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fantasy football guide | The DC Times

The DC Times

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

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Fantasy Football Article Guide: First Round, Auctions, Aaron Rodgers, More

Jonathan Bales

I’ve been posting fantasy football articles like a maniac in order to promote Fantasy Football for Smart People. There will be more coming, so all of you fantasy football owners can look forward to a summer of free content. Here are a few of the latest:

  • Yesterday, I posted my Ultimate Draft Guide from the New York Times. It’s a 3,500-word must-read for all owners.
@TheCowboysTimes
Budget $200
1. (17) Dan Bailey(Dal – K) $1
2. (19) Chris Johnson(Ten – RB) $47
3. (20) San Francisco(SF – DEF) $2
4. (26) Larry Fitzgerald(Ari – WR) $38
5. (28) DeSean Jackson(Phi – WR) $12
6. (56) Jordy Nelson(GB – WR) $20
7. (73) Reggie Bush(Mia – RB) $22
8. (76) Tony Romo(Dal – QB) $17
9. (105) Brandon Pettigrew(Det – TE) $7
10. (113) Sam Bradford(StL – QB) $3
11. (121) Darrius Heyward-Bey(Oak – WR) $13
12. (127) DeAngelo Williams(Car – RB) $6
13. (149) Daniel Thomas(Mia – RB) $3
14. (161) Rashard Mendenhall(Pit – RB) $2
15. (167) Laurent Robinson(Jac – WR) $3
16. (170) Ed Dickson(Bal – TE) $2
Unused $2

 

I also got a picture with Carmelo Anthony that I’m posting here for no good reason at all.

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2012 Ultimate Fantasy Football Draft Guide

Jonathan Bales

I’m going to be posting a lot of fantasy football content at the New York Times this summer, and my first article is up today. It is manifesto for 2012, if you will. If you play fantasy football, I highly recommend you check it out here. It is about 3,500 words, and there are a lot of similarities to my book.

Rounds 2-4

Whereas first-round draft strategy is all about minimizing downside, you can begin to seek upside in the second round. Your primary concern should still be acquiring a safe player, but missing on, say, a third-round pick is a whole lot less debilitating than whiffing on your first-rounder.

  • Best Values in Rounds 2-4: Rob Gronkowski, Mike Wallace

It wasn’t long ago that I would have said never, ever draft a tight end in the second round. Nowadays, I’m promoting it. Gronkowski is the perfect example of why selecting the best player available can be very disadvantageous. Gronkowski won’t score as many points as the players selected around him, but the drop from him (and Jimmy Graham) to the second-tier tight ends is monumental. Targeting either Gronk or Graham in the middle or back of the second round is a wise move in 2012.

Everyone is scared to draft Mike Wallace, but there’s really no reason for it. Wallace isn’t going to hold out, and I’m actually projecting him to league the lead in receiving yards. Wallace will most likely improve upon his 16.6 YPC (yard per catch) from last season. If he matches his career mark of 18.7 YPC, he’ll simply need to repeat his 2011 reception total to check in among the league’s receiving leaders.

  • Worst Values in Rounds 2-4: Fred Jackson, Michael Turner, Isaac Redman, Demaryius Thomas

Jackson, Turner and Redman are all examples of owners getting antsy for a running back when they should really wait it out. Remember, the gap between elite running backs and second-tier running backs is vast. The scarcity among second- and third-tier running backs, however, isn’t nearly as great. Running backs in the third and fourth rounds, in particular, are providing horrible value. Redman’s average draft position in the fourth round, for example, is ahead of that of Miles Austin, Percy Harvin and Dwayne Bowe.

I really like some of the wide receiver value in this range, but Thomas isn’t one of those guys. Yes, he has amazing upside with Peyton Manning in town, but don’t forget this is a player with 834 yards and 6 touchdowns in two seasons.

