Many fantasy players would crumble under such pressure, over-analyzing line-up decisions and making costly mistakes. Not Glenn Lowy. He's been there before, finishing second in a high stakes competition in 2012. Lowy just missed out on the grand prize in that contest after leading deep into the final game of the fantasy season. Lowy has put together a full resume of successful high stakes fantasy results in both football and baseball in previous years and is ranked #6 in the Fantasy Football High Stakes Global Player Index. You read that right. There are rankings, that rank YOU, the fantasy player. While it would be bittersweet to be a bridesmaid again, 47 points is a lot to make up in one week (especially since Schroeder was the #1 ranked high stakes fantasy player around and wasn't going to give up his lead easily).
"While I thought it was possible to catch Chad, he just had two monster weeks," Lowy said. "Being behind by 47, the math just didn't work, especially since we both had Jamaal Charles," Lowy recalls. Not too concerned about reliving history of being a bridesmaid again, Lowy just sat back and enjoyed the games and hoped for the best. By the time the early games were over, Lowy had his 'Glenneration X' squad firmly in first place (thanks in part the dynamic combination of DEN QB Peyton Manning and DEN WR Demaryius Thomas, who torched the Houston Texans for a combined 62.2 fantasy points). So while the football world remembers the game as the one where Manning surpassed Tom Brady's record 50 TD passing mark, Lowy remembers it as the key game that won him the 2013 Fantasy Football World Championship and $150,000. He also remembers sweating the Sunday Night game where Schroeder had Nick Foles and DeSean Jackson vs. the Chicago Bears. Fortunately for Lowy, the Eagles' game plan was to run all over the Bears and sit Foles and Jackson for much of the 2nd half, preserving his lead in the process. The final margin of victory was 14 points.
Lowy's journey to defeat 335 competitors went far beyond Manning to Thomas. Lowy correctly selected KC RB Jamaal Charles with the 3rd pick of the first round. Charles was the lead back in fantasyland all year long. Lowy also enjoyed a rebound season from GB WR Jordy Nelson (selected in the 5th round) and serviceable production from Panther RB DeAngelo Williams (6th round) and TE Greg Olsen (8th round). But it was Lowy's incredible waiver wire success that gave his roster the depth needed to remain in title contention all season and ultimately crown him World Champion.
"High stakes drafters very rarely make mistakes in the draft," Lowy said. "The draft sets the base for your team, but the key to success is being a step ahead on the waiver wire." Being a step ahead is a vast understatement. Lowy had an incredible run of plucking talent off the waiver wire all year long. Lowy went bargain hunting early in the season and landed Manning insurance with Phillip Rivers (whom fantasy players were still sour on). He then grabbed Jordan Reed on the cheap and was rewarded with three monster fantasy weeks before he was sidelined for the season with a concussion. However, it was well executed free agent bids on two rookies in week 5 -- SD WR Keenan Allen and STL RB Zac Stacy -- that gave Lowy two consistent starters for the balance of the season. Lowy continued, "I was high on Stacy in training camp, so while Benny Cunningham was the consensus next man up in St. Louis, I stayed the course with Stacy."
"High stakes drafters very rarely make mistakes in the draft"
Lowy also caught lightning in a bottle grabbing Nick Novak and the St. Louis Rams defense for the stretch run. Not one to neglect kicker and defense, Lowy was rewarded with a strong finish from Novak (hit two or more field goals in seven of the last eight weeks of the season). And the Rams defense (while wildly inconsistent all year) had a monster finish the last two weeks of the fantasy season.
Lowy, 48, (who is married with three young children) credits his family for much of his success. "My wife is incredibly supportive and the return on investment has afforded us the ability to do some nice things. Playing fantasy football is time consuming so it's very satisfying to be able to enjoy the winnings with my family." Lowy plays all the high stakes fantasy contests, but finds winning the FFWC more rewarding because of the unique roster structure. Lowy continued, "The FFWC and Rotobowl contests are the only leagues I compete in where you must field an 11 man starting line-up. It's important to dig deep with your research and stay committed to the players you believe in."
Despite the large buy-in and competitive high stakes arena, Lowy believes that anybody can win. "If you are serious about pre-season preparation and allocate time weekly to learn the free-agent pools, you can have immediate success," he says. "Drafting with fellow passionate football fans in Las Vegas is an amazing time, but you also have the option to draft online. The high stakes community is wonderful and I'm still humbled by all the congratulations I received after being fortunate enough to win."
For those a bit intimidated by the $1,695 Main Event buy-in, the Fantasy Football World Championships offer multiple contests at varying price points. There are $179 qualifiers into the Main Event identical in concept to satellites into large poker tournaments.
The 10th annual Rotobowl Tournament is $279 to play with a Grand Prize of $25,000. Teams are structured identical to the Main Event, with 20 man rosters and 11 starters. Additionally, Draft-N-Go contests are offered for $99. In this format, you simply draft your team and you're done. No transactions, no waivers.
"The high stakes community is wonderful and I'm still humbled by all the congratulations I received after being fortunate enough to win."
With the 2013 World Championship under his belt, Lowy has started to set his sights on a repeat performance. "I form my opinions on player projections early on," Lowy said. "I of course adjust as news dictates, but I don't get caught up on hyped players and instead try to seek out value." When asked about strategy advice for those considering playing high stakes for the first time, Lowy shared some of his wisdom: "Being flexible is key to any successful draft," he said. "You must be able to adjust to those drafting around you and be able to adapt to the flow of the draft. Having a full grasp of current average draft position is also a key component in knowing how your league mates are thinking."
Lowy still considers grabbing two top tier running backs an optimal strategy in most formats, but admits that the league is changing so much that it is almost impossible. "Right now, after Charles and LeSean (McCoy), there are no sure things. After those two, I see the top tier wide receivers as optimal early picks." In fact, when asked what player is primed to be the next superstar and jump into round one sooner than later he immediately responded with Chicago Bear wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
With Lowy's track record of success, one would be wise to follow his advice.
For more information on the Fantasy Football World Championships and to take a shot at unseating the defending champion, visit http://www.fftoolbox.com/ffwc/main-event.cfm