Fantasy Sports Reality Check – Winners Are Brutally Realistic

“Your success depends not on how well you play, but on how well you play in relation to your opponents…This presents a significant problem… Almost all players put themselves closer to the front of the pack than they deserve to be.”

Roy Cooke
Professional Poker Player and Author

If you’ve ever played fantasy sports, then you know how easy it is to let luck’s short-term effects delude yourself about your ability to win.  We’ve all had times where we accepted full credit for our successes and blamed luck, opponents’ mistakes, and other factors for our failures.

Naturally we all want to think well of ourselves.  Unfortunately the more our self-esteem depends on fantasy sports, the more likely we are to deny reality about how well we really play.

There are psychological, cultural, and social forces that make all of us deny some realities.  Nobody is always realistic.  Everybody clings to some delusions, but winners have the motivation and discipline to accept realities even when they’re painful.

In Chapter 10 of Poker Winners Are Different, author Alan N. Schoonmaker, PH.D. explains that we all have defense mechanisms that protect our egos from unpleasant truths about ourselves.  We deny our mistakes and faults, even when they are obvious to everyone around us.

Because the forces supporting denial are so powerful, we must constantly strive to overcome them.

In order to help fantasy players become more realistic and achieve better results, I’ve listed (and adapted) Dr. Schoonmaker’s four winning laws for being brutally realistic.

4 Winning Laws for Being Brutally Realistic in Fantasy Sports:

1. Admit that you overestimate your abilities and other virtues.

We all make this mistake to protect our egos.  Everyone has limitations, and we must accept and work within them.

2. Admit that you have some unrealistic expectations.

It’s so easy to kid ourselves about how well we play and how easy it is to win. Beware because unrealistic expectations can cause crushing disappointment.  We have to set aside our fantasies, evaluate ourselves and our competition objectively, and decide what we can realistically expect to accomplish.

3. Get objective assessments of yourself.

To overcome our own biases, we need objective information. Luckily it’s never been easier to get!

There are thousands of experts and fantasy sports communities on the internet.  Chet Gresham (Featured Columnist for TheFakeFootball) wrote a great article on How Twitter Can Help You Win Your Fantasy Football League.

Here’s his take on using social media to get objective feedback:

“There is an extremely healthy community of fantasy football writers and players that exchange ideas on Twitter freely and without being jerks! (Well, some of them.) I know I learn a lot from people on Twitter and you can, too!” – @Chet_G

We may not like some of the feedback we get, but we can’t develop our game without it.  We must be open-minded enough to accept this information, especially when we dislike it.

4. Select your games very carefully.

This is arguably more important in poker than it is in fantasy sports, however I believe there is value in carefully selecting the fantasy games we play.

We should not only select the games that best suit our style of play and increase our odds of winning, but perhaps more importantly, we should find the ones we have the most fun playing!

In poker, if you choose games with the right kind of weak players, you will win.  If you pick games with tougher or the wrong kind of players, you will lose.  It is that brutally simple.

In fantasy sports we don’t always have an option of what leagues we play in.  Most of us play with family, friends, and co-workers with the ultimate goal of having fun.

Don’t ruin personal relationships by losing touch of reality in fantasy sports.  If you aren’t winning and can’t seem to have any fun playing, don’t be afraid to find another league or simply find another hobby.

If you want to be more successful in the league you’re in, you’re going to have to:

Follow Law #1 and admit you are human.

Follow Law #2 and set reasonable expectations for yourself.

Follow Law #3 and get constructive feedback then apply it to your game.

Thanks for reading!

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