The DC Times

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

By Jonathan Bales

100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 43: Regression, Randomness, and Running Backs

Today’s tip comes via a sample from my book Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft:

Back in 2008, I had running back Thomas Jones ranked well ahead of most owners. Jones was playing for the Jets and coming off a season in which he ran for 1,119 yards, but averaged just 3.6 yards-per-rush and scored only two total touchdowns. Those two scores represented just 0.59 percent of Jones’ 338 touches in 2007. ESPN had Jones ranked 21st among all running backs. I had him 10th. Why would I possibly rank a then 30-year old running back coming off a season in which he tallied 3.6 yards-per-carry and two total touchdowns in my top 10? Regression toward the mean. Regression toward the mean is a phenomenon wherein “extreme” results tend to end up closer to the average on subsequent measurements. That is, a running back who garners 338 touches and scores only twice is far more likely to improve upon that performance than one who scored 25 touchdowns.

0-16 Detroit Lions: A Coach’s Dream?

Regression toward the mean is the reason the NFL coaches who take over the worst teams are in a far superior position to those who take over quality squads. If I were an NFL coach, there is no team I would prefer to take over more than the 2008 Detroit Lions. Coming off an 0-16 season, the Lions were almost assured improvement in 2009 simply because everything went wrong the previous season. Even though Detroit was a bad team, any coach who took over in 2009 was basically guaranteed to oversee improvement in following years. The same sort of logic is the reason that there are so many first-round “busts” in fantasy football. Players almost always get selected in the first round because they had monster years in the prior season. In effect, most first-rounders are the “outliers” from the prior season’s data, and their play is more likely to regress than improve in the current year. It isn’t that those players are poor picks, but rather that the combination of quality play, health, and other random factors that led to their prior success is unlikely to work out so fortunately again.

By Jonathan Bales

100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 42: How to Draft WRs

Today’s tip comes from my first book Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft :

For years, fantasy owners have been searching for the wrong traits in dominant wide receivers. Here’s what you should covet.

SIZE OVER SPEED

Speed obviously matters for every position, but many owners seem to value long speed for wide receivers way more than they do for running backs. They shouldn’t. From 2005 to 2009, the fastest wide receivers at the Scouting Combine—those who ran in the top third of their class—have been just barely more successful than the receivers in the middle third in terms of approximate value. Compare that to running backs, most of whom simply haven’t produced if they’ve run slower than 4.55.

Instead of emphasizing speed for receivers, concern yourself with size. It’s the tall, physical wide receivers who tend to dominate in today’s NFL. It isn’t that being fast doesn’t help receivers, but rather that the speed “cutoff” isn’t as stringent as it is for running backs.

Receivers need two things to maximize their chances of success in the NFL: size and at least adequate speed (ideally under 4.55). A bunch of big receivers with moderate speed have succeeded of late—Brandon Marshall (4.52), Kenny Britt (4.51), Jordy Nelson (4.51), Dwayne Bowe (4.51), Hakeem Nicks (4.50)—but they’re all very large.

You can buy the book here.

By Jonathan Bales

100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 41: The Value of Hitting on WRs

I was looking over some drafts I did in 2013 and I came across this one with the guys at 4for4.

It was pretty interesting to me because I absolutely tanked my early running back picks with C.J. Spiller and David Wilson. I hit on Gio Bernard, although it’s not like he would normally make up for big misses in two of the first three rounds of drafts last year.

But take a look at my wide receivers. Dez Bryant was arguably my third-best in that league because I hit on Josh Gordon (7th) and Alshon Jeffery (11th). This was a best-ball league, which is why I drafted Gordon so early despite knowing he was suspended. This is an aberration and I’d say 10 percent the result of skill and 90 percent me just getting lucky as shit, but I also landed Pierre Garcon and Marques Colston in this league.

Anyway, the point of this is to show you the value that wide receivers hold, particularly in best-ball formats, because of their week-to-week volatility. I think best-ball formats are a time to emphasize a high ceiling at all costs, opting for “risky” players who might drop, and that’s often the case at the wide receiver position.

