7 Reasons Why I Still Suck at Fantasy Football
Obviously if you don’t know how to play fantasy football, you can’t play well. If you play for fun and don’t really care about your long-term results, then having a lighthearted approach to the game is perfectly reasonable. But, since you’ve read this far, you probably want to be a better fantasy football player.
If you’re like me, you spend endless hours each year studying articles, discussing strategy with serious players, and critically analyzing your own play. You try your best to resist destructive impulses and develop a detached, unemotional approach that allows you to concentrate on making better decisions.
Unfortunately I still suck at fantasy football, and you probably do too.
If you look at the way people play, it’s obvious that irrational impulses affect everyone. We may pretend that our only motive is to maximize our rewards, insist that we think rationally, and assume that all we need to succeed is a basic understanding of football. But we already know much more than we apply well, so something must be preventing us from getting the full benefit of all that knowledge.
I’m no expert, but I know there are at least 7 Reasons Why I Still Suck at Fantasy Football.
#1 – I Don’t Have a Strong Enough Desire to Play Well
I claim to play fantasy sports to win money, but I really don’t mean it. I yield to other motives such as the desire to take risks, socialize, or prove my machismo even though I know it will cost me money in the long run.
#2 – I Take Too Many Risks
Most of the fantasy football articles I read assume I’m driven by the desire to have the best team possible, but the evidence is overwhelming that other desires affect my actions.
It’s so boring to have the same team all year. I can’t help but work the waiver wire and make trades simply because it’s so much fun to do. I react, not to rational analysis of risk, but to the urge to gamble.
#3 – I Have Unrealistic Expectations
I can’t accept that fantasy football is gambling and that losing streaks are absolutely unavoidable. Losing makes me angry.
#4 – I Play Angry
Fantasy football is an intrinsically frustrating game. People who can’t control their anger probably shouldn’t play, but I do anyway.
When inevitable losing streaks occur, anger devastates me. I start to act viscerally rather than logically. I forget than anger is a vicious cycle. It harms my play, increases my losses, and makes me even angrier.
#5 – I Can’t Handle Confusing Feedback
Some times I start my best players and still lose. Other times I make terrible decisions and get terrific results. These backwards results hurt my brain and fool my natural learning process.
Fantasy football’s feedback not only makes it hard to learn what to do, but it also prevents me from unlearning bad habits. Because I occasionally get lucky, my bad habits persist.
#6 – I Am Overconfident
There is a fine line between confidence and overconfidence.“Overconfidence will hamper a player’s ability to accurately evaluate his edge in gambling situations.” Barry Greenstein – Professional Poker Player and Author of Ace on the River
I struggle to balance confidence with honesty about myself.
#7 – I Want to Impress People
I’m so arrogant that I want people to know exactly how smart I am. I know I shouldn’t, but I still give away information about players I’m interested in or deals I’m trying to make.
The more emotional I become, the more information I give away.
I claim that I’m manipulating my opponents, but that is just a rationalization. I honestly have no idea how people are going to use the information I’ve carelessly given away. In all likelihood they’ll be smart enough to use it against me.
Why Do People Play So Badly?
Most of the reasons we suck at fantasy football reinforce each other. Unrealistic expectations and overestimation of our talent increases our level of frustration because we expect to win easily in a game that is inherently difficult to beat.
Our selective memories reinforce both our overestimation of our abilities and our anger about being “unlucky”. We deny or rationalize our feelings instead of looking at them objectively.
If we don’t try to understand how our emotions affect us, a great deal of our behavior becomes inexplicable and uncontrollable. In order to become better fantasy football owners we have to recognize the effects of destructive impulses and work on eliminating them from our game.
You can learn more about destructive emotions in Alan N. Schoonmaker’s (PH.D.) – Your Worst Poker Enemy. I’ve applied several concepts to this article that his book covers in extensive psychological detail.
I am very lucky to have found Dr. Schoomaker’s work. Not only has his writing improved my mental edge in poker and fantasy sports, it has also helped me grow both personally and professionally. In fact the lessons I’ve learned from his teachings inspired me to create GoProFantasySports.com