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The Value-Volatility All-stars


Fantasy Pros is a really cool site because they aggregate expert rankings and then give you the rankings data in a format that would allow you to run more analysis if you’re so inclined. I am so inclined.

I have a theory that there are two principal components to making a value pick and those components are: 1) Value.1 and 2) Volatility.

Ryan Rouillard has written about these ideas in the past so you should check out his work.

But as it relates to the Fantasy Pros rankings, I wanted to perform very specific analysis. I wanted to see who the most valuable and volatile draft picks might be. I did this by selecting a sub-set of rankers (just five total) that I consider to be very sharky, and then running some numbers on their rankings.

The two main things I did were to estimate standard deviation of ranking, but adjusted for overall ranking (later picks will have high deviations on average), and also to estimate value relative to overall ranking (later picks will also have larger absolute differences between the composite and ADP).

If the preceding paragraph was tough to get through, then this might be easier. The table at the bottom of this post reflects a list of players that had more variability in their rankings among experts along with more value (defined as ADP minus the composite ranking).

To see why the volatility is important, consider two distributions that I’ve plotted together. The red line reflects a distribution with mean 35.0 and standard deviation of 7.0. The black line is a distribution with the same mean, 35, but it has a standard deviation of 10. If you thought about that distribution like it’s ADP, the distribution with standard deviation 10 has a better chance of finishing inside the top 12 at the position. It simply has a wider range of outcomes. It also has a greater chance of finishing outside the top 48 as well, so volatility isn’t just free money.


You can skip ahead to the full table, or you can read some thoughts.

  • In the early rounds I don’t think I would use this information to develop target lists. Some of the names are interesting, but I think it’s more advisable to figure out which positions your league favors and then draft those positions.
  • The first interesting names to me start with Zac Stacy, Reggie Bush, and Roddy White. I like all three and they all have different levels of potential to score a lot of fantasy points. We’ve written about Stacy here, Bush here, and Roddy here. Bush is a name that I target when the draft gets really variable in rounds 3-6. I don’t think the 3rd is really great value, but I like him when he starts to slip.
  • Jordan Cameron actually has a negative differential between the composite and ADP, but ends up on the list because his STDEV is really high for that part of the draft. That does reflect a wide range of outcomes that I think are probably accurate. Recall that Pat Kerrane has argued against Cameron.
  • Vernon Davis is similar to Cameron in value/volatility situation. Probably overvalued, but also a really wide range of outcomes. I’m not targeting Davis this year, although in one draft the other 11 members hated him so much that I ended up with him.
  • Two Miami players, Lamar Miller and Mike Wallace, end up on this list. I honestly can’t think of players in that part of the draft that have a wider range of outcomes. I could see the MIA offense vaulting either into the top 15 at their position, or I could see them both struggling. I like Miller as an attempt to get a lead back relatively late in the draft. I like Wallace, although whether I draft him kind of depends on what other WRs are still on the board.
  • Eric Decker is actually regarded as relatively valuable, and relatively volatile. But he mostly ends up on this list due to value. However, I could see a pretty wide range of outcomes for Decker. I think Geno is going to help that offense by keeping plays alive with his legs, and I also think that will help free receivers to make plays. But there’s definitely a “look out below” scenario as well. If Geno struggles out of the gate we’re getting a quarterback shit show with weekly questions as to who will start. But I like Decker and think he probably has top 15 upside.
  • Ironically enough, Dwayne Bowe could be the steal of 2014. He’s being drafted in the 9th and 10th round, while also being his team’s top receiving target (aside from Jamaal Charles). His 2013 was horrible, but that’s also been fully priced into his ADP, while the potential for a bounce back has not.
  • Even though Greg Jennings looks like boring value, his STDEV holds up for that area of the draft as well. In the 12th round you can get potentially the best receiver on a team. Even if you’re a Cordarrelle Patterson fan you’d have to agree that he hasn’t broken out yet as a receiver.
  • There are four running backs available late that could be value just waiting to be scooped up. Mark Ingram, Dexter McCluster, Shonn Greene, and LeGarrette Blount are all beyond cheap and will also all start the season with baked in usage. Are any at risk to finish the season in the top 12 at RB? Probably not. But their usage is really secure (for now) and they are really cheap too. Like really really cheap.
  • Some part of the value of this exercise is reinforcing the thinking on guys that you were already targeting. But then some other part is unearthing values you hadn’t really thought about. The top name that I wasn’t thinking about before, but probably will going forward is Shonn Greene. I assume that at some point Bishop Sankey will be the guy to own in TEN, but until then Greene is a 14th round pick who is the nominal starter for his team.
  • Note that this table comprises about the top 1/3 in scoring. I think it has a lot of good names on it. I might also post a “stay away” list based on the other end of scores.

