Embrace the Suck: A New Parent's Guide to Winning at Fantasy Football
At Riff Raff Football, we like to think we’re a family business. All told, I consider many of my competitors family (including FIL and Carlos, both of whom are technically so), the Wives of the Riff Raff have a unique level of engagement in the day-to-day duties of Riff Raff Boy Chat, and we’re proud to share that, all told, our owners have successfully (thus far) navigated parenting 13 kids!
There’s little doubt how much life changes once you become a parent – fewer happy hours with your single buddies (sorry Toby), afternoon nap schedules more iron-clad than the Declaration of Independence, and sheer exhaustion impacting daily decision-making. Given GMRRFFA is quasi-fantasy football focused, its without a doubt that parenting could impact even weekly fantasy football decision-making.
Why does this matter? Well, Smeet made a HUGE announcement in his mailbag last month, as he and his wife are expecting their SECOND child this fall. Even better, two more owners – I’ll leave out names because its not my business to put their family affairs on blast – are expecting their FIRST kids in a few months, causing undo anxiety, particularly around what to do if labor occurs during the GMRRFFA draft on August 26th (Note, five experts, including the Commish, stress pre-draft personalized rankings, auto draft and make sure you can bid on the likes of Melvin Gordon and David Johnson in between contractions, presuming your wife doesn’t throw the phone out with the bath water… get it?).
In any case, parenting is petrifying at first, but I’m not here to offer the detestable unsolicited parental advice, which is literally the worst thing in the world. Instead, GMRRFFA’s own elite and our good friend from the Fantasy Wire offer some sage advice on how to balance parenting with the all-important upcoming fantasy football season.
First, let’s be clear; at GMRRFFA, historically, owners with kids are actually better than those without. Look at the numbers:
On the "with kids side," let’s remove Smeet, who’s the only one with a losing record, and the winning percentage jumps to .547 winning percentage. Considering all these guys play each other in the playoffs, its no surprise their winning percentage is a little low. In fact, owners with parents account for twenty of 24 playoff wins all-time among current active owners.
On the flip side, remove the Unicorn from the owners without kids, and their winning percentage drops from .458 to a dismal .403. In total, aside from the Unicorn’s 2017 championship run, childless owners account for just ONE playoff victory, a fourth place finish, and one division title.
So, why’s this the case? Let's check with the reigning GMRRFFA champ:
This is an unappreciated point and totally true. Becoming a parent means you will take fantasy entirely too seriously... Live every week like it's Shark Week. - The Sausage King
After some thorough research, I’m here to offer the GMRRFFA Guide to Fantasy Football for New Parents. This is my gift to Smeet and the other two owners on the birth of their children, even if this column isn't on their birth registry. Hope for a successful 2019 fantasy football season is real, and its within your grasp…
Step 1: Have a Cool Spouse
This seems reasonable, and probably an important metric for life beyond your fantasy football intake, but it remains 100% accurate and a commonality among our panel of experts. That said, when diapers, feedings and errands get in the way of setting line-ups and catching highlights, an understanding spouse goes a very long way to ensuring success:
This will be a reoccurring theme for me, but my wife is cool. She really doesn’t care how much I watch, but I try to limit it to just the Redskins game if they play on Sunday. - Garcia
Step 2: Learn to Maximize your Time
First, kids all but eliminate the sense of privacy when their tearing apart your home. That said, taking advantage of those quiet times are critical! Naptimes on Sundays are the golden time, even if a garbage game like the Redskins vs Raiders is the only game you have access to.
Meanwhile, the Sausage King, who hasn’t watched an inkling of live football in seven years, remains conflicted about utilizing his commute for fantasy football or sleep. There’s no wrong answer there. I’m partial to catching up on podcasts around the morning commute as well.
But take it from our boy Frank:
As a whole, any parent who is into fantasy football as much as we are, will find a way to get it in no matter what. It's just juggling time but as far as dedication, I think its a level playing field, kids or no kids. - @FantasyFootballWire
Finally, if you’re blessed with a newborn, who will literally sleep on you for hours, take advantage with some sound fantasy football research or access to an afternoon game while your partner takes a well-deserved nap upstairs. When the kid wakes up at three in the morning, its also a valuable time; stop checking Twitter and start analyzing trade opportunities as you pace back and forth because the little booger won’t sleep unless you’re holding them.
