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cotarice12

Consistency/Predictability is gone from FFB

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Go take a look at your league's positional leaders and see how many guys have consistently hit the weekly benchmarks we look for in starting-level players. There's maybe 5-6 players at each position that hit them, and that is on average. Many of the top 10-15 players in yearly overall points at each position have been bad in roughly half their games. Don't even get me started about TE. 

Matchups used to be the best predictor for success; that is no longer the case. Ask people who started Darnold, Bell, Philly D, Brees, Thomas, Evans, R. Jones, etc, etc, this week. The thing is, it hasn't just been this week, it's been every week. Sure, some times the matchup is still useful, but with rb platoons (and now it seems WR platoons), bad offensive lines league-wide, and mediocrity across all positions (likely NFL mediocrity), I don't think there has been a time in the 20 years I've played fantasy where inconsistency has been so prevalent. 

David Blough and Drew Lock started their first ever games this week. In the NFL of old they would have gotten absolutely crushed that first game, especially Blough. Instead, they outscored several high-profile QB's. How many people sat Golladay or Sutton this week? I mean, that should have been the right call. But, it wasn't. For the fantasy player that really pays attention and tries to use stats/matchups to gain an edge, we are reduced to trying to hit on weekly WR sneaky starts (which is still possible, thankfully). Who these trends really benefit is the owners who draft their teams, don't make many moves or pay attention, and just throw out their lineup every week. Sure, some times they will play a guy who's out, but they aren't sitting Golladay against the Bears with a 3rd string QB, or whatever other scenario has unfolded each week this year.  

The "experts" at many sites just keep ranking guys the same way each week, regardless of much reasoning, and while that frustrates me to no end, I guess we can't really blame them because I don't think you can know much anymore. All of this to say that I hope this trend reverses itself, because I don't think it can be good for fantasy football. It's not fun to play a game where your skill doesn't matter any more. 

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10 minutes ago, cotarice12 said:

Matchups used to be the best predictor for success

In the NFL of old they would have gotten absolutely crushed that first game, especially Blough.

Any evidence that things were different "back in the day"? I suspect football has always been unpredictable. Remember when the Rams lost their starting QB in the preseason and had to trot out some Arena League schmoe named Warner? 

But I freely admit I could be wrong. Maybe unpredictability has increased. But if you want to make that argument, show me hard numbers.

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3 hours ago, zftcg said:

Any evidence that things were different "back in the day"? I suspect football has always been unpredictable. Remember when the Rams lost their starting QB in the preseason and had to trot out some Arena League schmoe named Warner? 

But I freely admit I could be wrong. Maybe unpredictability has increased. But if you want to make that argument, show me hard numbers.

I completely agree w this. But if there is data to support this I’m all ears.

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If anything i think we have access to more information making predictability that much more doable. Perhaps the poster is just looking at the wrong data.

 

i look heavily at snap %, target share/touch share, and matchup.  Those three are usually pretty solid indicators. Sometimes air yards are also helpful.

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He is on to something, but I can't explain or quantify it.

However, I suggest that there has NEVER been a season, in my 20+, were there has been so many 1st and 2nd round busts, or in which production from week-to-week, from the vast majority of skill players, was so generally unpredictable.

The slow death of the bell-cow RB plays a part, I am sure....but does not nearly encompass the vastness nor the mysteriousness of the issue.

CMac, Dalvin, Henry, M. Thomas, L. Jackson, SF Defense, and Kelce (to a lesser extent). After that, it equates to a weekly dart throw....in which the dart board has been moved another 20 feet back as compared to years past.

Hopefully, it's just an anomaly....but I am not convinced.

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At least you still have the one beacon of consistent fantasy football excellence--Axe Elf--to light your path through this ever-more tangled labyrinth of confusion.

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5 hours ago, cotarice12 said:

Go take a look at your league's positional leaders and see how many guys have consistently hit the weekly benchmarks we look for in starting-level players. There's maybe 5-6 players at each position that hit them, and that is on average. Many of the top 10-15 players in yearly overall points at each position have been bad in roughly half their games. Don't even get me started about TE. 

Matchups used to be the best predictor for success; that is no longer the case. Ask people who started Darnold, Bell, Philly D, Brees, Thomas, Evans, R. Jones, etc, etc, this week. The thing is, it hasn't just been this week, it's been every week. Sure, some times the matchup is still useful, but with rb platoons (and now it seems WR platoons), bad offensive lines league-wide, and mediocrity across all positions (likely NFL mediocrity), I don't think there has been a time in the 20 years I've played fantasy where inconsistency has been so prevalent. 

