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.
Steal an Injured Player
Players who were injured the previous year are a risk, but it’s worth the gamble if, as in the case of Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson, there’s a potentially unlimited upside. “Look at the day-to-day progress of the recovering player,” says Don, “Research that player’s particular injury and his ability to recover from injuries in the past, including college injury reports.” Above all, says Don, before you take the risk, look at the board: Be sure you won’t be shorting yourself a healthy position player you absolutely need.
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