By Jonathan Bales

100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 40: This Is How I Draft

Last year, Josh Moore at 4for4.com did an awesome article called “This is how I draft” in which he asked a few fantasy experts to discuss how they go about drafting their fantasy football teams. Here’s my entry:

I’m Jonathan Bales, and this is how I draft:

I really prefer to do live drafts. I like the environment, and I also like to trade picks quite a bit, which you can’t do on a lot of online sites like ESPN. I think trading picks makes drafts fair in that you’re not stuck selecting players you don’t really want; you can trade up or back and create a unique lineup in much the same way as an auction.

Heading into a draft, I typically have five sheets in front of me: one for each position and one that combines any positions that are allowed in the flex. So if there is a RB/WR/TE flex, I have one sheet with all of the running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends listed together.

Otherwise, I keep the positions apart. I’m one of the few who doesn’t use a single big board. The reason is that I think position value shifts so much as the draft unfolds, rendering a single board useless. You should be drafting players based on their position, scarcity, opportunity cost, and relative value as your draft unfolds, not how you ranked them prior to knowing how your particular draft would unfold.

Basically, I use a minimalist approach on draft day. There’s nothing on my boards other than the player name and his projected points. I’ve done all of the research heading into the draft, so I don’t want to be bogged down with information when I’m on the clock. The only other thing I examine is Week 1 matchups. I do that to select my defense (second-to-last round) and kicker (last round), since I stream them based on the opponent.

Jonathan Bales, Daily Fantasy Expert & Author of the Fantasy Football for Smart People series

Check out the rest at 4for4.

By Jonathan Bales

100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 39: League Timing in Daily Fantasy

In an old post I did at 4for4.com, I broke down how I break up the times of my daily fantasy leagues:

THURSDAY-NIGHT STRATEGY

If you plan to enter a Thursday-night league, you need to minimize as much of the inherent variance as possible. That means you must avoid all players with questionable designations. If there’s any doubt at all that a player will suit up on Sunday or Monday, avoid placing him in your Thursday-night lineups. If you can go into the Thursday-night matchup with a 99-plus percent chance of everyone in your lineup playing, then the potential profits far outweigh the very small probability of a late-week injury.

In addition, you might want to consider joining Thursday-night leagues and purposely avoiding the players in the Thursday game. I wrote about why that might be a smart strategy in Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Cash in on the Future of the Game:

“Below, I’ve listed the potential outcomes for Thursday night games (how the players performed, if you picked them, and how your post-game situation compares to that prior to the game in relation to a novice).

·         Well, Yes – Worse

·         Well, No – Possible slight disadvantage

·         Poorly, Yes – Even at best

·         Poorly, No – Much better

You can see that the best overall scenario is to fade the Thursday-night players and have them play poorly, putting the novices (who are always bullish on Thursday night players) in an early hole. If you select players on Thursday night and they perform relatively well, you could still actually be in a worse position than when you started. If the novices picked the same guys (or arranged a comparable Thursday night lineup), you’ll be in the same boat in terms of points, but instead of having nine players left, you’ll have just eight (or seven, or six), increasing randomness and decreasing your win expectation. On the other hand, if you pick Thursday night players and they perform poorly, you’ll still be even with the fish, and again randomness rears its ugly head.

However, if you fade the Thursday night players and the novices see a handful of them play well, you can still potentially make up the gap; it doesn’t help by any means, but it isn’t a death blow. Thus, the final outcomes for choosing multiple Thursday night players are being in a worse or comparable situation to your opponent(s), while the results of forgoing those players are slightly worse (or possibly even) and much better. Simply put, more good stuff can happen if you generally choose Sunday and Monday players in your Thursday night leagues, especially when your opponent is likely overvaluing them.