*RATING is essentially a combined value and volatility rating. It’s just a z-score for value added to a z-score for volatility.

Player Name Position Team Std.Dev ADP FPC DIFFERENCE RATING
Calvin Johnson WR DET 1.09 5 3 2 0.73
Dez Bryant WR DAL 1.22 9 7 2 0.50
Andre Ellington RB ARI 5.93 25 21.5 3.5 0.61
Arian Foster RB HOU 9.91 26 19 7 1.62
Zac Stacy RB STL 10.69 31 28 3 0.75
Reggie Bush RB DET 7.01 34 24 10 1.41
Roddy White WR ATL 3.70 36 29 7 0.55
Andre Johnson WR HOU 4.38 39 27 12 1.19
Ryan Mathews RB SD 16.08 50 42 8 1.36
Joique Bell RB DET 9.50 51 43 8 0.71
Jordan Cameron TE CLE 23.89 54 58 -4 0.76
Torrey Smith WR BAL 15.91 65 62 3 0.57
Ben Tate RB CLE 19.66 66 65 1 0.74
Vernon Davis TE SF 34.96 67 81.5 -14.5 0.92
Jason Witten TE DAL 32.07 70 83 -13 0.80
Lamar Miller RB MIA 21.70 72 68 4 1.10
Mike Wallace WR MIA 8.12 77 53 24 1.15
Nick Foles QB PHI 9.60 85 64 21 0.91
Greg Olsen TE CAR 17.85 86 67 19 1.54
Fred Jackson RB BUF 12.89 88 69 19 1.04
Cam Newton QB CAR 12.03 89 76 13 0.59
Eric Decker WR NYJ 6.87 91 71 20 0.49
Steven Jackson RB ATL 23.71 95 77 18 1.89
Rueben Randle WR NYG 9.93 105 84 21 0.62
Justin Hunter WR TEN 39.91 108 123.5 -15.5 1.57
Dwayne Bowe WR KC 22.20 113 99 14 1.34
Russell Wilson QB SEA 15.12 123 94 29 1.26
Knowshon Moreno RB MIA 23.79 125 111 14 1.35
Mark Ingram RB NO 12.00 126 100 26 0.78
Andy Dalton QB CIN 28.88 131 145 -14 0.52
Markus Wheaton WR PIT 16.98 137 101 36 1.49
Jarrett Boykin WR GB 27.82 139 147 -8 0.60
Greg Jennings WR MIN 24.31 148 116 32 1.79
Dexter McCluster WR TEN 27.01 149 139 10 1.13
LeGarrette Blount RB PIT 39.37 156 141 15 2.36
Marqise Lee WR JAC 20.47 157 125 32 1.24
Heath Miller TE PIT 30.94 159 142 17 1.60
Travis Kelce TE KC 26.50 166 158.5 7.5 0.68
Andrew Hawkins WR CLE 21.03 167 131 36 1.22
Ryan Tannehill QB MIA 32.00 168 158.5 9.5 1.23
Shonn Greene RB TEN 21.92 169 140 29 0.99
James Starks RB GB 34.00 174 180.5 -6.5 0.70
Aaron Dobson WR NE 74.97 180 179 1 4.67
Doug Baldwin WR SEA 13.44 186 123.5 62.5 0.95
Marvin Jones WR CIN 63.50 189 184 5 3.53
Alex Smith QB KC 11.50 193 121 72 0.88

  1. No shit right?  (back)

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