Chasing the 10% Solution
Fantasy Football, like weather forecasting or horse race handicapping is all about making sure the odds are in your favor. Many years ago, I was interviewing for a weather forecasting job and part of the interview was producing a 7 day forecast. We were headed towards a major heat wave. When the boss compared his forecast to mine, he noticed that my forecast was lower on the high temperatures in days 4-7 than his. When asked about this, I remarked that his forecast included high temperature records four days in a row and the likelihood of this forecast hitting was betting against the odds. I also pointed out that the city we were forecasting had only 5 days of 105 degrees or more in their recorded history, and he was forecasting 4 in a row. It was a risky move blasting the boss like that but I told him I wasn’t going to chase the small percentages in any forecast situation. In Fantasy Football I like to call this chasing the 10% solution.
The 80% Rule
In Fantasy Sports, if someone is able to be productive 80% or more of the time, that is a player I want on my roster. The typical wide receiver scores 10 or more points in a PPR scoring format 54.89% of the time over the past 2 seasons. If my guy does it 80% of the time, that is a huge advantage. You might not get the highest point total out of such a player on any given week, but he will contribute to your winning chances almost every week. Likewise, if I can find a correlation that works 80% or more of the time when it comes to a characteristic about a player, that would be gold!
Last week I heard a NFL “pundit” he saw Kyler Murray take the field among his teammates at the Arizona Cardinals training camp. He thought it was a “Make a Wish” kid taking the field with the pros. Kyler Murray is short. But is his body type is very thin for a major league football player at any position. Try a a search for “Career Passing Yardage” for any NFL player since 1970. Then put in the stipulation of those who are Kyler Murray’s height or shorter. You get an interesting list. Walter Payton and Antwaan Randle El are among the players in the top five after Doug Flutie. The NFL has never seen a quarterback quite like Kyler Murray. Add to that a brand new offense from a college coach with a losing record, and that adds up to a lot of uncertainty. Also, Fantasy Football rarely produces big time Top 5 quarterbacks as rookies. Currently, his ADP is QB9 as the 8.04 pick in a 12-team draft. Considering all of that uncertainty, that is high. The variability in his drafting position says it all. With the earliest pick, he has been taken over the last month at 4.10 and the latest at 10.10. It is certainly possible he will finish above his ADP. But if you look at historic data, you don’t want to be the one betting on the 10% solution in the 8th round.
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Damien Williams is in the perfect position to do just that this season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Last year D-Will stepped in when Kareem Hunt got suspended and Spencer Ware got hurt. Williams was nothing short of terrific down the stretch and into the playoffs. Andy Reid stayed with him even when Spencer Ware was back. The Chiefs didn’t add too much to have you concerned about him not being the top running back. Plus, this is an offense known for producing Top 5 running backs in Fantasy Football. How many 27 year old running backs have their breakout season that late in their careers? Can he stay healthy the whole season? Will someone else on the roster cut into his touches? Will Andy Reid use all of his many tools at running back, limiting D-Will’s upside in Fantasy Football? When a player lacks a track record and he is being taken at an ADP of pick 21 RB12 2.10 in a 12-team draft, there’s uncertainty. If you do take D-Will, the added problem is who to back him up with in case he does get hurt. Carlos Hyde was pedestrian last year, the rookie, Darwin Thompson is undersized to be a 3-down back. Not to mention Darrel Williams is very green too. Draft stock in the first three rounds is much too valuable to spend on the 10% solution.
Sometimes in Fantasy Football it pays to miss on a risky player rather than invest too high in draft capital. While you might win out on the upside potential with an early round pick, it pays to play the percentages. Even if you believe Damien Williams will play 14 or more games, and he will be a top producer, the lack of a track record makes a second round investment too risky. Likewise, when you look at the difference in points per game between the sixth best and the twentieth best quarterback in Fantasy Football, it doesn’t make sense to draft a player like Kyler Murray who would be breaking all of the rules for size at the quarterback position. Now if D-Will drops to the 4th round or Murray to the 10th round, that changes my outlook considerably. I prefer to see some track record before investing in Fantasy Football assets. That doesn’t mean I am risk adverse when it comes to drafting Fantasy Football players. In fact, during the later rounds in the draft I will roll the dice on big upside potential versus boring average players all the time. But the early rounds in the draft relative to position are the wrong times to gamble. Let someone else bet early on chasing those 10% solutions. If you do that, your odds at winning your league will go up fast.