you’re destitute and the butt of all your friends’ jokes for the coming year. 

Now that that’s over with, let’s get on with the show. 

If you’re anything like me, you’re not good at fantasy football. Full stop. 

I’d like to win one of these days, but I’ve stopped expecting it. After all, I’m a New York Jets fan. The NFL season is not a fun time for me. 

In previous seasons, I’ve done research and followed draft boards. I’ve drafted favorites and I’ve drafted sleepers. I’ve finished as high as second place and more recently, I finished in last. 

“But Skip!” you may say, “Isn’t the point of fantasy to win?”

No. No it is not. 

The point of schoolyard kickball is to win. The point of professional athletics is to win. Even the whole point of being in the church choir is to win. The point of fantasy football is to have fun. 

So maybe the title of this article is misleading, but the person in the fantasy football league who has the most fun is the winner. The actual winner is also the winner, but we’re here for moral victories.

Especially with this year’s pandemic, why not try our best to entertain our friends this season? Why not be the butt of a joke? Why not draft a kicker in the first round?

Here are a few tried and true tips and tricks to make this fantasy football season the weirdest one yet:

Draft Shenanigans: 

A few years ago, I wasted my first-round pick on Tom Brady. As I said before, I’m a Jets fan so I’ve been losing to Tom Brady my entire life. That season, I’d had enough. 

I drafted Brady and made sure that, even if he beat the Jets, he wouldn’t be beating me and my imaginary team. Yeah that’s right, I drafted Tom Brady and I benched him. I put him on the last slot of my bench, and I managed the hell out of the rest of my roster. And you know what, I slept good that season.

The Quarterback Shuffle: 

The QB Shuffle is not only my favorite dance move, it’s also the most insane way to manage a fantasy football team. The first step in this tactic is to get your friends to agree to a 2-QB league. I’ve been pushing 3 for years now but no one else will bite. The next step is easy: load up on quarterbacks. No, Mitch Trubisky and Jared Goff are not a dependable starting two. But, what if you have Gardner Minshew, Andy Dalton and Dwayne Haskins on your bench? 

Answer: you’re still probably screwed, but at least you have a fun decision to make every week. Bonus points if you draft a quarterback who doesn’t play anymore. I normally spring for Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy. But if Charlie Batch or Tom Tupa are available, you might want to consider picking them up instead. 

The Art of the Bad Deal: 

This tactic can be used to stir the pot and get a good laugh out of your friends if need be. The art of the bad or neutral deal is when you create as many trade offers as possible and hope to steal a player from one of your opponents for next to nothing. 

Offer kicker Cody Parkey in exchange for Ezekiel Elliot. Offer kicker Matt Prater for kicker Robbie Gould. Even offer Sam Bradford in exchange for Russell Wilson. Or create package deals: offer up the New York Giants defense and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. for quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray. Maybe your friends will click the wrong button and accept the trade! With this tactic, the sky’s the limit.

Swap Meet: 

This strategy puts a special twist on the art of the bad deal. As soon as your draft ends, pick one of the other teams in your league and offer up all of your players for all of theirs. If that doesn’t work, pick another team and– you guessed it– offer up all of your players for all of their players. 

Pep Rally: 

The final piece of advice I’ll leave you with is this: your friends like nothing more than seeing you make a fool of yourself. Every week before the NFL games start, post a pep-talk in your group chat and just lean all the way in. 

Scream, cry, jump up and down– do whatever it takes. Your players might not hear you, but your friends will. So while you slowly unravel and your team goes 5-12, the people you care about will get a good laugh. 

After all, we’re all here to have fun, right? What’s more important than that?

Writer, filmmaker, long-suffering New York Jets fan. Yes, I was watching when the butt-fumble happened. No, I don’t want to talk about it. Big chicken salad sandwiches guy– come to think of it, big all kinds of sandwiches guy. Reporting on the intersection of politics and sports, and international baseball leagues. Journalism master’s from the University of Oregon (Sco’ Ducks), undergrad at Binghamton University. Learned critical thinking by reading the racing form, won my first ever bet at the age of 7 on a 36-1 wire-to-wire winner. Post-pandemic you can catch me at the fronton throwing bread down on jai alai.

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