Leadership Lessons from Fantasy Football

Leadership Lessons from Fantasy Football

Tonight kicks off another season of NFL Football. To many, this is the most anticipated day of the year – especially to the millions of fantasy football players.

The editors of AskTheManager are fantasy football fanatics and we spent most of our draft last week discussing how fantasy football intersects with management and leadership.

Not surprisingly, we found correlation between a top fantasy football manager and great leadership and management skills.

The Fantasy Football Draft

While there are plenty of fantasy football cheat sheets available to the fantasy player, those who do the best in their league’s draft conduct an inordinate amount of research to fill their team with the very best players using the lowest possible draft pick.

Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson and others of their fantasy prowess are no-brainers and are gone in the first two rounds. Anyone can pick these guys. Only someone committed to total world domination is going to take the time to choose Justin Gage, Matt Forte or Steve Slaton in the later rounds.

While those who aren’t willing to commit to the research will choose players past their prime, like Edgerrin James, true leaders balance the right amount of investigation into each decision – and they smoke everyone else on draft day.

The First Game

The NFL is quirky in the first few weeks of the season. The problem, as it were, is that every team feels like they’re going to win the Super Bowl. This brings out some amazing performances from the most unexpected players.

To pick the right players for your first game in fantasy football requires more instinct and moxie than any other week. Often in the fantasy leagues, you see those who ultimately finish near the bottom winning in the first week.

Firm decision making – avoiding any second guesses – delivers victories in week one to the true leaders.

Week After Week

Fantasy football takes commitment. Commitment is something that separates the leaders from the laggards.

The week after week grind brings out the strong management skills and true leadership decision making in the best fantasy players. Setting your weekly lineup, reviewing the available free agents, using your waivers sparingly and understanding that the teams your players face in a given week have as much to do with their success as their own talent takes strategy and a certain acumen not found in the laggards.

Leaders really excel during the week after week grind, because they bring commitment and a desire to be the best.

The Trades

Throughout the season, fantasy players are faced with the possibility of trading players to other fantasy players. Knowing when you can get the most for a superstar and when you can pay the least for an up-and-comer is key.

Leaders who understand negotiation always make great trades. They understand win-win. A negotiation that ends in win-lose or lose-lose is a failed negotiation. Leaders live this.

Making certain you get the best of a trade is not as important to true leaders as ensuring that they helped their chances to win by making the trade. True leaders will give up a great fantasy tight end in week two, for example – if they’re stacked with two tight ends – in order to fill a running back void in the twelfth week of the season. Their decisions are made with the goal in mind – and they always focus on the goal.

The Playoffs

All good fantasy leagues have a playoff. Generally, these playoffs occur during the last few weeks of the regular NFL season. Great fantasy players manage their rosters for playoff success throughout the season.

Why can’t you just stick with the great players that got you to the playoffs? Sometimes, you can. More often than not, NFL teams will rest great players if they’ve locked up a playoff spot. Additionally, NFL coaches use late season games to test some of their bench players – hopeful that these players will be useful in the NFL playoffs. Fantasy football leaders might mix in some second-stringers to aid their march through the fantasy playoffs.

The strategic and tactical maneuvers employed by great leaders during the final few weeks of the fantasy season are sometimes beautiful. You can tell in the first week of fantasy playoffs who the strategic thinkers are and who will go home without a trophy. Leaders always cash in their fantasy leagues… and TheManager always cashes!