Welcome back to Best Ball for 2022, starting with how to unpack preseason. This year I will continue my studies on NFL Best Ball strategies and optimal process. If you are new this year, my articles are not copy+paste player analysis.
I specifically focus on ADP and game theory. I have a dozen+ years of trading the financial markets for my day job, and try and apply what I have learned in managing risk and reward to the NFL. This led me to draw an association that Best Ball at a larger scale is managing a portfolio of player exposures.
We will talk much more about my strategy to Best Ball later this spring. Today, let’s take a breather and talk high level before you blow your most valuable asset in fantasy football. No, not money. Time. Invest in yourself and be your hardest critic of the process. Learn new skills, because I guarantee someone else will. See last year’s Best Ball basics article that helps set the stage:
The player takes can be short-sighted and don’t teach the reader how you decided to find the nuggets in the first place. You can push yourself on the research end as far as you desire, but after desire comes time management. If you zoom out and think of the time you want to invest in this offseason, you can then work backward and organize your time.
Using your time effectively
Now you’re focused on finding efficiencies to maximize that free time. For instance, I don’t care about Rookies before the draft. I am still studying last season before I even start looking at Rookies. I have a set number of hours to digest and analyze before I have to start drafting to fill my allocation goal before September. That needs to be spent wisely.
I ignore all rumors of landing spots and do not care about the noise. It literally does not matter one bit if I am drafting after April. If you have this time before the NFL Draft, just focus on years past before you start looking ahead. Be nimble. Be curious. Analysts get confused on current rankings vs. ADP! A ranking is a present rank if we played a game today. An ADP is a future projection of a Week 1 rank! ADP just tries to crystalize what people will be projecting the minute before Week 1 starts, forecasting out the entire season but buying at present prices.
I think it’s crucial you take a mental gap break between seasons when analyzing sports. I call missing that crucial step ‘Week 19 Syndrome’ (Week 18 in years past), for the reason of glazing over the entire element of time and just continuing last season into next. They need to be treated as different events. This is a short-duration sport with a constant turnover in talent. Do not be a mind-numbing box score Analyst that takes last year’s results and pastes them for next year’s projections. That takes 2 minutes. That can’t be your end product, or everyone will have the same rankings.
Developing Your Skills
Write down how you want to attack the offseason. Do you want to learn to be better in excel? Need better data? Organization? How are you going to attack position vs. team? You should be spending A LOT of your allocated NFL offseason time studying the previous season and its ADP v. final Actuals. Invest in yourself, refresh and reconnect so you can count that bread later.
Every single day ADP refreshes, it shrinks the volatility in the crowd giving their best public value to a player as time erodes to Week 1. This time of the year casual drafters don’t have a benchmark to go off of. Early on we are still weighing the time element and soaking in the previous season, ADPs swing wildly with early Spring drafts as the crowd gauges others interest vs. their own appetite.
Getting An Edge With Your Own Values
There is no need to push a player’s value into the stratosphere if the other competitors disagree with your take. Simply wait and over accumulate (Growing your long % exposure) at public value. The time also shrinks the possibilities for backdrops to change in personnel. There are over 7 months+ of time that elapses from offseason to Week 1. Players get older, coaches change, schemes change or get defended differently, injuries heal, injuries happen, the draft, trades, retirements, age-adjusted apex…there is too much that’s in flux to repeat last year’s performance.
We know this by seeing the deviation from crowdsourced projections (ADP) vs. ending Actuals, every year. You do not have an edge if you follow the sheep. Take a break between seasons of drafting, analyzing, or hearing the constant chatter. Anything that occurs in the offseason, you can always get caught up later! Some of the relevance fades, but in Best Ball the offseason is our sandbox of ideas and fact digging. Once you completely turn everything off; grab a cup of coffee, shuffle your favorite playlist, and just focus on the previous season(s).
Remember, this is Best Ball! We don’t have trades, waivers, or matchups. Its quantifiable and it’s the purest way to play fantasy sports. Lean into its advantages of not having the gray area that decides fate. If I play Dynasty, I have to be plugged in 365 days. Best Ball allows us to dictate 1 hour of time (draft) that freezes player allocation for nearly a year. Remember, tournaments have an added time element of potential roster permutations, but cash games are 100% time agnostic. News breaking changes the demand vs. ADP landscape (Cam Akers injury coming in the middle of UDBBM2).
Analyzing My Own Approach
I analyze two main sectors: My own process and the fields. A great part about Best Ball, is you have so many historical examples of right and wrong process. If I am in a few big money redraft leagues, I may have won or lost based on someone picking up a stud kicker in Week 8, or not obtaining the optimal draft slot, a trade that went haywire, etc…that doesn’t happen in Best Ball. It’s a data miners dream. Obsess over your past drafts and be honest with yourself:
- Did you only win because you drafted the two top BPA players?
- Did you have a poor last half of the draft?
- If you got second place, why?
- Was it one decision the first place team made?
- Or a bad choice by you?
Maybe you had a few season-long injuries and you should have finished dead last, but you picked everyone else optimal finishing just short of winning. There is a story to tell in every league. For the field, look at different roster constructions. You don’t have to experiment with a 7 TE build if curious, you can look historically and see how that performed. Understanding where the field is gravitating also helps. For example, in the Summer of 2021 sentiment started a large shift towards earlier WR and later RB. That has continued in 2022. How does that change your strategy? Currently we have several WR going in the first round of Best Ball leagues, that hasn’t happened in a few years.
Understanding Your Allocations
If your valuation still shows you should only draft an RB in the first round, what are you going to do if a WR falls to you? At some point in time, you come to the realization you may have 0% exposure to a top asset. That’s a hard pill to swallow if things go wrong. For example, in 2020 my model showed me to take an RB over the early KC darlings of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce at the turn; at the end of the drafting season I had 0% long exposure (100% short) to those two players. That is an extremely bold allocation. In turn, I got stung bad when someone in the league had a well put together KC team when they crushed.
There isn’t a right or wrong answer when weighing allocation. Keep in mind average weighted allocation of your exposure to a first-round player is ~8.3% in a 12-team league. Meaning, that if I have 5% owned of an earlier-round player, I am actually underweighted against the field. Stop thinking of them as ‘shares’, and start viewing players as exposures vs. your league mates. Think of grades in college. All that matters are the people around me. If I am in a very hard class that is not graded on a curve, and I have the highest score in the class with a B+, that matters far more than if my B+ was the worst grade in the class and everyone else’s scored an A. It’s all a competition with others, not yourself. These are finite resources in drafts, treat them as such. Now go win your league.
Image Credit: Robert Hanashiro – USA TODAY Sports