Scout’s 2015 Dynasty Football World Champion: “House of Cards”

Scout Fantasy Managing Editor Matt Brandon spoke with Biplab Mandal to find out how he became Scout's third Dynasty Football World Champion!

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“I’ve been playing Fantasy Football for five years and no matter how good of a player you are, your team name can’t be ‘Team X.’ You need to have a good, unique name,” said Biplab Mandal. “And when I started playing, I saw a lot of similarities between House of Cards’ lead character [Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood] and participating in a Dynasty league.”

House of Cards is an excellent Netflix program about a polarizing political figure who overcame a poor childhood in South Carolina to become the most powerful man on the face of the earth. Through hard work, dedication, some underhanded dealings, and even criminal conduct, Frank Underwood went from being a farmer’s son in Gaffney, SC, to one of the most powerful politicians in the country. The show ruminates on many themes but focuses primarily on power, manipulation, the young vs. the old, the past vs. the present and lastly, the idea of leaving some memory or legacy behind, perhaps even a dynasty.

Mandal is absolutely accurate. Those very same themes carry over to Dynasty leagues and now he and his team, which he aptly named “House of Cards,” are the reigning champions of Scout’s Dynasty Football World Championships (DFWC). The rookie DFWC player did a lot of maneuvering, trading, assembling, deal making and much more, just as Frank Underwood does in the Netflix hit. Biplab had to make critical decisions about young players versus veterans and often had to be savvy in order to acquire the players he wanted. Dynasty Football is not only similar to the popular television show because of the tactics used to succeed in each, but also to the concept of an actual house of cards. In Dynasty, you are always building, trying to make your team better and perhaps most importantly, stable. If you make a wrong trade or draft pick (or move a card in the foundation ever so slightly), everything can fall apart.

Scout’s DFWC format is fairly straightforward, but the strategy behind winning is intricate.

For an annual investment of $299, Dynasty owners have a shot to win thousands of dollars in prizes. With $2,400+ in prizes awarded back to each league, the investment is surely worth the fun and excitement. Owners first compete in their 12-team league through a 13-week regular season. The team with the best record and the team with the most points will be rewarded with $250 at that time. Then, the top four teams (best record, most points, next best record, next best points) will advance to their league’s playoffs and the Championship Round where large cash prizes are awarded. In the Championship Round, every DFWC playoff team competes over the final three weeks of the season with their average weekly score from weeks 1-13 added. So for example, let’s say your team averaged 175 Fantasy points every week. You’d start that Championship Round with 175 points, which would then be added to the points totals from the three weeks in the Championship Round. Following the three-week Championship Round, one skilled Dynasty owner wins the Dynasty Football World Championship and a grand prize of $10,000! As readers may know from my 2015 Dynasty King profile, a $2,000 DYNASTY KING bonus is also awarded every year for the most points over a three-year period.

Though “House of Cards” is the team Mandal won with, he admits that he used to call his team “The Trade Addicts” in other formats so that people would offer him a ton of offers and he would bite at just the right moment—perhaps a manipulative tactic, but clearly a shrewd strategic move worthy of the ambitious Frank Underwood. Even picking your team name can be strategic in the world of Fantasy Football!

Mandal, 33 years old, currently resides comfortably in Minneapolis, Minnesota as an IT Director and lives with his wife and two young sons. However, it wasn’t always like that.

“I was born and raised in India. However, for the last ten years, I have been working in the IT industry and traveling a lot. So, I was never settled in one place and kept toggling between continents and India. During this period, I lived in Amsterdam, Zurich, Shanghai, Beijing, Hawaii, Dubai, just to name a few places,” said Mandal. “Finally, I ended up in Minnesota, and it was time to settle down—I had kids and couldn't live in a pack of suitcases anymore. I used to execute and oversee large IT Projects all over the world before I moved to Minnesota to manage a large program… In 2011, my oldest son was born. We realized that we couldn't keep traveling a lot. So I switched jobs and joined a local company in Minneapolis.”

Mandal immediately connected with the Midwest and bonded with his new colleagues at work. In fact, he attributes the beginning of his fascination with the NFL and Fantasy Football to his co-workers.

“I have even stopped watching a lot of cricket now. I really fell in love with the NFL and Fantasy Football. I really love the strategy aspect of the game, which connects a lot with my daily life at work and with the stock market,” he said.

After playing in some Fantasy leagues and crushing his opponents in local leagues, Mandal was browsing the Internet and came across Scout Fantasy. After inquiring about the software, some well renowned high-stakes players gave Scout Fantasy a glowing review and Biplap was sold.

“What attracted me to Scout was the unique format. It’s great that you can win not only your individual league but also a bigger prize of $10,000. And I like that there are two flex positions, so there are eleven starters instead of ten. And the price was very fair at just $299!”