The above example is of course an oversimplification of the situation for demonstration purposes; if you have a player in a Thursday night game ranked well ahead of his salary, there’s no reason to bypass him. Further, you can’t expect a league of 20 competitors to all be novices. If the perceived value of the Thursday-night-player-in-question is minimal, however, it might be best to lay off.”

By Jonathan Bales

A Recap of All the Ways You Can Give Me Money for Fantasy Football Content

At this time last year, I was writing for DallasCowboys.com, Dallas Morning News, ABC and NBC Dallas, and some other sites that cover the Cowboys. This year, I’ve left all of those (for a variety of reasons) and I’m doing the fantasy football thing full-time – both season-long and DFS – which means I’ve had way more time to think about how your money can become my money.

In all seriousness, the best way for me to make money is to deliver really good products – whether they’re my books or draft packages – so my focus is less about optimizing short-term profits and more about helping you win your league so you keep coming back. So I think we have aligned goals, which is good.

In publishing so much content, it’s likely that you missed some stuff. I’m going to try to change that now with a brief synopsis of everything that’s new this year, which is of course all in the FFD Shop. We’ll start with the books.

 

MY NEW FANTASY FOOTBALL BOOKS FOR 2014

Fantasy Football for Smart People: Daily Fantasy Pros Reveal Their Money-Making Secrets

Fantasy Football for Smart People: Daily Fantasy Pros Reveal Their Money-Making Secrets is the first book to truly dig deep inside the minds of daily fantasy football’s most lucrative players–the ones raking in full-time salaries playing the game you love. With interviews from headchopper, Al_Smizzle, PrimeTime420, dinkpiece, naapstermaan, MrTuttle05, and others, you’ll learn exactly how the experts go about researching, projecting players, and creating their daily fantasy sports lineups each week.

In addition, Daily Fantasy Pros Reveal Their Money-Making Secrets contains chapter-by-chapter commentary and analysis from author Jonathan Bales and Top-10-ranked daily fantasy pro Peter Jennings, a.k.a. CSURAM88. With unprecedented access to the strategies used by the world’s top players, you’ll learn how professional daily fantasy footballers are really cashing in…and how you can too.

 

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How Fantasy Football Pros Game Plan to Win

“Fantasy Football for Smart People: How Fantasy Football Pros Game Plan to Win is a comprehensive look into the methods, numbers, and information utilized by the top fantasy football players in the world. Based upon a scientific approach to fantasy football, the book will take you through how fantasy football’s pros—those truly profiting big bucks from the game—take home fantasy championships year in and year out.

Starting with preseason research and moving to complex draft techniques and finally in-season strategies, “Fantasy Football for Smart People: How Fantasy Football Pros Game Plan to Win” is built around the belief that everything you think you know about fantasy football should be questioned and tested. You’ll learn which stats are most important to fantasy owners, how to understand and embrace the randomness inherent to the game, why some draft strategies are better than others, and most important, how to make the most accurate predictions possible so you can finally transform into the dominant fantasy owner you were meant to be.

 

FFfSP 25 Mysteries

Fantasy Football for Smart People: 25 Mysteries Solved to Help You Draft a Better Team

“Fantasy Football for Smart People: 25 Mysteries Solved to Help You Draft a Better Team” was created to take your fantasy football team over the edge by answering over two dozen critical mysteries in the world of fantasy football. How should I handle the flex position? What’s the best way to draft rookies? Do players perform worse after receiving big contracts? What’s one simple way to dramatically increase my team’s chances of winning? How should my draft strategy change based on the draft slot?

“Fantasy Football for Smart People: 25 Mysteries Solved to Help You Draft a Better Team” is a collection of timeless lessons developed to transform you into a dominant fantasy football owner by using an analytical, data-driven approach to buck conventional wisdom. No more drafting based on hunches. Real numbers, real analysis, real fantasy football championships.

