3 Lessons Fantasy Football Can Teach You About Good Research

Football playing pointing

Here’s the thing: Researchers are really, really good at Fantasy Football.

As bad as many of us may be at sports in real life—imagine a gang of awkward adults holding clipboards and tripping over their sensible shoes—the online market research team here at GutCheck almost uniformly OWNED this year’s office Fantasy Football leagues. Of the five inter-departmental leagues we had going throughout the office, members of the research team won four. Four!

Yes, we know: we’re very impressive. I’ll hold for applause.

Betty White dab

All this winning got me thinking: other than our superior intelligence and good looks, what could have caused such an overrepresentation of researchers among the Fantasy league champions? Turns out professional football lends itself pretty well to a research perspective. Below are a handful of reasons why good research = total fantasy football domination.

1.     Your Data Is Only as Good as Its Source

The Hangover casino

Since I was a Fantasy Football newbie at the start of this season, my colleagues were quick to guide me to the Fantasy websites with the best up-to-date information on players and matchups. I was determined to take a data-heavy approach to my lineup (*pauses to adjust glasses*), but I needed a source that could give me accurate and holistic information.

It should go without saying that, similarly, bad data can tank a market research project before it even begins. From the quality of respondents to the functionality of your survey platform, the resources surrounding and contributing to research data collection are as important as the research design itself. Bad data in, unusable results out.

2.     You Can’t Go in with Emotional Attachment

My emotions! Me emotions!

We all have favorite teams, favorite players, or, for the football ignorant, mascots you just like better (I get it, Swoop the Philadelphia Eagle is adorable). But when it comes to drafting and setting a lineup, it helps to divorce yourself from emotional attachment. For instance, I root for the Carolina Panthers, and look at the fat lot of good that would have done me this season. (There’s actually nothing to look at, because it would have done me no good at all.)

In market research, objectivity is key. Our internal or external clients may have unofficial favorites or hypotheses for concept testing, but we must avoid biasing the research design or analysis to favor them. Just like I should avoid playing my favorite running back in their bad matchup, I can’t tip the scales for a client’s preferred concept in a prioritization study.

3.     Consider the Context

Bridesmaids what is happening

I’m not going to lie and say that my algorithm for setting my line-up accounted for such minor variables as game day weather forecasts: my busy schedule of red wine and Property Brothers doesn’t leave me that kind of time. I did, however, keep an eye on the bigger moving parts that could make or break my points that week, like if a key player in a matchup’s defense was injured, or if my quarterback would be playing at home or away.

Consideration of the variables is just as crucial to good research. Especially when conducting market research online, awareness of whom you’re talking to and how you come across is essential. For example, conveying a lively yet conversational tone in discussion guides can be useful in online research where you don’t necessarily have the benefit of engaging your respondents with eye contact and body language, like in traditional focus groups. Even speaking with different audience demographics—say, mothers of small children versus unmarried Millennial men who both purchase microwavable meals—should dictate a targeted approach to ensure you’re optimizing the impact of your research.


Conducting market research bakes in a lot of the skills you need to be a total Fantasy Football badass: our data is robust, our objectivity is on point, and we’re hyper-focused on all of the small things that can add up to impact results. So it’s not really a surprise that researchers took the major prizes in our Fantasy leagues this year. I mean, it’s kind of our job.

And since nothing goes better with football than pizza, check out the case study below to learn how Papa Murphy’s prioritized pizza topping concepts for their gourmet offerings that appealed to both current and potential customers.

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