Beating the Market

The Market

I find myself on the floor of the Fantasy Football Player Exchange, where a crowd of fantasy managers are frantically trying to assemble the best roster possible. The ESPN website is Wall Street, Rotoworld is the news ticker, Matthew Berry is a stock analyst, and I’m searching the internet for insider trading information. I scream and shout across the floor trying to find the best value for players I want to trade, and get deals on those that I’m targeting. Buy low, sell high. The chaos is endless, the excitement is boosting, and the trading never stops.

In truth, the exchange is simply the desk I’m sitting at. The crowd of managers are the other members of my league, and my screams and shouts across the floor only occur over text message. I have a few websites and a spreadsheet of values in front of me to help me find the best trades available. The excitement though, the excitement is still there, and that’s why I love fantasy football.

There’s a well-known theory in investing called the efficient market hypothesis. Simply put, the price of any given investment reflects all public knowledge of that investment, and therefore it’s impossible to predict whether the value will increase or decrease in the future without dumb luck. I, for one, am not a believer in the efficient market. With enough studying, analysis, and a little bit of luck, I believe that the market can be beaten. I also believe the same for fantasy football. Just as the market can be beaten, the league can be beaten, and here’s how.

Follow All the News

No news is new news, at least to you. The most critical part to getting a leg up on the league is to be in constant knowledge of what’s going on with the players. Download a few apps, follow the right Twitter accounts, and find the sources that are the first to report the news, especially during the preseason. If done properly, you’ll have a small window of time ahead of the rest of your league to pick up Devin Funchess when you hear that Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL, or Markus Wheaton when it’s announced that Martavis Bryant faces a four game suspension. Quick  moves like this may make a small difference, or they may make one the size of Odell Beckham Jr. last year when you’re the first person to grab him before he comes back from injury. Keeping up with this information can also help you follow fluctuations in player value, and find the players that you expect to rise in value in the near future. If you know more than the person you’re trying to trade with, you’re at an instant advantage.

Buy Low, Sell High

The simplest rule to investing, yet the hardest to follow. How do we know that a hot player’s value won’t keep getting higher? How do we know that a declining player’s value won’t stay low? I was ecstatic last year to trade for Keenan Allen after week 2, thinking his two poor games against tough defenses weren’t going to reflect his whole season, and I was wrong. Truthfully, there’s a lot of judgement in here. For high players, I try to look at how stable their performance is. Are they putting up good numbers on a bad offense? Making big plays on few touches? Succeeding only because of an injury to a player ahead of them? There are exceptions, but many times these players will be the ones who only see a few weeks of glory. For underperforming players, it’s helpful to look at the defenses they’ve been playing and their usage in the offense. If a player has played stingy defenses the past few weeks and their touches haven’t significantly declined, they might be on the rebound soon.

Make Your Own Judgements

If you simply repeat what all analysts are saying about a certain player, you’re going to be saying the exact same thing as every member of your league. It doesn’t matter what reporters say, if you don’t want an old running back coming off a poor season on your team, you probably shouldn’t value Frank Gore very high. If you think all the hype on Ameer Abdullah is overblown then you should try to target Joique Bell. Find gaps between where you value players and where your league does, and use that to your advantage. Yes, you should be reading what the professionals think of a player, but you can’t beat the league unless you make moves on your own.

Get Lucky

Yes, it’s definitely necessary. The man in my auction league that drafted Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy last year was looking solid after the draft. The league champion that year finished the regular season second to last in total points. There’s always going to be a little luck involved, whether you like it or not. The truth is that no amount of research or analysis can predict injuries, suspension, abnormal performance, or playing the wrong team at the wrong time. Sometimes you have to embrace this luck and be thankful that you were on the right end of it, other times you just have to look towards next week, and hope that it finds you then.

It’s important to remember that even the best investors lose billions sometimes. You may have years that nothing goes well, and none of this advice seems to be working for you. However, any manager that can follow this tips each and every season will be a great manager in the long run. I can’t guarantee championships every year, or even that you’ll be an instant lock for the playoffs. However, if you put the time in you can be a manager that your league worries about on draft day.


fantasyreaList Writer: Blake LaBathe


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