Projections are like opinions, and you know what Dirty Harry said about opinions.
“Well, opinions are like as*holes. Everybody has one.” -Harry Callahan (Dead Pool, 1988).
Projections are “informed” guesses, often by someone who thinks they know more than the next. Hopeful approximations. A false promise almost guaranteed to disappoint. Projections are generally misleading and biased, and we can hardly rely upon them. If projections were accurate they wouldn’t be projections, they’d be stats. And if projections were consistently correct, fantasy sports would be an incredibly boring pastime. In a fantasy world filled with projections, many of us are starved for facts. But to where should we turn? The stats. Why? Because stats do not lie. In fantasy football they paint a near exact picture of what has occurred and how each player has, or has not, produced.
One famous, and dead, author might disagree. A long time ago Mark Twain said “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” I call bullsh*t Mr. Twain. Me and everybody reading this article knows that if you were alive today, you’d not only be in at least four fantasy football leagues, but you’d be reading Razzball in hopes of uncovering that small bit of advice or oddball statistic that helped you win the coming week’s matchups and bring you one step closer to a fantasy championship.
Okay, enough banter. Let’s get to why we are here. How can we leverage the stats to help pinpoint players that are at the top of their game, or perhaps on their way there.
Perhaps it’s the computer programmer in the me that draws me to the numbers, or maybe it’s the fact that when I started playing fantasy baseball back in 1992, you had to track players by fetching their daily stats from the newspaper. Wow, that sounds a lot like one of those “back in my day” comments that most people couldn’t give a crap about.
I often (very often) find myself staring at spreadsheets of stats looking for that one “aha” moment when I realize that I uncovered the colonel’s secret recipe. That I have I found a way out of the matrix. That finally, this sequence of ones and zeros is as clear as day.
Over time I have developed some of my own formulas that have helped me finish in the money of many of my fantasy leagues. While I am not exactly ready to divulge that intellectual property and bring you completely into the circle of trust, I would like to share with you the results of one particular formula that I refer to as “hidden rupees”.
Hidden rupees is designed to identify players that are at the top of their game, or perhaps on their way there. Its goal is to find the best of the best and the best of the rest by analyzing a player’s previous week and year-to-date stats and calculating a score for each player known as their SAV or statistically adjusted value.
Before I dive in, let me give you my rationale for the hidden rupees equation. In the world of fantasy football touchdowns are important, but they are fickle, unpredictable and unreliable. What are more relevant are receptions. I’d much rather own the player with ten receptions and no touchdowns than the one with one reception and one touchdown. The more receptions, the more chances for touchdowns. The more targets, the more chances for receptions. The more snaps, the more chances for targets. The more drops, perhaps the less opportunity for targets. As for running backs, it’s a little less complicated. The more rushes, the more chances for yards and touchdowns. I have taken all of these variables into account in defining the subroutine responsible for identifying hidden rupees.
So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to the Pretty Stats Machine, also known as Malabot Version 0.0 and the map to the Hidden Rupees…
Hidden Rupees Category 1: Best of the Rest (Weekly)
These are the players that are owned in less than approximately 70% of most leagues that were top performers based on last week’s stats.
Running Back: Justin Forsett (25.3 SAV)
Aside from Josh Gordon, Forsett is the popular pickup heading into week 2. With the Ravens cutting Ray Rice and Roger Goodell suspending him indefinitely, Jim Harbaugh will have to figure out the running back situation in Baltimore. But even if the elevator video hadn’t surfaced and Rice was still serving his two game suspension, Malabot says that Forsett would still be getting quite a few “you pretty okay too” remarks for last week’s performance. He tallied 70 yards on 11 carries, a touchdown, 5 receptions for 14 yards on 6 targets and was on the field for 57 of 88 (64.8%) of the Ravens offensive snaps. That’s hardly something to be ignored. Game. Forsett. Match. Honorable Mention (Ahmad Bradshaw 19.1)
Wide Receiver: Allen Hurns (28.45 SAV)
Who the heck is Allen Hurns? According to Malabot he was the second highest valued wide receiver in week 1, in which he racked up 110 yards (35 after catch) and 2 touchdowns on 9 targets. Only Marqise Lee saw more targets with 10, but was not able to be as productive as Hurns. As long as Shorts is out, look for Allen “Hitman” Hurns to remain steadily involved in the Jacksonville passing game. Honorable Mention (Kelvin Benjamin 22.9 and Donnie Avery 21.1)
Tight End: Larry Donnell (19.9 SAV)
Larry Donnell?! If anyone here says they even had him on their tight end cheat sheet on draft day, Malabot is going to give you a virus. I’m not sure I even heard of him until Monday night. Five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown on 52 of 60 (86.7%) of the Giants offensive snaps. After Rashad Jennings, Donnell was the second most productive Giant in week 1. It will be interesting to see what Ronald McDonnell can do in week 2. Honorable Mention (Dwayne Allen 16.75)
Hidden Rupees Category 2: Best of the Best (Weekly)
These are the top performing players based on last week’s stats regardless of percentage owned. I expect a lot of these to be no-brainers, but that won’t keep me from highlighting them.
