“In sales, it’s not what you say; it’s how they perceive what you say.” – Jeffrey Gitomer
My obsession with hockey cards began sometime as a toddler. Each Saturday night, I can clearly remember sitting in my living room, dressed in my He-man pajamas, watching Hockey Night in Canada. At puck drop I would carefully lay out the cards of the players of the two teams that happened to be featured that night. It was a magical moment of the week.
With each goal, assist, or fantastic save, I would search for the players’ card, and run to show my father. Imagine watching a game with a four-year-old sideline analyst, rambling almost incoherently between every play; that was me in a nutshell. The disappointment of not owning the card of a player who had just highlighted the game would eat me. I had nothing to offer my father, and to me, at that young age, was unacceptable. I had to get that card.
My entire life has been foundationally built upon those small moments of disappointment, and how to limit them. From the acquisition of a hockey card, to the acquisition of real estate, everything has been based on two things; what does the seller want, and how can I obtain it?
Dynasty Fantasy Football distilled would reveal two very basic needs for success. The first being points is the most obvious. To win a league you simply need to score more points than your competitors, at the correct time. It’s not really rocket science, but the second need, value, is far more complex.
Value is elusive, and constantly in a state of flux. While many try to counter this by studying the complexity of the NFL, and trying to pick out the overlooked breakout player, and sell off the overvalued, my aim is to simplify my approach. Try as I may, the odds of me becoming a reliable scout for the NFL are lower than I would care to admit. I spend hours, days, and weeks pouring over tape without being able to properly assess the context of the successes or failures on my screen. The grind may be there, but does it really increase my odds of success in fantasy football? I may have to wait many more years to properly answer that question with any definitive results.
The value of the crowd may influence me as much, or possibly (likely) more, than my individualized education. The realization that I am flawed as a predictive analyst required a change in my basic fantasy football philosophy. I moved on from the rigid player analyst mindset, and switched to paying close attention to the large market shifts in the combined dynasty colony.
Predictable patterns emerged immediately.
The value of the injured would fall, and regain value and stability upon their return to production.
This is straightforward. The dynasty community as a whole hates injuries, yet most have little to no impact on future years production. People discount because they need production, and people tend to avoid buying for the same reason. This opens a window for delayed value by purchasing, and selling in the future.
The majority of the dynasty year is centered around youth and ceiling, but a six-to-eight week window existed to sell aging production for a windfall.
We as dynasty players, are predictably ageist in the off-season, yet many forget that points come at a premium in the crucial weeks leading up to a fantasy playoff run. The 28 year running back on your roster will carry a very differing value in march to that of November. Selling the productive veteran when you need them the most often times feels backwards, but while a fantasy team is building, it seems like the safest way to profit.
Rookie values were insulated against poor production throughout most of the year, but shifted in a team’s competitive window.
This statement is somewhat complex. Without going to far into detail, a value of a rookie can remain perfectly stable, even without production, to a team that is building. On a competitive team, a rookie may be used as more of a trade chip, carrying less value strictly based on the teams makeup. It’s been said that the dynasty community is both too fast and too slow in it’s reaction, and the ability to look past non-production in the name of development is a prime example.
The combined mindset of the dynasty crowd holds a players stock far longer than it should. The reaction individualized should move the player’s value ahead, sometime up to five weeks ahead, of the current market Average Draft Position.
Average draft position is released once a month. By the time you have access to the great work Ryan McDowell has out together for DLF, it’s already tainted by time. You can think of this two ways; One being that a player on an upward trend may have flown past his current position, and the second being the opposite downward trend being valued far below his stated place in the reported average draft position.
A time delay exists, where profit is not only available, but also guaranteed.
Think of this as interest. If I happen to trade a current first round draft pick for a future draft pick, plus an additional draft pick, an ability to delay self-gratification, will result in free draft slots. This is endless, and can be repeated until an owner has absolutely zero interest from his trading partners. Lets break this into simple math. 1 plus a year should equal approximately 1.75, which in another year could carry a value of 3, which in one more year could carry a value of 5.5. One draft pick, used and traded wisely, could not only maintain a free pace of draft picks every year, but eventually you could begin to buy veteran players with the surplus.
As with anything in fantasy, these standard movements will need further explanation. Look for a future article, as I will dive into the above underneath a microscope.
