The Real Winner

So it’s fantasy football season, and I really wanted to write an article discussing draft strategy and player projections and stuff, but unfortunately, I can’t bring myself to do that, because my league hasn’t drafted yet and I don’t want to help any of them out. But I am the best in our league, so I might throw them a bone next week.

Some of the members of my league would argue, however, that I’m not the best in the league, simply because I didn’t “win”. Whatever that means. If you’ve ever played fantasy football, you would know that it’s involves a great deal of luck. Some of the Roundtable’s members know this.

Why does it involve a lot of luck? Well for one thing, football players themselves are very inconsistent, not only from year to year, but from game to game. This means owners will often get lucky with draft picks and unlucky with bad draft picks. Even the experts aren’t very good at this, with the top experts only reaching about 60% accuracy. (As an aside, here’s how fantasy pros measure “accuracy”). Basically, there’s so much randomness and so many variables involved in the sport that prediction becomes very difficult.

But that’s not really an excuse. You can still make optimal decisions to improve the expected value of the points that your team would score. The owner who made the best decisions would end the season with the greatest amount of fantasy points. And over a large period of time, this owner would also end up with the greatest number of victories. Here’s the real problem: the fantasy season is only about 15 weeks long. Let’s look at why this is a problem:

My league page isn’t loading now for some reason so I’ll post the picture once it does.

For those of you who don’t know, in fantasy football, pairs of owners “face off” each week, and the owner with the most points at the end of the week is deemed the “winner”, and receives one victory. It’s a totally binary system that doesn’t account for margin of victory at all. Also, due to the touched upon inconsistency, the best team doesn’t always win the week. The result is an inefficient week that does a poor job of rewarding good decision making and places a high degree of emphasis on luck. We can see this because of the correlation between points scored and wins, which stands at ___. This is because the distribution of points each week is far from even, and so there will be several weeks in which even the worst team would beat the best team.

As you can clearly see, I scored the most points in my league by a significant margin. The margin would have been even greater, but after I lost in the playoffs, I didn’t even set my lineups for two weeks, and had two injured players in each week. Regardless, I was still undoubtedly the best owner in our league this year. The eventual champion was 3rd in points scored, so I can’t be too pissed about him winning, but the guy in second place was a lowly 7th! The owners of my league will point and laugh at me and say that I’m just bitter about losing. And I am. But only because I think I demonstrably deserved to win. But it doesn’t matter. I know I was the real winner.


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