It’s that magical time of year again when the leaves start to change colors, there’s a brisk chill in the air, and playgrounds start to buzz as children across the country return to school. Most importantly, it’s time for a brand new football season! With it, arm chair quarterbacks and stats enthusiasts everywhere are getting ready for another year of fantasy football. I am an admitted fantasy addict, and as I “train” for gridiron glory in my four leagues, I’ve spent a lot of my free-time preparing for my drafts. For those of us who are passionate about fantasy, nothing compares to the dizzying highs and crushing lows of watching your virtual choices translate to the actual playing field. I have come to realize that there are some striking similarities between the strategies I use to (try) and succeed in my leagues and those that should be used to best manage one’s workforce. I’ve included my favorite parallels in this article;
1) Research is Paramount
The first step to picking a dominate fantasy squad is your league’s draft. Whether it be a snake or auction draft, Point Per Reception (PPR) or one in which you start Individual Defensive Players (IDP), if you don’t choose the right players you are putting yourself behind the proverbial 8-ball. I find myself pouring over countless websites and fantasy magazines, listening to podcasts, and even polling friends for their advice when formulating my draft strategy. This is similar to the hiring process. When you are building your workforce, the hiring process is the first step to building the right team. You must research your candidates thoroughly. The interview process is an integral part of making the right decision when it comes to new hires. Do your best to get to know your potential employees; make sure they are the right fit for your team from both a work experience standpoint and culturally. If you put the right people in place, you’re setting your team up for long-term success.
2) Need vs Talent
In fantasy football, there are often hard choices to be made when it comes to drafting according to need versus drafting the best available player. What do you do if a possible top 10 Running Back falls to you but you still need a Quarterback and you have a #1 Running Back already? Do you draft the better player and give yourself some depth or do you fill the gaping hole in your starting line-up? I have faced this quandary many times. I often choose to select an extra Wide Receiver or Running Back due to a dearth of depth at the position and to safeguard myself against injury prior to taking my starting Quarterback. Other times though, I will see that if I don’t fill a hole in my starting line-up that the options that may remain the next time I pick are not very appealing. In that case, I will bypass a player with more upside to fill a need. During the hiring process, you may find a very promising candidate who you would love to have on your team but their skillset may not be a direct fit for the position you need to fill. This leaves you with a difficult decision to make. Do you hire them for the role and hope they grow into it? Do you keep the position open and find another spot for them on your team? Do you ignore the potential and hire someone else who has the appropriate skillset? These are not easy decisions to make and every hiring manager must find a way to balance talent with need.
3) Set Your Line-Up
Every week, one must set their line-up in fantasy football to fill the appropriate positions and maximize scoring output. This in it of itself is an art form. One must take into account match-ups, injuries, and bye weeks. I have often lost due to keeping points on my bench which any fantasy owner will tell you is the ultimate in frustration. As a manager, once you’ve hired the right people you have to put them in the best position for success. You must do your utmost to leverage their skillset, make up for any shortcomings they may have, and nurture their development to maximize your team’s output.
4) Don’t Give Up on Someone Too Easily
Every fantasy player has had an experience where one of their star players has gotten off to a slow start. While you’re waiting for the player’s talent to shine through, you’re losing match-ups due to a lack of output at their position. Eventually your frustration reaches a boiling point and you have to decide whether you stick with them, bench them, trade them, or even possibly cut them. How do you identify if this is going to be a season-long issue or due to a mitigating factor such as a short-term injury? Managers often face these issues with their workforce. A star employee may start making costly mistakes or showing a seeming lack of effort. What does a good manager do in this situation? I would suggest being up-front with the employee and talking to them about your concerns. Approach the conversation carefully and calmly. Try to focus on the employee’s past accomplishments rather than harping on their recent failures. Perhaps their recent performance issues are due to serious issues such as a health crisis. Being understanding and supportive can pay dividends in such a situation. Remember, we all try to leave our personal lives out of the office but there are times where it an unavoidable.
Bonus: Pay Your Stars
While traditional fantasy leagues with snake-style drafts are not subject to any sort of salary cap, those of us who dabble in auction leagues face the challenge of drafting the highest scoring team with-in a budget. Those who play in weekly leagues (I recommend Star Fantasy Leagues), where you can select any players you like but have a fixed amount of money to spend on them, face a similar challenge. Team managers often find themselves struggling to stay with-in a tight budget. This can make it especially hard to retain your best employees who may opt for a better paying position if you can’t compensate them according to their talent. The best managers find a way to retain their star performers. They may have to present a business case to finance to stretch their budget or move them up to a position that has a higher pay grade. Both the time and money spent on recruiting new hires can prove to be more costly than a raise for a valued team member.
I’m sure there are more parallels than those that I have outlined here. Please feel free to share any similarities you can think of in our comments section or any other tips and tools we can all use on or off the field!