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Gohawks

Is fantasy football getting more and more luck based?

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My take on this topic...for an individual season, luck can certainly be a big factor (be it in 2019 or 2000). Over multiple seasons, cream tends to rise to the top, as you can definitely find a distinction between good owners and bad owners. I have two long-term leagues (both 14+ seasons) and that has definitely been the case in both leagues.

Going by the 40 point mark in PPR that was mentioned in prior posts, I did a check on the amount of 40 point PPR games this century. There are still 6 weeks to go in the 2019 season, so odds are this will be the season with the most instances of 40 PPG by a player. But keep in mind that one season doesn't constitute a trend...

image.png.a624212333b06e8fdad6f182cb22d52c.png
(For 2019, when you see 17 instances of 40 Point games and then 14 different players listed, that means that some players had 40 PPG more than once; same thing for prior seasons)

Edited by Corleone
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19 minutes ago, sSektor said:

If you're in a league where all 10-12 owners care enough to do basic research you're not winning s--- without luck playing a huge role in it.

Pretty much this. Then when you are in an actual competent league you need a lot of luck.

There's people in here claiming "if you are blaming luck, you suck." Well, maybe you play with a bunch of Tacos? Fantasy is without a doubt a game that requires skill but also a ton of luck. When everyone does their research a lot of what is left is luck. 

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I haven't read all the comments, and I haven't done the research to fully back up my opinion, but here are my initial thoughts.

1) In general, fantasy sports have a high level of chance or "luck" involved in order to win. There are definitely things you can do to improve your odds, but even if you're successful at creating a strong team your odds of winning aren't that high. For example, in a 12 team league, theoretically everyone has a 8.3% chance at winning. I would argue that if you were the most successful at doing your job and creating the best team in the league on paper, your odds will probably go up. But we're talking an increase from 8.3% to maybe 15% or so. Which still means that even if you create a great team, there's a 85% chance that you're going to lose.

2) Although I agree with a lot of the OP comments, I do not believe fantasy sports has become more luck based than it previously was (or at least not by a substantial margin). What has happened however is that the strong strategies of previous years may no longer be as strong in the current fantasy formats. For example, since there are fewer "bellcow" running, this means there's probably more emphasis on grabbing one of the few bellcow backs early on in the draft than there was in previous years (where you can wait a little longer). Where there's more injuries, this may mean that handcuffs become more valuable or that there's more emphasis on working the waiver wire vs drafting a strong team at the start. Where the ball does seem to go to more players, this might mean there are more players that WR3 with a good matchup might have better odds at producing than a WR2 with a weaker matchup. Again, there's definitely a large element of chance. However there are still several things you can do to slightly increase your chances against your opponents.

Edited by Idoolittle

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30 minutes ago, Rickydragon said:

Head to head is mostly just luck.  You have no control over your opponents schedule.  3 out of the top 5 scoring teams in my league have losing records.  That makes no sense, just randomness.  

 

There's definitely a lot of luck, but in one of my leagues the top three scorers are #1, #2, and #3 in order. In the other, they're #1, #5, and #3 out of 16. It doesn't play as much a part as some seem to think. Of course, in the second league I'm second out of 16, but have only the seventh highest points scored. I've been really lucky 😀.

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5 minutes ago, Gohawks said:

There's people in here claiming "if you are blaming luck, you suck." Well, maybe you play with a bunch of Tacos? 

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46 minutes ago, Rickydragon said:

Head to head is mostly just luck.  You have no control over your opponents schedule.  3 out of the top 5 scoring teams in my league have losing records.  That makes no sense, just randomness.  

 

But, that totally makes sense because everything is random and a game of probability.  The probability that you sprain your finger while pressing 'Submit Reply' is low BUT it is there!.  The probability that I am typing this post without any pants on is very high but, in fact, I am at work so my pants are on.  Once you start realizing that this is all just a big game of probability (ie: luck) than that helps you accept the outcomes.  You are always trying to make a decision based on the numbers, the talent, and the narrative - to improve the probability of something happening but sometimes you are just wrong.  For how poor one of my teams played this year, I can say that I made some really shrewd moves - I didn't draft anybody on the Bears, Browns, Dolphins, and Chiefs - I just didn't want to deal with the uncertainty I think those teams bring.  While there is surely some great talent there - I take on a whole host of other factors.  In this case - I won big time this year.  If I met a few other teams on a bad week, maybe I would be in the playoffs...who knows...who cares....for most of us, I hope, it is just a game.  Hopefully this is not your livelihood.  