David Blough and Drew Lock started their first ever games this week. In the NFL of old they would have gotten absolutely crushed that first game, especially Blough. Instead, they outscored several high-profile QB's. How many people sat Golladay or Sutton this week? I mean, that should have been the right call. But, it wasn't. For the fantasy player that really pays attention and tries to use stats/matchups to gain an edge, we are reduced to trying to hit on weekly WR sneaky starts (which is still possible, thankfully). Who these trends really benefit is the owners who draft their teams, don't make many moves or pay attention, and just throw out their lineup every week. Sure, some times they will play a guy who's out, but they aren't sitting Golladay against the Bears with a 3rd string QB, or whatever other scenario has unfolded each week this year.  

The "experts" at many sites just keep ranking guys the same way each week, regardless of much reasoning, and while that frustrates me to no end, I guess we can't really blame them because I don't think you can know much anymore. All of this to say that I hope this trend reverses itself, because I don't think it can be good for fantasy football. It's not fun to play a game where your skill doesn't matter any more. 

As been, and we’ll continue to be , luck.  

I agree it’s less consistent.  

I would stop reading someone else’s thoughts or in this case rankings, and do your own.  

Great post thanks. 

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45% of 1st rounders have been bust for the past 10 years. Some of them were easy to point out. AB was a mental case, Gurley injury concerns, Bell new team, Green hurt, Julio age.

 

 

 

 

   

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Thinking about this topic some more:

  1. Not sure comparing fantasy today to days of yore is really a valid comparison. I started playing fantasy in 2004. The game had already moved online, but the overwhelming majority of leagues were 10 teams, players were likely only in one league, and with far less research at our fingertips, we all spent a lot less time on our lineups. There were no color-coded match-ups where you could instantly see that Arizona was ranked 27th vs TEs in November home games starting at 1:25 PST. We were more likely to just start the guys we drafted and hope for the best. Think of it this way: Imagine a 2004 player had to make 50 lineup decisions per season, with a 50% success rate. Now assume that same dude in 2019 has to make 500 decisions, with the same success rate. He may "feel" like there's more randomness, because he can think of 250 decisions he made that went wrong, compared to just 25 back when he first started playing. But it's all an illusion. Furthermore, because the 2019 decisions are based on "research", whereas the 2004 decisions were more based on hunches, he may feel like the "science" let him down, even though it was all pseudo-precision and the game never actually stopped being random.
  2. Let's stipulate for a moment that randomness has increased. What is actionable about this insight? Are there other ways to gain a competitive advantage? Dig deeper on next-gen stats? Pay for services? Or should the takeaway be that we should spend less time on fantasy, since it's all random? There's an analogue to this with the stock market. Many smart investors have realized that it is incredibly difficult to beat the market long-term, and the smartest strategy is to put most of your money into index funds. Using that analogy, we should all rely more on auto-drafting, assuming the "wisdom of the crowds" is more likely to be accurate than our own rankings. (Personally, I would never do this because drafts -- even online ones -- are one of the most enjoyable aspects of fantasy).
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I still do a FF league - but a "smack-talk / free" one, with friends on-line who live in other states.  I went to DFS a couple of years ago, because FFLs are too random / so much is (injury) luck.

 

My draft - misses:  Kamara 1.01 (injury); M Evans 2.12 (feast .. or famine); D. Freeman 3.01 (injury); D. Montgomery 5.01 (doh!!); S. Shepard 6.12 (injury); D. Westbrook 7.01 (QB injury); 8.12 Goff (O/L turnover..); T. Pollard 9.01 (Zeke signed last minute..); K. Ballage 12.12 (ugh..)

Hits: T. Boyd 4.12; M. Andrews 10.12; NE DEF 11.01; J. Winston at 13.01; D. Waller 17.01

And, yes - I worked the WW a lot this year!!

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If you want predictability and consistency, why even play fantasy football?  The consensus best on-paper team doesn't always win (and best by what measure - last year's stats? some "expert's" projections?)  That hasn't changed in the history of fantasy football (or real football for that matter).  Often, that odd-shaped football takes a funny bounce and creates the unlikeliest of heroes.

Specialization, personnel groups and game planning to exploit specific match-ups are more prevalent now and certainly contribute to more players that are studly one week and MIA the next.  Back in the day, each (good) NFL team had one RB and maybe 2 WRs who would be viable for fantasy purposes.  Then along came the 3rd down back, the goal line back, the pass-catching TE, 3, 4, and 5 receiver sets.  So many specialists obviously lead to a bit more volatility.  However, I always chuckle when people complain about how their "skill" is neutralized.  There never was much "skill" other than paying attention and maybe digging around for some obscure beat reporter who published good insider info about injuries and depth chart changes - nowadays you just don't have to dig very far.  

