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Fantasy Football: Predicting WR Breakouts and Week 12 Analysis

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At RotoWire, I published the correlation between wide receiver stats and fantasy rank:

The Numbers

So with that said, let’s take a look at the correlation between a few stats and final wide receiver fantasy rank over the past four seasons. Note all the correlations are negative because as each increase, final wide receiver rank decreases (meaning it improves).


It’s a little surprising to me that the wide receivers who’ve put up the most yards have been more valuable than those with the most touchdowns. Yards account for a greater percentage of points, but there’s more deviation in touchdowns.

I’ve actually built my wide receiver corps around red-zone ability in recent years – which I’ll likely continue to do since it’s such a consistent stat from year to year – but the receivers with the most points are more likely to lead the league in yards than touchdowns.

At 4for4, I’m still running the “Staking Bales” series:

It was around a month into the season when I told you guys that I’d be taking some shots in this staking series, hoping to “pay for” my tournament entries with head-to-head and 50/50 winnings. Well, here are the results of that endeavor.

Tournaments are relatively volatile, so you just need to stay in the game long enough to cash in on a big payday. Well, I’ve stayed in the game, currently sitting at $2,090.13 on the year. Here are screenshots of each account balance up to this point.

I also published optimal plays for DraftKings:

WR Pierre Garcon vs. SF $6,300

Garcon has a difficult matchup this week, but he’s also priced to reflect that. With that in mind, it’s difficult to pass on a player who already has 109 targets this year, including at least 10 in all but two games. Garcon also has five catches in every game, so he’s a relatively safe option, even against the Niners.

TE Jordan Cameron vs. PIT $3,900

This is me going out on a limb: I think Cameron will have a big game on Sunday. He hasn’t scored in a month and he has only 33 combined yards in his past two games. But he’s so cheap that he’ll give you lots of flexibility elsewhere in your lineup, and he’s so athletic that his upside is outstanding. The quarterback situation is awful, but it’s been that way all year. If you’re going cheap at tight end, might as well use someone with elite athletic ability.

And optimal plays for FanDuel with a little aside on randomness:

If you aren’t a regular reader of AdvancedNFLStats.com, I highly recommend it. If you enjoy the analytical approach to fantasy football here at 4for4, you’ll probably like the same approach to NFL decision-making.

In this week’s ANS Podcast, Brian Burke—the site’s creator—was discussing randomness and had a cool story about a college professor who split his class into two groups, telling one to flip a coin and mark down “heads” or “tails” and the other to recreate a series of “heads” or “tails” just by guessing what the sequence might look like.

After excusing himself from the class for this exercise, the professor came back and instantly recognized the non-random sequence. If you ask someone you know to do this same task (have them start with trying to reproduce a random sequence), you should be able to recognize the random series as well.

Why? Because humans suck at identifying and replicating randomness. We’re built to detect patterns, so we naturally create them. Most people equate “random” to “alternating,” creating a series that might look something like HTHTHHTTHT, regardless of how long the sequence extends. In reality, long stretches of either heads or tails are common—expected, even.

If you flip a coin 100 times, you’ll almost certainly get a run of five straight heads or tails at some point. So imagine if someone who’s never seen a coin (Bill Gates hasn’t) were to watch our hypothetical coin-flipper and the first thing he saw were a stretch of six straight heads. What do you think he’d guess for the next flip?

I bring this up because, at this point in the season, we’ve seen some long stretches of outstanding and awful play. Some of this is due to repeatable factors, such as a change in scheme or personnel. But some of it is just noise, and we can obtain an advantage by recognizing which stretches of poor play are likely to improve in the future. That’s really all we’re doing in the world of daily fantasy sports—predicting regression.

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