The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

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100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 4: Beware of the Post-Contract-Extension Bluew

I’m going to have a big announcement in the coming days regarding my books and draft packages for the year. I haven’t released any information thus far, but today’s fantasy football “tip” comes as an excerpt from one of the books. I won’t tell you which one or what it’s about, but here’s the sample.

It’s your lucky day. Your boss just praised you and your value to the company, so much so that he’s rewarding you with a five-year, $60 million contract extension. You never topped six figures in a year, so the jump in salary is literally never going to happen awesome.

With $12 million in the bank in the first year, are you going to be as motivated to perform as you were when you were struggling to get a promotion? Be honest with yourself. You might come out of the extension on fire to prove to your boss that he made the right call, but eventually that motivation will dissipate.

Then you’ll just be stuck there at a job you really don’t like, wishing you could leave to go play with your millions of dollars, with zero motivation to help the company grow. Well, that’s the position I’d be in, anyway. If I suddenly had $12 million in the bank, I can promise you the quality of my writing would deteriorate in a hurry.

Does that mean I don’t take much pride in what I do? Yeah, maybe, I don’t know. But that’s what would happen, and I suspect the same lack of motivation would also strike a lot of young NFL players. Anecdotally, I’ve always thought that certain types of players—the ones who are motivated to play more for monetary gains than to truly improve their craft—rarely seem to provide their teams with a return on their investment.

But I didn’t know for sure, so I ran some numbers.

 

THE NUMBERS ON THE POST-CONTRACT DOWNFALL

To test this theory, I researched the current largest contracts in terms of guaranteed money. I sorted them by position, analyzing just over five dozen players in total. I charted their average fantasy rank (at their position) in the two years prior to their massive contract extensions versus (when applicable) their average fantasy rank in the two years afterward.

 

QUARTERBACKS

Here are the quarterbacks I studied. The smaller the bar, the better the ranking.

QB Contract

The biggest drop in play came from Mark Sanchez, although he should have never been given a contract extension in the first place. Overall, there certainly appears to be an effect here.

QB Contract 2

Of the quarterbacks I analyzed, the average drop in fantasy rank was 3.5 spots. While that might seem insignificant, it’s actually 38.0 percent of their pre-contract rank.

Keep an eye out for the announcement. You can buy my current books on this site or Amazon.

 

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100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 3: Emphasize the Broad Jump in Young RBs

I talk a lot about the value of the 40-yard dash for running backs, but I think the broad jump is perhaps the most underrated measure of explosiveness out there. Take a look at how well it has predicted NFL success for different positions versus the short shuttle.

Broad

No one cares about the broad jump for running backs who have been in the league for a few years, but we should be using it to judge explosiveness in young runners.

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100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 2: Warren Buffett and Fantasy Football

Today’s fantasy football lesson again comes courtesy of my fantasy football training school RotoAcademy, where I related Warren Buffett’s investment tips to fantasy football:

1. You don’t need to be an expert in order to achieve satisfactory investment returns. But if you aren’t, you must recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. Keep things simple and don’t swing for the fences. When promised quick profits, respond with a quick “no.”

I think one of the most difficult things to do in fantasy football is realize when you should be okay with assuming some risk and when you should play it safe. This quote is most applicable in the early rounds of fantasy drafts. When the cost is high, you should play it safe. This is actually one of the reasons that, although I don’t necessarily advocate a true early-quarterback approach, I’m okay with taking an elite passer in the third or fourth round. It’s simple. It’s safe. When others are swinging for the fences early in drafts, take the double.

2. Focus on the future productivity of the asset you are considering. If you don’t feel comfortable making a rough estimate of the asset’s future earnings, just forget it and move on. No one has the ability to evaluate every investment possibility. But omniscience isn’t necessary; you only need to understand the actions you undertake.

The value of any player—the asset—is his future “earnings” minus his cost. This quote–particularly the idea that you should avoid assets whose future earnings are basically unknowable–is related to the first point. Sometimes, fantasy owners want to so badly hit a home run with their first couple picks that they’re willing to take on the unknown.

There’s a difference between known and unknown risks. I’m not at all against assuming uncertainty later in drafts, but if you have a pretty clear idea of a player’s upside but little understanding of the potential risks, you should pay as little as possible. Take your shots on uncertainty when the cost of missing is minimal.

