Fantasy Football 2013: What The Stock Market Can Teach Us About Draft Strategy

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September kicks off another fantasy football season.

I play in a standard-scoring, 12-team league on Yahoo with a few notable scoring changes:

  • Kicker scoring is reduced from “3pts, 4pts, 5pts” to “1pts, 2pts, 3pts”.
  • Receiving/Rushing touchdowns are ‘5pts’. Passing TDs are ‘4pts’.
  • Points are lost for fumbles, not ‘fumbles lost’. Fumble recovery is random, so we penalize the mistake instead of the result.

Our draft was on August 20th.

Here’s my team, along with some analysis.

1.     (7)     C.J. Spiller (Buf – RB)
2.     (18)     Brandon Marshall (Chi – WR)
3.     (31)     Lamar Miller (Mia – RB)
4.     (42)     Pierre Garcon (Was – WR)
5.     (55)     Matthew Stafford (Det – QB)
6.     (66)     Eddie Lacy (GB – RB)
7.     (79)     Golden Tate (Sea – WR)
8.     (90)     Rashard Mendenhall (Ari – RB)
9.     (103)     Emmanuel Sanders (Pit – WR)
10.     (114)     Jermichael Finley (GB – TE)
11.     (127)     Justin Blackmon (Jac – WR)
12.     (138)     Danny Woodhead (SD – RB)
13.     (151)     Pittsburgh (Pit – DEF)
14.     (162)     Ryan Tannehill (Mia – QB)
15.     (175)     LaMichael James (SF – RB)*

* Dropped James for Knowshon Moreno a few days after the draft.

I had the seventh pick in the 12-team draft (draft order is random). I would’ve preferred picking at the beginning or end of each round (i.e. pick 2, 3, 4 or 9, 10, 11) to reduce the chances of missing out on players I wanted.

Picking first or last in the draft is better than the middle (5,6,7,8), but worse than the ‘near-the-end, but not the end’ picks from a game strategy perspective. See if you can figure out why.

Oddly enough, when I drafted Woodhead and Tannehill I received a “Congratulations, You Just Drafted a Snickers Sleeper” message on the live draft chat board. I wondered if I’d receive a medal or prize of some sort.

Position Notes:

QB: Stafford, Tannehill

QB production is deep this year. I wanted to wait until the fifth or sixth round to land a QB so I could stock up on high-ceiling RBs and WRs. Detroit is always at top of the league in attempted passes, plays in a dome eight games a year, and just added reception machine Reggie Bush to the fold; Stafford should do well.

I considered waiting until Round 6 to take a QB (DeMarco Murray was available in the 5th round–a major bounce-back candidate). The next best QBs after Stafford were RG3 and Andrew Luck, a drop-off in production from my Stafford projections, A couple of managers had yet to select a QB, so I didn’t want to gamble. I feel strongly that Stafford will produce at an elite level this year, so I did not want to pass him up. Murray was gone by the time my 6th pick came around.

WR: Marshall, Garcon, Tate, Blackmon, Sanders

Brandon Marshall is the safest WR pick this side of Calvin Johnson. Julio Jones, Dez, Bryant, and Demaryius Thomas share the field with other talented targets and AJ Green plays with a QB less willing and able to force him the ball. If you’re grabbing a WR in the first two rounds, you want to be as ‘safe’ as possible. First and second-round picks are supposed to deliver elite value. We want to minimize the chances of selecting a ‘bust’– a player whose cost far exceeds his production.

Golden Tate has a good rapport with Russell Wilson and Rice/Harvin are facing injury woes. Blackmon and Sanders are low-cost, high-upside picks.

Kicker: None (more on this later)

Biggest Surprise of the Draft: Landing Jermichael Finley in Round 10. He should bounce-back this year with the subtraction of Jennings and renewed comfort with Aaron Rodgers.

Biggest Regret: Missing out on Daryl Richardson and Josh Gordon. Both were available in Round 7. I drafted Golden Tate in Round 7, gambling that I’d be able to snag Richardson or Gordon in Round 8. Richardson was taken a few picks after Tate. Missed out on Gordon in Round 8, settling for Mendenhall.

I drafted extra RBs in lieu of taking a kicker because I can wait until a day or two before the season starts to get a kicker. I’d rather hold on to extra players for two weeks on the off-chance that some roster shake-up (e.g. injury) elevates their fantasy stock. Compiling talent for flexibility and injury insurance is important; until the fantasy playoffs start, depth is king. The difference in kicking (scoring is “1, 2 , 3” points for  field goals instead of the standard “3, 4, 5”) is minimal between the top 20 kickers, so it’s a worthwhile gamble.

The morning after the draft, I noticed I was given a ’D+’ draft grade by Yahoo’s draft evaluation service, dead last in the league. My projected record is ‘2-11’.

Some of that is attributable to not drafting a kicker, resulting in fewer projected points in the tabulation.

My bleak projection is also the result of selecting unheralded players at positions of importance. Like many competitions in life, there’s immense value in refining undervalued assets. Since player projections are based predominantly on what the player did the previous year, with some weight given to player and ‘expert’ hype, shrewd managers can pick up big value with unknown players with clear paths to big playing time. Recognition of what’s really essential to winning—along with a healthy disdain for public fervor—goes a long way.

Fantasy football success is not unlike the stock market. In the marketplace, good public relations campaigns trump hard data.

I’ve stashed that “D+” draft evaluation for future reference–and “I Told You So”s— at the end of the season.

The team with the highest draft grade received an ‘A’. This manager missed the draft, so Yahoo selected a team for him. The Yahoo Auto-Draft algorithm will take the highest-projected scoring players at a position of need, so you would expect a team selected by Yahoo to receive a high draft grade.

Here’s his team:

1.     (5)     Jamaal Charles (KC – RB)
2.     (20)     Dez Bryant (Dal – WR)
3.     (29)     Victor Cruz (NYG – WR)
4.     (44)     Dwayne Bowe (KC – WR)
5.     (53)     Colin Kaepernick (SF – QB)
6.     (68)     Le’Veon Bell (Pit – RB)
7.     (77)     Greg Olsen (Car – TE)
8.     (92)     Chicago (Chi – DEF)
9.     (101)     Matt Bryant (Atl – K)
10.     (116)     Ben Roethlisberger (Pit – QB)
11.     (125)     Bryce Brown (Phi – RB)
12.     (140)     Fred Davis (Was – TE)
13.     (149)     Darrius Heyward-Bey (Ind – WR)
14.     (164)     Pierre Thomas (NO – RB)
15.     (173)     Jeremy Kerley (NYJ – WR)

I will not post an analysis of this team because this is an opponent in my league. Feel free to do your own evaluation. I’ll face him twice (Week 2 and Week 13), so we’ll see how the projected ‘lowest vs. highest’ matchup goes.

Other game theory articles on JustTapTheGlass:

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