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3 hours ago, weepaws said:

I would stop reading someone else’s thoughts or in this case rankings, and do your own.  

 

AAA+++

Once every 2 weeks or so, I post a question in the 'A Little Help' section, but 95 times out of 100, I make the decision myself.

This week I asked Carlos Hyde or Kenyan Drake ?. I went with Kenyon, but he only scored 5.2 points, & Hyde 2.2 

So I picked the right one, but it turned out that they were both nothing more than pigs with lipstick.

That to me, is what makes fantasy football fun. 

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9 hours ago, zftcg said:

Any evidence that things were different "back in the day"? I suspect football has always been unpredictable. Remember when the Rams lost their starting QB in the preseason and had to trot out some Arena League schmoe named Warner? 

But I freely admit I could be wrong. Maybe unpredictability has increased. But if you want to make that argument, show me hard numbers.

Biggest difference is with rbs.  I've been playing since around 90-01. There was a greater prominence of primary running backs... must less situational players/rbbc.  There is always going to be the one off games (Kupp's 0 several weeks ago for example).

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qbs have some predictability in season.  As do some RBs.  But nearly all wrs, tes, and K's are a crapshoot.  The draft overall is like picking names out of a hat. 

the key to winning is whoever got lucky and drafted 2 or 3 stud wr/rbs and then hits on a late QB.  guessing the McCaffrey team is dominating most leagues.  The Micheal Thomas team probably made your playoffs.  Lamar Jackson team prob lead your league a lot this yr.  Dalvin Cook teams should be doing well.

I will say, this season at least re-inforced that you should never ever take a qb before the 10th round.  Also don't waste a high pick on a TE.  Just load up on WR's and RB's and pray you hit on 2 or 3 studs.  Then take a couple qbs late and hope one hits.  Then hope you stay healthy.  Its 75% luck.  But there is still some room for the grinder player to have success playing the waiver wire game.  Probably won't win your league that way, but you will still hang around if your draft sucked.

 

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20 hours ago, easilyscan said:

Not sure how this song relates to this thread, but I love it!

'same as it ever was', applies to the current nfl predictability level.

it's also and old :e: reference bitching about fbg moderation.

you are supposed to laugh.

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Some interesting thoughts put out there in response. 

To clarify a couple of things:  I've been playing (and have been pretty successful) ffb for 20 years, and have adjusted to the proliferation of info available 24/7. While yes, it does slightly annoy me that owners can do no prep work for a draft and have real-time adp rankings available to them on draft night, and then multiple sites that tell them who to pick up, target shares, snap % etc. that used to have to be done on your own, that is the way of the world = instant information. That wasn't really the point I was trying to make. Nor was I talking about relying on rankings (obviously you need to make your own calls and trust your own ideas/knowledge).  My original point was that matchups can still matter, but that they don't as much as they did even just 5 years ago, and that consistency week over week is much tougher to find. 

I wish I had the time to pour over all the data, for those wanting hard numbers (I don't blame you, I like them too), but I don't. I did look at the top 20 WR in one of my leagues through week 13 this year, and compared to the top 20 through week 13 in 2014, just to see if I was talking out of my a** or not. Over half of the top 20 this year have had 6 weeks that would be considered busts/disappointing. In 2014, that number was about 4 weeks over the same timeframe. If someone else wants to jump on seeing if that bears out over time have at it, but that quick glance matches up with with I was thinking about when I wrote my initial post. Also, 12 WR were averaging better than 15 ppg at this point in 2014, while just 3 are this year (.5 ppr, sorted by total points,). That's a pretty big disparity.

 

On 12/2/2019 at 4:42 PM, zftcg said:

Let's stipulate for a moment that randomness has increased. What is actionable about this insight? Are there other ways to gain a competitive advantage? Dig deeper on next-gen stats? Pay for services? Or should the takeaway be that we should spend less time on fantasy, since it's all random? There's an analogue to this with the stock market. Many smart investors have realized that it is incredibly difficult to beat the market long-term, and the smartest strategy is to put most of your money into index funds. Using that analogy, we should all rely more on auto-drafting, assuming the "wisdom of the crowds" is more likely to be accurate than our own rankings. (Personally, I would never do this because drafts -- even online ones -- are one of the most enjoyable aspects of fantasy).

This is great point. What do we do if this is the case? I don't have that answer, but I think an adjustment of some kind in how we evaluate players, matchups etc. will be needed to stay ahead of the curve. 

