Fantasy Football Links: QB Regression, Game Theory, and Steals
My article at RotoWire uses Philip Rivers as an example of regression toward the mean.
Philip Rivers completed just 62.9 percent of his passes in 2011, totaling 27 touchdowns and only 7.95 yards-per-attempt – his worst marks in all three categories since 2007. He also got picked off a career-high 20 times.
While some might look at this as a red flag, I see it as value – at least if his current seventh-round average draft position is any indication. The quarterback with four straight seasons of 4,000 yards is being left in the cold. So why would I target a quarterback who is coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career and just lost his top receiver? Because his perceived worth is at its pit.
From a comparables standpoint, my projections like Brandon Marshall this year. The projection system that I use tends to project increases for guys who caught a lot of yards and not a lot of touchdowns. But I do think it’s worth noting that Brandon Marshall is a receiver who has survived most of his career on volume. He’s never been an efficient WR. Not only does he not catch a lot of touchdowns based on his red zone targets, he doesn’t catch a lot of yards on a per target basis.
Bryan Fontaine ranks the top options at each position.
1. Arian Foster: Texans
2. Ray Rice: Ravens
3. LeSean McCoy: Eagles
4. Chris Johnson: Titans
5. Matt Forte: Bears
The list of top running backs available is less impressive than it was when training camp started.
Maurice Jones-Drew is in the midst of a holdout, Trent Richardson underwent a knee scope and Ryan Mathews broke his clavicle on his first preseason carry. Not to mention that Adrian Peterson’s status is uncertain to start the season.
Alex Miglio takes a look at “Draft Steals and White Elephants” at PFF.
For a guy who is poised for a breakout season, Ryan does not seem to be getting much love from fantasy footballers. He is barely cracking starter status coming in as the 11th quarterback off the board on average. Ryan finally cracked 4,000 yards passing in his fourth year in the NFL last season, improving his yards per attempt (YPA) by nearly a full point.
A few years ago, I was discussing an upcoming fantasy draft with my dad (who is part of my dynasty league and was new to the game that year). He mentioned he was thinking of taking Bears running back Matt Forte with the second overall selection. At that time, Forte wasn’t going in the first few rounds of drafts (he was ranked No. 43 overall by ESPN that year).
Naturally, I asked him why he would draft Forte so high. “Because he’s going to score the second-most points,” he quickly replied.
Seems straightforward enough, and if we use a traditional draft strategy (and even a complex one such as VORP), Forte might be the guy to whom the numbers lead. If my dad had him ranked far ahead of the third option such that Forte’s value made him an outlier among running backs, conventional fantasyfootball draft strategy says to draft him.
But we all know that isn’t right. You don’t win championships by selecting fourth-round projected players in the top two picks, even if you think they will lead the league in points. So it’s quite obvious we need to implement game theory into our draft strategies, even if it is in the form of a quick comparison to consensus rankings. The beliefs of the competition must affect our decisions.