Innovation Session: My Fantasy Football Auction Draft – Retrospective Part 2

Back in December I took a look at my football season to see how my fantasy football strategy performed. I had a few other thoughts that I’ll share now.

The Importance of the Draft

Below are the positions each team ended in and the difference between their expected and actual results.

draft-skew-vs-end-result

We can see that in general, teams that predicted well on draft day performed well in the season. The r squared for the linear trend line here is .63 which means that for my seasons we can contribute about 63% of the final results to draft performance.

What accounts for the other 37%?

I would simplify the decision types in fantasy football by describing three.

  1. Draft day – who you predict will perform well
  2. In-season transactions; waiver wire, free agency & trades – the adjustments you make to your team
  3. Coaching – who you start and sit each week

Improper Optimization

Looking back at my draft I realize that I optimized for a scenario where the draft accounted for >90% of the final results. I assumed a greater level of predictability than was possible and minimized the importance of in-season transactions. I also created a coaching nightmare for myself.

In Season Transactions

Thinking about in-season transactions, it is important to understand how many players went undrafted but ended up being extremely valuable. In fact of the $1,945 of actual skill player value my league saw, only $1,553 was drafted. About 75%.

Knowing this we can see that trying to draft a team with a lot of mid level talent can actually be detrimental. Lets think back to my scenario where some teams drafted 10s & 1s, while I tried to draft only 6s & 7s. We now know that 25% of the value of the season had yet to be discovered. Many of those were 5-7s though Knowshon Moreno was arguably a 9. On my team of 6s & 7s I had a hard time acting on the emerging talent because it meant giving up an equal player from my team. Another teams with some 1s however would have easily given up those duds for a mid level prospect.

The pre-draft % of money spent I had allocated to starters was 90% of my budget. Next year I’m going to consider spending all of my money on 70-80% of my team, knowing that I’ll have a few duds in there for the first weeks, hopefully to be quickly dropped for emerging talent.

Final Thoughts

All of the above analysis optimized for regular season performance. Unfortunately, fantasy football, like real football isn’t all about the regular season. On Sunday we saw how a team with a great regular season performance could blow it in the championships. The same happened in our fantasy league. The team that crushed it all season lost in the finals.

So as I think about a strategy for next season, that is one more factor to take into account.

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