As I began to understand market patterns, the next question was how to adapt and capitalize. I’ve always been aware that anything in a small sample is prone to a greater failure rate over a unlimited timeline, so the answer became clear; Movement in volume.
By not limiting myself to only players that I would like and dislike, the possibility arose to make multiple moves in a very short succession. With any thought or theory in the dynasty world, I always come across sticking points that could hinder my success, and in this case particularly, those were my league mates. How would this work if I couldn’t get the other owners to buy in? I dropped my leagues down from a total of 17 to a manageable eight, and began to pay very close attention to the owners. The tendencies of my leagues, and the individual league mates varied greatly, with each carrying a different set of actionable biases.
As patterns developed from previous transactions, I carefully watched if they would continue, and be adopted as true tendencies. This was very important as the great majority of fantasy players learn from their mistakes, and to make an offer that compounds or highlights those mistakes could be interpreted as insulting. I needed to know what the owner wanted before they realized it themselves.
It’s become common to think that the power in fantasy negotiations has resided with that of the team receiving the offer. By making the offer the first team had shown their hand, revealing interest in a player, allowing the second team to hard-counter, creating enough value for a runaway win. These deals often fall apart, with neither team having a realistic approach to the win-win scenario needed. It’s become quite common to simply reject a trade in order to counter, to obtain a slight bump in value.
What’s lost on many is that by rejecting an offer, the risk is perfectly equal to that of accepting an offer. In each trade offer that you may reject or you may accept, there are two outcomes, profit, or loss. Since we are poor predictors of the future, every trade offer has both available to us. The fear of pulling a trigger on a trade can have the same repercussions as an owner who has a fear of not pulling a trigger on a trade. Now since we, as a community are prone to some sort of bias creeping in, my solution was to attempt to move my roster around enough that the players became faceless. The less I attached myself to an individual, the easier it became to trade them away at a profit.
This may require an example.
We all know and love Julio Jones and A.J. Green. These players have been fundamental cores of fantasy success. Let’s call ‘owner 1’ Steve, and I’ll play the part of the second owner. Steve owns A.J. Green and has been actively shopping him. His down year due to injury has weighed on him, and now wants to move to someone he may feel is a safer option, and I, as the second owner own Julio Jones. The current Average draft position has created a gap between the two that has opened an opportunity for me to pull a profit without losing longevity, or point production. By me selling him Julio Jones for ‘A.J. Green-plus’, I have now added value to my squad without really changing anything. Deeper looks into their situation – point production, health, team, coaching, and utilization all point to very similar outcomes, so why value them differently at all? After careful deliberation, I choose to not to. What mattered to me in the deal was the future expectation of points scored, and the how I believed the dynasty community would respond.
Often times as a volume trader I have noticed that outside sources and influences create opportunity. While I believe that fundamental research can be applied to a “hot take”, I rarely find them helpful, and more often than not, eventually distance myself from the authors. I simply do not care about the entertainment value of uselessness.
The more I tend to focus on the context of successes, the more they appear in my fantasy dealings. Emotions are hindrances, better left to watching football as a fan, yet commonly show up in soft analysis. We not only become attached to a player or the jersey he donned on Sundays, but to the fantasy theories that we continually invent, and subsequently reinvent.
The constant bombardments of articles on how to properly build a dynasty roster not only confuse us, but also pull us in a direction where many believe that analysis no longer has the same positive effect. Upon this realization, I started to buy in a contrarian fashion to all theories based on previous production or assumed longevity. The dynasty world has one key response that I have deemed predictable; the total number of points put up by a position or player will create next years analysis, rendering the past works and theories blurred, or in some cases, entirely obsolete. If that can flip an entire grouping of skill position players, the ability to pull profit is massive.
So why trade in volume as opposed to the norm? For the sake of imagination, let’s say I hand you a dollar, and in return you hand me another dollar and a dime. That seems like a decent profit, so why would you stop there? Take the dollar and dime and trade it once again, for a dollar and a quarter, and continue on down that road. If you can predict market holes, (which I will further explore in future articles), and expose them for profit, eventually you can afford to buy the true difference makers in fantasy, and have the fantasy wallet insurance to absorb losses when they unavoidably come along.
The maximization of fantasy stock should be the goal of every roster. It allows us to break trends, buy the elite that many find unnecessary, and create not only a good roster, but also one that can dominate at every available position. There is no need to stop, only a need to continually evolve.