Are Your Best Ball Teams Too Young? Age, Experience, Upside, and Optionality in Redraft and Best Ball – The Wrong Read, No. 66
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Image Credit: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Jalen Reagor.

Anyone who spends much time perusing this site will soon realize we tend to have a strong youth bias. We’re constantly searching for the next rookie sensation, and much of our dynasty advice comes down to selling your stars — especially at RB — while you can still get your leaguemates to pay elite-level prices for them. Nearly always, we advise trying to make your dynasty teams younger and trying to make your redraft teams almost as young.

It would make sense then that we would advise drafting younger best ball teams than you probably currently are. But thanks to the amazing suite of best ball tools, like the Win Rate Explorer, we can investigate this advice and put some numbers behind it. Do younger players make for better best ball assets? Do actual results bear this out?

Age, Experience, and Win Rates

To see how age impacts win rates, I split the full dataset from the Win Rate Explorer into two buckets: one made up of players who had an above-average win rate (greater than 8.3%) and one made up of players whose win rates were at or below 8.3%.[1]This data comes from the beginning of Fanball drafts in 2015. That gives us a six-year sample, but we also want to remember that the quality of different classes can have an impact. The numbers for WR would probably look different, for example, if we had best ball results from the epic 2014 class. I called the first group winners and the second group losers.

Well, that’s not quite what we expected. At every position except running back, the winners are actually older than the losers. Are best ball drafters overvaluing youth? That’s certainly possible, but before making any conclusions, let’s look at top-six percentages.

Same thing. Older players outperform younger players at every position except RB. Obviously, we have questions? Why do players who are older appear to outperform their younger counterparts when much of our other research suggests that younger players are generally better investments? And why do RBs appear to be outliers here?

When we turn to experience, the results are even more dramatic. Players who have been in the league longer drastically outperform their less experienced counterparts.

We see this above, in win rates, and also in top-six percentages below.

So what’s going on here? Why does youth seem to be a positive in dynasty and redraft but a negative in best ball leagues? Is it simply a question of value? I think there’s more to it than that.

Optionality in Redraft and Best Ball

The term optionality became a buzz word — to the point of cliche — in the fantasy industry over the last few offseasons. The power of optionality, to hear Nassim Nicholas Taleb explain it, is that it enables you to select good results while discarding bad results. Taleb is thinking of options as financial instruments — his true area of expertise — and specifically options buyers, who, upon paying for options contracts, have the right to buy shares of an asset at a predetermined price. Crucially, however — and this is the key benefit of optionality — buyers do not have the obligation to purchase shares. If the asset’s price at the time the contract expires is less than the predetermined price, the buyer is not required to accept the negative result. Optionality, in other words, means the ability to choose your results.

Best ball leagues would appear to have optionality built in automatically. You don’t have to set a lineup, so you always get the best of the possible results and automatically discard poor performance by leaving those players on your bench. In another much more important way, however, best ball leagues lack a very powerful form of optionality that both dynasty and redraft players enjoy — namely, the ability to completely reject the worst results.

How to Take Advantage of Optionality

Footnotes

1 This data comes from the beginning of Fanball drafts in 2015. That gives us a six-year sample, but we also want to remember that the quality of different classes can have an impact. The numbers for WR would probably look different, for example, if we had best ball results from the epic 2014 class.

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Blair Andrews

Managing Editor, Author of The Wrong Read, Occasional Fantasy Football League Winner. All opinions are someone else's.

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