 

Fantasy Football for Smart People: Lessons from RotoAcademy (Volume 1.0)

RotoAcademy is the world’s first fantasy football training school. I founded RotoAcademy to bridge the gap between the average fantasy football player and the game’s elite, and I’ve teamed up with some of fantasy football’s top minds to create educational lessons designed to help you win your league. In this inaugural Volume 1.0 edition of Lessons from RotoAcademy, you’ll learn:

· How to Project Rookies (and Why They Matter)
· How to Quantify Offensive Line Play
· Why Your Draft Picks Suck (and How to Fix It)
· How to Project Players on New Teams
· What Warren Buffett Can Teach You About Fantasy Football
· And a Whole Lot More

One of the traits that separates RotoAcademy from other fantasy sports services is that we take a truly scientific approach to the game, valuing the pursuit of knowledge as highly as the knowledge itself. We’ll show you the latest theories, trends, and stats in fantasy football, but more important, we’ll teach you how to be flexible enough to change your strategies based on new evidence. Whether you want to dominate your fantasy football draft or gain an in-season edge, Lessons from RotoAcademy (Volume 1.0) will show you how to approach the game more analytically to become a true long-term winner.

 

Fantasy Football for Smart People: Lessons from RotoAcademy (Volume 2.0)

In this Volume 2.0 edition of Lessons from RotoAcademy, you’ll learn:

- How to Draft With an Early/Late Pick
- How to Better Predict Touchdowns
- Whether or not a Great QB Helps or Hurts His RBs
- How to Use Game Theory During Your Draft
- Which WRs Are the Most Consistent
- How Age Affects Production
- And a Whole Lot More 
One of the traits that separates RotoAcademy from other fantasy sports services is that we take a truly scientific approach to the game, valuing the pursuit of knowledge as highly as the knowledge itself. We’ll show you the latest theories, trends, and stats in fantasy football, but more important, we’ll teach you how to be flexible enough to change your strategies based on new evidence.
Whether you want to dominate your fantasy football draft or gain an in-season edge, Lessons from RotoAcademy (Volume 2.0) will show you how to approach the game more analytically to become a true long-term winner.

MY FANTASY FOOTBALL PACKAGES FOR 2014

2014 FFD Draft Package2014 FFD Draft Package

The FFD 2014 Draft Package includes customizable projections, tiered rankings, a list of sleepers/busts, and mock draft analysis. The projections come in Excel and can be easily altered to fit your league and scoring system. I will update the draft package throughout the preseason, and you’ll receive regular updates bi-weekly on June 25, July 9, July 23, August 6, August 20, and September 3. With each update, you’ll receive new mock draft analysis.

 

2014 FFD Weekly In-Season Package

The FFD 2014 Weekly Package is made for both season-long and daily fantasy owners. Built around my projection model, you simply won’t find this sort of advice/data elsewhere, especially at this price point. There are four primary perks to purchasing the package:

  • UNLIMITED START/SIT ADVICE ALL SEASON

For season-long owners, this is the primary selling point. With the package, you can send me unlimited start/sit questions all year. I’ve revised my Vegas-based model for 2014 and I’m extremely confident in my ability to make accurate projections. My model uses a combination of the Vegas lines, aggregate projections from other really smart people, and advanced stats to project players each week. It will help your FFD 2014 Weekly Package pay for itself.

  • CUSTOMIZABLE PROJECTIONS FOR ALL RELEVANT PLAYERS

Second, you’ll receive projections for all of the top players at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end. This alone is worth the price of admission. A sample screenshot:

Tight End Projection Template

The projections come in Excel and can be altered to match your scoring system. Everything is automated, too; if you think I’ve projected too many yards for a player and you change the projection, for example, everything else – fantasy points, values, etc – will be auto-calculated for you.

  • OPTIMIZED DAILY FANTASY FOOTBALL VALUES

Play daily fantasy football on sites like DraftKings? I’m going to send you my top plays for those sites each week. They will be the same guys I’m actually playing in my own lineups. The values are generated by combining my model’s projections with each site’s player salaries (which are included in the spreadsheets) to create a value for each player. Whether you already play daily fantasy or you’re looking to get into it, the values will help you become profitable in 2014.

