By day, Don* works as a high-powered lawyer in Austin. By night, he concentrates on his real job — private fantasy-league fixer. "After I won my league every year, a family member asked if I would pretend to be him online and oversee his office-league team because he didn’t want to look like an idiot," Don says. "His 10-person league had a $1,000 buy in. He paid me $500 and offered 50 percent of all winnings. I won him first place and was the overall points leader, so I walked away with $3,500 — until then, I had no idea this world of managing other people’s teams existed." Word spread and Don soon found himself competing in the office-world fantasy big leagues. "I secretly manage teams starting with at least a $5,000 buy in," he says. "I charge a hefty management fee and usually 10 percent of all winnings — The big-boy leagues with oil industry guys can get up to $40,000 buy ins." From draft-day decisions to message-board trash talking (using the client’s email address), to negotiating trades, Don studies the stats while managing his clients’ teams to victory — and a big payday. "Some of these businessmen own high-end sports cars that only get driven 30 miles a month because they’re using their private planes instead," he says. "It’s all about ego, bragging rights — and results." Here, exclusively for Men’s Journal, the world’s top fantasy-league manager offers his fail-safe secrets to winning your office league.
*Don’s last name has been withheld to maintain his secret identity.
Don’t Sweat the Running Backs (Too Much)
Last season, the top 20 running backs rushed for just 13,739 yards — 8,000 fewer than five years ago. Their 2008 counterparts also scored 40 more touchdowns between them. A top five running back (LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, or Adrian Peterson) can be a huge advantage, but otherwise, big-gain offensive positions (WR, TE, QB) come first. Draft gurus will say an RB in the first round is a must, but Peyton Manning will more than compensate for the low point totals from what today is considered just a pretty good RB.
Credit: Tom Dahlin / Getty Images