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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2012-08-24 06:45:40
Just two weeks until the NFL season kicks off!
Some of the Dire/Squishy peeps are rolling fantasy football this year. I encourage more hardcore video gamers to try it out. Vargas is giving it a whirl, going in with absolutely no previous football knowledge. He's treating it like a videogame RPG, trying to configure the best "party" he can. That's a solid perspective, and the difference is that instead of fighting computer controlled Tonberries and Cactuars, you're duking it out with fellow strategy gamers.
I need to attend to some other matters right now, but I'll write up a primer for fantasy football rookies for this weekend. Check back here for it tomorrow morning at the latest.
Updated: So Bill Barnwell at Grantland wrote this article before I could begin my amateurish primer. He describes the essential fantasy strategy of "Value-Based Drafting".
I was actually ignorant of VBD as a recognized term (I haven't played in a decade), but it's basic game theory in action. Fantasy football isn't about targeting the highest scorers; it's about finding the guys that dominate their positional peers most effectively, granting you a buffer of points against your opponents. (Baseball nerds should be familiar with the metric WAR or "Wins Above Replacement Player". Same principle. A slugging shortstop is more valuable than an equivalent hitting 1B.)
So here are my drafting tips for new players:
1) Make sure you've grasped the idea of Value-Based Drafting.
2) The NFL in 2012 is deliriously pass happy. This has resulted in an inflation of quality quarterbacks and wide receivers. Prioritize productive running backs first, because they're far scarcer and thus more valuable. (The one exception is Calvin Johnson, because of the degree to which he dominates his fellow wide receivers. I had him #4 on my draft board.)
3) Try to buy low. Avoid overpaying for a guy who just came off a career season, who will be hard pressed to replicate that performance. For example, I took Gronkowski (one of two elite tight ends, banking on strong VBD) with the #9. I actually had him and Graham (the other elite TE) on my board at #13 and #14, but I knew they wouldn't be available by the time my next pick came around. I passed up on Chris Johnson and Matt Forte to acquire Gronk. Purely mathematically, that was probably an error. My point is, don't overpay. If you must, it better be for an elite player.
4) Let's say you have a strong feeling about a player. All the strategy and intel says you should pass on him. Could you handle it if that player had a breakout season, or would it burn you badly? If you couldn't live with that player having a great season, take him. Going back to the example of Gronk, Tip #1 tells me I should prioritize him. Tip #2 says even tight ends could start catching more passes, and to lower my evaluation. Tip #3 says to lower him further. As for Tip #4...I've been a Jets fan for three decades. I've seen Gronk annihilate my team. If I passed on him, and he had another great season, it would've gouged my football soul all season long. Emotional regret is FAR worse than logical regret. Tip #1 and #4 won out.
5) Do not draft any Jets. GRWARGH their offense looks terrible. Even their defense will be tired out after so many three and outs.
I need to kill two weeks until the kick of the football season, so I'll be doing analysis of our draft to feed my craving for the season to start. I'm no fantasy guru, but maybe some of my tidbits might end up useful to you.