Step 3: Utilize Technology
When my first was born, Mrs. Riff Raff and I did the NFL Sunday Ticket and it was glorious. As a new parent, you’re not heading to the bar too often with friends. When a newborn is sleeping or, even better, immobile, you have plenty of time to catch up on games but its not smooth sailing for long.
IMPORTANT FOOTBALL METAPHOR AHEAD: Imagine being a defensive end, and the immortal Kerry Collins is the quarterback in the pocket. As the end rusher, you’re primed to have an easy target for potential sacks and hurries, as our dear boy Kerry isn't moving around to avoid traffic. Now, imagine Collins transformed into Michael Vick after a few months. Guess what? You are now worrying about Vick scrambling out of the pocket and such. This is exactly like mobile kids. The days of sitting and watching them sleep while sneaking a peak at eight games on the Sunday Ticket are pretty much over. Instead, maximize your football and watch the Redzone channel.
It gets worse though (and something I’m all too guilty of); letting your kids commandeer the TV when their older. I can’t say enough how many times Paw Patrol or the Russian propaganda crap Masha and the Bear cut in to my viewing, but there’s a reprieve. Tablets and multiple televisions essentially salvage the parent-child relationship, one I’m embracing whole-heartedly in 2019.
Step 4: Choose Your Battles
With technology being what is, keeping your kids entertained in or out of the house doesn’t mean you’re cut off from in-game fantasy football scores, but sitting on the couch for ten hours probably isn’t realistic any more. So, don’t let those early games stop you from being ever-present on the litany of errands and birthday parties that consume most weekends for parents.
Even more important, any fantasy football league in-person activities you want to do, make sure you plan well in advance. Not that we are doing an in-person draft, but GMRRFFA’s draft was scheduled months ago; if you’re doing it in-person, give your partner the heads up. One, it shows respect for the new parent dynamics, but it also helps avoid potential scheduling conflicts (Guess what? New parents NEED a break now and again and, if you think you can drop that your draft is tomorrow for the first time while your partner plans a much-needed happy hour, turmoil is sure to ensure).
In any case, being respectful of both your partner and your relationship with your kids is important; planning ahead of time and limiting those weekend get-togethers at the bar are just smart for the home life, especially considering you’re spending 98% of your non-work hours there.
Step 5: Accept that You Aren’t In Control
After marrying Mrs. Riff Raff, I was fully aware I wasn’t in charge; once the kids rolled in, I was fairly comfortable recognizing that I wouldn’t be making a ton of decisions. Its good to accept your kids are calling the shots. Newborns and infants are easy – crying is hungry, tired or diaper change. Toddlers are much more complicated but you learn to roll with the punches.
That said, Tito Galen’s “Break them in to Football Early” strategy works wonders. I’m embracing his tactics below asap and am fortunately getting the juniors to ask if they can watch football now… its pretty great:
[My daughter Evie] has been really good about football and even announces to [Tia Tara] that she wants to watch football with Daddy... The best way to ensure a long and enjoyable fantasy football career is to get your kid involved early. If they are interested in watching football, then it becomes quality time with your child rather than time away from the family unit. Your kid will want to do everything with you, so train them now to love football. - Tito Galen
If you’re really itching to catch up on games, one strategy I’ve enjoyed is setting up play dates with like-minded parents. Once they get older, kids like hanging with… wait for it… other kids. Meanwhile, parents have ample free time to sneak an hour or two in while still scoring points for parenting (plus the non-judgmental afternoon cocktail or two)!
Step 6: Enjoy the Night Games
Ultimately, you’re not going to be able to watch three hours of a game when your kids are awake, and that’s okay. Those night games – all three of them during the weekend – are sheer gold. I’ll watch every minute I can, stay up as late as possible, and enjoy that time all while furiously refreshing my fantasy scores.
Ultimately, parenting shouldn’t impact your fantasy football skills. In actuality, parents just have less time to hit bars and sleep in before hitting up brunch and all the other things childless people do.
To the GMRRFFA owners and all the new proud parents out there, congratulations on your new treasures and good luck with the season to come. Maximizing your time will make you a better fantasy football player (and, in a hidden gem if there ever was one, a better parent).