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

  1. The Thumb says:
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    Hold up. Someone in my league just dropped Martin, I have to drop Sproles for him don’t I?

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @The Thumb: Curtis??? Well yeah, despite my roast of Doug above I’d want him over Sproles. Is this a PPR league? What does the rest of your roster look like?

      • malamoney

        malamoney says:
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        @malamoney: I am hoping you have seen the news that Martin is out for today…

  2. Kirk says:
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    Hey malamoney ; 12 team ppr need help for a flex. Have Gio and CJ?K as my rb’s . I also have Ivory. Also have Reggie Bush vs a tough Carolina run defense. Bottom line: use Ivory vs GB or Bush. Not diggin Reggie vs Car. A rupee for yer thoughts. Or a mojito ?

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @Kirk: I’m burning that bush with my candle and going with Reggie. In PPR he just has more value. I hear you on Carolina’s defense, but I just can’t justify starting Ivory over Bush. Plus you are already starting CJ?K…

  3. Waterboy says:
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    Hey man how’s your Saturday going?

    Roster is

    QB- Matt Ryan

    RB- lesean McCoy
    RB2- Montee ball

    WR1- Brandon Marshall
    WR2- Crabtree
    WR3- Marques colston

    TE- Ertz

    TE/WR spot- I made the mistake starting Wheaton here grr

    Defense- Bucs

    Kicker- Matt Bryant

    What I don’t like we start 3 WR’s & have the option of 4 with the WR/TE spot but can only start 2 RB’s.

    Here’s my bench- Andre Ellington , Ahmad Bradshaw, Chris ivory, Justin Hunter, Jordan Matthews, Travis kelce & Ridley

    Would you drop or keep Jordan Matthews to add santonio Holmes just incase Marshall can’t go on Sunday night. Or if he can’t go / late scratch I suppose I could start Matthews Monday night.

    Here’s who’s available- Allen hurns, Brian quick, rod streater, Marqise lee, Harry Douglas, or kenny britt

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @Waterboy: Saturday is going ok. I can see Brandon Marshall isn’t make your weekend choices very easy. I am in a similar situation with Jeffery. I have actually decided to bench him in favor of Andrew Hawkins. Justin Tucker gave me a nice start on Thursday night so I am just going to play it “safe”. Plus my opponent had Pitta.

      I’m not too high on Holmes, but if Marshall and/or Jeffery is out, Cutler has to throw the ball to someone (other than Bennett). So Holmes will have some value. Just not sure how much. Marshall is known to play hurt and Jeffery was a limited participant in Friday’s practice. At the end of the day I think one or both of Marshall and Jeffery play (at least some of the game) rendering Holmes not a great option. Hopefully I am not wrong.

      You didn’t mention if this was a PPR league, but my advice will assume that it is. Here is how I rank the other options you have mentioned and how many points Malabot expects them to get. As you know I am not high on projections, but everyone has them (including me).

      Quick 17.2
      Lee 14.1
      Douglas 11.7
      Hurns 12.7
      Streater 13.3
      Hunter 9.6
      Kelce 9.7
      Matthews 4.9
      Britt 7.4

      You will notice they are not exactly ranked in order based on expected points. This is because I am factoring in a few other variables.

      Quick and Streater have later games so if you chose to go with one of them, you can at least wait until then to decide to bench Marshall.

      Hope this helps…

  4. jb smoove says:
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    What is your view on Steve Smith the first.

    He was under the radar this year, but looks like he is receiving a fair amount of targets in week 1 and 2.

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @jb smoove: Double digit targets in the first two games is something I like very much. And he’s making catches. If Flacco is comfortable throwing to him, I’d expect the trend to continue. However Flacco recently said that Torrey Smith is a 1000-yard, 100-catch receiver. With 4 catches on 10 targets in the first two games, he’s a bit off on his predictions. In order to get 100 catches in 16 games you need 6.25 catches per games. Right now he’s only averaging 5 targets per game. So either Flacco was referring to the wrong Smith (who is on pace for 106 catches and 1512 yards) or Torrey’s targets are going to increase. If that happens I would think that would take away from Steve somewhat. I expect Torrey’s production to increase, but I think Steve will remain a productive fantasy option. In other words, I’m buying…

      • JB Smoove says:
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        @malamoney:

        Non-PPR, Sproles or Crabtree at flex?

        • malamoney

          malamoney says:
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          @JB Smoove: Crabtree

  5. Steve says:
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    Would u drop Ingram for Hyde??
    Standard league

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @Steve: At this moment I would not. However ask me again in a few weeks. Is Ingram a starter for you or just bench depth?