Edited by dudewithabadcat

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6 minutes ago, Idoolittle said:

1) In general, fantasy sports have a high level of chance or "luck" involved in order to win. There are definitely things you can do to improve your odds, but even if you're successful at creating a strong team your odds of winning aren't that high. 

I don't do fantasy baseball but in baseball there is a lot of analytical things you can do to genuinely leverage your advantage.

However, I do fantasy basketball. In basketball, if you know you do your research well and stay committed you are making it into the playoffs. No questions asked. A top 3 finish is very likely as well. Even if everyone in your league knows their stuff if you are actually good you'll do very good. I've never missed the playoffs in fantasy basketball and finish top 3 almost every time in a league with people that follow the sport.

The same can't really be said for football. One game determines your entire week and 13 games determine your entire season. Then 1 game determines your season week to week after that. This is in a sport where the deviation from standard is absolutely ridiculous. In Basketball, you can pretty much guarantee at the minimum 20, 7, 3, 1, 1 from a guy like Giannis on the worst of nights. You're going to get an off night from your stud maybe 5% of the time? Even if you get an off night they're damn sure going to recover it the next time they play which is 1-3 times more in your current matchup. In football, your stud pick is going to lay an egg at least 10% of the time and that is if that pick is an absolute elite pick and the best player in fantasy. Otherwise, you are looking at 25% duds from even the best players and these duds make up 100% of your weekly matchup. 

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You know...I've been thinking about this whole thing off and on for a day or so.   And was in the camp that it's largely luck.

But I'm thinking that maybe it's just that more work has to be done to get that edge in skill.  Meaning, maybe you have to dig deeper and look at the trends and maybe spend more time analyzing various coaches and OCs.   Maybe you go into the season with a strategy of only picking up RBs that have playable handcuffs in an offense that passes to the RB.  Just an example. 

My point being that you develop a strategy and you win, then you can't just say definitively that it was luck.  Maybe it was.  Or maybe the strategy was just correct.

So maybe there is still some potential skill involved.  And it probably involves taking that next step of analysis and putting in time that most ff players don't do.

 

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7 hours ago, Tenner said:

No one else has mentioned preseason. In the last 5-10 years...that has been one of the biggest changes of the NFL. 

You used to be able to actually watch teams and see how they will operate. It wasn’t as “close to the chest” that it is nowadays. 

Couple with sleeper article after sleeper article. I used to crush the later rounds. Now, not so much. 

 

This preseason was way different from previous ones as far as teams sitting out players. At least it seemed that way to me. 

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4 hours ago, FavreCo said:

Finding Ryan Griffin on the waiver wire in place of an injured Hooper is what takes skill. That still exists.

 

Having Herndon get injured again after he came back, that was luck.  😁

 

Knowing that Herndon/Griffin along with Crowder would have more value in the Jets offense than Robby Anderson when considering their price in drafts/FA....well that is the edge you can get over "experts" writing columns and the people who read them:

https://www.rotoworld.com/article/trade-targets/acquiring-patrick-mahomes-your-playoff-run

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I think the best managers tend to make the playoffs year in and year out.


Where i think luck plays the largest factor is with scheduling/matchups. The best teams do not always get the top seeds or the byes. Sometimes there are massive disparities in stength of schedule/points against, and teams with a softer schedule can benefit all the way through the playoff bracket thanks to easier matchups. Other times the top seed will line up to face the toughest/hottest teams in the semifinals, and the 2 seed will have a much easier path to advance. 

Some creative solutions for reducing the impact of "luck" is to have doubleheaders in the regular season, allow the top seed to choose their opponent in the semifinals, or have multi-week playoff matchups. 

