Playing fantasy football is easy. Winning at fantasy football, well, that’s a different story.
It’s not necessarily hard either. It’s just that it takes more than waking up, tying your shoes and setting your lineup. If you put a little effort into your teams, and factor in some luck, victory becomes more likely.
Similarly, the popular PC, iOS and Xbox 360 game Minecraft, is very simple on its surface and easy to play, but there is a serious amount of depth if you go looking for it. Over the next few hundred words I’m going to set you on a path down a Minecraft adventure that provides a better fantasy football lesson than you might expect.
Surviving your first night
As always, a game of Minecraft starts with a character spawning in the morning on a random piece of terrain on a random map. You spend your first few moments in awe of your simple-looking surroundings. Big blocks, scaled to a square meter in the game, make up the building blocks of the world.
You can punch tree blocks to break them down and punch dirt and sand to dig it up. After picking up the materials you’ve been punching you can craft items, including tools, like mining picks, wood axes and shovels, which make the punching faster and easier. While doing the punching and crafting you’ve probably also been wandering around. As dusk starts to set you realize how cool and amazing the simplistic world is — spotting a giant mountain, a jungle, a snow-covered mountain peak, maybe even a lava flow. Then there’s a hiss, rattle or growl from behind and you have to fight for your life against the world’s monsters.
You learn quickly that having a shelter is important. You learn that being outside at night, especially in places where you have not placed torches, is a death wish. You’ll also learn quickly that you can make better tools and that the crafting system is ridiculously deep. Once survival becomes “easy” your imagination can start running wild.
Surviving and thriving at the draft
I’m going to assume that if you’re at Chinstrap Ninjas, you’re probably not exactly new to fantasy football. You’re probably a veteran. Maybe you haven’t won so you’re looking for better strategies or your bored of your old strategies and want to try something new.
You probably already know how to survive your draft. In Minecraft terms, you’ve not only dug a small hut for yourself, it is lit with torches and you might have even crafted a bed to get through the night quickly. But anyone who’s played Minecraft knows that to gather all of those materials in time for nightfall on Day 1 takes some work and a little bit of luck. The tools and building blocks you need to be a better fantasy football player are much like those in Minecraft. You’re going to come across basic tools and materials of all sorts easily. But surviving the draft is not as easy as wandering to a site, punching the print button until a cheatsheet pops out and going to the draft. You might as well just turn around and let the Minecraft spiders have dinner.
Cheatsheets of any kind from any site anywhere are more useful to competitive fantasy players if there is some context to go with them. What scoring system did the site use? Is the site prone to taking risks or prone to playing it safe? Do they have contributors who skew the rankings for any particular position? For dynasty or redraft?
You should use that kind of scrutiny not just with cheatsheets, but with sleeper lists (is the site’s sleeper guru biased toward Tampa Bay? Bet he has Josh Freeman high/low), bust lists and rookie rankings. The list could go on.
The important takeaway here is that you don’t want to be stuck outside in the dark on draft day. Being prepared will allow you to concentrate on more important things, like building an epic mansion (team) or adventuring into the wilderness with high-quality weapons and armor (experimenting with outlandish and fun draft strategies).
Up next? I think we should address Creepers. Creepers are the worst.