HomeRamblingsRowan's Ramblings - The Fantasy Data Conundrum

Rowan’s Ramblings – The Fantasy Data Conundrum

As NFL Preseason kicks off, Rowan thinks about how to tackle the Fantasy Data Conundrum…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, it’s not Christmas, it’s not my home league’s draft night, it’s not even the start of the NFL regular season. It’s Census! As any stat-head will attest to, the Census is a wonderful time of data-collection. To think that everyone in the country will be answering the same questions as me to collect large pieces of data that reveal so much about the way we live. Amazing isn’t it!? No? Surely, I’m not the only one?

The idea that we can collect data from an entire country’s population is quite remarkable, but frankly we will never get it 100% correct. Not everyone will complete it, or people will fill it out slightly wrong. Errors will exist. And it’s got me thinking about our world of fantasy football where statistics are everything, but the data we collect is dependent on many factors. Getting a full picture of how the NFL game works is a tough gig. Errors may not be very common in the data itself, but the interpretation of it? Well, it can be murky. But the more attention that is given, the more we start to see patterns, see what statistics matter, see what gives us a better viewpoint to project what’s to come. We can get better at interpreting the data.

I’ve been reading a bit more this year about what can be used to best predict the possible outcomes, and to be honest it goes above my head a lot of the time. I may be a Secondary School maths teacher but finding the time needed to interpret and put in place some of the findings that some analysts come up with is hard! Let’s face it, the everyday fantasy player isn’t looking into things such as R squared values or even knows what it represents. We see graphs and just hope that what someone interprets from it is true. There’s a lot of trust that we put in people with fancy terms and diagrams.

Then there’s the film vs analytics debate that will go on until hell freezes over. Wading through the noise is hard. This is what I call the Fantasy Data Conundrum. How do we figure out what’s worth listening to or not? What data is biased without us knowing? Who do we trust?

Any answers?

I don’t really have an answer to this, but I do recognise how important it is to find “your people” in this community. Who do you understand the most? Do they listen to you and your queries? Are there analysts that provides you with good reasoning and are also willing to reflect and change their own mind in the face of good thinking? These are the people I want to listen to and engage with. And for myself, who is commonly not the smartest guy in the room (or group chat/Zoom/livestream/podcast/etc.), these people are important to me. They help me broaden my mind and show me new ways of thinking. (Shout out to @TAlbTree, give him a Twitter follow!)

If you caught our RB Preview pod, then you’d know I’ve been rethinking my draft strategy, especially in Full PPR. Zero RB or Hero RB, or whatever you want to call it, is really appealing to me now. It might not work for me this year, but at least I’ve learnt something. I’m growing, and I like that.

So, this week, instead of giving you my thoughts on training camp and player injuries etc. Here’s some of the things I’ve been learning in my foray through the world of Fantasy Football data Analysis…

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From Jack Miller’s – The Running Back Dead Zone

  • Taking data from 2015-202 Jack established that there is an RB “dead zone” from rounds 3-6. Essentially showing that the rate at which RB scoring drops off is a lot quicker throughout the course of a draft than WRs.
  • Win the flex spot by taking a WR. On average WRs score more raw points than RBs that were drafted in the same round throughout the first 10 rounds.
  • In Best Ball the expected win rate for any given is around 8.3% based on players having a 1/12 shot of being on the winning roster at the end of the season. From Rounds 3-6 WRs have all been above average, ranging from 8.5-9.2%, over the past 6 years.

Pat Kerrane’s – Don’t Draft an Early Round RB Without Legendary Upside

    • “Since 2015, 48 running backs drafted in the first six rounds have had a sub-5% win rate. In other words, 27% of all running backs drafted in the first six rounds have been outright losing leagues.” WRs sit at 18%.
    • RBs drafted in the first two rounds actually have a sub-5% win rate 40% of the time!
    • However it is those RBs with incredible upside (think Gurley 2018, CMC 2019) that can push a win rate of 20%+
    • If you’re drafting a RB early then they need to have that upside as a possibility otherwise a sub-5% win rate is just around the corner.
    • Great WRs struggle to hit a win rate of 20%, however the amount of WRs with a win rate of 13%+ is greater each round than RBs.
    • You should probably expect around 50% of your team (and everyone else’s) to fail on their draft position.

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Cooper Adams (@Cooper_DFF) – Alphas Eat First

  • Looking at Target Share from year to year there is a higher % explanation of future target share if the WR has had a target share of 17.5-27.5%.
  • This leans into the “talent v situation” debate. If a WR demands a high target share, then chances are this WR is good, and has the potential to overcome the situational challenges they may face the coming year.

Joe Holka (@JoeHolka) – Joe Holka’s Twitter Feed

So, there you go! Some of the interesting things I’ve been reading about. Would love to hear your thoughts on how you navigate the Fantasy Data Conundrum. Hit me up @RowanTheBoatTFL, or at our podcast handle @TheTFLPodcast. Come back next week for the next Rowan’s Ramblings!

Check out last week’s Ramblings here: Rowan’s Ramblings – Training Camps

Check out our latest podcast here: Ep 71: 2021 WR Preview

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