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I will add (maybe it's been mentioned) that there is a lot of luck that depends on your schedule.

This just came to mind today when I was reading my CBS review in one league.  I'm now 5-6.  My opponent is 6-5.

According to the write-up, if I played his same schedule, I'd be 8-3.  If he'd played mine, he'd be 2-9.

 

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I think it’s mostly a game of skill, but there are a few trends leveling the playing field by decreasing the value of work and research. Expert coverage is everywhere, giving less skilled players easy cheat sheets for waiver pickups and lineup choices. But the increasing sophistication of the fantasy apps is also making it easier to stay engaged.
 

In addition to integrating expert coverage, the apps now push notifications when players are injured/out, when players are on bye but locked in the lineup, and so on. When I first started playing, most players set their lineups via desktop. If they even had a mobile app, it was a less sophisticated app that didn’t do any of the handholding. The less attentive teams were always accidentally starting bye/injured players, either because they were away from home when inactive were announced, or because they slept through a London game. Now that everyone has constant access to this info, there’s less of an edge in obsessing over the details.

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3 hours ago, Gohawks said:

I don't do fantasy baseball but in baseball there is a lot of analytical things you can do to genuinely leverage your advantage.

However, I do fantasy basketball. In basketball, if you know you do your research well and stay committed you are making it into the playoffs. No questions asked. A top 3 finish is very likely as well. Even if everyone in your league knows their stuff if you are actually good you'll do very good. I've never missed the playoffs in fantasy basketball and finish top 3 almost every time in a league with people that follow the sport.

The same can't really be said for football. One game determines your entire week and 13 games determine your entire season. Then 1 game determines your season week to week after that. This is in a sport where the deviation from standard is absolutely ridiculous. In Basketball, you can pretty much guarantee at the minimum 20, 7, 3, 1, 1 from a guy like Giannis on the worst of nights. You're going to get an off night from your stud maybe 5% of the time? Even if you get an off night they're damn sure going to recover it the next time they play which is 1-3 times more in your current matchup. In football, your stud pick is going to lay an egg at least 10% of the time and that is if that pick is an absolute elite pick and the best player in fantasy. Otherwise, you are looking at 25% duds from even the best players and these duds make up 100% of your weekly matchup. 

 

This is mostly true, but if you draft high floor guys you can mitigate a lot of this. Guys like Julian Edelman won't score you the occasional 40, but they'll almost always score you a 15+ floor. It still makes playoffs a crapshoot, but drafting high floor, medium/high ceiling guys in the early rounds will generally get you to the playoffs in my (admittedly not large enough to be generalized to every league) experience.

 

Sure you can argue injury is more frequent in football, but I'm sure Curry and Zion owners would tell you that injuries can tank a basketball season too.

Edited by vercrazy

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3 hours ago, Gohawks said:

I don't do fantasy baseball but in baseball there is a lot of analytical things you can do to genuinely leverage your advantage.

However, I do fantasy basketball. In basketball, if you know you do your research well and stay committed you are making it into the playoffs. No questions asked. A top 3 finish is very likely as well. Even if everyone in your league knows their stuff if you are actually good you'll do very good. I've never missed the playoffs in fantasy basketball and finish top 3 almost every time in a league with people that follow the sport.

The same can't really be said for football. One game determines your entire week and 13 games determine your entire season. Then 1 game determines your season week to week after that. This is in a sport where the deviation from standard is absolutely ridiculous. In Basketball, you can pretty much guarantee at the minimum 20, 7, 3, 1, 1 from a guy like Giannis on the worst of nights. You're going to get an off night from your stud maybe 5% of the time? Even if you get an off night they're damn sure going to recover it the next time they play which is 1-3 times more in your current matchup. In football, your stud pick is going to lay an egg at least 10% of the time and that is if that pick is an absolute elite pick and the best player in fantasy. Otherwise, you are looking at 25% duds from even the best players and these duds make up 100% of your weekly matchup. 


