Warm Bodies

Teresa Palmer, Adrian Peterson, and The Occasional Value of Being Wrong

 

 You have nothing on Hakeem Nicks. I can cure you. . . And if not, I am Number Six

 

Last week I was invited to write a 2013 fantasy football preview article for SI’s Fansided: 10 WR Breakout Candidates.

It’s a Banana Stand-style piece all the way through – riddled with obscure but important stats, not to mention reflections on my potential role in a zombie love story.

I also delved back into the Vision Yards playbook and used PFF’s crazy treasure trove of information to demonstrate why Jamaal Charles is still crushing Adrian Peterson in career yards per carry. This time it wasn’t all about yards before contact either. Would you have guessed that Jamaal Charles averages almost twice as many yards after contact per missed tackle as Marshawn Lynch?

On RotoViz, my post focusing on Ryan Mathews, Jacquizz Rodgers, and How To Lose a Fantasy League in 10 Picks has become something of an underground sensation (and thanks to all the faithful Banana Stand readers who have had a part in that). The most controversial recommendation is to bypass Julio Jones in the Second Round in favor of Chris Johnson.

The newest article, Aaron Rodgers, Doug Martin, and the Eternal Sunshine of the Fantasy Mind, reiterates the need to avoid Adrian Peterson. At this point, you may be thinking to yourself, “Where have I heard this before?”

Unless I am wrong, and I am never wrong

When you are never wrong, you can easily end up losing your feet below the ankles, your hands at the wrists and your nose (but your ears you keep).

I’m frequently wrong at the Banana Stand, and I assume the kinds of people who gravitate here naturally understand that. It’s still worth keeping track of those errors and trying to evaluate whether they are random, fluky, or systemic.

This season I am again very high on Chris Johnson and very down on Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. I have made these same arguments before previous seasons and been wrong.

2011/2012 2013
Adrian Peterson Contrarian: The No. 1 Pick in the Draft Adrian Peterson Should Not Be a Top 5 Pick
Marshawn Lynch The Myth of Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch is a Strong Sell
Chris Johnson CJ Poised to Bounce Back Chris Johnson is the Perfect Candidate

 

If you’re a new reader – or an old reader who loves Banana Stand concepts but is worried about what the chart above seems to indicate – you should read each of the articles and evaluate the logic. One of the things that Frank DuPont talks a lot about on RotoViz is that a projection covers a very wide range of possible outcomes. When I miss badly on a player projection, it’s possible I misevaluated the player, it’s possible my logic was incorrect, and it’s equally possible that the offending season was merely a historical fluke.

Missing on those players last season didn’t hurt me very badly. I didn’t actually draft Chris Johnson even though I liked him. I didn’t draft him because elite wide receivers have more value than all but the most transcendent runners. (Does that kind of runner exist this year? I think he may. Check out, Why RB-RB is back.) Most of my teams had Calvin Johnson.

I drafted Doug Martin in the range where Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch were going. I surrounded them with dramatically undervalued players like Demaryius Thomas and C.J. Spiller.

The important thing to note here is that, while I missed on AP and Skittles, the very logic that made me avoid them also pushed me in the direction of the elite players I took instead.

Lessons from Baseball

I grew up as a fan of the Kansas City Royals, which means I’ve mostly known disappointment. Rany Jazayerli, one of the founders of Baseball Prospectus, is another long suffering Royals fan. He writes the excellent Rany on the Royals blog. He recently reiterated what has mostly been understood since Moneyball came out – and by savvy fans even before.

The battle between stats and scouts is over.

The sabermetrically-oriented small market teams like the Rays and A’s continually outperform their team salaries. The old school teams like the Royals just lose, and lose, and lose. In fact, the battle is so one-sided that you can’t be remotely competitive unless you understand and employ the basic strategic principals people like Bill James have been writing about forever.

There are two reasons why the dominance of stats is so much clearer in baseball than football.

1)      The large sample sizes.

2)      The lack of interaction effects.

In football, things aren’t nearly as clear. If you take advantage of tools like the Dominator Rating and Height-adjusted Speed Score for receivers, and Agility Score and Vision Yards for running backs, then you will have a huge competitive advantage over your fellow participants who prioritize the voices of scouts. And here’s the great thing: Because the advantage is less clear, it remains an advantage.

I missed on Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch last year. I appear to have overrated Marvin McNutt’s NFL prospects. As a result, many people will dismiss the methodology. And for me, that’s spectacular news.

In fantasy football, the advantages of having superior statistical models are not so great they won’t be occasionally swamped by bad luck. Frequently, that bad luck will come in the guise of a player the scouts love having a great season. That’s even better news since it will push a large segment of fantasy players back into the hands of the mystics. Your competitive advantage actually increases as a direct result of occasionally being wrong.

This may sound dangerously close to simply defining the terms such that I win either way. If I predict correctly, I win. If I predict incorrectly, I also win. That, of course, is cheating.

Evaluating fantasy football acumen isn’t that hard once you generate a large enough sample size. It boils down to points scored, to wins and losses. It can be assessed and graded, which is crucial to self-evaluation and methodological improvement. Over just the last three years, I’ve played nearly 200 leagues. I’ve posted my 2012 results so you can judge for yourself.

My assumption is that Banana Stand readers enjoy reading about the logic behind the player evaluations. You can evaluate my claims and then act on them or not. You can then incorporate the ideas you like into your own player projection system. It would be a mistake just to take my word for it on specific players.

Because I am frequently wrong.

2012 Biggest Misses: Peyton ManningDarren McFadden, Ryan Williams, David Wilson, Kevin Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Randall Cobb

2012 Biggest Hits: Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley, C.J. Spiller, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker

Shawn Siegele has finished in the Top 10 of the NFFC’s Main Event Classic for two consecutive seasons and is one of only a handful of players to own three or more Main Event league titles. He also contributes to Rotoviz and works as the Lead Redraft Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

9 thoughts on “Teresa Palmer, Adrian Peterson, and The Occasional Value of Being Wrong”

    1. Definitely. Conceptually it was very strong. Nicholas Hoult is awesome and Palmer is obviously very watchable.

      The script definitely lagged in a few places, but I ended up liking it a little better than I’d expected (and I’d made up my mind to like it since it was a zombie love story).

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