A funny thing happened when my wife and I decided to stop getting cable to save money. After several years of fantasy futility (including two next to last place finishes), I won my favorite fantasy football league for the first time. Moreover, I have gone on to win that league three times in the six years since we gave cable the boot. (I claim that this should have been four championships if not for a horrible Yahoo! scoring decision, but I digress.) I do not think this was a coincidence. Most news sources, in general, thrive on hype. Routine occurrences don’t attract eyeballs and sell advertising. People do not turn on the television set to see an explosion that did not occur. They want shock value and sensation.
The sports world and the fantasy sports world are no different. ESPN’s (and others’) experts, analysts, and prognosticators would not draw very big audiences if they only repeatedly stated the obvious. Telling you that Tom Brady or Peyton Manning will be the keys to their teams’ success is not exactly newsworthy. Trying to convince you that this is finally going to be the year that Alex Smith morphs into Joe Montana’s mini-me is much more compelling. Telling you that LaDainian Tomlinson in his prime was a great fantasy football choice every year would not drive much web traffic. Convincing you that a 5th round pick off of an NCAA Championship Division team is about to take the league by storm is a much more interesting read. When I stopped seeing those experts roll by again and again on little pre-taped SportsCenter segments…. I believe I started drafting more conservatively and started winning.
Unfortunately, many people (including me on occasion) seem to confuse hype with substance. Taking LT in the first round in his prime was an unquestioned no brainer. Drafting that hyped rookie that has never taken a snap, let alone been blind-sided by Ray Lewis, in the first round is not. Perhaps the hyped rookie will pan out. I don’t know… and neither do the so-called “experts.” But I do know, that given the law of averages, you are far better going with a young, healthy player with a proven track record, than one that has not yet been productive in the NFL.
I’m not saying that all of the hype and tips about “sleepers” and “breakout” players is entirely useless. It does have its place. For instance, if you are able to grab one of these players in or near the round where he should have been taken based on his past performance alone (not some “expert’s” future projections), then you have the potential for a real bargain. If you can grab a player with high upside in a late round vs. a comparable player on the downside of his career… certainly go with the high upside player. However, you should not run right out and draft a rookie RB in the first round when a proven player with first round value is on the board.
So… while I know its probably not realistic to talk more folks into joining me in the world without cable…. perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to turn off SportsCenter a few more times during the month of August and turn to logical thought instead.