I don't disagree with this and would concede that there's less luck in winning a fantasy basketball title than there is winning a fantasy football title, simply based on the sheer volume of games and stats that are accumulated during the season resulting in a higher level of predictability. However, I would still say there's still a large amount of luck when it comes to winning a title. Sure, you can probably make the playoffs on a consistent basis if can build a strong team. But if you lose a top 10 player, or your team makeup doesn't match up well with a certain opponent during the playoffs, you have a week where you play fewer games than your opponent, etc., then you might end up losing even though you had the best team all season long.

Honestly, it terms of luck, fantasy sports doesn't differ all that much to the real life sport itself. There are things you can do to position yourself well to succeed, but in the end doesn't matter how good your team is on paper, they still need to stay healthy and perform. 

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Luck cannot be completely eliminated from the game, and it might not even be possible to get it below about 50%.  But if you want to remove some of the luck factor in the game, try some or all of the following steps:

1.  Switch from snake draft to auction.  (This is also more fun IMO than a snake draft although others may not agree.)  In auction, you need to have an opinion on virtually every player in the pool, not just the top three guys available when your turn to pick comes up.

2.  Get the kickers out of your league.  These are almost completely random week-to-week.  I've gotten them out of all my leagues (dynasty is an exception, kickers and IDPs belong in dynasty) and everyone in my leagues in hindsight admits they're glad the kickers are gone.

3.  Consider getting rid of D/STs.  While this tends to be more controversial than getting rid of kickers, these too tend to be a bit of a dart throw.  And nobody seems to miss them once they're gone.  I played in a league with no kickers and no D/STs a couple years back and it was a great experience.  

4.  Make the regular season mean more.  The "small sample" size of the playoffs is an absolute killer, and probably the biggest single thing that boosts up luck.  Don't let too many teams into the playoffs.  Four teams in plenty in a 12-teamer.  Consider giving sizable "home field" advantages for the top teams in the playoffs.  I've played in leagues that gave a 3-point edge to the higher seed in playoff games.  Honestly I could see that being increased to five or seven.  

5.  Deemphasize the vagaries of head to head.  You know that team that has top points but is in 6th in the standings?  Get them in the playoffs.  In a 12-teamer, consider the top two or three teams by record making the playoffs and the top point scorer(s) getting the other spot(s).  Or consider using the "all play" format.

6.  No divisional play.  It's bad enough we have all these other problems, but then you throw in divisional play and you have the added element of the "luck of the draw" of what division you're going to be in and it makes one specific game mean even more than ever.  Single-table format is best, even if you don't have a perfect number of teams for it.  (IMO, the best type of league is a 14-teamer with a round robin 13-game schedule.  The worst format - and a very common one! - is three divisions of four in a 12-team league.  Give me a break.)

7.  Play in deeper leagues.  8- and 10-team leagues tend to be more "amateur" friendly; 14-teamers and up are for the sharks.  This is because the scarcity created by 14- or 16-team leagues requires extra work to understand what RBs handcuffs or satellite backs have a real path to meaningful usage, etc.  In a 10-teamer, a "starting" RB is usually readily available on the wire.  In a 14-teamer, the pickings are slim and it just requires a bit more work to win.  That said, if the league is a snake, especially, the guy who got to pick McCaffrey or the vintage version of Adrian Peterson or Tomlinson during his blow-up years, etc. with the first overall picks may actually have an even greater advantage in a deeper league so this is not free from doubt.

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56 minutes ago, eg4190 said:

I think it’s mostly a game of skill, but there are a few trends leveling the playing field by decreasing the value of work and research. Expert coverage is everywhere, giving less skilled players easy cheat sheets for waiver pickups and lineup choices. But the increasing sophistication of the fantasy apps is also making it easier to stay engaged.
 

In addition to integrating expert coverage, the apps now push notifications when players are injured/out, when players are on bye but locked in the lineup, and so on. When I first started playing, most players set their lineups via desktop. If they even had a mobile app, it was a less sophisticated app that didn’t do any of the handholding. The less attentive teams were always accidentally starting bye/injured players, either because they were away from home when inactive were announced, or because they slept through a London game. Now that everyone has constant access to this info, there’s less of an edge in obsessing over the details.

