My name’s Ethan, and I’m in 27 C2C leagues. Some may say I’m addicted, but I prefer the label of being a Portfolio Player instead. Portfolio players are fantasy sports players who join many leagues with the sole purpose of getting a positive return on investment. The term portfolio player reflects that they view each league as a different stock. They believe that the dividends (winnings) they collect each year from their total portfolio of leagues will outweigh the total investment (buy-ins) that they pay upfront.
Outside of those parameters, there’s no negative (or positive) connotation to the label, as there are players who do it well and those who do it not so well. With this article, my hope is that I’m able to not only open your eyes to a potentially different kind of competition in your leagues but also help lay some guidelines on how to go about being a portfolio player and do it well.
Staying Organized: Spreadsheets on Spreadsheets
The number one thing you need to do if you’re going to attack multiple leagues in a tactical fashion is to get organized. In this scenario, spreadsheets are your friend. As a certified spreadsheet lover, this was a no-brainer for me. However, for those of you that are a bit phobic of Excel and Google Sheets, let me give you some details on how to prepare.
Track Your Leagues
My personal portfolio is summarized in one Excel Workbook. It’s a C2C League Tracker, and for each year, there is a new tab called my “Leagues Summary.” On this tab, I keep track of a link to all by-laws, a summary of waiver formats, any key dates (payment dates, cut-down & trade deadlines, and draft days), as well as financials for the league (buy-in amount with a link to LeagueSafe, Payout Breakdowns, and a notes section). This tab, specifically, is meant to be my brain, so I’m able to keep track of everything without committing everything to memory.
There are so many nuances in C2C leagues that it’s important to know what each league setup is when drafting and making moves. The majority of your competition is only in a handful of leagues and likely can retain all of the information without the need for spreadsheets but as a portfolio player, use the aid to maintain a level playing field.
Track Your Teams
Within that very same League-Tracker workbook, I dedicate a tab for each league. On that league tab, I’ll have my entire roster (both College and NFL sides) laid out, I’ll have notes about which positions I’m lacking, what I need to target, and where my strengths are. This allows me to be intentional with each trade, waiver pickup, and roster move as I navigate the season without having to do a deep dive on every roster each time.
Managing rosters in C2C leagues is overwhelming enough, so eliminating any additional hurdles allows you to be more efficient with your time, and that’s crucial (more on time later).
Track Your Time
C2C leagues are time-consuming. There, I said it. Now, they’re a labor of love for those who enjoy the process (myself included), but there’s no doubt about it: combing through Fantrax player pools and making sit/start, add/drop, and other roster management decisions all add up with time. So clearing time in your schedule to ensure you have the proper clearance to handle all of your leagues is a massive key to being a successful Portfolio Player.
My process has always been clearing an hour a night to dedicate to waivers, trade talks, and just checking in on your rosters. With my capacity, this equates to roughly 2-3 minutes a night for each league (averaging out to around 15-20 minutes per week). Once you get your rhythm down in-season, you’ll get a good idea of which leagues will require more work and which leagues are a bit less maintenance, as well as which leagues are prioritized on which evenings. This is not an exact science, but it’s crucial for maintaining your teams. This step is also where I believe most Portfolio Players sink or swim. Know your limits and commit to what you’re able.
An important note here as well is to set lineups continuously throughout the week. Set them on Sunday/Monday for the week ahead, just in case you don’t get the chance to change them on Saturday morning. This will minimize unforced errors like starting a player on bye weeks or in tough matchups.
Drafting (and Roster Management) is an Art, Not a Science
This is something that may be divisive to the fantasy community, though I think it’s particularly true on the College Side of C2Cs as opposed to the NFL side. There is so much nuance to constructing a winning team and so many variables that can’t be pinned down to have an exact playbook in every league or every draft. This means you need to be adaptable and have a few guiding principles for your path. These are mine:
Tiers Now Prevent Tears Later
While rankings are fairly rigid, I like to lump players into tiers to give myself a better idea of what I’m looking for on each roster. I want a certain number of win-now pieces (usually percentage based on the roster limits), and I want a certain number of players that I feel have a decent likelihood of devy potential for the NFL. My thresholds are typically pretty aggressive for win-now (especially on the college side, as it’s easier to reload year after year and compete). Tiers are the key that makes that easy. Have a pool of players split into categories – know which players fulfill which roles and lean into that as much as possible when drafting and making moves.
Don’t Force Diversification for Exposure’s Sake
This is an item that can be polarizing in fantasy circles. Whether it’s Bestball Leagues, Dynasty Leagues, or C2C Leagues, there always is the temptation to grab a player because we “don’t have any shares of him yet.”
My personal take is that your player exposure will have enough natural variance due to the fact that each league has different leaguemates, and you’re usually drafting in different spots between all of your leagues. Trusting your process in evaluating players (whether that’s by watching tape or reading/listening to the minds that you trust to do it better) is an important part of being profitable. If there is a player that you decide is worth grabbing, don’t be afraid to grab them everywhere. The players of higher consensus value (who are riskier to go all-in on) will likely have enough variance just from the normal course of each draft having different people selecting while the lower consensus value players will be easier for you to build the arsenal of “my guys” at a good rate.
Round Out Your Rosters
There’s such a stigma against drafting for positional needs because everyone focuses on raw value so heavily. However, your fantasy league is likely not awarding championships and payouts to the guys who get the most value in trades and drafts. They’re paying out for the most points from starting lineups. So there will come a time in each draft when you need to ensure you have a roster that can field the best starting lineups it is able to. Sometimes that means passing on the great value of that 16th WR in favor of making sure you have eight startable QBs or a fifth TE. This all goes back to the idea that there is nuance in the game of C2C, and you need to position yourself in the best way possible to cash in leagues where you know you’re competitive.
So You Want to be a Portfolio Player Too?
Great! You truly love to see it – but it’s okay if it’s not your speed. The best advice that I can give (outside of everything mentioned above) is to know your limits, play to your strengths, and be a good league mate. Keeping things manageable is of the utmost importance (especially when it comes to investing hard-earned money into your leagues). Don’t try to jump too far too fast.
Once you know what you can handle, understand your strengths as a fantasy player. Are you more knowledgeable than your competition when it comes to finding devy prospects and can build up a killer NFL team quicker than most? Or maybe you’re an IDP genius and can find your edge there. Either way, knowing what your competitive advantage is has so much value as a fantasy player and is crucial as a Portfolio Player.
Finally, be a good league mate. This should be true in every fantasy format, but I take it a bit further in C2C. Nobody likes playing with a jerk in the league. In a growing format like C2C, even one bad experience can be detrimental to someone’s willingness to grow the format and stick around in uncomfortable waters learning a new game. Being courteous, helpful, and humble will go a long way in cultivating good relationships and having a pleasant experience overall.