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Watching football and taking more from others who do the same helps some with the predictability in a given week. Ie: Joe Mixon is a good football player in a bad situation. Mr. Ballage was a bad football player in a inconsistent situation.


Also, ‘look at the fantasy points and assume they’ll repeat’ is deathbed material. I am much bigger fan of looking at more stats per player. Tds come and go and you can’t be depending on those..especially at wr. I win lots of trades early in seasons by trading a player with 4 tds for a better player who doesn’t have tds yet. 
 

Regardless, it’s 22 dudes running around 150 times per game. Weird stuff is gonna happen sometimes. Throw in injuries, varying motivation (especially with bad/struggling teams), and weather and it’s a wild storm of variables that can’t always be boiled down to ‘start yer studs’, ‘this team has a good corner..bench all WRs’, and other attempts at fantasy silver bullets.

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On 12/3/2019 at 3:06 PM, taco breath said:

'same as it ever was', applies to the current nfl predictability level.

it's also and old :e: reference bitching about fbg moderation.

you are supposed to laugh.

Thanks for the explanation.

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I'd say this is true or RB's in general. With most teams employing RBBC of some sort, it can be maddening sitting on someone like Tevin Coleman like I did, then when he comes back from injury has a monster game and you feel validated for the draft pick and holding him, only to see his production drop off a cliff the following week for no discernible reason. Aaron Jones has cost me more weeks than he's helped me win at this point with his wild inconsistency that again seems to follow no rhyme or reason. CMAC having his first "off" week since week 3 I think cost me the first seed and bumped me down to the second just this last week. I have J Brown, Gallup, Edelman and Diggs for WR's, Brown and Edeleman being my two most consistent, you'd think I'd play them every week, but every week I think, is this the week gallup or diggs go off? Can I sit aaron jones for John brown or even Devin singletary who are both way more consistent? No, because I'll shoot myself when jones finally goes off for another 40 point week. 

All of the above mentioned (except coleman) are high target, high snap count players, and I'd say about 1/4 of the time they actually follow the script you would predict based on matchups and weather. Some days, I think it's just because Diggs pissed off Cousins in the locker room or Jones was partying too much the night before, who knows? 

At the end of the day I have a bye this week and a REALLY good shot of winning my league, but I'm going to have to get lucky in the championship because the other guy has a really good team too. I'll have to hit on more decisions and hope he misses on a few. 

Welcome to fantasy football. 

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On 12/2/2019 at 11:22 AM, zftcg said:

Any evidence that things were different "back in the day"? I suspect football has always been unpredictable. Remember when the Rams lost their starting QB in the preseason and had to trot out some Arena League schmoe named Warner? 

But I freely admit I could be wrong. Maybe unpredictability has increased. But if you want to make that argument, show me hard numbers.

I dont think you need hard numbers but anyone that has played FF for many years and started back in like the early 90's like me then you KNOW from experience that the "casino" nature of FF has gone way up.  Of course its always had luck and things like that involved.  But lets review why I stopped playing FF about 3 years ago and I suspect many others are growing tired of it too:

1)  The pass-happy spread offenses have really killed the WR position and the TE position somewhat as well.  Remember when teams had a clear-cut WR1, WR2 and a starting TE?  They brought in a WR3 on 3rd and long and that was about it.  Now?  Fock.... you have like 5-6 different WRs catching balls on any given play and the goal line nowadays is a total mess with TE2's or little dinky WR5s stealing TDs.  The same thing happens with RBs.  There are so few warriors left that get the rock the majority of the game.  You have a lot of RBBC and its like a 40/60 or 50/50 split versus the old days when Kenneth Davis would spell Thurman Thomas for a quick series or two.  In this NFL, Davis would get almost half the total touches and steal half the TDs too.  Its all injury-concerns now and trying to outsmart the other team but its just stupid.  You have a feew star players, yes but nowhere near the consistency as before.

2) The internet has helped but has also ruined the concept of hunting for data and knowledge in order to gain an edge.  Everybody and their Moms, literally are playing FF today.  No research required - just navigate to any site and you'll get the same scoop on every player that everyone else gets.  No work.  No payoff for being diligent.  Hell, most sites will set your lineup for you and they get it just as right as you would, LOL.

