Fantasy Football Vs. Fantasy Baseball
It's way too early to be talking about who to take in the first round of the 2012 fantasy baseball season (OK, it's not way too early but it's still early). I mean, I could swear that I'm still a wee bit faded from all the booze I inhaled over the holiday weekend when the calendar flipped to 2012. However, with the regular season in the NFL in our rear-view mirror, people are going to start to migrate back over to the world of baseball. Today, I'm going to explain why I feel that fantasy baseball is a better game than fantasy football, so grab that bottle of spiced rum you got for the holidays and pull up a chair.
(1) Fantasy Football doesn't have enough starting positions.
In standard football leagues the starting lineup consists of 10 players: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, Flex, K, DEF
In standard fantasy baseball leagues there are nine starting pitchers and 23 overall starters. You can read more about the “standard” setup in SiriusXM Experts League Draft. I find the additional positions that need to be filled on a weekly basis more intriguing an enjoyable. Plus, I get the feeling of being able to personally mold my team based upon my choices versus just lock an loading for fantasy football.
(2) Fantasy Football is too formulaic.
Everyone knows you don't have to take a defense or a kicker until your last two picks. In essence, you're drafting four positions (QB, RB, WR, TE) for 95 percent of your draft. How tough is that? You have to draft five positions just for the infield in baseball.
Second, in fantasy football there's really only two main ways to win. You can either build up a strong backfield or a strong group of wideouts. That's totally different than baseball where you can build a power club, a speed team, a team focused just on pitching, a team focused just on pitching. There is more variability in fantasy baseball, largely because of the fact that there are more players drafted and a larger group of players in your starting lineup giving you more freedom to construct a winning lineup than the 'just the facts ma'am' approach in fantasy football.
(3) Fantasy football is only 16 unique snapshots.
A perfect example of what I'm talking about is that in the Livin' The Fantasy Football League for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, I finished the regular season with an abysmal 5-8 record because I happened to play teams that scored the most points in the league against me. Despite that fact I led the entire league in fantasy points, that's right I led the league in points, I finished three games under .500. In fantasy baseball when you lead the league in points you win the league (as it should be). A season should be about the first game to the last, not an artificially concocted series of matchups like fantasy football uses. Don't even get me started on Head 2 Head either – I just hate it especially in fantasy baseball. Some of my thoughts on that topic can be found in Mailbag September 21, 2011.
Also, whereas fantasy football is only 16 days, fantasy baseball requires more of a commitment. If you only paid attention one day a week in fantasy baseball you would be screwed. In fantasy football you can get away with less than consistent concentration on your team.
(4) Fantasy football is a conveyor belt that takes expertise out of the mix.
In football the difference between fantasy stardom and the waiver-wire is almost always nothing more than opportunity. A perfect example is the Washington Redskins' backfield in 2011. Tim Hightower was a top-20 RB when he was healthy at the start of the season. He got hurt. Ryan Torain came in and was a top-20 RB for one week. After the 'Skins moved on from Torain, Roy Helu came on and was a top-20 RB. When Helu was injured late in the year Evan Royster was a top-20 RB the last two weeks of the year. The bottom line with fantasy football is that offensive systems are in place an it's just a matter of who is in the role at the moment (some back is gonna touch the ball 15-20 times a week). Therefore, if you owned Hightower all you had to do to cover yourself was to also add Helu. It took no thought to do that, you merely “handcuffed” the starter with his backup.
In baseball, that strategy would NEVER work. If Albert Pujols is hurt you can go an add Mark Trumbo thinking that he would become the everyday first baseman for the Angels. However, Pujols is a .300 hitter with 40 homer power whereas Trumbo is a .250 hitter with 30 homer power. Just because the “backup” enters the starting lineup in baseball doesn't mean he will be able to replace the “starter's” production. In fact, often times the secondary player may not even be 50 percent effect as the starter. Therefore, you almost never want to simply add the “backup” in baseball – you're usually better off looking to add someone else to fill the vacant spot. It's like this. Football is a digital camera – you just point and shoot – whereas baseball is a Leica camera. It might take a little more work, but you have a much better chance of not only getting a better picture but also being able to manipulate the image in a way that is pleasing to you if you used the “real” camera.
Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy fantasy football, but I'm also very happy to see the approach of the fantasy baseball season because it's time to take my mind off cruise control and engage it in some active driving on the autobahn.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 5-8 PM EDT and Sunday 7-10 PM EDT), Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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