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.
|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.
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 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.