Fantasy sports have become the driving force behind professional athletics in the minds of many individuals and the only reason why some are even tuning in to ESPN in the first place. The idea behind these “fantasy sports” is that you draft your team of players from practically any sport of your choosing, and based on their performances in real-life games, you earn points for your “fantasy team.” This basic idea has gained a massive following, with people who normally would not watch an average Sunday football game tuning in weekly, excited to see how their players perform. The fantasy gurus of the world believe that these online grudge matches are strictly skillbased and that a good draft is the key to a successful season. On the other half of the spectrum, certain onlookers believe that fantasy sports are a contest of luck and involve no skill. There are substantial arguments for both sides, but most evidence points to fantasy sports being a part-skill, part-luck contest of bragging rights.
Each year, near the beginning of September, anyone looking to play fantasy football must participate in a draft consisting of a series of rounds in which each player selects NFL athletes for their team. While players like Tom Brady and Cam Newton are consistently very good, the key to the draft is finding a sleeper. A “sleeper” pick, also known as a surprise, is a certain player that was drafted fairly low with mediocre expectations but turned out to be one of the best players available. In the last fantasy football season, Devonta Freeman, a player that went undrafted in many leagues, turned out to be one of the best sleepers in fantasy history. Freeman led the pack in fantasy scoring for multiple weeks in a row, carrying fantasy owners to the top of their leagues, and perfectly displaying how one pick can change the season.
The sleeper pick is the driving force behind both sides of this argument. Some say that picking your so called “sleeper” is a completely luck-based occurrence that requires no real, factual knowledge of the sport or players. Others believe that finding the right sleeper is all about crunching the numbers and seeing the potential that is overlooked by others. No matter how many times we go back and forth between the two sides, it is apparent that there are fantasy players who drafted Freeman knowing that he was going to be great based on statistics and facts, and there were others who drafted him simply because he was next in the rankings, ending up with a hidden gem.
It is clear in my mind that fantasy sports require a basic knowledge of the field, but not countless hours of studying and searching. If you know anything about sports, it is inevitable that someday the sleeper pick will come to you. Enjoy the bragging rights.