Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Fantasy Football - How to find consistent players: Player Production Volatility (PPV).

I have created a new statistic to measure a player's Fantasy Football scoring volatility, which reveals the player's consistency and average scoring range.

Fantasy Sports is a rapidly-growing and extremely popular topic/hobby/game/form of gambling, and may be transforming mainstream culture and sports. It is a $ billion dollar industry still only in the early to middle stages of its development.

With so much (betting) money on the line and everyone's self-respect and reputation at stake, there is a huge incentive to know how to play, and win, fantasy sports.

But winning isn't easy!! Luck is needed, but skill is usually required. The chances of winning in Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Football are much better for those who can pick (draft) the best players, build the top-scoring team, strategize and decide which players to put in the starting lineup and which to leave on the bench.

It's not only a competition among friends, family, or coworkers. There are millions and millions of people and even businesses trying to cash in and capitalize on this megatrend. And it's fun!
There are sports fanatics, stats experts, gamblers, computer programmers, algorithms, and full-time professionals all obsessed and competing to win.

Anyone who can gain an advantage over the competition by uncovering valuable information or creating/implementing an effective strategy is significantly closer to being crowned the champion.

And since fantasy sports is still relatively new and still evolving, many opportunities still exist for those who can discover them. The markets are not yet fully efficient, and there are profits to be made.

We believe that plenty of opportunities exist in Statistics.
The value of using statistics to win in fantasy sports is easy to understand. It is statistics, after all, which the fantasy points system is based on: Touchdown (TD) = 6 points, 10 rushing yards = 1 point, and so on (depending on your league's scoring system).

So do you agree that analyzing statistics can help you win in fantasy sports?

If you agree, I have some good news! I have developed a few unique strategies which I will share with you for free.

The first one I will show you is not just a strategy, but also a brand new statistic, inspired by my experience in Finance - more specifically, the stock market and investment analysis.
I call this new statistic the "Player Production Volatility" or PPV. It could also technically be called "Player Performance Volatility".
The PPV can be used to predict how many fantasy points a player will score, the range of likely outcomes, and how much risk is involved. It is also very useful in choosing which players to start and which to keep on the bench. It enables comparisons between players who might otherwise seem equal or close in value.
Which player can you depend on? Which player might screw you over? Who is more likely to have a huge game?

The Player Production Volatility (PPV) stat measures the fluctuations of a player's scores and their deviations from his average score, in order to calculate the variations in his performance. In other words, the PPV calculates a player's typical "miss".

Especially during the Fantasy playoffs, you need players who score a lot, but you also need your players to show up when it counts most; you need consistency, and you can't afford flops.

Consistency is very important in fantasy sports, especially in season-long leagues. A high average score (# of fantasy points per game) is a key statistic, but it doesn't tell you if a player will likely reach that point total in his next game.
For example, 20 points per game is an exceptional average score for a fantasy football player, but can you rely on the 20 point average for the next game? If a player averages 15 points per game, how likely is he to score at least 15? If he misses, how bad is it (by how much)?

Here is an example where this matters:

Player A Player B Player C Player D
Week 1 20 13 5 26
Week 2 3 12 25 24
Week 3 17 12 10 10
Week 4 5 10 13 0
Week 5 15 13 7 0
Total 60 60 60 60
Average 12 12 12 12
PPV 6.752777 1.095445 7.042727 11.24278

All 4 players above have the same Average score of 12 points per week. They all scored equally, 60 points each over the 5 week span. 
However, each player had a vastly different scoring pattern. PlayerA had 3 strong weeks with extremely weak ones in between. PlayerB had very consistent weeks, all between 10 and 13 points. PlayerC had one very big week and four standard or substandard weeks. PlayerD had 2 big weeks, 1 standard, and 2 weeks at 0 points (could be missed games, injuries, or simply terrible performance). 

When we calculate the Player Production Volation (PPV), we get a much better understanding of the scoring patterns.
PlayerB, with the most consistent scoring, had the lowest PPV of 1.095, which shows that his score wavered the least away from his average of 12 (on average, he only missed by 1.095 points). 
PlayerD, with some big weeks and some 0 point weeks, had the highest PPV since his scores were all over the place. He either scored way above the average of 12, or way below.
PlayerA and PlayerC came very close. Interestingly, though they both had similar volatility in scoring, their actual scores were very different by week. 

According to our PPV calculation, PlayerB is most consistent and perhaps most reliable in scoring 12 points, but he isn't as likely as the others to have a huge scoring game. Players A, C, and D might have a huge game, but they could also fail you when it matters most. 

Two players could have the same average fantasy points per game, but one is much more consistent while the other fluctuates dramatically. Huge scoring games will help you win, but what happens when that same player has terrible games? Can you afford to start a player who might only get you 3 points? especially during the fantasy playoffs? 
Would you rather start a player who is much more consistent in scoring at least 10 points? Maybe it depends on your situation and matchup. 

Here are some real examples from the 2015-2016 NFL Fantasy Football season:

Presented above: Danny Woodhead, Lamar Miller, Devonta Freeman, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Eric Decker, Doug Baldwin. 

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