By the way, one of last year’s subscribers has won $25,000 in multiple daily fantasy tournaments and went on a two-week winning streak during which he profited over $100,000. So there’s that.

  • WEEKLY NEWSLETTER WITH IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS

Each week, I’ll send you a newsletter with my projections, optimal plays, and analysis on what I’m thinking for the week. It might be specific matchup-based analysis (i.e. players I like and hate), or I might look into a more general topic (such as position consistency, how weather affects outcomes, and so on). Either way, the purpose of the article will be to help you make better decisions leading up to each week’s games.

 

2014 FFD Draft Strategy Video Course

Basically, my Fantasy Football for Smart People book series is based around timeless content. While I discuss all kinds of strategies and philosophies that can help you immediately win fantasy football leagues, it’s not necessarily geared specifically to any particular season.

Lots of you want super-actionable information to better help you win your league in 2014, so I offer the FFD Draft Package—complete with projections, rankings, and content—which is my top-selling product.

Well, this course is a combination of my books and the draft package—over five hours of video tutorials based on 12 mock drafts I completed for 2014. The goal is to not only show you which players I like/hate/love/stalk this year, but also how I personally try to pull off different draft strategies from various draft positions.

 

ROTOACADEMY

RotoAcademy is a fantasy football training school built around a monthly newsletter that helps owners become elite. Each month, you’ll receive a book-length PDF containing written, video, and audio fantasy football lessons developed by the world’s top players.

RotoAcademy is a must-have educational tool for any serious fantasy football owner. Based around a scientific, mathematical approach to fantasy football, RotoAcademy will fundamentally change the way you approach the game.  Download a free sample or learn more.

 

By Jonathan Bales

100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 38: Mock Draft Video Analysis in a 2-QB League

So I recently released this video-based fantasy football draft strategy course based around 2014 mock drafts I recently completed. I’m excited about this concept (there’s over five hours of video analysis) as a way to show off different 2014 draft strategies from various positions in drafts.

Here’s a preview of one of the 12 video lessons.

 

 

Check out the rest of the video course here.

By Jonathan Bales

100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 37: Introducing a 2014 Fantasy Football Video Draft Course

Big news. No, huge news. Dare I say massive news? I just made for sale the FFD 2014 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy Course (Video Tutorials + Bonus Content).

I’m really excited about this product, which consists primarily of over five hours of mock draft videos I recorded showing off various draft strategies, how to draft based on your pick number, players I like/hate, and a whole lot more.

 

WHAT IN THE SHIT IS THIS?

Only the best video-based fantasy football draft strategy course I’ve ever offered. Also the first video-based fantasy football draft strategy guide I’ve ever offered, so that ‘best’ label might not speak volumes, but I still think it’s pretty cool.

Basically, my Fantasy Football for Smart People book series is based around timeless content. While I discuss all kinds of strategies and philosophies that can help you immediately win fantasy football leagues, it’s not necessarily geared specifically to any particular season.

Lots of you want super-actionable information to better help you win your league in 2014, so I offer the FFD Draft Package—complete with projections, rankings, and content—which is my top-selling product.

Well, this course is a combination of my books and the draft package—over five hours of video tutorials based on 12 mock drafts I completed for 2014. The goal is to not only show you which players I like/hate/love/stalk this year, but also how I personally try to pull off different draft strategies from various draft positions.

 

WHAT DO I GET?

You’ll receive five PDFs when you purchase the FFD Fantasy Football Draft Strategy Course. The main PDF—the centerpiece of the package—contains 12 mock draft videos I recently completed with loads of information, and it works out to over five hours of content. I run through all sorts of draft strategies and detail which players I like in each round, who to avoid, and which players are sleepers.

As a bonus, I’m also adding four free samples from four of my new books this year. This content—around 20,000 words—will hopefully act as a supplement to the video tutorials.

