In my 2014 10-person snake draft fantasy football private league, I went undefeated during the course of the season (14-0) and playoffs (2-0). My team scored the 1st or 2nd most points in 88% of weekly matchups and was points leader by scoring 31% higher than league average over entire season. Given my unique financial portfolio management approach to fantasy football, I thought I’d share the highlights of my strategy to anyone interested.
In head-to-head fantasy football, the goal is to score more points than your opponent each week. This means that your players are expected to score many points (i.e. returns) without experiencing significant underperformance any given week (i.e. downside deviations). By dividing returns / downside deviations, this creates a measure of efficiency (similar to the Sortino Ratio in finance). Therefore, you want more efficient players on your team relative to your opponents in order to win. For these calculations, I used data from the previous 2013 season’s game logs, but I also made discretionary adjustments for trades, potential arrests, and suspensions.
The relative to opponents aspect means you should first draft players in positions that are highly differentiated in efficiency (i.e. high replacement cost). For example, highly efficient RBs are difficult to replace, as the top RBs tend to experience more outperformance than an average RB vs. the QB position. Therefore, I take a pre-determined positional preference when picking players: RB1, RB2, TE1, RB3, WR1, RB4, QB1, WR2, WR3. However, I’ll draft a select few highest efficiency WRs and QBs in the 4th round if available (which never actually happens as they go in 1st and 2nd rounds).
This strategy led to me picking (7th of 10th in draft order): 1) Matt Forte, 2) DeMarco Murray, 3) Julius Thomas, 4) Frank Gore, 5) Victor Cruz (replaced by Odell Beckham), 6) Joique Bell, 7) Tom Brady, 8) Emmanuel Sanders, 9) DeAndre Hopkins.
A great draft is only a minor part of a successful season. Optimizing for weekly matchups is also important. Keep in mind that average players can outperform against the worst defenses and the best players can underperform against the best defenses. Also keep an open eye for available players (primarily RBs) on waivers.
I’ve linked to a screenshot of my ESPN final season standings below. League owners besides my name have been redacted for privacy: http://imgur.com/a/EjbF4