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.
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
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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.
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.
I’ve come up with seven situations in which player evaluation helps fantasy football owners.
Production = Workload x Efficiency
That’s the general formula we need to decipher to win in fantasy football. It follows that if two players have nearly comparable projected workloads, we want the one who is going to be the most efficient. Things like a player’s teammates and scheme factor into that equation, but so does his own talent.
It might seem like siding with the more talented player in “tiebreakers” will lead to a small advantage, but don’t forget that pretty much every pick is a tiebreaker; there are multiple considerations with each selection, so we need to use something to differentiate those players.
There are a lot worse methods of drafting than sorting players into tiers based on their workload, then organizing those tiers based on their projected efficiency/talent. So basically opportunities dictate draft range and talent determines which players you actually select (such that you’re always optimizing some combination of workload and talent).
TIMESHARE SITUATIONS/AMBIGUOUS ROLES
This is sort of related to “tiebreakers,” but any time two players are either in a timeshare situation or they have otherwise ambiguous roles, that’s a situation in which we should be emphasizing talent. Remember, all other things equal, we want really good football players.
The most obvious timeshare situations are at running back, but it doesn’t have to stop there. I ended up with Jimmy Graham in a lot of dynasty leagues years ago before he broke out because I emphasized his raw athleticism among other late-round tight ends with unclear roles. So we’re not just comparing teammates, either.
This sort of approach really helps hit on late-round players because 1) everyone either has an ambiguous role or simply isn’t slated to get much playing time and 2) we want upside anyway, which leads to the next point.
One of the reasons that I think a value-based drafting system can fail is because it assigns a singular number to a player and that’s supposed to represent what he can do in a given year. But things aren’t that black and white.
When we start thinking more probabilistically, players start to differentiate themselves. Yeah, maybe this ultra-athletic tight end has a very low median projection just because he probably won’t get playing time, but what if he does? What can he do when he gets the looks? How much upside does he have?
I’m a proponent of comparing floor projections to cost early in drafts and then pretty quickly transitioning to an emphasis on ceiling projections. When you look at the players who post not just good seasons—not just seasons that return “value”—but great seasons, you see that they’re typically highly athletic (outside of the running back position at times, which is basically 90 percent workload-dependent).
Value isn’t binary. There’s a range of it, and accurate player evaluation can help identify the players with 1) high ceilings and 2) a high probability of realizing that potential.
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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1: RESEARCH WITH HEADCHOPPER
Which sites are best for NFL research
How to predict touchdown receptions
Which stats matter most when projecting players
CHAPTER 2: UNDERSTANDING VARIANCE WITH C.D. CARTER
How daily fantasy football is like poker
How to utilize variance
How to take advantage of season-long dogma
CHAPTER 3: THE VEGAS LINES WITH MIRAGE88
Why studying the Vegas lines can help make you a better player
How to incorporate Vegas into your projections/lineups
Fantasy points broken down by Vegas totals
CHAPTER 4: PROJECTING PLAYERS WITH MRTUTTLE05 AND DINKPIECE
How to take advantage of the crowd when projecting players
Incorporating the weather into your decisions
What to look for at each position
CHAPTER 5: WINNING CASH GAMES WITH PRIMETIME420
How to pick players specifically to win cash games
How to handle defense/kicker
Stats on which positions work best in the flex
CHAPTER 6: ADVANCED TOURNAMENT PLAY WITH AL_SMIZZLE
How to improve your chances of winning a GPP
Understanding when to be contrarian
How and when to stack
CHAPTER 7: LINEUP CREATION WITH NAAPSTERMAAN
How to alter your lineup based on your league
Scoring in Thursday-night games
Pairing players in the optimal way
CHAPTER 8: BUILDING A BANKROLL WITH KILLAB2482
How to easily manage your bankroll
Why there’s no one-size-fits-all plan
Understanding player exposure and risk
**BONUS MATERIAL: HOW TO WIN HEADS-UP LEAGUES AND 50/50S
If you don’t develop small (large) man-crushes on multiple NFL rookies every season, you just aren’t living life. Is it creepy that I stay up late to watch highlight videos of 20-year olds playing a game, obsess over their arms lengths, get seriously disappointed if they don’t jump as high in the air as I’d like, then tweet at them to let them know we’re still friends? I don’t know, but I won 50 percent of my fantasy football leagues last year, so you tell me.*
The type of player who is very quickly moving up my list of man-crushes—it’s a physical list I keep under my pillow—is the late-round, small-school running back. I’ve already published some data on why I like both late-round and small-school running backs, with the reasoning being the same. Basically, because running backs are so dependent on their teammates for production, they’re really difficult to project.
