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The Gut Check No. 404: How to Use The News

Do you use the news, or does it use you? Matt Waldman shares his approach to analyzing football news with fantasy implications.

One of the unsung skills of managing a fantasy team is the accurate discernment of news. In today's charged political environment, "news" has become the subject of vigorous debate. What is considered news? Is the source objective? How does one cultivate a critical eye? 

These questions also apply to fantasy sports. Despite a slew of layoffs, football media has traveled well beyond its saturation point during the past 10 years. Log in to a forum, Twitter, Reddit, or Facebook, and there are often dozens of stories about the same specific topic. 

If Calvin Johnson joins the Raiders, there will be at least 50 media accounts that I follow on twitter announcing the news and 200 more delivering analysis of the event within 12 hours of Johnson's return to the NFL. 

The madness applies to every aspect of football: team previews, the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine, the NFL Draft, mini camp, OTAs, and the preseason. Footballguys Newswire is a neverending list of media reports about players, coaches, teams, and league happenings. Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom often give the "Footballguys view" below the summary of the news report and it's often helpful to see a fantasy writer's opinion about a story. 

Correct analysis of the news can help fantasy owners identify promising developments that lead to league-winning decisions that others glossed over. Incorrect analysis can lead fantasy owners down rabbit holes where their rosters never return.

If there were one magical skill I could have that would be applied to fantasy football it would be 100 percent correct analysis of the news because my interpretation of the skill would mean that any speculation I made with partial information would prove accurate. That fact that these reports offer so little is why analysis of the news is a difficult thing to do. At some point, we all have to speculate based on partial information.  

Before I became a full-time football writer, I was an editor of a business publication for a decade and a features writer and freelance reporter for a little longer. These experiences often give me perspective about what writers say (or don't say) in their stories, because I have had to make similar decisions in the past.

This week, I'm offering tips on how to read news reports and apply them to your fantasy management. I'll use current reports as examples, examine the type of report, the frame of reference, and how these things can help you make decisions that at least have more clarity as you speculate in the media minefield. 

I hope that my advice will help you use the news rather than the news using you. You won't always be successful, but assessing risk is the nature of the game. 


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