Saturday - Jan 16, 2021

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Commandment X

Commandment X

Thou shalt take expert advice with a grain of salt.

Each week, thousands of predictions are made, whether online, on the radio, or on television. These predictions are sometimes worth less than what you pay for them, even the “free” advice. And, it is also possible to pay for fantasy football advice. Various subscription services are available. I’ve tried a few, some good, some bad, and some just OK.

However, it is very rare for anyone to actually hold any self-proclaimed, so-called, fantasy football “expert” accountable for his or her weekly predictions. Instead, predictions, once made, simply seem to disappear into the ether.

As an example, I distinctly remember one service that was consistently wrong, week after week in predicting which players would outperform and which players would fall flat. These guys just couldn’t seem to be able to predict weekly performance with any degree of success. What I eventually used the service for was the short, written descriptions of the individual player or team defense. I used these descriptions to give me a brief overview of players with whom I might not have been intimately familiar. The specific player rankings, however, were almost always wrong. Knowing that, though, allowed me to virtually ignore the advice given and focus on what that website did well: player biographies.

You can, however, compile and compare the rankings of two, three or even more experts, to get a general sense of the predicted value of any particular player. Sometimes the rankings will be dead wrong; most often the rankings will be of limited value. And, once in a blue moon, the rankings will be spot on. You will have no idea before the games start which scenario is about to play out. And past performance is no guarantee of future results. So what, as a team owner, can you do?

I suggest that you view such guides as general, overall rankings by position. They should be used to get a very general idea of the leaders of the pack, as groupings. For example, if you are starting a wide receiver who is listed by two or three experts as being in the middle-of-the-pack, over a wide receiver who is listed by several experts as being an every-week stud starter, you had better have a good reason (and, usually, you probably don’t). What would cause you to do so?  Perhaps your stud starter is hurt – not enough to bench but enough to affect his performance. Or, perhaps your stud starter is playing the top-ranked defense that regularly shuts down opposing wide receivers. Then you might make the command decision to bench your stud and play a middle-tier player. But, realize that, when your stud outperforms (the whole reason he’s considered a “stud starter” in the first place) your middle-of-the-pack replacement, you’ll be kicking yourself on Monday morning. As mentioned in Commandment I, you ought to be starting your starters, week in and week out, regardless of matchups.

There are also some good guides you can use at draft time. One that I find invaluable, when it’s available, is the average draft position (ADP). This is a compilation of the results of multiple drafts, either real, mock, or a combination. Real draft ADPs will be more valuable, since mock drafts can lead to some crazy results (since they have no consequences to the team owners participating in the mock drafts), but they all serve a purpose. ADPs are a good general guide to where the public at large values players. Because ADPs are an average, individual anomalies tend to cancel each other out. The more drafts that are included in the ADP, the more valuable the rankings. So, in general, ADPs become more valuable the closer to the start of the regular season we get. It is very helpful to know that Player A is usually drafted before Player B when it comes to your turn to make a pick. Why would you think that you are smarter or have more insight than the fantasy football community as a whole?  You probably aren’t. None of us is. Perhaps your research will lead you to pick one player slightly ahead of his ADP, but you should be aware of what you are doing and have a good reason for doing so. If you are tempted to draft a player far ahead of his ADP, you’d be wise to stop and reconsider before making a blunder. Similarly, if you see a player left on the draft board long after his ADP, you’d be wise to snap him up, even if you don’t “need” that particular player at the moment. That player could always be used as trade fodder down the road, should you really not want to keep him in your lineup. Pay attention to last-minute information, though. That can mean a player suffered a long-term injury or multi-game suspension, which might explain why he was left on the draft board.

Finally, a quick word on television rankings: I have found the specific rankings week to week on certain networks to be inaccurate. However, to keep track of injuries and who’s playing that week, it’s quite valuable. It should be the last place you check before setting your lineup for the first Sunday games.

There are a lot of things to take into consideration, both at draft time and during the season. Player rankings provided by “experts” and ADPs are two of them. Ultimately, I found, my own sense of the value of the players was of equal or even greater merit than that of the so-called experts. Yours might be, too. Develop it and win.

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