Pai Mei, Zero RB, and the NFFC – A 2013 Report Card

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Editor’s Note: This looks at the Banana Stand results through the regular season and isn’t updated for the Gronk injury, for example.

I write a lot of stuff for RotoViz and Pro Football Focus that’s pretty far out of the mainstream. When someone sounds like a crackpot, the most likely explanation is that they are, in fact, a crackpot. I hope that isn’t the case.

Ideas are valuable in their own right – even if they prove unfounded. Most innovations begin with a trial-and-error process that is heavy on the error. But the value of ideas passed off as fact should be judged by whether or not those ideas work. In order to test my ideas, I like to play high stakes fantasy football. If the value of things like the Agility Score, Vision Yards, Dominator Rating, Height-adjusted Speed Score, and Zero RB can be found in their application to reality and fantasy pursuits, then the proof should be in the pudding. If the Sim Scores developed by RotoViz creator Frank DuPont provide a competitive advantage and the advanced stats generated by PFF’s game charters hold a special insight, then someone using those tools ought to be able to produce some decent results.

This is my report card.

The Contest

I play high stakes with my brother and Banana Stand co-owner, Tyson Siegele. Our format of choice is the National Fantasy Football Championship, a contest run by Tom Kessenich and Greg Ambrose. NFFC innovations include Third Round Reversal, KDS draft positions, and the strongest playoff format in the industry. Because of the strength of the format, it’s populated by many of the best fantasy football players in the world, including guys like Chad Schroeder, Jared Danielson, Tom Yates, Glenn Schroter, Michael Edelman, David Hughes, and many, many more.

This season we entered 14 Main Events, four in the Classic (the world’s premier 14-team format) and 10 in the Primetime. In each individual league, the top three teams advance to the playoffs. If a team finishes with the best record and most points through 13 weeks, that team finishes first and the next two teams in points finish second and third. If two teams split record and points, those teams face a three-week playoff for the title that runs concurrently to the Grand Prize portion of the contest.

The Classic has 280 total teams and a $100,000 grand prize. The Primetime sports 432 teams and a $150,000 grand prize. It seems vanishingly unlikely that anyone could win both, but, if accomplished, that triggers a $75,000 bonus for a cool $325,000.

This is how our teams performed.

NFFC Classic

5 Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique – Most Points/Best Record, No. 3 Finish Overall

QB: Jay Cutler/Josh McCown, Ryan Tannehill

RB: Le’Veon Bell, Pierre Thomas

WR: Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffery, Pierre Garcon, Jordy Nelson

TE: Jimmy Graham, Charles Clay

This is one of the two teams I wrote about for RotoViz in Zero RB, Antifragility, and the Myth of Value-Based Drafting. The three top-rated players on my board this season were Calvin Johnson, Jamaal Charles, and Jimmy Graham. My preferred strategy was to pair Megatron and Graham every time that opportunity presented itself.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Le’Veon Bell, especially since he was injured when I drafted him, but I have great faith in my Agility Score model and he finished as far and away the top runner in  Ryan Rouillard’s breakthrough running back evaluation model. I felt he represented a steal in the reality draft and a good value once his injury knocked him into the sixth round of fantasy formats.

Alshon Jeffery was the one player I tried to target for every team. It’s worth repeating again. Jeffery was the best SEC receiver in 2010 despite the presence of A.J. Green and Julio Jones. I’d challenge anyone to check out his stats, watch the video of his second touchdown catch against Minnesota, and not admit it’s possible he ends up as the best NFL receiver of the three. Continue reading Pai Mei, Zero RB, and the NFFC – A 2013 Report Card