 

Agreed ^ (see below)...although when I started, it was using USA Today's sports page and we called in line-ups to the Commish via telephone :P

 

5 hours ago, FollowTheLeader said:

A few things that have leveled the playing field (which can certainly increase the percentage/impact of the luck factor):

1) the increase in team owners across the board (more people playing)

2) the extensive information readily available at the click of button for all those owners (not as many gullible owners and/or owners lacking pertinent FFBall knowledge) *fewer mistakes being made by our competition.

While, "luck favors the prepared"...it's just that, more owners are prepared :shrug:

 

Edited by FollowTheLeader
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7 hours ago, dsrich said:

I think this is overrated

Just my personal experience.. had a lot of great teams over the yrs and fell short due to tougher matchups 

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I admittedly haven't read through this whole thread (sorry!) lol so this may be repetitive...

...but i think it's actually more about information than anything else. When many of us started playing fantasy sports whether it was in the late 90s or early 00's, the great separator was information and the access to it. More aptly put, even: it was not only the access to valuable information but analysis of said information as well and in many cases, that's what separated the good players from everybody else. 

Unfortunately, fantasy sports became wildly popular (thanks, The League!) and soon all mainstream media outlets were running segments on just fantasy analysis... injury reports, nxt gen matchup stats, depth chart analysis, scouting reports. The casual now had access to all the same information... .and worse, cookie cutter (but not entirely inaccurate) advice on who to draft, who to target on the wire and who to cut. Sadly, this then led to specialized communities and fantasy experts whose "cutting edge" information became premium and, well, we all know how that's gone. Even casuals - and perhaps them specifically - began simply seeing those subscription fees as a minor investment to gain an advantage and now even the most discerning and in depth analysis became publicly available and pretty much EVERYWHERE.

Whatever edge we lifers had was slowly evaporating. Itreally just became about your specific ability to discern value and to recognize and assess trends. And even then, waiver wires were getting pilfered. And then of course there's just the pure intrinsic nature of fantasy games finding a thousand new ways to make your life miserable on their own lollllll

The most obvious effect of this is that parity is now a real thing. I regularly lose to scrubs all the time. There's just no way around it, to be honest. I can't believe I'm saying this but after decades of doing fantasy sports, I think I'm hanging up my redraft skates after this year and playing just the DFS game.

I just don't know if there's any other way to still enjoy this game without feeling it's a damn roulette. 

May the Force be with you.

EDIT: now i see it lol ok whatever, i said my piece anyway

Edited by zykomonkey

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2 hours ago, K197040 said:

I will add (maybe it's been mentioned) that there is a lot of luck that depends on your schedule.

This just came to mind today when I was reading my CBS review in one league.  I'm now 5-6.  My opponent is 6-5.

According to the write-up, if I played his same schedule, I'd be 8-3.  If he'd played mine, he'd be 2-9.

 

In one of my leagues last year a guy with a really good team missed the playoffs (actually had the 2nd most points). Due to him having a very good team he was quite upset so he looked at what his record would be if he had the schedule of the first place team. Dude would have gone undefeated. 

Schedule plays a huge part.

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I can tell you an auto drafted team is rolling people in first place in one of my 12 man leagues and its for decent money. I vowed to quit if he wins lol

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Fantasy football is just bingo for people not in the nursing home.

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1 minute ago, Br0kenB said:

Fantasy football is just bingo for people not in the nursing home.

 

I was thinking this exact thing yesterday about 1 game showdown DFS GPPs (large field tournaments).

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I would absolutely love for my longstanding league to switch to Auction Drafting but just switching to FAAB already widened the gap quite a bit between the people paying attention and the glorified auto-drafters. Auction Draft would scare anyone that is afraid to put some effort in.

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all about the blowup games. 2-3 players and win you weeks by themselves.

lamar Jackson is league winner with or without the added factor of adp.

while luck plays a factor you see the same people making playoffs and winning. you don't luck into a 9x diamond (even though yahoos ranking system is trash)

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