Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fantasy News: Draft Time

So I had my first fantasy draft this past weekend. Actually, it was my second, sort of. Last year at my previous job we had a fantasy league, but I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, missed the draft, got stuck with computer picked players, and still managed to place 4th out of 8. Back to this weekend, I have my first “live” draft this weekend, and I don’t think I did bad…I didn’t do good, but not terrible either.

Fantasy Football is an odd game, since I don’t really understand the “fantasy” thing. Playing in a Madden League is fantasy, since you control a team and play in a league and stuff. Fantasy Football, or any fantasy game for that matter, is really all about math, which I don’t find myself fantasizing about often.

For those who don’t know, the premise of fantasy sports is that you “draft” players onto a “team.” Depending on the performance of the players on your team in the respective games they play they earn points. Each week you are matched up against another team in your league. The team with the most points at the end of the week wins. While there is skill required in knowing how to draft and how to manage players (i.e. what players to start what weeks, managing bye weeks, etc.) there is little to nothing the actual player can do to effect the outcome of each week.

Which brings me back to math, odd isn’t it? You see, fantasy sports is about knowing percentages, and figuring out how to give yourself and your team the best percentages. What the best of the best fantasy players are able to do is figure out a “worth” for each player, which is a statistical value that player represents, or in other words the amount of points that player will earn each week. This is more than just who is the best player, it involves knowing what teams that player will face, the defenses they’ll come across, and the offensive technique their team uses. In other words, more than I’m willing to take the time to get into. However, a lot of people do, and it can be a very interesting hobby to be in.

I compare it to the statistic junkies of baseball. For years, baseball fans have had a plethora of statistics to look at and drool over. They can tell you how a pitcher does against left handed batters on the third Tuesday of every month when the humidity is over 80% AND under 80%. Some of the stats out there is just crazy. Football never really had something like this until Fantasy sports came along. Then all of the sudden there were people looking at how a running back performs against a 4-4 package, or how certain wide receivers do against nickel packages. I mean, sure, some people KNEW how these backs performed, but you didn’t have the stats somewhere, and now you do, and much much more.

Once you get your percentages on players down, then you have to figure out how other members of your league value those players, and then navigate the draft process to make sure you don’t waste draft picks earlier than you want to get the players you want. This was the area I didn’t know much about, and it didn’t help that I was the last person to pick in my league. Actually, I don’t think it would have mattered since I didn’t know what I was doing, but you get my point.

Some people are really really good at the draft process…I was not, but I knew that going in. So I did some homework. I did research. I basically copied what “professionals” said I should do. Yeah, so, I didn’t do the real nitty gritty work myself, but that’s what these people get paid to do….I get paid to write manuals and functional specifications. I took a few rankings sheets, put them together, and had a list of 200 players ranked by position. I drafted based on my list, not on who I liked or whatever.

My team isn’t bad, it’s not great, but not that bad. I’m gunning to finish in the middle of the pack, around 5th or 6th, since we have 10 people in the league. If I can make the playoffs (the top six teams move into a playoff at the end of the season) I’ll be very pleased, even if I’ll get whooped up on. I think those expectations are realistic. I’ll leave the real playing and fighting and complaining to the guys who are really into this stuff, like Ryley, who just happens to be the commissioner of the league I’m in. Me? I’ll check in, manage my team, and partake in some of the fun antics, but I’ve got to many video games to play to have time to really get into it. I know, priorities, right?



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home