The idea behind this is to combine the timeless approach from my books with the time-sensitive data in my draft package to show you how I’m personally approaching fantasy drafts in 2014.

 

WHAT ARE THE MOCK DRAFT VIDEOS ALL ABOUT?

My goal with the mock drafts is to take you through my thought process in all types of scenarios. To do that, I performed one mock draft from each of the 12 different draft slots in a 12-team league. This should help you better understand how I think fantasy football drafts should be approached from different areas in 2014. I of course discuss my favorite and least favorite players along the way.

Further, each mock draft has a different theme or strategy. Here are the draft philosophies I examine in the videos:

 

Video 1: Zero-RB (Antifragile Drafting) – Pick #12

A look at the Zero-RB draft strategy and how to approach picking last in a 12-team league

 

Video 2: RB-Heavy (Robust Drafting) – Pick #1

Going “old school” with a draft heavy on running backs; when RB-heavy drafts are smart

 

Video 3: Contrarian (Against-the-Grain) – Pick #6

An ultra-contrarian draft that seeks to purposely move in the opposite direction of the crowd

 

Video 4: WR-Heavy – Pick #7

Why and how to pull off a wide-receiver-heavy draft with a mid-round pick

 

Video 5: Flex Dominance – Pick #11

Why and how to win the flex position in a PPR league

 

Video 6: Balanced Drafting – Pick #2

Why a balanced draft strategy isn’t dead if you have a specific type of pick in 2014

 

Video 7: Semi-Early QB – Pick #9

Why I’m fading the late-round quarterback approach in most leagues

 

Video 8: Buy-Low Drafting in a 2-QB League – Pick #4

A draft that worked out to be completely against-the-grain; how you should value quarterbacks in 2-QB leagues

 

Video 9: All-Athlete Team – Pick #10

Identifying certain predictors of success for each position

 

Video 10: “Wisdom of the Crowd” Draft – Pick #3

How to incorporate the thoughts of others into your selections

 

Video 11: Old-and-Young Draft – Pick #8

Why a barbell-based draft approach that avoids players in their prime can be valuable

 

Video 12: 16-Team League – Pick #5

Selecting fifth in a 16-team league; which players are undervalued in ESPN drafts

 

HOW ABOUT A SAMPLE VIDEO?

Okay.

Buy the FFD 2014 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy Course now. Now!!!

By Jonathan Bales

100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 36: Download the RotoAcademy App on iTunes/Google Play

Today’s fantasy football tip is to download the RotoAcademy app on either iTunes or Google Play. Simply search ‘RotoAcademy’ and you can download the app for free, then purchase individual issues at your convenience.

For the best value, enroll in RotoAcademy to become a full-time student and receive monthly fantasy football lessons.

**RotoAcademy is a fantasy football training school built around a monthly newsletter that helps owners become elite. Each month, you’ll receive a book-length PDF containing written, video, and audio fantasy football lessons developed by the world’s top players.

Founded by Jonathan Bales (@BalesFootball), author of the Fantasy Football for Smart People book series, RotoAcademy is a must-have educational tool for any serious fantasy football owner. Based around a scientific, mathematical approach to fantasy football, RotoAcademy will fundamentally change the way you approach the game.  Download a free sample or learn more.**

By Jonathan Bales

100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 35: Start QBs on Home Underdogs

From my new book Fantasy Football for Smart People: Daily Fantasy Pros Reveal Their Money-Making Secrets:

You can of course use Vegas props to project quarterbacks and receivers, too, and I also think the game location is important. Specifically, I like to target quarterbacks who are playing at home. Take a look at their passing efficiency over the years.

Home YPA

There are probably a lot of reasons for this effect, but ultimately there’s a lot of value in targeting quarterbacks on home underdogs. First of all, they’re likely to have greater efficiency than on the road. Second, they’re probably going to throw the ball often as an underdog. Third, they’re far less likely to be conservative early—something that coaches who are pussies still do on the road way too much—so you have the perfect storm of throwing the ball often and well.