Playing the Field

Unpublished

This story is specifically for those who can’t get enough of a good thing — that good thing being fantasy football, of course. What’s better than playing in a fantasy football league? Playing in two … or maybe three or four. Or more. Only you can determine how much you can handle. And for those of you who know your fantasy football jones can’t be satisfied in a single league, here are some guidelines to follow as you seek to become a multi-leaguing maven.

STICK WITH SIMILAR LEAGUE FORMATS

Juggling multiple leagues skillfully is as much about streamlining your efforts as anything else. The first place to do that is in your choice of leagues to join. Variety is not the goal. Enlist in leagues that have the same basic scoring systems and comparable rules. This keeps at least one aspect of fantasy football simple. After all, there are enough decisions to make during a draft or over the course of a season without having to take varied scoring systems into account.

You might not find leagues that are exactly the same, but you can come close. If you are in a number of PPR leagues, for instance, it makes sense to play that format universally, even if the value of a reception varies a bit. Switching to standard performance leagues in only a couple of cases could make a mess of your ranking system or your criteria for grabbing free agents.

Or say you are used to drafting in leagues that award three points per passing touchdown. Joining a league that credits six points per passing score will wreak havoc on your ability to determine the relative value of quarterbacks compared to other positions.

DON’T PURPOSELY CAST A WIDE NET

Parity doesn’t pay in the NFL, and variety doesn’t bring home the bacon in fantasy football. Many multi-league owners make the mistake of purposely creating roster variance across leagues to counter risk. They do this to mitigate fears that one torn ligament to a player owned in several leagues will wreck their season, or perhaps with the hope that at least one combination of players will pay out. Both rationales are flawed.

Injuries are too unpredictable, so there is no point in attempting to sidestep them. And populating multiple rosters with vastly different players will likely only land you a bunch of mediocre teams.

Fantasy football is an all-or-nothing pursuit of victory, not an investment portfolio. Winning requires taking some risks, not playing it safe.

Instead, identify a small group of players who you believe have the opportunity and skill set to become true difference-makers across all fantasy leagues. Then target them in your drafts, working to acquire as many as possible in each league in the appropriate rounds where their value exceeds their draft position. That’s how fantasy champions are built.

SCHEDULE REGULAR TIMES TO WORK YOUR MAGIC

You wouldn’t risk being shown the door at a ritzy restaurant on your significant other’s birthday just because you forgot to book a table, would you? So don’t show less consideration to your fantasy teams. Set specific times each week when you will address all of the operations that you must perform for your various leagues, and then stick to them, letting those close to you know what you will be doing at appointed times.

Perhaps you check league scores and results for all teams on Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., propose trade offers and waiver wire additions for all teams on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., and set the starting lineups for all teams on Sunday at 11 a.m. This discipline will ensure that you don’t give short shrift to any of your teams while you stay on speaking terms with family and friends.

GO AHEAD, PLAY FAVORITES

Even with core players in place in many leagues, some of your teams will fare better than others. As the season matures, give more of your effort to those teams that remain legitimate playoff contenders. But while it is wise to wean time from some squads, continue to fill out your rosters in all leagues every week. It’s only fair to the other owners in every league in which you participate that your weaker teams still attempt to compete.

Meanwhile, your focus will remain on those leagues you have a chance to win. Many of them, hopefully.

This article originally appeared in the Athlon Sports 2010 Fantasy Football magazine. Buy your copy now at newsstands and bookstores or by clicking here.

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