Can The Machine Save My Fantasy Football Season?
It’s happened to us all at some point or another in our fantasy careers. The circumstances and stories may vary as to how and why, but at some point or another you’ve totally botched your draft. You might have been the most prepared guy in the room (or chat room as the case seems to be more often these days), but when something goes wrong – internet goes down, laptop crashes, baby is crying, significant other is nagging, whatever the case may be – things tend to snowball and your draft becomes a hot mess. Such was the case for me in my 14-team, NFL Standard draft.
Maybe it’s the perils of playing in multiple leagues as I had two drafts that began simultaneously last week – the 14-team snake draft and a 12-team keeper auction. I was able to accomplish a similar feat last season so I didn’t really think anything of it this time around when neither draft date could be changed. But when what seemed like a million issues arose during the auction draft, my attention was diverted away from the snake draft and before I was able to get everything under control, I missed a pair of picks (I had the number one pick in the snake draft) and things just completely got away from me. I thought I had it set but when I failed to take the setting off of auto-pick and my player queue had not been set to where I wanted it to be, things just went awry and the team I ended up drafting was not the team I would have assembled had all the picks been mine. A small handful of picks were of my choice, but for the most part, I was a victim of the auto-draft.
So what to do? With an abundance of leagues, rebuilding this roster to something I believe can win a championship is going to take a lot out of me. I’m not saying that I can’t do it, but a little help so not to neglect the rest of my responsibilities in both the fantasy football and real world would be nice.
That’s right. What better way to fix your team than to take on a partner. But not just any partner. How about the smartest and most in-depth analyzer of statistics, injury and roster trends, player projections and trades? I have commissioned the boys over at Advanced Sports Logic to help me save this season and put their creation, The Machine, to the test.
If you’ve been following some of the latest fantasy football stories during the NFL preseason, you would have seen fantasy guru Ray Flowers, lovingly referred to as The Oracle, go head-to-head with The Machine in three separate drafts to see who would end up with the better team. Their place in each draft varied to give a broader look and by the end of it, their teams were put to a comparison. Ask Flowers, and he’ll tell you he won all three battles. But if you ask an impartial third party, as the boys from Advanced Sports Logic did with Rick Wolf, SiriusXM Fantasy radio host and FSTA founding board member, you’ll see that, while the battle was close, Flowers was bested by The Machine in two out of three falls.
Knowing that The Machine was more than just a tool to use for drafting, I asked for help. The Machine calculates win probability for your current roster, analyzes players on your waiver wire, analyzes opposing teams’ rosters and makes suggestions for both waiver pick-ups and trades. New calculations can be made on a daily basis as The Machine gets all the latest team information as well, so recent injuries and each player’s injury probability is accounted for in the decision-making process. Seriously, what more could you ask for in a partner?
So to help introduce you to The Machine and show what it is capable of doing for your fantasy team, I am going to follow its suggestions to the letter with this particular team.. If it makes a waiver recommendation, I will take it, without question. If it tells me to offer a specific trade, I will do it. If I happen to disagree with The Machine, I will write about it here, but any and all of its suggested moves will be done. And from there, we will see how it all unfolds and if there is truth to the argument that The Machine is indeed better than man.
We’re not quite done with Week 1 yet so I will wait until the games are completed before consulting with my own personal WOPR (go watch WarGames if you don’t get the reference) to see what my next move is. But in the meantime, here is my current roster and we’ll let the artificial intelligence take it from there. The Machine gives me a 62.4% chance to win this week, a 38.0% chance to make the playoffs and just a 9.2% chance to win the championship. Surely I can do better than that, no?
So stay tuned for a couple more updates here on all things The Machine decides and from there we will see if The Terminator was maybe a little more fact than fiction.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.