3) The talent is spread too thin in the NFL(there are too many teams in the NFL and they should dump 4 of them for starters) and the gap between player tiers is worse than ever.  QBs are way too strong now and if you dont get one of the top 4-5 you're focked.  There is a very small pool of truly good FF players and it gets smaller it seems each year or as the season goes on.  Its too easy to end up losing interest fast once you figure out that you "bet on the wrong horse" since its so arbitrary that what are supposoed to be good draft picks are garbage for no good reason.  Does Davante Adams ring a bell this year as a great example? ;)

So, that pretty much sums it up.  I dont even miss FF since I get to listen to the bitching at work here from everyone about exactly the things I mentioned.   I miss the days when Emmitt and Jerome Bettis got the rock, Harrison/Wayne, Harper/Irvin, Freeman/Brooks, Holt/Bruce, ETC, ETC caught most of the passes - not short, useless WR5s or backup TEs that no one has ever heard of. :)

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19 hours ago, cotarice12 said:

Some interesting thoughts put out there in response. 

To clarify a couple of things:  I've been playing (and have been pretty successful) ffb for 20 years, and have adjusted to the proliferation of info available 24/7. While yes, it does slightly annoy me that owners can do no prep work for a draft and have real-time adp rankings available to them on draft night, and then multiple sites that tell them who to pick up, target shares, snap % etc. that used to have to be done on your own, that is the way of the world = instant information. That wasn't really the point I was trying to make. Nor was I talking about relying on rankings (obviously you need to make your own calls and trust your own ideas/knowledge).  My original point was that matchups can still matter, but that they don't as much as they did even just 5 years ago, and that consistency week over week is much tougher to find. 

I wish I had the time to pour over all the data, for those wanting hard numbers (I don't blame you, I like them too), but I don't. I did look at the top 20 WR in one of my leagues through week 13 this year, and compared to the top 20 through week 13 in 2014, just to see if I was talking out of my a** or not. Over half of the top 20 this year have had 6 weeks that would be considered busts/disappointing. In 2014, that number was about 4 weeks over the same timeframe. If someone else wants to jump on seeing if that bears out over time have at it, but that quick glance matches up with with I was thinking about when I wrote my initial post. Also, 12 WR were averaging better than 15 ppg at this point in 2014, while just 3 are this year (.5 ppr, sorted by total points,). That's a pretty big disparity.

 

This is great point. What do we do if this is the case? I don't have that answer, but I think an adjustment of some kind in how we evaluate players, matchups etc. will be needed to stay ahead of the curve. 

This is a more nuanced take compared to your original post, which, no offense, reminded me of that old SNL "Grumpy Old Man" sketch.

Anyway, I definitely agree that the data explosion has fundamentally changed fantasy football, and while it's certainly convenient to have all that info at our fingertips, net-net it probably hurts guys like us who were already spending a lot of time on our research. I recall some 10 years ago, drafting Ahmad Bradshaw in his breakout season because I had read somewhere that he, not Brandon Jacobs, would be the Giants lead back. Today, that information would have been blasted into the prefrontal cortex of my entire league via iPhone alerts, tweets, email newsletters and podcasts.

Having said that, I think this trend makes it more difficult, but not necessarily more random. I used to work in direct marketing, which is also a quantitative approach to a discipline that was traditionally more qualitative. The shift of marketing from offline to online means that everyone is a quant these days, but no one's throwing up their hands and saying marketing is just a crapshoot. (If anything, they're going too far in the other direction and convincing themselves they can turn everything into a science). Point is, what the really smart people have been doing is a) figuring out how to sort through the tsunami of data to find the stuff that's really relevant, and b) moving back in the other direction and realizing that things like creativity, contrarianism and gut instinct also play a role.

I think there may be some parallels to fantasy football. Two of the most useful fantasy analysts I rely on are JJ Zachariason at NumberFire and Chris Harris of HarrisFootball. JJZ is a total quant, but he goes way deeper on the numbers than your typical fantasy analyst (while still explaining things in plain English). Harris, meanwhile, mostly rejects statistical analysis and watches a ton of film; his bet is that over the long run, you're better off betting on talent rather than the "tyranny of the boxscore" (and don't even get him started on narrative-driven crutch arguments like "He's in a contract year" or "Haskins raises McLaurin's value because they were college teammates.")

Like all analysts, those guys aren't perfect, and sometimes I disagree with their recommendations and forge my own path. But after some down years, approaching fantasy in this way has measurably helped my fantasy performance in the past couple seasons.

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21 hours ago, Bills04 said:

RoadLizard:  so, are you doing DFS as I am, now?

Pardon my dumbness - but what is DFS?  I really dont know what that stands for. :)

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I'm no expert, but I'm sure DFS stands for daily fantasy sports.

Fantasy football used to be a 'season long' thing, now people can play it on weekly basis.

I've never done it, but I think it goes something like this. You have a set amount of money you can spend to put together your team.

Spend the most on players you think are sure things, & look for a value in the rest of your lineup.

Like I said, I've never done DFS-FF, so I won't be surprised if I get corrected.

 

 

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