The “quantified self” is mainstream. We count steps. We track our feelings. We count the number of times our partners say “I love you” – well, most of us don’t, but some of us do. Yet when it comes to fantasy football, a hobby that lends itself to tracking, we’re as self aware as a golden retriever.
Sure, Adam Harstad keeps a “fantasy journal” that’s more safe for work than it sounds. And Leo Paciga keeps a handwritten notebook with more information about his league mates than they’re probably comfortable with. But we can (and should) go farther. I mean, we’re building regression trees and learning programming languages to create a tiny advantage in prospect evaluation. Why aren’t we using simple, available tools to do some self-evaluation? Consider this a start.
I looked at one dynasty league and recorded every trade I made from April 2013 (immediately after the startup draft) to May 2016.1 Then I used the Dynasty ADP App to calculate the trade “equity” at the time of the deal and in present values. For future picks, I used the 8th pick in the round as a placeholder at the time of the deal. For current valuations, I used the draft spot where the pick actually ended up.
Here are the results:
|Date||Gave||Got||Equity then||Equity now|
|4/2/2013||Danario Alexander + Tyler Eifert||BenJarvus Green-Ellis + Lance Moore + 2014 1st (1.05)||10||-6|
|4/4/2013||2014 1st (1.05)||Chris Ivory||6||-12|
|7/26/2013||Knile Davis + BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Joe Flacco + Julian Edelman + 2014 2nd (2.04)||1||44|
|10/31/2013||Maurice Jones-Drew + Larry Fitzgerald||Jordy Nelson||-21||20|
|2/15/2014||Vance McDonald||2015 3rd (3.05)||13||5|
|2/15/2014||Christine Michael||Trent Richardson + 2014 2.01||4||10|
|6/1/2014||Lorenzo Taliaferro + Austin Seferian-Jenkins + 2015 2nd (2.12)||2015 1st (1.11)||6||0|
|6/3/2014||2015 3rd (3.12)||Delanie Walker||-13||13|
|8/19/2014||Trent Richardson + Mike Evans + 2017 1st (1.01) + 2017 1st (1.11)||Rob Gronkowski + Larry Fitzgerald + Pierre Thomas||-77||-54|
|9/5/2014||2017 1st (1.12)||C.J. Spiller||16||-12|
|11/26/2014||Aaron Rodgers + C.J. Spiller||Odell Beckham + Tom Brady||-28||79|
|1/13/2015||Charles Johnson||2015 2.06 + 2015 2.12||35||17|
|1/13/2015||2015 2.06||Jerrick McKinnon||-6||4|
|1/16/2015||Brandin Cooks||Jeremy Hill||0||-29|
|2/9/2015||Devonta Freeman + Chris Polk||Joe Flacco + 2015 2.08||-6||-30|
|3/11/2015||LeSean McCoy + Larry Fitzgerald + 2016 1st (1.10)||A.J. Green||-42||-5|
|7/20/2015||Jordy Nelson||T.J. Yeldon + 2016 1st (1.10)||18||7|
|9/3/2015||Delanie Walker||2016 2nd (2.02)||29||-5|
|9/24/2015||Golden Tate + 2016 2nd (2.03)||Justin Forsett + Arian Foster||25||-31|
|9/27/2015||Chris Ivory||2016 2nd (2.07)||-7||-2|
|10/10/2015||T.J. Yeldon + 2016 2nd (2.10)||Adrian Peterson||12||6|
|10/15/2015||Darren Waller + 2016 2nd (2.07)||Antonio Gates + 2016 3rd (3.09)||3||3|
|10/27/2015||Arian Foster + Jeremy Hill + 2016 1st (1.10)||Melvin Gordon + Danny Woodhead + Eric Decker||-43||18|
|3/2/2016||2017 1st + 2017 2nd||2016 1.10 + Arian Foster||-6||-6|
|4/30/2016||2016 1.10 + 2017 3rd||2017 1st + 2016 4.09||-2||-2|
|5/11/2016||Melvin Gordon||Golden Tate||11||11|
|5/18/2016||Justin Forsett||2016 3.01||0||0|
|5/18/2016||2016 3.09||Mike Davis||-4||-4|
|5/19/2016||Adrian Peterson + Jerrick McKinnon||2017 1st||-33||-33|
As you’d expect, it’s a pretty mixed bag. Here’s a summary showing the total value of my past trades at any given date. Note that the 2016 trades have identical “now” and “then” values.
There’s a pretty clear trend that I take losses on present value but end up winning more deals than I lose. That’s weird, because I preach not “getting your guys” unless the value is right. But my strategy is to target systematically misvalued players, so maybe it makes sense that my trades look bad at first but end up OK.
Another note is that acquiring Odell Beckham in November 2014 – when folks were still a little skeptical – is the only reason I’m in the black. That trade is +79 in my favor right now. The sum of my other trades is (-73). That’s actually not a surprise. My goal isn’t to accumulate as much value as possible. I want to win as many titles as possible while breaking even on team “value.” Though I lost equity on trades, most of that was replaced by draft picks each season, and I probably added a bit on waivers too. Indeed, this team won the title in 2014 and finished third in 2015 (with the best all-play record both seasons). And I’m still near the top of the league in terms of total team value.
* * *
This was a pretty easy exercise, and I plan to do it for all my teams this offseason. I recommend you do the same. It’ll give you some insight into your dynasty style and where you can improve. For instance, I need to focus more on maximizing value at the time of a trade. Here’s a primer on the Dynasty App to get you started.
For more big-picture dynasty talk, read Jason Laso’s series quantifying the age premium in dynasty. Then you can check out Kevin Zatloukal’s tips for exploiting that age premium and my post talking about age premium in prior seasons.
- Actually, not every trade. I omitted trades involving just draft picks. They were the toughest to quantify, and there were tons of them. (back)