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Fantasy Football: Position Scarcity and Week 7 Value Plays

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At RotoWire, I published an article on position scarcity through Week 6:

Regardless of how it’s defined, the majority of expert fantasy owners utilize some scarcity metric in their drafting. Most call it ‘VBD’ (Value Based Drafting) or ‘VORP’ (Value Over Replacement Player). Either way, the goal is to maximize the difference between the points for a potential pick and the points of a player you could obtain later at the same position – a measurement of each potential pick’s scarcity.

Some have spoken out against the usefulness or predictive capabilities of such scarcity metrics, and there are a lot of well-argued points against VBD. But no matter how you slice it, VBD is a strong way to measure and analyze past findings. Predictive ability aside, VBD provides a clear indication as to which players and positions have been the most valuable in the past.

So I wanted to create a visualization to show just how scarce each position has been through Week 6. Here’s the points per game for the top 20 players at each position in PPR leagues.

 

At 4for4, I published FanDuel “sneaky sits”:

QB Josh Freeman @NYG $5000

Freeman checks in as the third-best quarterback value because of his price tag. But what can he really do for you this week? He was horrific in Tampa Bay in an offense he knew with weapons much better than those in Minnesota. Even with a favorable matchup, Freeman’s ceiling in this game is probably like 200 yards.

Freeman is the perfect example of why min-priced players can appear to offer value. He’s so cheap that, in isolation, he won’t kill you because a 200-yard, 1 TD game will probably give you “value.” And you’ll get to fill your team with some high-priced studs, too.

But those players are less likely to return lots of value; the higher the salary, the lower the chances of a player greatly surpassing his expectation. Freeman could conceivably double his expectation, whereas a player like Peyton Manning can’t do it, for example. That’s a reflection of their prices and not their talent, obviously, but it means when you’re bullish on a min-priced option, it needs to be someone who has a legitimately high enough ceiling to really return value since you might just “break even” at the other spots.

RB Joseph Randle @PHI $5500

I cover the Cowboys, and I’m about as bearish on Randle as you can get. He’s light and slow—a really crappy combo. I’ve explained why I don’t like Randle hereherehere, and here.

More important, everyone is going to own Randle this week. Bypassing him offers a great opportunity to acquire an advantage at the running back position if he fails, so I’ll be fading Randle in heads-up leagues and especially in tournaments.

And I did the same for DraftKings:

WR Vincent Brown @JAC $3600

The only reason to jump on Brown is to be a contrarian with a lot of people figuring to use Keenan Allen this week. But just because you might be fading one player doesn’t mean you need to be bullish on one of his teammates.

The top of the DraftKings’ wide receiver value report is littered with low-priced guys like Brown ($301 dollars per point), but you don’t need to move too far down the list to see comparable value in Vincent Jackson ($333 DPP), Josh Gordon ($335 DPP), and Reggie Wayne ($336 DPP), all of whom are better options because they possess a much higher probability of producing at an elite level.

TE Heath Miller vs. BAL $3600

Miller is the top tight end value, but nipping at his heels is Jordan Cameron. The Browns tight end costs $1300 more than Miller. That’s not chump change, but I don’t think you’ll find the same sort of difference in ceiling at any other $1300 deviation in price. Miller is an option in head-to-head leagues, but Cameron is almost a must-start in DraftKings’ tournaments.

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