The Gut Check No.496: Fantasy Playoff Scratch-Offs

Matt Waldman profiles lesser-known NFL players who could potentially help you during the fantasy playoffs.

My wife Alicia is a sourcing professional in the corporate arena. If you're not aware of what sourcing does—most don't, including those who work with sourcing professionals—their skills are the mix of a hedge fund manager, a corporate lawyer, and a high-powered negotiator.

Alicia essentially advises how executives should spend the company's money as well as help them get the best value in their division's business dealings. This means knowing when to create a plan that saves money, leverages the best possible service from vendors, or often both.

If you knew Alicia at work, you would not expect her to be an avid player of the lottery. Not the weekly Powerball—ok, sometimes the weekly Powerball—but mostly the scratch-off tickets.

Of course, if you knew Alicia at work, then you wouldn't be surprised that she routinely wins money playing scratch-off tickets. When she's winding down from work and watching TV, she's researching which gas stations and convenience stores in the neighborhood had significant winnings from specific scratch-off games and devise a game plan for which games to buy at specific stores.

Ever since I met her—back when she left her industry for a number of years to run her own interior design business where she did 80 percent of the contract work (with the exception of plumbing and electric) and had a part-time job at a convenience store when business would occasionally be slower—Alicia had a plastic baggie where she reserved a small amount of cash for her scratch-off hobby.

When she won money from the scratch-offs, she'd place the original investment back into the baggie. I once asked her what she did when she depleted the baggie of cash. Alicia cocked her head at me, smiled as if I was a nine-year-old inexperienced with the ways of life, and said, "I don't play anymore—at least until I have the kind of money where I can afford to throw away $25-$30 dollars."

During the 12 years we've been together, I've never seen that baggie empty. I have seen her exit convenience stores with a handful of scratch-offs, tell me not to leave the parking lot just yet, play them in the car, and win $20, $80, $200, $800, and $1,200 dollars.

This has happened often enough that if she ever told me with a straight face that playing scratch-offs is like fantasy football—if you're good, it's more skill than luck—I won't argue with her. After repeatedly pulling out of convenience store parking lots only to double-back five minutes later for her to reclaim her winnings, why would I?

If she cared about football, I'm pretty sure she'd be writing a popular Daily Fantasy Column.

While I'm no Alicia Waldman, I'm hoping I can help you earn a fraction of her success with the players I'm recommending below who might as well be the fantasy football equivalent of scratch-off tickets for your playoff run. Most of these options are speculative adds lacking proven volume but they have the talent and potential fit during Weeks 15 and 16 to help you if you're desperate for production in your playoff lineups.

Reason No.1 I'm no Alicia Waldman: Never play scratch-offs if you can't afford to lose what you put in.

Now that we've established who is the brains of the Waldman operation, join me in my weekly folly of encouraging the desperate and deluded...

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