RotoGuru Menu
Daily blurbs
Message Forum
Forum Keepers


Football Pickoff

NFL Schedule
Field Goals
Player Lookup

TSN Football
Sortable TSN Stats
Weekly TSNP
Team Rankings

RotoHog Football
Sortable RotoHog Stats
Weekly RHP

Hoop Pointers
Player Lookup

NBA Schedule
Full Season

Next 4 weeks

TSN Hoops
TSN Stats
Yesterday's TSNP
Team Rankings

Yesterday's RHP

Market Madness
Contest Site

Historical Stats
Recap of Entries
Unit Returns

MLB Schedule
Base Advances
Player Lookup

TSN Baseball
Sortable Stats
Yesterday's TSNP
Team Rankings

RotoHog Baseball
Sortable Stats
Yesterday's RHP

Draft Bug Baseball

Sortable Stats
Yesterday's DBP

Home page
Hall of Fame

[RotoGuru logo]
[RotoGuru subtitle]

Field Goals
Fantasy Football Strategy Ideas from the Guru

Money Isn't Everything
October 28, 1998

Many Smallworld managers have set out to accumulate the highest franchise value possible. The best players, they reason, are the most expensive, and "the more we can afford, the greater will be our reward."

To an extent, this is a valid assessment. Certainly, there is strong overall tendency for better players to cost more than average players. But just how tight is this relationship between value and point production?

I've taken a look at this question several different ways. The first - and perhaps least consequential - is to determine the best possible roster each week (i.e., the roster which would have produced the most points for the week). After 8 weeks of the season, the average price (using the appropriate price for each week) of these eight rosters is only $63.5 million. The most expensive of these hypothetical rosters was $74.8 million in week 2. (Yeah, I know no one could afford that roster, since all teams were still worth $50 million at the time. That's not the point.) The least expensive roster was the week 3 roster, which would only have cost a very affordable $48.4 million. When you consider that some teams will likely pass the $100 million threshold in value this week, the cost of weekly superiority doesn't seem excessive.

But how about the price of consistent excellence? A lot of cheap players have one or two monster games, but it's unrealistic to be able to pick these in advance, and even if you could, there aren't enough trades to get the job done. A better measure of performance should consider production over a period of weeks, not just single-game flashes of brilliance.

To get a better feel for this, I graphed price vs. average SWP/game. The graph which appears below is based upon the first 7 weeks of the season, and excludes kickers, team defenses, and players who appeared in less than four games. The four positions are color coded, to help you see the patterns by position.

What does this graph tell you? I think there are several interesting points:

  • Start by looking at all of the points, regardless of color. You can see the general pattern of an upward sloping line, which is what you'd expect - as production rises, so does price. But there is a lot of dispersion around that imaginary line. And when you look at the patterns position-by-position, there are some interesting differences.
  • The green point in the upper right is Steve Young, and he seems to be playing in a league of his own. However, after Young, there are a bunch of quarterbacks who have produced similar point averages, but who range widely in price. For example, 10 quarterbacks currently average between 250-290 SWP per game; these QBs range in price from $1.2 million up to $11 million. So, that 2nd QB on your roster can be a significant producer without necessarily costing a fortune.
  • Running backs appear to show the most logical relationship between price and production. If you're going to spend some money to get some points, RB looks like the position to go shopping for.
  • Wide receivers, on the other hand, look similar to the "Youngless" quarterbacks. Over the course of the season, the best WRs will probably average around 200 SWP/G, and there are a variety of receivers to choose from who are producing at or near that clip. You can spend between $2-$8 million on a quality wide receiver.
  • Tight ends just aren't significant producers. The "big kahuna" among tight ends, Shannon Sharpe, looks relatively expensive for his production vs. other positions. (He's the yellow dot hiding amidst the blue and red at the intersection of roughly $7 mil and $150 SWP/G.) If you've got unlimited funds, then by all means, he's the TE to own. But, the money might be better spent at other positions. (SW baseball players will remember a similar phenomenon for second baseman Craig Biggio this past season.)
  • Kickers just don't produce or cost enough to matter that much, at least as far as this analysis goes. And look at the comparable graph for team defenses (below). I defy you to find much of a price/performance relationship here!

Finally, let's look at actual SW team results through the first seven weeks. I've been tracking the progress of a sampling of slightly more than 500 teams. If I look at the relationship between cumulative SWP and current franchise value, the correlation coefficient is about 65%. This suggests a strong positive relationship between value and performance when applied to a broad universe of teams. But if I narrow this field to just those teams ranked in the top 10% (by points) of all teams worldwide, the correlation coefficient drops to 21%. The range of franchise values for this sample of top-decile teams ranges from $59-$97 million. And if I look at the official worldwide leaderboard, the correlation between points and value is insignificant. So while extra value is certainly helpful in bringing your ranking up to a certain level, it is neither a necessary nor a sufficient criteria to ensure your success.

It is possible that the relationship between points and value will increase as the season wears on. Teams which have built up a mother lode by now should have a decided advantage over the second half of the season. Still, the football season is only 17 weeks long, and all sorts of unusual statistical results can be expected to occur over such a small number of games. So, if you feel like you're lagging the field in value, don't despair. Money isn't everything!

RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is not employed by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.

© Copyright 1998-2008 by Uncommon Cents, LLC. All rights reserved.