Tools for success

by: Greg Kellogg, special to the Sandlot Shrink

Are you a shark in your league? Or could you use a little help to get over that hump? Most of us can use a little help and advice from time to time. Some of us don't want to admit it, but it is true.

Let's cover some tools for success that can help you become a consistent winner in your fantasy endeavors. There are several information sources available to the Internet savvy player. This piece will try to cover each of them briefly, and the ones I favor in more depth.

Mailing Lists
By placing your name and email address onto a mailing list, you allow yourself to conduct searches for information without ever spending the time to do so. You see most mailing lists are there to provide you with the information or location of the information as soon as it becomes available. In other words they do the surfing for you and send you an email when they find something.

Some mailing lists are nothing more than teasers to entice you to purchase a product. Others offer information of a specific nature (such as the New York Giants mailing list available from New Jersey Online web site (sign up for their newsletter and you will be added to the mailing list).

There are several mailing lists available to the fantasy fan. Most are well run and add very little to your mailbox. Kellogg's Komments offers a mailing list from it's web site. The list is used to inform members when new links are loaded to Kellogg's Korner, which fantasy link is the Site of the Week, and when new articles have been posted to Kellogg's Komments.

FanEx offers a mailing list that is used to inform members of upcoming events and/or contests that FanEx is sponsoring.

Sign up for one and see how little overhead they take up, and how much time they save you.

Networking
Nope, I'm not referring to ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox or any other jumble of alphabet soup. And I'm not talking about Local or Wide area computer networks either. Though they can make the job of networking easier.

I'm talking about plugging in to a group of people from diverse areas of the country. Networking with people from outside your geographic area can provide you with a great tool for success in Fantasy Football.

A Network can provide you with information that is not readily available to your league mates. We all know that most NFL cities have newspapers that are readily available on the Internet. But is the Internet paper as robust as the local paper? Not likely. Many of the opinion columns are missing.

Networks can also provide you with insights from local television and radio commentators that cover the team on a daily basis. Members of networks are usually fans of the teams they cover. This means they have a greater insight into that particular team. It also means that when they go to the sports bar or tune in to Sunday NFL Ticket, they are far more likely to spend the vast majority of their time watching that game.

There are many networks currently available on the Internet but most of them do not openly advertise their presence (something about not wanting their competitors to know about this new information source). So the easiest way to get into a network is to start one yourself. You can use the next resource we will cover to advertise your desire for people to join your network.

Newsgroups
Most of you probably already know about my personal favorite newsgroup, the rec.sport.football.fantasy newsgroup. But were you aware of the many other newsgroups that relate directly to the NFL?

First there is the rec.sport.football.pro newsgroup that is dedicated to NFL news in general. Also each team has it's own dedicated newsgroup. These are found under the alt.sports.football.pro hierarchy (i.e., alt.sports.football.pro.detroit-lions is the Lions home).

You may find that many of these newsgroups are filled with trash from time to time (Barry vs. Emmitt comes to mind). But if you are willing to weed through the garbage, you will assuredly find some nuggets of information that can give you an edge.

Fantasy Magazines
What good is a fantasy magazine to an Internet saavy guy or gal like you? I mean with their early deadlines, a lot of the information is outdated anyway. And why pay good money for information you can find on the Internet for free?

Most, if not all, fantasy magazines carry several articles which usually include articles on draft strategy, analysis of team moves and player statistical information, both historical and projected. Yes, the statistical projections can vary widely and can change as more information becomes available, but the rest of the information is not really time critical.

I submit that if you haven't won your league or at least placed in your playoffs the vast majority of the years you have played then maybe, just maybe, the information found in those pages can be of use to you. I know it is to me.

And if you have dominated the league, perhaps you should be reading them to see what your league mates are going to be doing. You can bet some of them will be buying them.

Besides, aren't you tired of reading about Basketball, Hockey and Baseball? Any football news is good news!

Newspapers
You can buy a paper locally and in some cases even subscribe to out of town papers. Or you can go to the Internet and get most of them for free. My preference will always be free.

Kellogg's Korner provides links to every NFL team's on-line local paper.

Here you can read recaps of the week's games, commentary by local sports writers and some even include on-line bulletin boards for the team's fans to post comments to. This can be an invaluable resource that few of your competitors will take the time to utilize.

Newsletters
Like their print brethren, the Fantasy Football Newsletters serve a very important purpose. They provide the latest information available to the fantasy player and are often the difference between winning and losing.

Do they contain anything you can't find on your own? Probably, but not in the raw news areas. All of you are capable of studying the statistics, noting the trends and acting on them. You are also capable of searching the Internet the local news items that find their way into the newsletters. If you have the time to do this work!

No, what the newsletters offer you that you can't get anywhere else is an informed analysis of these facts. What you are paying for is the work and the analysis. It should never be used as a do-all guide, but as a second opinion. If the arguments supplied with the newsletter contain reasoned logical analysis, you may be swayed to change a lineup, pick up a player, or make a trade you might not otherwise have done.

Used with your own research these tools are very valuable to the fantasy player.

Whatever tools you decide to use, remember just one thing and you will do well. They are tools to help you with your decision making process. They are not intended to, nor should they be used for, managing your team. The decisions you will be happiest with are the ones that you make, given the information available at the time. The decisions you make that you will be unhappiest with are the ones that you make just because someone else told you something. Take whatever you read or hear as additional input into your decision-making, but make your own decisions.

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