Enroll in RotoAcademy now for the best rate.

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100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 1: Use a scientific approach.

I started this “100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days” series last year, and judging by the traffic I received (in the DOZENS), I’d say it was a massive hit, so it’s back. Each day for the next few months, I’ll post one fantasy football tip that I think is worth reading.

I have a bunch of awesome announcements coming soon – maybe a book or two on the horizon – but until then, check out this sample from RotoAcademy (my new fantasy football training school):

A Scientific Approach to Fantasy Football Is About Improvement

There are two reasons that I advocate a scientific approach to fantasy football, each related to one another. First, science is about progress. I remember a tweet from Fantasy Douche arguing something to the effect of “bad stats are better than no stats, because bad stats can be made into good stats.”

The idea is that science (and math/analytics) is self-correcting. Let’s say I create a model to predict tight end performance. After a few years, I tally the results and I see that it sucks horribly and I’d be better off just guessing. Well, the process through which I created a model in the first place can be used to improve the model; I can test to see which measurables are the most predictive and figure out how to better incorporate them into my model. I can turn a really crappy thing into a little bit better thing and then a little bit better thing before it’s an awesome thing.

This concept is related to the second reason I advocate a scientific approach to fantasy football: the process is just as valuable (perhaps more so) than the end result. One of the reasons I started RotoAcademy is because I noticed a humongous flaw in the way we’re approaching the game; there are countless articles like “Week 2 Waiver Wire Adds” and “Top 5 Running Back Sleepers,” but that sort of content is worthless within days or weeks. It might help you in the short-term (although probably not), but it certainly isn’t helping you become a better fantasy football owner in the long run.

Think about what you learned in college or high school. How much of the trivial shit do you still know? Any idea when Napoleon stormed the Bastille? How about the length of the Mississippi River? Could you point to Belarus on a map? Did you even know Belarus is a country?

The reason that college is valuable (for some) isn’t because of the insignificant shit you learn, but rather because you learn how to learn. The ability to problem-solve and rationalize is far more valuable than knowing a stupid fact.

Enroll in RotoAcademy now.

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5 Undervalued 2014 Draft Prospects

At Bleacher Report, I broke down five players I think are undervalued. Here’s one:

There are two primary keys to analyzing prospects, in my estimation: understanding predictors of NFL success at each position and emphasizing the ones that others are overlooking. One example of this is hand size in quarterbacks. It’s highly predictive of NFL successbut not properly priced into quarterback draft slots; if it were, we wouldn’t see players like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson—short quarterbacks with large hands—fall in the draft.

When searching for undervalued prospects who should interest Dallas (or any team), I’m looking for traits I think are undervalued by the market and comparing those to the projected draft slot for each prospect. It really comes down to the draft slot. A single prospect might be awesome value in the third round and horrible value in the back of the first; it’s all about expected value versus cost.

Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas

Biggest Predictors: Arm Length, Production, Explosiveness

Projected Round: 3

Arkansas outside linebacker/defensive end Chris Smith is one of the reasons I don’t think the Cowboys need to draft a defensive end that early, even though it’s a huge need. He’s a 6’1”, 266-pound outside linebacker who should be able to stick his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 defensive end.

The concern is Smith’s height, which is why he’s going to drop to the middle rounds. Height is correlated with success for pass-rushers. The question is whether or not that’s because being tall helps or because tall players typically have something that really matters—long arms.

We continually see short, long-armed pass-rushers like Justin Houstondrop too far in the NFL draft because of a trait that’s overvalued (height) and then excel in the pros because of one that really matters (arm length).

Well, Smith has 34.1-inch arms, which is just ridiculous for his height. That helped him tally 18 sacks and 24.5 tackles-for-loss in the past two seasons at Arkansas. Smith is one of the most undervalued players in this class because teams will get scared by his height. And oh yeah, he can also jump 37 inches vertically.

Here’s the rest of the article.

Also be sure to get the sold out April draft guide with a $14.99 digital subscription to Star Magazine. That includes 32 issues a year, weekly during the season, August-January, and monthly during the offseason, February-July.