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The Token Girl

It wasn’t always that way–me as The Token Girl. Ten years ago, when my husband’s college friends (and, seeing as we went to college together, my friends too) started a fantasy football league, it was to be male-only. No nonsense. Very serious stuff.

Of course, knowing that I am a serious football fan, and also the louder, more assertive, more competitive member of our household, I was copied on all communique regarding The League and naturally assumed the role of co-manager of my husband’s team. We were awful. Paralyzed by indecision and philosophically opposed (not to mention with division rival home team allegiances), for six years we floundered in the nether-regions of The League.

Then, in the summer of 2007, one of our co-founders resigned, leaving an open franchise that was unanimously awarded to me. I had my shot. And after having cut my teeth for six years with the ability to blame all mistakes on my husband, I’m proud to say I have flourished on my own. I’ve achieved financial success in each year of independent management (except for what I regretfully think of as my “Jamarcus Russell Period”).

So how do I do it? Fantasy football success really boils down to one thing: using any and all information available to you to make an educated guess about the future. Given that, fantasy football success typically begins with an imbalance toward men, because they have more information. Face it: on average, they watch more games, read more sports publications, spend more time on sports websites and watch more ESPN. But when you level the playing field and find a woman who enjoys watching multiple games per weekend and reading up on teams besides her own, she can realize some very distinct advantages in the fantasy game vs. her male competitors:

  • Women’s Intuition – It sounds silly, but some of the best decisions I’ve made in fantasy football have been a result of what I can only describe as Women’s Intuition. Men are slaves to statistics and expert opinion. So the decisions they make are almost entirely based on historic results and the suggestions of gurus, and therefore are fairly predictable. By allowing yourself to consider intangibles and formulate more intuitive opinions on potential boom or bust players, you can target break out players earlier than your competitors or avoid pitfalls despite where they may be ranked.
  • The Male Ego – The Male Ego will eliminate about one third to half your competitors. These are the guys who join a fantasy football league just to bond with their friends (though there’s nothing wrong with that), and they take the competition with the approach “hey, I’m a dude, I watch football, how hard can this be?” You can identify these guys as the ones who draft straight from the preset rankings and have a predilection for last year’s brand names. They often use crass humor and excessive trash-talk to cover their incompetencies. Occasionally they get lucky, which only helps to inflate their egos, but for the most part they are easy pickins, so don’t let all their talk intimidate you.
  • The Nurture Instinct -Women are generally more nurturing by nature, and a little bit of patience can pay off in fantasy football. I’ve seen guys who comb the waiver wires every week looking for potential upgrades and willing to drop players at the drop of a hat. While over-attachment to certain players can be bad and in-season management is critical, being patient with players who are diamonds in the rough and one injury away from stardom can be essential to late season success. I always recommend knowing who on your team will get cut if you need to make room for another key player, but otherwise be wary of over-using the waiver wire to chase the latest trends.
  • Batting Your Eyelashes – When all else fails, you can use one of the oldest female tricks in the book. A little, “won’t you make this trade with me…pretty please?” will work magic on the right subjects. Of course, this strategy has its limits. Once the guys realize you know what you’re doing, the jig is up. As one of my friends told me recently, “you now have a target on your back.” They stop trusting you and falling for your tricks, and it’s time to start exploiting some new advantages….
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