Rookie Report: A Manny’s Guide to Fantasy Football

Little guys.  Big game.
Little guys. Big game.

It’s my favorite time of year. The weather relaxes from blistering to nice. Summer clothes are on sale. And, if you listen closely, you can hear Peyton Manning’s voice calling out “Omaha!” in the wind.

Football season is back. And equally important, fantasy football is back.

Fantasy football leagues are tight-knit communities, and if you can be in one with your children, I highly recommend it. There are several reasons the N.F.L. supports and promotes fantasy football for adults, and here are four reasons it’s good for your kids too.


Beau Coffron wrote on Lunchbox Dad about never letting kids win. I agree with his take that the everybody-gets-a-ribbon, never-let-our-kids-feel-any-disappointment façade is harmful. Always letting them win doesn’t give our kids the chance to improve their skills.

Furthermore, we want them to hone their behavior regardless of the outcome. We want them to win with humility and lose with grace.

Last year was the first year the twins, my former charges, joined my league. After several seasons of them questioning my roster decisions, there was an open spot in the league and they had the chance to put up or shut up.

They put up.

And stole the last playoff spot right out from under me.

This is a league of adults who have all been playing for years. Nobody set a dummy roster the week they faced the twins or offered them some cupcake trade, and when the twins sent out some rookie, lopsided proposals, no one bit.

We can’t just let kids win because it’s lying to them. It’s telling them they earned something when they didn’t. But since we gave it our all and they gave it their all and they came out on top, that’s something the twins could legitimately feel good about.

Discussion Starters

Josh Gordon is suspended for marijuana use. Ray Rice for spousal abuse. Robert Mathis for trying to conceive a child with his wife.

I’ve seen parents shield their children from R-rated movies and related subject matter. But they are going to hear about drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll eventually. You can either create a stigma around those subjects and blow them out of proportion, or you can frame the discussion and share your perspective. Then the child is more likely to understand the situation in context and act responsibly down the road. Even the Church doesn’t skirt these issues: the Bible contains more sex and violence than Game of Thrones and the Church simply uses those stories to structure meaningful conversation.

When Ray Rice comes off the board in our draft, if a kid asks why he’s suspended for two games, then I’ll respond that it’s because he’s a lowly, contemptible shell of a human who attacked a woman and because the N.F.L. was too obtuse to punish him appropriately… I envision something like Ronda Rousey using his face as a speed bag.

Don't forget to set your lineup!
Don’t forget to set your lineup!


I learned my 7’s multiplication table from playing Madden on my Sega GameGear.

If you want a child to learn math, let her play some fantasy. If you ask a child to divide two-hundred seventy-five by twenty-five and add six times three minus two, you’ll be sitting there a while. Tell her Tony Romo’s stats were 275 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception, she’ll tell you it’s 21 points before you can make an add/drop.

Critical Thinking

Fantasy football is like poker. Yes, there’s luck involved, but the better players understand the game and how to work the system to optimize their chances of winning.

It requires critical thinking to understand why, despite scoring the most points, quarterbacks have less value than other positions. Assessing good players in bad systems or average players in good systems makes or breaks seasons for fantasy owners.

Ultimately, research, scouting, and speculation all boils down to one score. That one score does not belie the complexity of the game. And those who play haphazardly limit their probability of victory.


The twins playing in the league has been a great way to keep in touch with them since I no longer work with them.

Before they found me, my current family asked my agency if they had anyone who could talk about fantasy with their football-obsessed son. My trial day with him was spent tossing the ball around and going over our rosters. He asked me to join his league this year.

That mutual interest is a part of our relationship that endures long after my employment. In the Practice Life Method, your strong relationship with the child is the reward of having children. Fantasy football can be a great hobby to share towards building that relationship.

It’s all fun and games.

Until the trash-talk starts.

Then it’s just games.


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