Fantasy Football: “Star” Theory and Dynasty Trades


I was recently reading a book by Philosophy Professor Frank Ryan of Kent State University titled “The Cosmic Flyspeck” where he discussed how in an infinite universe full of infinite possibilities, anything that is possible is not only probable, but has already happened several times.  When you go to put toothpaste on that toothbrush, in some universe you missed the toothbrush and got toothpaste on your clean new white t-shirt.

This has something to do with Fantasy Football, I swear.  Stick with me here.

In this universe of infinite probabilities, the biggest and best win most of the time.  Galaxies collide and the bigger ones devour the smaller ones.  Moons circle planets, not the other way around.  Wars are usually won by the bigger army and mediocrity is snuffed out by better technology and more charismatic leaders.

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It occurred to me at some point during reading this that dynasty fantasy football was exactly like this.

I’m a participant in the Interboard Fantasy Football League where several sites compete against each other.  I decided last year that I wanted to trade down from the first and second rounds and have seven picks in the first four rounds.  My theory was that having a team of seven good players was better than having a team of one or two superstars, followed by some good players and then some “ok” players.  If I could start MORE guys who were all performing at a high level, I might dominate each week while the guy with one or two superstars would lose any week those players were out, injured or just having a bad week.

This strategy failed miserably, friends.  My team was the essence of mediocrity.  My players all performed exactly to the average; which would be great except that average doesn’t win championships.

Now let me pull this back around to the point.  I know, “finally”, right?

I see on twitter and on fantasy forums where people say they’re happy to have gotten Kenny Britt in round 22 of their startup drafts and it makes me shake my head.  We know who Kenny Britt is.  He’s an average (at best) WR who will never be the dominant league-leading WR1 we all used to hope he would become.  Will he ever be A. J. Green or Odell Beckham Jr?  Pfft.  No.  Love you Kenny but, no.

A dynasty team needs those stars to win.  A team of mediocrity will orbit the winning teams and might occasionally win a year, but that’s not how dynasties are won long-term.  You need a team stuffed full of those “superstars” who will dominate, squeeze out and strangle the rest of the league.  What you’re trying to construct over a long period is the team with the top QB, the top two WRs and the top two RBs, with the league leading tight end bringing up the back end.  If you don’t have this, you need to get it.

I hear a lot of trades on twitter that go something like “I was offered 1.09, 2.04, Matt Forte and Jordan Cameron for Rob Gronkowski and a third rounder.  I should take this, right?”

No, you shouldn’t.  Forte is about to turn 30 years old and will hit 2000 career carries this year if he holds up.  He’s on the downswing of his value and that person is selling while there’s still a market.  Jordan Cameron is “ok” and always has been, though like Jared Cook and Charles Clay he keeps threatening to have a better than good season.  What would you get with 1.09 and 2.04?  Breshad Perriman and Jay Ajayi?  Hey, maybe one of those will turn out to be the next Forte, but there’s also a pretty good chance they won’t.

Gronkowski is a difference maker.  The star.  He’s the guy at the top of the TE ranks and there’s no one else around him anymore.  He’s Julio Jones and LeVeon Bell.  He’s Andrew Luck.  There’s really no way to improve on him currently.  Over a few years of being in a league, the team with the bigger stars will crush everyone else.  The team that starts Breshad Perriman, Jordan Cameron and Jay Ajayi five years down the road (long after Forte’s retirement) will probably compete with other average teams, but ultimately will not win over the dominant team every week.  Probability doesn’t prevent the average team from ever winning, but the expected outcome will most likely happen instead and in a multi-year dynasty league you want to be the one going home with the trophy and a few bucks in your pocket most years.

You need to be better than good.  You should be on the other end of this trade, adding your smaller celestial bodies together to see if you can turn them into a star.  Get a few stars collected over the years and then you’ll be something to see.


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