Michael Nease brings you his insights each week for the world of Fantasy Football. Follow him on Twitter @mikeinsights
Are you doing all you can do to win each week, or are you just sailing blindly through the season? There are things you can do to turn your losing team into a winner, instead of making you be a whiner. Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and do some work, or are you content being a LOSER? Losers should probably just stop reading at this point. I wouldn’t want to fill your head with wasted knowledge that you have no interest in anyway.
Ok, now that they have left the room, let’s get down to some serious discussion. I continually push you to diligently work the weekly waiver wire and make useful trades when you can find one that is equitable. I am in five leagues, with my local dynasty league (24 player rosters) being one with very limited waiver rules.
In the other four, we have standard waiver order waiver processing followed by FCFS waivers. We also have trading, although many owners are reluctant to ever trade. On those four teams I have 78 players. As of right now I only have 40 players that I originally drafted. Yes, that is almost a 50% turnover in the first six weeks of the season. A progress report shows that three of those teams are current in first place in their divisions with one at 5-1 and two at4-2. The other team is 3-3 after losing in Week 6 bye .4 of one point. Five more yards and I would have won. Ouch!
When you look at your lineup, view it as a combination of players designed to give you enough points not only to win this week, but enough to win each and every week and ultimately to win your league championship. Conversely, if your lineup is too impotent to score the points you need consistently, you MUST try to fix it to win. Fantasy football is not a game for slackers.
Another key win killer is bad lineup selection. I am using MyFantasyLeague.com as my league management system in all my leagues this season, and have used it for most of my leagues historically. I love it except for one feature, weekly player scoring projections. Mind you, this problem is not only one you encounter there. Most game platforms project weekly points. Everyone has their unique winning algorithm that suggests who to use in your lineup.
They then summarize all the projected scores and let you know where you stand in relation to your opponent. The funny thing with MFL is that they also show a somewhat misleading power ranking that highlights what percentage of total points possible that you actually get each week. With better teams you have more depth and that brings with it the dubious issue of choosing a lineup with your best potential scoring combination. Sometimes too many solid options lead to confusion. On the other hand, weak teams often have a higher efficiency percentage simply because owners have too few players to choose from. The best measure of success is simply whether you win, or lose, not an ambiguous statistical tool.
The projections are just about as valid as having a fervent belief in Santa Claus. Just as he cannot be counted on to slide down millions of chimneys on Christmas Eve, believing in the faulty projections the software spits out will only lead to disappointment. Too many people have absolute faith in these numbers because they are computer generated. Years ago, I did a limited projections study and found that I was just about as accurate with my own point estimates as the computer was over an eight week test period.
That served to prove to me the fact that I had no valid method to do it and also strengthened my belief that the computer generated projections were not too reliable either. Whatever way you choose your starters you will find that you leave 15% to 25% of your
Scoring on the bench.
Now, close your eyes and envision cutting those point deficits in half. Having a more scoring efficient lineup can lead to an extra 10-12 points. How many games do you lose by less than that? People work there butts off on drafting and waivers and then hurry through the lineup process. In my five games this week I played two teams who had players who were out. These were not last minute decisions declaring the players as out. Both of them had been declared out days before the games.
When you review waiver moves, you always look for players that have been hot and replace those that have been slumping or hurt. Why do we have an entirely different mindset when we come down to choosing which players to start in the main event in fantasy football, the weekly game? When we lose close games we are breaking a cardinal rule. We are repeating the same faulty methods time after time and expecting different results. That my friends is the definition of stupid.
It all goes back to the erroneous notion of ADP. We determine our player values based on what the masses tell us they should be. Each and every season we know that some studs will get hurt and others will seriously underplay their assumed value. Sometimes an injury will hinder a player’s ability to score. Those algorithms’ never quite seem to recognize that. As a result bad choices are made and are validated by invalid data.
Ok, so it seems that lineup selection is impossible to perfect. That is not really true at all. What we need to do is sit down with a pad of paper and analyze player production, one at a time by position. While not always a 100% proposition, at least we are then intelligently taking ownership of our picks, rather than using an often times misleading cheat sheet.
What I do is weigh the last three weeks of scoring to determine a trend. Then I factor in injury status and the defensive prowess of their opponent’s defense. I try to collect consistent players with an upside. I avoid players like WRs Torrey Smith and Terrance Williams who are erratic and while they could give you 20 points, they are more likely to get about 4-5. Taking everything into consideration I then select my weekly lineup based on my judgment. Why take a risk when there are so many better options?
I have compiled a sampling of what you will find when you analyze player scoring for your lineup this week. I have focused on the last three weeks for my review (Weeks 4-6) as players go through what I call 2-3 seasons within a single year. Players emerge, some slow down and some are fighting off nagging, debilitating injuries. Here is where those player selection algorithms’ fail you. They tend to take a sort of vanilla, chocolate approach. Studs get high point estimates and newbies get miniscule ones. This leads to fatally flawed lineups and losses.
These players are listed by position with the last three weeks of scoring, their FPPG average and where they rank scoring wise relation to all players at their position. Remember that Detroit and Houston players in this listing are on bye this week.
QB Deshaun Watson, Hou 38-38-27 24 FPPG #1
QB Cam Newton, Car 37-30-26 31 FPPG #2
QB Dak Prescott, Dal 26-33-Bye 10 FPPG #3
RB Le Veon Bell, Pit 35-20-28 27 FPPG #1
RB Leonard Fournette, Jac 25-31-22 26 FPPG #2
RB Melvin Gordon, LAC 4-34-36 25 FPPG #3
WR A.J. Green, Cin 17-32-Bye 25 FPPG #1
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Hou 27-27-10 21 FPPG #2
WR Antonio Brown, Pit 7-26-30 21 FPPG #3
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE 12-Inj-26 19 FPPG #1
TE Cameron Brate, TB 18-18-20 18 FPPG #2
TE Travis Kelce, KC 24-18-8 17 FPPG #3
And Maybe Not
QB Drew Brees, NO 22-Bye-16 19 FPPG #15
QB Matt Ryan, Atl 15-B-15 15 FPPG #23
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pit 14-11-16 14 FPPG #25
RB LeGarrette Blount, Phi 17-7-9 11 FPPG #32
RB Jay Ajayi, Mia 6-10-13 10 FPPG #39
RB Marshawn Lynch, Oak 1-12-6 6 FPPG #58
WR T.Y. Hilton, Ind 6-25-3 11 FPPG #30
WR Julio Jones, Atl 6-Bye-13 10 FPPG #49
WR Doug Baldwin, Sea 9-8-Bye 9 FPPG #60
TE Martellus Bennett, GB 10-8-4 7 FPPG #22
TE Delanie Walker, Ten 8-6-6 6 FPPG #25
TE Jordan Reed, Was 5-Bye-8 6 FPPG #26
This is just part of the analysis that is needed each and every week. There will be times when the low scoring, disappointing player might be a better option to use than other alternatives on their roster. There will be weeks when a red hot player gets injured in practice and his “real” health status is very iffy. Bear in mind that virtually anything can happen in a given week. This analytical method only helps you get a little better edge. Fantasy football will always have that luck factor. As a wise person once said, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.
Over the years many readers have contacted me personally for lineup and other fantasy football questions throughout the season. I look forward to helping you in your quest to win championships this year. You can contact me with any questions or comments you may have at email@example.com, follow me on Twitter @mikeinsights, or join me as a member of Couch Tomatoes, my fantasy football discussion group on Facebook.
Good luck! Have fun!