Don’t Stop Believing: A Season in Review

This was a tough year for me in my main leagues; I am usually the aggressive GM in any league I am in, and this year was no different. Although I have become more patient, I always ensure I use all my available moves and my door is always open for trades.

I am like a stockbroker and auctioneer in one: any one player can lead me to the promised land and no deal is a bad deal (sort of). I know one day I will put a ring on it in one of my two home leagues but until then; always a bridesmaid never a bride.

So, let’s get after it and see what went well and what still has left me scratching my head in 2023.

Wild West

This is my longest standing league; it is a keep-four, head-to-head categories league. We have been together as a group for over a decade, so there is a lot of rivalries and good competition. A very good mix of die-hard GMs and those that I would call league fourth liners. You all know those guys that are only there for the group chat and banter but not really paying attention to the hockey. You can spot these GMs from a mile away and will often walk into the draft with something along the lines of: “…is Joe Thornton still playing for the Leafs?”. Overall, the championship has been dominated by two of our GMs winning 7 of the 10 total championships available.

As for me, I haven’t finished lower than fourth, and painstakingly taken home the silver medal in two of the past three seasons. Yes, that’s right I made it to the final again this year with all the hope in the world to finally sit atop the league for all to admire. I held true to myself and remained aggressive all year, shakin’ and bakin’, wheelin’ and dealin’ making more trades our league has ever seen. Riding hot hands each week, streaming the latest and greatest in-form snipers at all positions. I even managed to successfully add Jason Robertson and Tim Stutzle in extremely aggressive early season trades before they both exploded in an inferno of blazing-hot breakout glory.

Heading into the final, my confidence in the team I had built was at an all-time high: my route to the final left our 3-peat champions in the dust. The rivalry here dates to the early years of this league, this GM and I have always had classic down to wire matchups every time we faced each other, especially in the playoffs. How could this happen to be riding such a high to flat lining in the finals. This one left a deep burn in my fantasy soul. Hey everyone look how good I don’t look, I don’t know if you noticed but I have done over one hundred moves and I am still chasing that title.

Fantasy Hockey

I know, boring name, right? However, this being my first year in this league it has quickly become one of my favorites. This league has also been around for nearly a decade, and I was brought in by the commissioner this year when they were looking for some fresh blood. This is a H2H points, 12 team, redraft league, that just fills your heart with hockey joy each week as you chase down the highest score.

I landed in a great spot to kick-off my tenure in this league getting the 2nd overall pick. You know your boy dropped all of three seconds to take Auston Matthews, yes and you already know McDavid and Draisaitl went 1st and 3rd overall, I regret nothing. Overall, I felt I had a great draft getting a strong supporting cast around Matthews that included Connor, Aho, Q. Hughes, Boldy & Morrissey.

The structure of this league made it difficult to take my usual aggressive self, with most GMs looking to ride their drafted group for most of the season (booooring). However, I still found my way by maxing out my weekly adds and a very sneaky early-season trade to yet again land Jason Robertson. Yes, there is a theme, yes, I am a big JRob fan, and yes, I was right he was going to break out this season!

I love this man: such a stud, plays a complete game too and has a great finish, and can drive play from the wing, what’s not to love? JRob you’re my boy! Sorry, I am getting distracted by another one of my guys, let’s get back on track.

In this league, I truly did embrace the #ZeroG strategy, even though I drafted two goalies far too early, basically from week 2 onwards, I did nothing but stream net minders. Now what was the result of my first season in this league? I certainly made a statement in my aggressive style; I maxed out all my adds and must have sent out 50 or more trade offers throughout the season. This propelled me to a top-four finish, eventually finishing 3rd after losing to the repeat champion GM in the semifinals. Here we go again; call me Kristen Wiig because I was once again a Bridesmaid.

Until Next Year…

So now we ask ourselves: how do I make the leap next year? Is it my time to rise from the ashes of my fantasy despair and become a Champion? Lock these keyboard dents into your brain for next season and let’s drink to our successes in 2024:

  • Don’t shy away from sticking to your approach as GM, stay true to who you are.
  • Be aggressive in maximizing the advantages of your league, weekly or season adds, FAAB dollars, IR & IR+ spots etc.
  • Schedule understanding and manipulation in a knowledgeable way is critical to your success every week but especially in the playoffs.
  • Lose the loyalty in the playoffs, keepers aside, especially in redraft leagues.
  • Make a clean break: if a player that you love is ice cold in the playoffs and you can grab a hot guy don’t hesitate.
  • Look to capitalize on early season frustrations by your fellow GMs on those players that the underline numbers are screaming breakout.
  • At the end of the day have fun with it all, so much of it is out of our control in terms of outcomes.

It’s the End

It’s simple guys, we are all in this to win it and to be crowned champion at the end of each season. The reality is though that only one GM in every league gets this yearly honor. As GMs we must be real with ourselves and be our toughest critics if we truly want to break through and hoist those championships.

Yes, I could have dug deep into this one for you all as I did in my inaugural article, but I wanted to show you that these reflections don’t have to be a deep dive every time to improve. You can find takeaways in any part of your season, the key will be taking the time and looking back to find them. Don’t be afraid of learning from yourself and adjusting your approach year over year or better yet in the season to give you a better chance to win. Stick to your gut and you’ll be shopping for wedding dresses in no time.

Let’s get better together my dudes and celebrate more GMs in the community achieving personal milestones in their leagues through that collective improvement. As the great Resse Bobby once said “If you’re not first you’re last!” so let’s keep grinding together and those Championships will come my dudes!

Craig@craigerslife or look me up on the A&G discord channel @Craiger

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