I've played fantasy sports for years, dating back to 2001. I used to play every fantasy sport possible, but with kids and work, as I moved from college to a real-world job, I've cut back and now only play baseball, football, and hockey, with baseball being my favorite. Before I go any further, let me make it clear that I do NOT spend money on fantasy sports. I play in free leagues through Yahoo with friends. I do NOT spend money on magazines or other fantasy resource publications. I use the current knowledge (limited) I have to draft my team (if I even make the draft which I rarely do), and then watch the stats to make roster decisions throughout the year.
Too often fantasy sports gets a bad rap as a waste of time. I'm here to tell you fantasy sports are NOT a waste of time and in fact can help promote critical thinking skills. It is possible to become too involved and sink too much money into fantasy sports, but if you can avoid this, there's a great deal of critical thinking involved from the drafting of players and in-season roster changes.
Take baseball for example. I'm currently in a heated battle for first place with a good grad school buddy of mine. I was in first place early in the season with him being in first for a good chunk of the middle of the season. Just recently I passed him again for first, but the lead is narrow with just a couple of weeks to go. With the season coming to an end, how I use my pitched innings could make or break the season for me. There are only a limited number of innings pitched one team can have, so down the stretch it's important to use the innings where they are likely to maximize points. This is where home/away matchups come into play. Day versus night games. Which pitchers have an advantage today versus which are likely to prefer at a lower level? Make the wrong choice late in the season and I give up valuable points that could cost me the league.
There is definitely a lot of guessing, but carefully monitoring trends and paying attention to the overall makeup of your team requires a heavy dose of critical thinking skills. It may help to know the players, but my knowledge of players has dropped over the years. I base all of my decisions on the stats...the numbers. There is so much the numbers can tell if you spend a bit of time analyzing them.
So if you're yelling at your kids to stop playing fantasy sports, maybe reduce that or stop it all together. Playing fantasy sports can help to develop your child's critical thinking skills they'll carry with them for the rest of their lives.