Fantasy sports have exploded over the past decade. I still remember the days when I'd manually search box scores in the newspaper and add up my team's stats for the week. Our league was comprised of guys in the neighborhood, and the yearly prize was a measly sum of cash.
At the time, we played for fun and pride. As technology caught up, algorithms were built, mobile platforms constructed, and daily leagues introduced. The simplicity of the neighborhood league would never be the same.
Today, fantasy sports connect people, players, and media in a multi-billion dollar industry. Did you say billions?
According to Statista, $9.48 billion was wagered on fantasy sports in the U.S. in 2022. That's a 12.3% increase from 2021, and then number should eclipse $10 billion for 2023.
As the stakes have gone up, strategies have had to evolve.
In today's article, we are going to explore some of the best books on fantasy sports that are available today.
The Importance of Fantasy Sports Books
Fantasy sports require a combination of skills, including strategy, research, and critical thinking. While some people rely on their gut instinct to make decisions, others may need a more structured approach. That's where fantasy sports books come in handy. If you can take even a single tip from one of the books below, you'll be more competitive.
The books below are a combination of in-depth analysis and expert advice. Matthew Berry's book, for example, is very different from the way Jonathan Bales writes. In addition, some of these books are more focused on Daily Fantasy Sports vs. Seasonal Leagues. Depending on what you play and what you're looking for, there should be something for everyone.
Last, the reason I'm writing this article is to help you gain an edge. By edge, I don't mean that your new strategy will make you a winner 100% of the time. Far from it. But, if you used to play daily fantasy football, for example, with no strategy and a 20% chance to win, the goal is to take that up to 25%. You're looking to incorporate variables that give you a better chance to win. So, for example, Aaron Rodgers may perform a certain way when he's on the road, playing on Thursday nights, or throwing in snowy weather. Of course, these are just a few factors, but you get where this headed.
We want to use historical data to your advantage, give proper allocation to the right variables, and create models that give you confidence to make bets.
Below are the best books that we've read on fantasy football, fantasy baseball, and fantasy basketball. Enjoy!
The Best Books on Fantasy Football
1. Fantasy Life by Matthew Berry
Fantasy Life is a must-read for anyone interested in fantasy football. The author, Matthew Berry, is a well-known fantasy sports analyst and commentator. In this book, he shares his personal journey with fantasy sports and provides valuable insights and advice for players of all levels. After 15 years at ESPN, Berry left in 2022 to join NBC Sports. He also still runs his website, also called Fantasy Life.
2. The Fantasy Football Black Book by Joe Pisapia
The Fantasy Football Black Book is a comprehensive guide to drafting and managing a fantasy football team. The author, Joe Pisapia, is a fantasy sports expert and provides readers with tips and strategies to help them succeed in their leagues. He's currently the go-to expert at Fantasy Pros and is credited for inventing Relative Position Value or RPV.
3. Fantasy Football for Smart People by Jonathan Bales
Are you looking for a book for daily fantasy sports (dfs)? Fantasy Football for Smart People is a book that focuses on the analytical side of dfs. The author, Jonathan Bales, provides readers with statistical analysis and research-based strategies to help them make informed decisions when drafting their teams. His start up, FantasyLabs, was acquired by The Chernin Group in 2017. For more about Bales and how he got into fantasy sports, the video below is pretty cool.
4. Fantasy Football Index by Ian Allan
If you're preparing for your fantasy football draft right now (as in the 2023 season), this is an incredible guide and resource. 172 pages of cheat sheets, sleeper picks, depth charts, and much more. Of course, you still need to pay attention to the latest injury news, but this will certainly help with the rest of the work.
The Best Books on Fantasy Baseball
1. The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2023 by Joe Pisapia
The Fantasy Baseball Black Book is a comprehensive guide to drafting and managing a fantasy baseball team. Like the football version, Joe Pisapia knows his stuff. It's hard to write a book and get people to buy it, much less produce version after version. Joe started the black book series in 2013, and this will mark the 10th anniversary.
2. Fantasy Baseball for Smart People by Jonathan Bales
Fantasy Baseball for Smart People is a book that focuses on the analytical side of fantasy baseball with a specific focus on daily fantasy sports. The author, Jonathan Bales, provides readers with statistical analysis and research-based strategies to help them make informed decisions when drafting their teams. While Bales' books on football and baseball are similar, the reality is that both sports have very different stats and should be approached with a specific focus.
3. Ron Shandler's 2023 Baseball Forecaster & Encyclopedia of Fanalytics by Brent Hershey, Brandon Kruse, and Ron Shandler
This guide has been in publication since 1986 and provides an incredible amount of information to make informed decisions. For example, rather than predicting batting average, the authors break down the factors that go into being a good hitter.
The Best Books on Fantasy Basketball
1. A Pro’s Guide for Winning at Daily Fantasy Basketball by Joe Gallagher
Gallagher goes into detail using tables, links and graphics to help readers manage their bank roll, construct the perfect roster, and decide how much money to put in play. This is a must read for those looking for a dfs basketball book.
2. Basketball Analytics: Objective and Efficient Strategies for Understanding How Teams Win by Stephen M. Shea
This book is a great resource for fantasy basketball players who want to use data-driven analysis to improve their strategies. Shea explains how to use advanced statistics to evaluate players and make better decisions.
3. FanDuel Presents: The Fantasy Basketball Black Book by Joe Pisapia and Alan Goldsher
As previously noted, Pisapia is a legend when it comes to fantasy sports. While this book is a bit dated, it still provides a great guide for fantasy basketball.
If I Had to Pick Just One
I'd go with Fantasy Life by Matthew Berry. It's funny and entertaining. At a minimum, I think it would get you more interested in fantasy football, which would make some of the more analytical books more appealing.
If I'm Most Interested In Daily Fantasy Sports
I'd go with anything from Jonathan Bales, who lives and breathes the space, and also keeps fans updated on his website.
And Last But Not Least
If you're struggling to find ideas as to what should happen to the person that finishes in last place in your league, look no further. While this video is four years old, it will not only get you in the spirit but inspire you to read up to avoid that last place punishment that has become a staple in leagues around the world.
For Additional Resources
Be sure to check out our Recommendations page, which has our favorite sports books broken down by sport.
In addition, we write regularly about various topics on our Blog.
Need a specific recommendation? Shoot us a note on the Contact page.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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