Fantasy Football Research
How to Conduct Fantasy Football Research
Every owner conducts their fantasy football research a little differently. Some fantasy football owners research fantasy football players radically different. For instance, I know one guy who joins 8-10 online fantasy football guru sites who send him fantasy football news every day of the NFL preseason and regular season, and once or twice a week in the offseason. I know another fantasy football veteran, kind of a burnout type, who buys a magazine on the way to the draft every year and more or less drafts from the cheat sheet. In our main league, the obsessive fantasy football researcher has 1 league title, while the fantasy football burnout has 2 league titles and 2 other fantasy super bowl appearances. Go figure.
Maybe some fantasy football general managers just have the touch.
Researching Fantasy Football Players
There are a lot of resources for researching NFL players: fantasy magazines and draft guides, NFL preview magazines, local and national sports radio, the NFL Network and the ESPN channels, fantasy football podcasts, fantasy football forums and message boards and the ubiquitous online fantasy football expert and guru sites. In fact, there's such a wealth of fantasy football research material, there's no way you could ever scour everything of interest to you. Like much of modern life, there's almost too much information, if you look for it.
Fantasy Football Player Bias
Like in other fields of interest, the danger with fantasy football research online is that you're likely to find information and opinions that reinforces your own viewpoints and wishful thinking. You can fall into fantasy fallacies simply by seeking out fantasy football analysis that confirms what you already suspect.
Let's use a player example to highlight what I'm talking about. Let's discuss Felix Jones, who's been in the news a lot the last few days. Felix Jones is the speedy backup running back for the Dallas Cowboys, set in a platoon system with Marion Barber in Dallas. Felix Jones is the Cowboys' game-breaker and he has an 8+ yards-per-carry average in his short NFL career. In fact, the last NFL player besides Felix Jones to have reached 400 yards in 50 carries was Bo Jackson. The guy is fast, has great moves and pretty good size (average) for someone with both those attributes.
It's easy to imagine you fall in love with Felix Jones. You might Google "felix jones fantasy football potential" or "ff felix jones breakout player" or some other keyword phrase that's going to skew to an article that tells you why Felix Jones is going to be a fantasy football stud in 2009.
Research Fantasy Football Pros and Cons
But there's another side to Felix Jones. The guy simply cannot stay healthy, it would appear. In 6 total NFL games, Felix Jones has been unable to finish the game 3 times. All three of those injuries were completely unrelated. And that's not the full story.
Felix Jones missed time in preseason with dings and bruises. He couldn't get through one OTA, because he hurt himself. Felix Jones is brittle.
That's the worst kind of player in fantasy football, because you fall in love with his potential and start him any chance it looks like he's going to be on the field more than usual. The Cowboys staff loves the guy, so they're always talking him up in the press, so you're more likely to see Felix Jones praise out there. But when it comes time for him to produce fantasy football stats, he gets hurt halfway through the game and ends up losing you the fantasy match-up. Felix Jones is a fantasy football killer.
But you might not have researched that aspect of his fantasy profile in depth, if you were already biased towards Felix Jones' fantasy potential.
Fantasy Football Player News
That's one reason my friend that gets multiple sources of fantasy football news has the right idea. Every fantasy football expert and fantasy guru is going to bring his own biases to the table. Maybe he had Marion Barber last year, so he sees Marion the Barbarian as injury-prone and loves the potential of his backup. Maybe he had Felix Jones go on IR for him in 2008 and is therefore leery of drafting Felix. Maybe he picked up Tashard Choice in time for the fantasy super bowl and won his league because of the 3rd stringer, and now he loves that guy.
Getting multiple sources of NFL news and fantasy football updates gives you access to a whole lot of fantasy opinions, and therefore biased analysis from multiple perspectives. It's kind of like the "Ask the Audience" lifeline on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?", which is supposedly correct 95% of the time. Some will undoubtedly have it all wrong, but most people's vague associations with the topic will contain enough of the truth that you end up getting a fairly accurate answer - if the sample of opinion is large enough.
Fantasy Football Researchers
Or maybe not. You might be just as well off printing up an injury report and an up-to-date depth chart, then grabbing a fantasy football magazine on the way to the draft. As my second friend who uses the magazines says, "It's all luck anyway."