  • The Bottom Line

In Rounds 2, 3 and 4, your goal should still be acquiring safe, consistent players, although there’s more room for error. In the second round, there isn’t much in the running back department. If you’re comfortable gambling on Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles, that’s your call. The quarterbacks and tight ends represent the most value, however.

The third and fourth rounds are great areas in which to select wide receivers this year. If you miss out on a running back early, you might as well wait it out. Andre Johnson is dropping into the third round in some drafts, and A.J. Green sometimes slips into the fourth. Don’t reach for Darren Sproles in the third round when you can grab Julio Jones (same average draft position) and still draft Reggie Bush in the fifth and James Starks in the seventh.

By the way, some people on Twitter have been pointing that I made a typo when I wrote “league the lead” (or so they think). It’s actually a new phrase I’ve been thinking of using, and I figured I’d give it a shot on a small publication like the New York Times. Pretty obvious, guys. Definitely, definitely not a typo.

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Fantasy Football: Learn How to Predict Running Backs’ Yards-Per-Carry

– Jonathan Bales

If you missed it (which is likely since we have yet to talk about it), we recently launched our 2010 Fantasy Football Package.  It is a collection of everything I use to dominate fantasy football leagues each year, including my personal projections, rankings, draft plans, players to target, and so on.  You can read more about the service by following the link above.

I understand it is a risk to take another person’s advice on a subject as serious (<— is that a joke?) as fantasy football, so I think it is important to detail the methodologies I implement to arrive at my final projections.

In my bio on this site, I wrote:

I have always been fascinated by the way mathematics and statistics, if used properly, can thoroughly explain seemingly complex phenomena.  Like the motion of the planets or the path of an ant, I truly believe football can be perfectly represented by numbers (the difficult part is determining which numbers are significant and why). . .I implemented the same sort of approach to playing (and winning) fantasy football.  Fantasy football is nothing more than risk analysis; like playing the stock market, a sound use of game theory can work wonders for your team.

This particular article is a sample of how I implement statistical analysis to determine future performance.

Running Backs’ Yards-Per-Carry

I recently visited New York City and passed a “psychic” in Times Square.  She told me she could tell me anything about the future that I wanted to know (for $99, of course).  I asked her if she could tell me how likely it is that Chris Johnson will repeat his stellar 2009 yards-per-carry (YPC).  She walked away, and I never got my answer.

Nonetheless, I think statistical analysis and film study will give me a far more accurate prediction of Chris Johnson’s YPC than any psychic.  Predicting the future isn’t about knowing conclusively what will happen, but rather deciphering the chances that a particular event will occur.  Not to get too philosophical (hey, it’s what I do), but if the universe runs not through deterministic events, but rather random happenings, then it is impossible to “know” the future.

Stats gathered from Pro-Football-Reference.com

That doesn’t mean accurate predictions cannot be made, however.  Weathermen often get a bad rap, but they are generally very good at what they do.  Weather systems don’t function in a deterministic manner, such as balls on a pool table, but through random occurrences.  Likewise, the 2010 YPC for each running back in the NFL is not somehow “determined” beforehand–but the probabilities of certain averages for particular players, I believe, are already written in stone.

So how are we to determine these probabilities?  While they may “just come” to the New York psychic, I, unfortunately, have to do a lot more work.  My methodology includes statistical analysis, so let’s take a look at some numbers.

First, we must note that the league-wide yards-per-carry average has skyrocketed in the past 13 years.  After remaining relatively steady from 1974 to 1996, the yards-per-carry average has increased .2 yards since–a 5.11% increase.  That number might not appear large, but it is rather staggering for a sample size of carries as large as the entirety of NFL running backs over an extended period of time.

Thus, there is a difference in YPC among eras, meaning if we are going to use the statistics from prior eras to broaden our sample size, we must account for this disparity.  After correcting the YPC of “the old-timers” to more appropriately relate to the league-wide averages during their eras, we see that there is a rather significant correlation between a player’s YPC in year N and his YPC in year N+1 (the next season).

To see this formula and continue reading, please visit page 2 of 2.