Hot Reads - Week 13
Posted 11/26 by Jeff Pasquino, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Welcome to "Hot Reads", a new column for 2008 here at Footballguys.com. The general purpose of this column will be to collect some of my thoughts and observations throughout the NFL season as we go along - from waiver wire comments, how to get the most out of the Footballguys site, or anything else football related that comes to mind. It will mostly be a free-flowing, stream of consciousness - that means that there's no predicting what I might talk about in a given week. So....welcome to my world.....
Fantasy Football Fairness
About this time of year many fantasy football players start to wonder about "what is fair" in the world of fantasy football. What teams should get into their fantasy playoffs? Which system or league setup gives the best teams the best advantage and reduces the element of luck?
Let me start by saying this - if you want to eliminate luck, play chess. Fantasy football is a game of skill, but it has more to do with luck than skilled players ever want to admit, while it has more skill to it than lucky players continue to deny.
Fantasy football players tend to love poker, a game very similar in the skill / luck breakdown of how things shake out. Being dealt two aces is very much like getting the first pick in the NFL draft and also getting the steal of the draft - it's a strong advantage out of the gate, but there's no guaranteed victory. Phil Hellmuth, a world famous poker player, once said that "If it wasn't for luck I'd win every time". That sounds hysterical to most people but those who think that skill is such a big influence tend to agree - but not 100% like Hellmuth alleged in that outburst.
I'll give you a math example. Let's say a skilled player has about a 75% chance of winning any fantasy football contest on a given week. Over the course of a season, he should win 8-9 out of 13 games, which should get him (or her) in that league's playoffs. That's not unreasonable and most experienced fantasy football players do get that far way more often than typical fantasy players.
Then Lady Luck slaps them on the face.
Using that same 75%, if a fantasy owner needs to win two consecutive games for a championship, that only happens 9 out of 16 tries (75% of 75%), or just over half of the time. Ouch. Nearly a coin flip. Wait - it gets worse. If they need THREE wins to win it all, they are only going to get there 27 out of 64 times, a meager 42% league winning percentage. Sound great? Not really, but that's how it goes. Plus the better players get to the fantasy postseason, so a very skilled player may wind up in the "one out of three" championship victories category.
Going back to poker one last time, that is why you often see the same faces on TV for the bigger tournaments. Great players can get to the finals at a much higher rate than usual, but winning the final hand requires some luck.
So how do you eliminate some of the luck? There are some ways but that's another column for sure. For now I want you to consider this - if it wasn't for luck, would you have as many people playing this hobby? Thousands of amateurs enter the World Series of Poker with next to no shot, yet often a few make it to the finals. It is that kind of long odds success story that fuels that sport / hobby, just like fantasy football. Don't hate the luck factor, embrace it.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go
This week the Baltimore Ravens hosted the Philadelphia Eagles, a team I grew up watching, for the first time in over nine years for a regular season contest. Sure, they play each other just about every year in the preseason, but we all know that it isn't quite the same. So let's just say there was incentive for me to get to this game and take in the action first hand.
Coupled with this "need" to be there was my son's insatiable interest in football this year. He's started playing contact football for the first time and he can't get enough of it on TV (sneaking in some Monday Night Football, something many of us did in elementary school). After repeated pleas to go to a live game, it all came to a head this past Sunday as we ventured down to the Inner Harbor for the day. There we were, doing the whole nine yards - tailgating with friends, throwing around the football before the game, walking over to the stadium, watching our favorite team get clobbered while their franchise quarterback stood on the sideline, looking almost as cold and disinterested in the final score as we did as the sun set. This got me to thinking, what would be the best way to watch a game these days? Is it better to go to the stadium for a big game, watch it at a local watering hole, or at home in glorious high definition on the big screen? I decided to get some other opinions in the Shark Pool this week with this discussion thread, but it is time for my own thoughts. Welcome to my world....
Let's start with the basic three ways I listed above and go over the pros and cons as I see it:
- Live at the stadium - A great way to go if you are a diehard and
don't mind the elements. Sharing the event with 50-100,000 of your closest
friends for the day seems like a good idea, except for the difficulties in
doing anything but sitting in or standing up out of your seat for 3-4 hours.
Don't get me wrong, there's no better way to enjoy your favorite team winning
a game than at the event itself, but the price tag is pretty steep. Tickets
are one thing (and PSLs quite another), but then comes parking fees and the
beer and food in the stadium (unless you tailgate, and if done properly you're
too stuffed to even THINK about eating inside the stadium). Added to all of
this are the extra stress of the traffic to get to and from the game and -
everyone's favorite - the communal experience of waiting for the bathroom.
I know I'll catch some negativity for pointing out all of the flaws of going to a game, but you have to admit there's quite a few. I do love the experience though and I've gone to many college games (Blacksburg is several hours from me but a great venue for college football) - but the difference between the pro game and the college game are night and day. College is (usually) on Saturday, and if you are bigger into the NFL than college football, you don't sweat missing the other games going on that day. When I'm at an NFL game, I tend to watch the out of town scores a bit too much at times, which I know is more about fantasy football than it is related to the NFL standings. That one's on me, I know, but overall the commitment of a full day for one pro game is a hefty price tag overall - I love to watch lots of NFL games on Sundays. Maybe that's just me, but that's my take on it...
- At home in front of the big screen - Now for me, where I am in life, that's the ticket for me. NFL Sunday Ticket, in fact - getting to watch eight games at once with all the modern comforts of home is a definite plus. All that convenience and the NFL short cuts, Red Zone Channel and Superfan channel (like eight TVs at once) for less than $20 a week is worth it. Your own food, beverage and facilities, plus TiVO / DVR capabilities can make it a perfect day. Sometimes though all of that "convenience" of being at home is a different kind of distraction with family not quite understanding that nothing else matters but what's going on the TV set starting at 1:00 PM for the next 10+ hours.
- The sports bar - This is a great way to fly if you want to watch
grab a bite to eat with like-minded fans and watch all the games with a crowd,
but maybe not go to the game itself. It's also great to find a "team bar"
which tends to cater to fans of your favorite team - sort of like a "home
away from home" atmosphere. This is the perfect answer to guys who love bars,
bar food and don't have all that family stuff to worry about. Unfortunately
you also don't have control over the TV (usually, I got quite good at befriending
a few waitresses to give me the remote) or the volume, and you certainly can't
back up the game ("TiVO withdrawal" should be a medical condition).
This was my favorite answer about six or seven years ago for me before I got DirecTV and little ones to worry about. I did take my toddler once or twice to restaurant / bar combo location, but that really didn't fly for long. Gave me a great excuse to get DirecTV though ("Honey, look - I spend $20 on lunch and I'm out all afternoon, so if I get the dish at home I can stay in with the kids and watch a game there...." Practice makes perfect with this sales pitch.)
What's the really best way to watch a game? The answer is likely a combination of all three of these. I love going to games but the price tag is a hefty one like I said before, but if it is a special day of the week or a big game, sign me up. Most Sundays you will find me parked in front of the TV with all the games on the big screen, but I still remember the days at the sports bars too. The bottom line is this - there is no wrong answer in how to watch the NFL, but sometimes experiencing all of these improves your appreciation for each one it its own special way.
Which reminds me - I have to get from my in-laws to Lincoln Financial Field before kickoff - better tell them we need to eat early on turkey day.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and enjoy the games, however you like to watch them all. Except for that Detroit game, that's nap time.
That will do it for this week. I hope you enjoyed this window into my world. Until next time.....