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3 Leadership Lessons From My Fantasy Football Team

Jan 09, 2024

Despite being a cheerleader for 10 years of my life and my unwavering support of my beloved Buffalo Bills, I really know very little about football. I'm mystified when people explain how plays are set up, why flags are thrown, and the nuances of the game. Yet, when my son suggested I join his fantasy football league, I figured I'd give it a try.

Year 1 was pretty abysmal with my team finishing at the bottom of the pack. What can I say? I drafted my quarterback and defense first (rookie mistake) and I kept forgetting to replace my players during their bye weeks.

Year 2 brought some improvement and I finished at the midpoint in the league standings. More importantly, it opened my eyes to how the game is played and 3 important lessons.

Year 3 gave me the opportunity to implement these lessons to really run with the ball!

Leadership Lesson #1: You don't need to be able to play football.

Success as a fantasy manager has absolutely nothing to do with how well you can personally pass, run, or tackle. Your job is to develop a strategy by crunching performance measures and player statistics. Mining league data allows you to anticipate your opposition and leverage that information to set your team up for success.

In the real world, all too often, I see managers playing the game for their players rather than focusing on their team's overall game plan. Get out of the weeds, study the metrics, and strategize for success.

Leadership Lesson #2: Scout for players that complement each other.

Stacked with Dallas's dynamic duo of QB Dak Prescott as his star RB Tony Pollard, my powerful offense topped my opponents week-after-week. It didn't hurt that I also had their Defense, yet when Week 15 rolled around, I couldn't bear to root against my home team. So, I did a little research and made a few player swaps with the Raiders just in time for them to crush the Chargers 63-21. 

Don't be tempted to rely solely on your "A" players. Every member of your team has strengths, whether they are new, experienced, young, old, introverted, extraverted, big picture thinkers, or more tactical do-ers...

Discover each team member's strengths, learn when to call on them, and let them have their game of the season.  

Leadership Lesson #3: Roll with the unexpected blitz.

Week 15 was a doozy. Despite the Raiders giving me a 45 point lead heading into the weekend, by the third quarter of Monday night's game, I was down 118 to 116. It didn't help that my top players were on IR. With just minutes to go, my dream of making the playoffs was coming to an end. Then, miracle of miracles, Jaxon Smith-Njigba (a last minute add whom I'd never heard of but had good stats) came through when it mattered most catching the game-winning touchdown in the final minute of the game. Bham!

Everyday, leaders are thrown curveballs. Being able to adapt strategies, reshuffle tasks, and develop their players in response to unexpected challenges is a skillset that's as handy in the boardroom as it is on the fantasy field.

The outcome of implemeting these 3 lessons - I finished the season with a 3rd place victory! My jubilation wasn't just a result of the $30 in my pocket. It was because of the pride I had in my real-to-me team and my new-found team management skills that notched me up the league standings. Next year...Super Bowl.

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