When it comes to Dynasty Fantasy Football, Mandal believes that the most important thing is practice. You have to have knowledge and experience before facing the best of the best.

“As long as you know how to play in Dynasty leagues, and you understand PPR leagues, and you have all the rules and concepts clear, I would say that if you are doing well in other leagues, just give it a try and have confidence in yourself. You are not playing with gods. Everyone is mortal. Everyone is using his or her brains. So if you feel you are good at drafting and trading, come along for the ride. It’s not rocket science,” said the rookie reigning champion.

However, he acknowledges that while it may not be rocket science, there is an incredible amount of skill involved.

“In this world, there are three ways that people can construct their Dynasty team,” Mandal said, two of which he tries to avoid. He believes in finding the right balance and just as in life or building a 'House of Cards,' finding that equilibrium and perfect balance can be critical to success. One strategy that Mandal does not endorse is the idea of tanking to win in the future. Many Dynasty players only pick rookies and trade their superstars for future draft picks and assets. But there are no guarantees in Fantasy Football. Sometimes rookies simply don’t pan out. Then there are the owners who employ the complete opposite strategy by drafting as if they were participating in a redraft league, without factoring in critical aspects in this format such as age, team coordinators, injury history, etc. “To them, it’s all about the here and now,” Mandal said. He believes in a happy medium, and that is the strategy he would advise newcomers to use if they are thinking of getting in on the action at Scout. Kind of like the patient long-term planning of a cunning politician.

Another critical aspect to Dynasty leagues is this idea that you will be competing against the same people for many years to come. For this reason, Mandal tried to get along with every single person, even if that person may have sent him terrible trade after terrible trade. Talk about smart politics and posturing for future success.

“If you get into an argument with one or two teams, you can’t trade with them, and now you are handicapped,” he noted.

Trading with other owners was integral to Mandal’s success. His team completed five trades before the startup draft was finished. In those deals, he was able to acquire two first-round picks, including the first and fifth pick of the entire draft while giving up his second and third round picks. Let’s look at how his draft went.

1.01 WR Dez Bryant
1.05 WR Antonio Brown
4.02 WR Nelson Agholor
5.05 WR Jarvis Landry
5.11 RB Tevin Coleman
6.02 RB Andre Ellington
7.11 RB Isaiah Crowell
9.11 RB David Johnson
11.11 QB Tony Romo
12.02 QB Marcus Mariota
12.12 RB Devonta Freeman
13.11 WR Percy Harvin
14.02 RB Cameron Artis-Payne
14.03 TE Delanie Walker
15.11 WR Kamar Aiken
16.02 RB Jeremy Langford
17.11 WR Reggie Wayne
18.02 TE Jordan Reed
19.11 PK Justin Tucker
20.02 DEF ARI Cardinals

Now, Mandal may have been unlucky with Dez Bryant’s injury, but look at some of the players he was able to draft, particularly in the later rounds. First of all, he selected the best player in all of Fantasy Football in Antonio Brown with the No. 5 pick. Another series of excellent picks was Jarvis Landry in the fifth, David Johnson in the ninth, Devonta Freeman in the twelfth, Delanie Walker in the fourteenth, Jeremy Langford in the sixteenth and Jordan Reed in the eighteenth. Obviously, Biplab has a knack for picking sleepers (just as a smart alliance-builder in Congress has a feel for forming alliances with unknown up-and-comers who perhaps have not yet made their mark but who have potential that only the most talented judge of character will spot in advance).

If you look carefully at his draft, you can see his strategy pretty clearly.  

“The approach that I try to take is to go for some very solid, very established receivers up front. And then target players with some upside, who are fairly young but who are also somewhat undervalued on the market, like Jarvis Landry,” said Mandal. “When it comes to rookies, I like to gamble on the rookie running backs because it’s much easier to get a chance to succeed early since starting running backs get injured all the time.”

The owner of “House of Cards” also noted how important calculating value is and being careful not to reach for a player when you know he could be available in the next round due to his ADP (Average Draft Position). Though Mandal may be a rookie in Scout’s leagues, he proved his skill in value-based drafting with the many studs and steals he was able to acquire. However, we all know that managing your team does not end after the draft process.

One of Mandal’s best and worst moves of the season was adding DeAngelo Williams, who was an absolute stud before Le’Veon Bell returned. Unfortunately, he dropped Williams once Bell was back to get a quarterback since both Romo and Mariota went down with injuries. Was the “House of Cards” beginning to collapse? Luckily, by drafting both Arizona’s (Johnson and Ellington) and Atlanta’s (Freeman and Coleman) backfield and utilizing the well-known handcuff strategy, one player from each team’s backfield became a top player in Fantasy Football. Freeman emerged as the No. 1 RB in 2015 and David Johnson finished as the seventh-best RB. Therefore, the loss of Williams didn’t hurt quite as much and “House of Cards” remained intact.

