Five Lessons From Fantasy Football

Forbes 1-640x480-FootballHow To Build Teams That Will Put Points On The Board

This is a big year for my youngest son and me. In yet another attempt to create the all-important father/son bond, we’ve joined a fantasy football league. That’s right, we are now part of the estimated 32 million people worldwide who pour over the data, build a roster and do everything we can to win week after week.

As my friend and league commissioner Adam was offering us some expert coaching, I noticed—as I hope you will too—that building a great fantasy team has an awful lot of similarities to building a great (real life) business team. So I’ve attempted to move past the customary sports clichés—“you’ve got to give 110 percent”—to draw five important lessons that can be used to build your fantasy football (FF) or business dream team.

FF Lesson #1: Get some serious coaching. Pronto. There are people who consistently win these leagues. You either know who they are or can easily find them. Buy them a beer and ask them to share their secrets.

Business Lesson: I’ve never, EVER, met a truly successful businessperson who hasn’t, at one time or another, been mentored by an even more successful businessperson. Who is your mentor? Find someone you respect immensely and say something like this: “Can I ask you for some coaching on a really important business issue? I trust your expertise.” (Note: Beer optional)

FF Lesson #2: Know your sleepers. When you draft a team, you want to select the guys who will be among this year’s top five players, not last year’s top five. Ask yourself, who are the young studs ready to make the big leap?

Business Lesson: Best-selling business mind Jim Collins has long extolled the tenet of “Getting the right people on the bus.” He argues that great teams start and end with the players, and the greatest players can make almost any business idea work. Who are you preparing to be your future leaders? Great teams are stocked with sleepers ready for the bright lights.

FF Lesson #3: Don’t make bad decisions because of bye weeks. Although you must take bye (off) weeks into account when selecting players, select the best players even if they happen to have the same bye week as another running back or wide receiver on your roster. Make moves to accommodate that bye week later. Too many people make poor decisions based on this very small part of the season.

Business Lesson: Every business has natural ebbs and flows, downtimes and uptimes. For many, the six weeks before football season starts is agonizing because the entire world is seemingly on vacation and the phone just won’t ring. Use this downtime to get ready to hit the ground running in the fall, instead of panicking and completely reengineering what’s made you successful in the past.

FF Lesson #4: Back up your most important draft picks. After choosing your top selections, make sure you get their backup so that if anything happens to the top guy, you won’t lose too much production.

Business Lesson: It’s always terrible when a valuable teammate is gone. It is also inevitable. Who is their backup?

FF Lesson #5: Identify great partnerships. Fantasy football experts will often select players by looking for highly productive partnerships. Not sure which wide receiver to take? Might as well go with the guy catching balls from Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees because they are star makers.

Business Lesson: Companies like Microsoft and Apple have changed the world through partnership strategies. Who are the business partners that can help you penetrate new business channels, optimize your service offering or launch a new product? Find a star-making partner.

There is, of course, one more lesson: Have fun. Veterans understand that in fantasy football and business, the ones enjoying the game are usually the big winners.

Article originally published September 10, 2013, on

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