  6. mike durkee says:
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    2Qb ppr leauge. I have Brees and Rivers. Am i getting too cute by picking up Hoyer and playing him instead of Rivers. I expect a tough matchup versus Sea.

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @mike durkee: Go with Rivers

  7. ilikeyourstyle says:
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    I really like your article. I’ve only played fantasy sports for a couple years. I have to say baseball is my favorite (it’s also th emost boring, which sounds counterintuitive). Baseball is the mecca for stats, and it’s fun to analyze these stats to predict breakouts, etc. i havent been able to master it in football.

    i have some lineup decisions.

    1)defense. st lous, cincy, dolphins, are avail (jets/packers any other you could prob guess are avail as well) who would you roll with?

    2) knowshon moreno, doug martin, or marques colston in my flex?

    3)julian edelman, keenan, or colston for wr2?

    4)would you trot J. cameron out there, or pick up antonio gates/ that dude from the giants ( i dont even know his name) or anoter TE.

    Thank you!

    • ilikeyourstyle says:
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      @ilikeyourstyle: since i’ve already asked you essentially who to start for my entire team, might as well include qb.

      cam newton or ROMO this week? i’m afraid one hit could send cam to the bench (as well as j. cameron)

      i have a lot of risk built into my team after week 1

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @ilikeyourstyle: Thanks. I’m a much bigger fantasy baseball guy myself as well. Hopefully I will be able to share some insight there next season.

      1. I’d rank them St. Louis, Cincy, Packers, Dolphins and then Jets. Any chance the Patriots are available?

      2. Knowshon Moreno

      3. Assuming PPR, Edelman then Colston then Allen

      4. I have a similar conundrum. I own Cameron and really don’t have the bench space to drop someone to pick up a backup since I just grabbed Josh Gordon and we have a tiny bench. I haven’t read any reports yet today but I am concerned whether he will play, and if so how much. If you have the space to grab a backup then do it. It’s the safe/smart play. Not sure I’d pick Gates going up against Seattle. The TE you speak of is Donnell. He had a good week 1, but that is no guarantee of week 2. Who else is available in your league?

      • ilikeyourstyle says:
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        @malamoney: delanie walker

  8. Steve says:
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    Ingram is bench depth
    Have lacy Fjax Vereen Moreno

    • The Harrow says:
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      @Steve: what’s the question?

      • The Harrow says:
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        @The Harrow: nevermind, i see you’re coming back to a question from slightly above.

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @Steve: It wouldn’t be the worst move if you decided to swap him for Hyde, but I’m still holding at this point.

  9. A Wesley Snipes Life says:
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    hey, until just now i thought you were just a commenter, nice. anyway which side for this week only do you come in on
    1. cutler/RW3/Locker?
    2. PPR wayne/wright?
    3. standard spiller/c.johnson?
    4. standard flex. lesser of spiller/c.johnson or olsen?
    jesus, imagine having to comish one of those leagues using newspaper box scores. what happens when different papers have different scores from errors, and owners live in different cities. gross.

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @A Wesley Snipes Life:

      1. Wow, that’s a real toss up. Damned if you do. I’m leaning towards Locker. If we knew for sure that Cutler was going to have all of his weapons, then I’d say Cutler, but both Marshall and Jeffery’s statuses are up in the air.

      2. Wright

      3. Johnson

      4. Not sure what you mean by “less of”, but here’s how I rank them in order I would start them: Johnson, Spiller then Olsen. I like Johnson this year. Even with Ivory behind him. Spiller does have the potential in him to be great though. When I see it (regularly) I will change my rankings.

      Back in the early 90s, fantasy leagues were only local. At least the ones I was aware of. All drafts were live and we trusted one source (paper) for the stats. For us it was the Bergen Record in north Jersey.

      Good luck!

  10. Drew says:
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    Hey,

    My starting RB’s are Bush and Ivory with Moreno in the Flex. Should I bench bush maybe with the Lions going against the Panthers, move Moreno into the other starting role and either put Amendola or Allen in the Flex.?

    I put Pitta in for Thursday and that was a bad move.

    My starting wide outs are Wayne and Avery with Jeffery on the bench. Keep that the same you think?

    It’s a ppt leauge.

    thanks.

    • Drew says:
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      @Drew: PPR*

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @Drew: Moreno, Bush and Allen. Hopefully Sherman lines up against Floyd. Rivers will have to throw the ball.

      • Drew says:
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        @malamoney: My bad, Dwayne Allen on the Colts.

        • malamoney

          malamoney says:
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          @Drew: Moreno, Bush and Ivory. Sorry for the late response.

Comments are closed.