The Psychological Skills of Fantasy Football

10:30am Apr 27 2022

The Most Important Skill in Fantasy Football

As the Premier League fires up, fantasy football team owners scurry to their screens to take note of valuable players to watch, depending of course, on what each individual team might need.

In any case, players far and wide have mentioned their need to improve their fantasy football skills at one point or another. Whether it’s getting to know how to read stats, developing a strategy that is five steps ahead of all the others or simply picking outstanding players, there’s a commonly overlooked skill they all seem to miss.

While fantasy football is a skill-based game, it’s more than just getting better at an isolated skill. Of course, specific skills are important, if not crucial to becoming a great fantasy football player. Instead, the most valuable skill to learn is much more psychological: impartiality.

Keeping a clear, balanced disposition as players grow with their teams week after week is the defining factor that separates the pros from the novices. There are many ways to tackle the tricky skill of impartiality, but it’s important to remember that what works for one person doesn’t work for another. With that said, remember to play things by ear and change tactics as needed.

Beware of Thinking Biases

In his book, Wasting Your Wildcard, David Wardale advises both seasoned and new fantasy football enthusiasts with funny and insightful anecdotes to explain his useful tips regarding the sport. One of the many things he talks about is making sure fantasy football team owners don’t lose their wild card element, meaning that they don’t solely rely on stats, but take smart chances to get good results, especially at the beginning of a season.

Besides the skills to be learned to improve fantasy football scores, author David Wardale explains how fantasy football is connected to the brain’s task-delegation facilities. He elaborates by describing how fantasy football channels the inner manager, allowing players to apply and take advantage of their knowledge of the game, players, and conditions.

Remembering the wildcard element is a key for players to remember grounding themselves and remaining impartial as they play. Experts and sports psychologists describe the importance of playing impartially and thinking clearly. What commonly gets in the way of that happening is thinking biases, effects that cloud judgement, including the “halo effect,” where an owner’s judgment can get clouded by their first impression of a player instead of that player’s current performance. There are quite a few other effects that can easily throw a monkey wrench in a fantasy football match, such as basking in the afterglow of a player’s most recent performance, holding on to old, poorly-performing players for too long, and choosing players based on trends or group opinions.

Consistency is Key

All experts agree: consistency is key. Lucky for fantasy football players, there are lots of ways to keep up the consistency in healthy and entertaining ways.

For example, people often watch matches that would otherwise not seem interesting to them, but because they are practising their hand at fantasy football and they have the incentive of points on their side, they remain consistent and eventually improve.

Believe it or not, journaling is a useful skill for fantasy football players. That’s because journaling improves memory retention, encourages creative thinking, and most importantly, puts things into perspective.

The mind is never as fresh as when you just finish doing something. So keeping a journal is a great asset for any fantasy football owner because it provides a detailed record of the decisions players made, why, and whether they were effective or not.

Documenting reasons, choices, suspicions, and emotions down on paper (or screen, for the tech-savvy players out there) help people take a step outside of their biases. This is a great secret most don’t consider when it comes to maintaining impartiality and keeping a clear head throughout the season.

Lastly, journaling encourages consistent behaviour, which makes all the choices players make much easier and smarter in the long run.

Of course, consistency doesn’t have to be directly linked to the matches themselves. Too much fantasy football can lead to obsessing and meddling too much with teams, which ultimately leads to some undesirable results.

Remember to take a breath of fresh air and get involved with other activities to keep the mind sharp for the next fantasy football match.