Running Back: Le’Veon Bell (38.2 SAV)
Malabot is computing that Bell had the highest value of any player this week. Rushing for 109 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries and catching 6 of 7 targets for another 88 yards are numbers that will make any fantasy footballer do their touchdown dance. When asked about his marijuana possession charges, Bell said he was “just trying to Le’Veon the playing field”. Sorry about that one, but I had to. Honorable Mention (Matt Forte 36.15)
Wide Receiver: Calvin Johnson (34.55 SAV)
Does Megatron ever disappoint? I’ve never had the pleasure of owning him on any of my teams, but he sure does seem to get the job done (and more). The leader of the Decepticons had 7 catches on 11 targets for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns. Need I say more? The defense rests. Peace through tyranny. Honorable Mention (Allen Hurns 28.45 and AJ Green 27.95)
Tight End: Julius Thomas (33.95 SAV)
Last year Peyton Manning broke the record for touchdowns in a season with 55. He threw for 3 in his first game this year and Julius Thomas caught all 3. Seven catches on 8 targets for 104 yards, and as already mentioned, 3 touchdowns! While he did have a fumble, I don’t expect that to keep Manning from throwing his way and considering he was on the field for 68 of Denver’s 74 offensive snaps, I’d say his production is likely to continue. Et tu, Razzballers? Honorable Mention (Martellus Bennett 27.6)
“Keep Them Hidden” Rupees: Duds of the Studs (Weekly)
These are the worst performing studs of the week. These players, which most of us rely upon, have made us want to punch them in the face in an elevator. (Too soon?)
Running Back: Doug Martin (8.25 SAV)
Fartin Martin. That’s about all this dude did last week. He farted all over fantasy lineups with his 9 yards on 9 carries. I don’t need a computer to tell me that sucks. Remember that 4 touchdown, 251 yard game back in 2012? Me neither. It looks like Doug has picked up where he left off last year as the Mayor of Disappointment-ville. Sh!t or get off the pot Martin. Dishonorable Mention (Zac Stacy 10.75)
Wide Receiver: Victor Cruz (9 SAV)
This guy took the “victor” out of victory with his horrible performance. On his 6 targets he had 2 catches (24 yards), 2 drops and 2 incompletes. That’s the stat line of a guy I’m glad is not on my team. All he needed was a fumble to put an exclamation mark on his week. Maybe it’s the Giants’ fault, maybe it’s Peyton’s brother’s fault, but I expect more from you Victor. So for now I’m turning off Cruz control and driving this thing myself. Dishonorable Mention (Michael Crabtree 9.05 and Larry Fitzgerald 9.55)
Tight End: Jordan Cameron (8.8 SAV)
I realize that he reinjured his AC joint, but his poor performance was nothing short of unsatisfying. You know the difference between Jordan Cameron and Tyler Eifert in week 1? Absolutely nothing. And that’s about all that needs to be said. Dishonorable Mention (Jason Witten 11.45)
For those yet to realize, hidden rupees is designed for PPR leagues. So to those of you in standard scoring leagues, I apologize.
Disclaimer: I know some people work very hard on their projections and my intentions were not to disparage their efforts. My goal is to help you realize their limited potential and proper role in fantasy management. It’s easy to get caught up in the land of make believe numbers, but if you can see through the fog and understand how to navigate the inevitable sea of projections, I think you will be better prepared for fantasy success.
As time goes on and I get to know you all better, perhaps I will break down, open up and reveal the inner workings of the Pretty Stats Machine, but in the meantime you’ll just have to take the machine’s word for it. Humans are biased, error prone and allow emotions to interfere with judgment. Machines know no favorites.
And if you’d like, examine the numbers yourself… (Downloadable Excel).
“I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” -Morpheus