Man, my teams stink this year.
I used to be so good at this game. I was in two leagues a year in the mid-1990s, and generally competed for the title with my then-nemesis Mike Canter in both of them, and only occasionally falling behind someone else.
Now, I'm in four leagues, including one of the aforementioned ones, and my team is terrible in all four.
Two are head-to-head leagues, one is a rotisserie league, and the other is a points-based league. In the Anti-Nowhere League, I'm in seventh out of ten teams. That's my best league. In my long-running Gheorghe Muresan league, I'm in 14th out of 20 teams. Oh, and freaking Canter is in first. I can't stand it.
Like I said, I used to be really good. Seriously. I worked hard on my projections. I had cool (ok, geeky) spreadsheets. I'd come into draft night as the man to beat. In a league that went 120 players deep, I knew the top 200, just in case. I bought the USA Today every Tuesday and did the stats by hand.
Wait, what was that last one? Yes, this was before the internet did all the work. Before you could get every last bit of stats just by clicking on your player's names. Before the RotoWire notes got added as a nice little icon on your team page. When you might carry a guy for a week or two before you'd even realize he was hurt.
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man (I'm still just 38, though my wife often calls me "Mr. Wilson" when I scowl at the kid going by on a skateboard outside my house. And just by knowing what that reference means dates me quite a bit), kids today have it so much easier. You don't have to crunch the stats. You don't have to search high and wide for free agents - any stat-keeping service worth its salt will give you the list of top free agents and make it easy to search for anything you want. Even trades are easier - just send an email through the league and someone can reject your trade just as easily. And they can do so because they see that their guy averages 4.5 more fantasy points per game over the last 14 days than your guys does, rather than just saying "I'm pretty sure Larry Nance for Chris Mullin isn't a fair deal."
All those little advantages I had were long gone. I couldn't even be an intimidating presence on draft night, since seemingly no one does basketball drafts face-to-face anymore. At this point, if I even have enough time during the 30 seconds between draft picks, I can make little comments and hit "Send", and no one will even respond.
So how can I combat these losses of advantages?
Work, and lots of it.
Well, and luck.
No more can you go into your league's online draft and wing it based on someone else's rankings. You still need to crunch the numbers and do your own rankings. Have your sleepers ready (but don't go too early). Know the position battles on NBA teams where you can exploit things. And during the season, particularly early (it's not too late!) you need to be scouring the the free agent lists and picking up hot players and dumping your unproductive ones. Don't keep holding onto Courtney Lee if there's someone better out there. And there definitely is.
Oh, and last but not least, don't join a league with Mike Canter.