NFL teams are horrific at identifying running back talent, as evidenced by the fact that mid and late-round rookies have had greater efficiency than first and second-rounders since 2000. That’s sad.
There are certain traits that I like in running backs—straight-line speed is a big one, as is the ability to catch passes—but I also want to pay as little as possible at a position with basically random results, hence buying into mid/late-round players. Many times, those guys are from non-BCS schools since scouts don’t trust their ability and would prefer to draft Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram in the first round over and over.
I majored in philosophy (and fantasy football) in college because I wanted the challenge of no one taking me seriously once I graduated, while also maintaining the smallest possible probability of getting a job. I succeeded magnificently on both accounts. And now here I am writing this for you, illegally copying Google images into my work, and playing fantasy sports on a semi-pro level. Thanks philosophy.
To me, philosophy is the most beneficial of all majors—one that will make you more capable in just about every aspect of your life—and it accomplishes that by focusing on the most random of shit. While philosophy deals with a lot of “big picture” stuff, it also becomes quite specific at times. But pretty much all of philosophy—especially the metaphysics and epistemology in which I had the most interest—is considered impractical and of little importance.
Like the process of creating fantasy football projections, philosophy’s benefits are indirect, but significant. In both areas, we’re in effect worried more about how to learn than what to learn. Both philosophy and fantasy football projections are kind of like practice—a deliberate attempt to sharpen your mind; the impractical—the “little” stuff—ironically becomes the most useful of all tools.
The take home point: worry less about acquiring the “right” information and more about perfecting the process of obtaining that information so you can ultimately make more accurate predictions. Don’t concern yourself with what others tell you is “practical” and instead focus on what’s going to make you the best long-term fantasy owner. The big picture is important, but the path to it is often indirect.
Thanks to DraftKings, we can now actually dig into the data to see what’s going on in Thursday leagues versus those that start on Sunday. And this is really what daily fantasy is all about, too—testing theories in a scientific manner to see if what we “know” to be true is indeed the way we presume. So here’s a look at some actual DraftKings data from the 2013 NFL season.
Although the effect seems small, keep in mind that these are the average scores over every single league. You can see there’s a larger deviation in points in Thursday night leagues; the average lineup scores one less point than those in normal Sunday leagues, but the winning score is one point better.
To give you an idea of why those numbers are actually significant, consider a 5,000-team GPP in which the average score is 129. How many lineups would need to tank (we’ll say that’s a score of just 100, which would have no chance at winning anything) to get that average to drop to 128?
The answer is 174! It would take 174 lineups of just 100 points to drop the average from 129 to 128. That’s 3.5 percent of lineups, which is very significant in a GPP.
In daily fantasy football, my strategy is more or less to locate production at its cheapest possible point. So if I like wide receiver X at $8,000, I’ll see how easily I can replace that production with a cheaper player, normally by targeting those who have underachieved lately, thus offering long-term production at a price that represents faux short-term struggles. In almost every case, cheaper equals better because it allows for flexibility elsewhere.
Well, the same is true in season-long fantasy football. When possible, you want to identify the cheapest possible price you can pay for certain levels of production. You could argue that Zac Stacy circa his 2013 rookie year was a very close approximation of Doug Martin, for example. Martin was a top three pick in every draft, however, while Stacy was drafted after the 10th round. Much of that had to do with projected workload, but take a look at their measurables and college stats: