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 only seven running backs rushed for over 1,000 yards — six fewer than the previous season and 16 fewer than 10 years ago. In fact, last season is the only one in the last 15 in which a double-digit number of running backs didn’t top 1,000 yards. And of the seven who did crack the mark last year, two of them (Dallas’ Darren McFadden and Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman) didn’t even begin the season as their teams’ starters. Clearly, running backs are more volatile and less valuable than they used to be.
So while a top running back like Todd Gurley or Adrian Peterson can be a huge advantage, big-gain offensive positions (WR, TE, QB) should come first. Pass catchers and QBs are more consistent point-scorers than running backs, and they’re also much less prone to injuries. Let someone else take a first- or second-round risk by drafting a running back. Start building your team with receivers and save the RBs for the middle of your draft.
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