On November 26, Mandal put his trading skills into practice during the season when he swapped Nelson Agholor and a 2016 second round pick for Lamar Miller and Pierre Garcon. This turned out to be a huge trade, as Miller finished as the No. 5 RB in Fantasy Football while Agholor fell flat on his face.

Not only did he have the best WR and three of the top-seven running backs in the league, but Mandal also managed to nail his two tight end picks with Delanie Walker and Jordan Reed, who were the second- and third-best tight ends in Fantasy last year.

Although “House of Cards” didn’t finish with the best record in League 28, they did accumulate the most total points, which qualified Mandal for the postseason and put $250 in his pocket.

“I started in a pretty decent position heading into the postseason because I had averaged a lot of points throughout the regular season but then I had a very dampening first week of the playoffs,” said Mandal.

With Romo and Mariota injured again, Ryan Fitzpatrick was the rookie DFWC player’s only healthy option at the QB position. In Week 14, Mandal fell further down in the overall standings with just 153.05 points that week.

However, the following week, “House of Cards” erupted for 219.05 points due to strong outings from A. Brown, D. Johnson, Reed, Walker, and Freeman. At that point, Mandal’s squad moved all the way into ninth place, and he was dozens of points ahead of the three teams in his individual league.

“At that point, I’m thinking about the maximum risk I could take to nail this,” he said. “And that’s when I added Kirk Cousins, hoping for a few touchdown connections with my TE Jordan Reed.”

Well, the first-year DFWC player was right. Cousins threw four touchdown passes that week, two of which landed in the arms of Reed. The two players combined for a whopping 68.75 Fantasy points.

“House of Cards” could have easily crumbled with just one wrong move and fallen out of the money in the overall competition, but his foundation remained stable when Mandal decided to use one last card up his sleeve with the addition of Cousins.

Add in Johnson’s strong Week 16 effort, 30 Fantasy points from the Arizona Cardinals’ defense and Mandal scored 225.55 Fantasy points in the final week of the playoffs to move up from ninth place (a $100 prize) to first overall. Mandal was Scout’s third Dynasty Football World Champion and the proud new owner of a sizeable $10,000 check! He also won his individual league by quite a large margin, adding an extra $1,500 to his big payday.

http://fftoolbox.scout.com/ffwc/ScreenHunter_1281%20Dec.%2029%2013.11.jpg

“It was a very stressful final Sunday night for me because Denver was playing and the team in second was 23 points behind me with Demaryius Thomas ready to suit up… Thomas hadn’t done much, but then the game went into overtime! And I’m thinking ‘is this the Fantasy Gods out to get me?’”

Fortunately for Mandal, Thomas failed to make up the difference as “House of Cards” captured the victory.

“It was just a pure shock because I really wasn’t expecting to win as a rookie. There are so many experienced great players at Scout, some of the best Dynasty players in the world. It was an incredible feeling,” he said. “I always want to win now, I always want to take the best player available, but I am also conscious of important Dynasty factors like age,” said Mandal. There is no doubt that his knowledge and instincts helped him arrive to this great destination. It certainly didn’t hurt that he had the steel nerves and composure of a seasoned politician.

Mandal immediately bought two tickets to Dubai and treated his wife to a great vacation. Well played, sir.

Dynasty leagues are, without a doubt, the fastest-growing segment in all of Fantasy sports. So get in on the action in Scout Fantasy’s 2016 Dynasty Football World Championship! This is the ultimate chance to prove that you are truly among the elite Fantasy Football owners in the world. Manage your startup team and compete against other owners for years to come. Following every season, rebuild your team through the exciting rookie draft! Click here to learn more!

If you want in on a startup team, your time is running out!

Draft #1 - May 2, 2016 - SOLD OUT!
Draft #2 - June 6, 2016 ENTER
Draft #3 - July 4, 2016 ENTER
Draft #4 - August 1, 2016 ENTER
Draft #5 - August 15, 2016 ENTER

For an annual investment of just $299, Fantasy owners have a shot to win thousands of dollars in prizes. With $2,400+ in prizes awarded back to each league, the investment is surely worth the fun and excitement. And at the end of the season, one skilled Fantasy owner will win $10,000 and be crowned the fourth annual Dynasty Football World Champion! Will it be you?

Not only does Scout Fantasy offer the best cash incentives, but we also utilize the most advanced software in the industry. You never have to print a cheat sheet again! Color-coded draft boards, real-time on-screen cheat sheets, blind bidding and more. Check out the draft board from one of our 2015 startup Dynasty leagues!


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Mandal will be back in 2016 so take your shot at knocking down his “House of Cards.” What are you waiting for? Get in the game today!


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