I apologize in advance for the brevity of today’s offering, as I am really swimming in the deep end with respect to churning out content for our Platinum subscription. That said, today’s message will hopefully crystallize a bunch of related, but somewhat disconnected thoughts I have presented in various and sundry forms over the past several months.
In the name of full disclosure, today’s topic was actually spurned from my listening to a fantasy football show on the radio. The discussion pertained to how different the player landscape is and how drastic one has to adjust one’s strategy to account for the differences in the player pool as compared to years past. The talk revolved around how much of a passing league the NFL has become and how that has impacted player value, along with the recent boom of running backs by committee. The hosts were really going over the edge, reminiscing about how all football drafts used to be so dominated by running backs early, most teams drafting two right off the bat, but now, quarterbacks, wide receivers and even a tight end or two warrant first or second round consideration. The discussion about how necessary it was to rethink one’s strategy was a bit over the top for me. I began yelling, OK, cursing at my SiriusXM receiver, imploring that the basic strategy has remained the same. It is just how a different input leads to a different output.
Here is what I mean, with the following message transcending fantasy football and being true for all fantasy sports. I do not care what the sport is, what the scoring is, what the format is, there are some basic facets of strategy that apply across the board.
Whether it is via a spreadsheet, pen and quill or simply using the neurons and synapses in your gray matter, you have a general, or if it suits you, more specific idea of how each player will perform on an individual basis.
Again, you can break out the most recent version of Excel or do this intuitively. Ultimately, the objective is to amass as much useful potential as you can, key being the word "useful." For what it is worth, I am coming around to the notion that the term value is overused in this context. Sure, we have an idea of what we expect a player’s value to be, but since it is still just an expectation, perhaps the terminology used should better reflect that. The word value has an absolute connotation, absolute meaning factual. Until something occurs, it is just conjecture, or as I now call it, potential. OK, back to useful. Useful value, I mean potential, is that which differentiates you from everyone else. It does not matter how many raw points a player scores, it only matters how many more points this player scores as compared to other players at his position. So what you want to do is keep this concept in mind and come up with a general ranking of players according to their raw potential adjusted for useful potential.
It’s draft time. As already mentioned the goal is to construct your roster with the most potential possible. In order to do this, you need to find the proper balance between how you feel a player will do and how the market also values the same player (sorry, “potentials” does not sound right). A factor not yet discussed is the reliability or confidence you have that the (or any) player in question will achieve his potential. Or, perhaps, balancing the likelihood the player reaches something less than full potential with the chance they realize the whole kit and caboodle. More often than not, an optimally constructed team has a degree of reliability as well as a degree of upside. So whenever it is your turn, you are aiming to pick the player that is best able to allow you to build the strongest team by the time Mr. Irrelevant is taken. You want to consider his useful potential, the risk/probability he lives up to that potential and the order you select your players to accrue the greatest potential.
Really, that is all there is. There is no drastic change in strategy from one year to the next. What changes is the input, hence output for steps one and two. The names and potential may change, but what you need to do with the potential remains the same, regardless of the sport, regardless of the scoring, regardless of the format.
I know this is a baseball themed column, but let’s bring it back to the opening theme. Taking a QB, WR or TE early is not a drastically different strategy than the one used in previous seasons. The strategy five years ago was not to go “running back – running back.” The strategy was to pick the best two players that leave you with the team amassing the greatest potential and it just happened that selecting two running backs was the best way to affect this. Today, the goal is still the same, maximize potential. It is just that the way to accomplish it now might be to draft a QB then a WR - same strategy, just different players.
Now bringing this back to baseball, while the more complicated rotisserie style scoring adds complexity to steps one and two as well as adding more layers to your decision in step three, the strategy is still the same – assemble a team capable of putting up the most points. The strategy is not draft scarce positions, or draft the best player available or wait on pitching. Combining steps one, two and three dictate what player you take, not your strategy.
OK, back to writing profiles.