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Evaluating Value and What Goes Into it

Dynasty Fantasy Football in its essence is the pursuit of championships. That should be the main goal of every single owner. Owners tend to have varying perspectives on strategy and team building. However, the common thread of those strategies is driven by value. It’s a term we as a community are constantly bombarded with. Did I get enough value for player X? What’s the value for player Y? So let’s dig into what value really is.

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Value as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something:” A few words in its definition resonate with me. Worth and Usefulness to the regard that something is held to deserve. Holding something because it deserves that? It’s quite ironic when it comes to dynasty thinking. Many of us, including myself have held onto players for too long. We were enamored with the player, we have agreed to a consensus that they deserve that spot because of the potential they may bring. Perhaps wasting that roster spot, instead of searching for value elsewhere. Yes, I’m looking at you Josh Gordon, get it together!

Value as an economic term is the price that someone is willing to pay for that object. If no one is willing to pay X for player Y, player Y isn’t worth X. Despite how highly you may think of player Y, presently he just isn’t worth X. That is one of the biggest hurdles I see a lot of dynasty owners, new and old battle internally with. We set a price for a player and won’t budge unless we receive X in some way, shape, or form. It is often tough for me to negotiate with other players because our valuations don’t simply match up for whatever reason. I value things like draft picks significantly less than most others in the dynasty community. I treat them as fuel to keep adding to my teams fire to keep my championship window open as long as I can stretch it.  Getting a good return in a trade is important, but you need to be getting returns from your players as it’s the key to winning a championship.

Those players are valuable to you. But what are they worth to other owners in your league? Do they value Jordan Howard the same as you? Do they value him more? How about less? Its questions like these we all face. I’m going to try and break down the variables that make up value for us all. Mind you I have no degree in psychology and am in no way Sigmund Freud. I wanted to explore what goes behind the decision making process on value because it’s almost always brought about in my favorite aspect of DFF. Making trades.

First off, is the players makeup. How old are they? Young players are generally worth more as it’s seen as they have a longer shelf life. Older players are seen as depreciating assets, guys you add to the pit crew for the championship race. So what comes with younger players? Potential, the scariest of all things for me in the valuation process. It’s a non-tangible asset. We don’t know what it is, it’s undefinable. We can attempt to project it, but often we always overextend our projections. Every year players don’t live up to the potential we hype them up to entering the league. They never develop that one tool we all said they needed. They end up in a bad situation. We all watch as constant coaching changes and lack of a support system cause their once shining NFL future slip away. A bad knee injury and they never run the same way we once saw. It’s the same old story every year. The what ifs, the could of beens. It’s what drags promising teams to the depths of your dynasty league. It causes dreams to be nightmares.

Draft pedigree while important, becomes useless after a few years in the league. Production matters as coaches are always in win now mode. They don’t have time to let player X play despite how good he might be down the road. He wants to win today and is going to play the best players to get him there. The coach has a shelf life just like his players. This is why older players tend to populate championship teams, they are savvy and know their way around a football field. They produce.

This brings us to the next variable I want to discuss, Situation. People rise and fall all offseason in ADPs despite not touching a football. It’s an odd intricacy that only the constant knee jerk reaction sports media industry we live in could have caused. It’s another thing every year we hear about. It’s this guy’s year! Well it was his year last year and the year before too, but he stunk. This year is going to be different because he’s projected to take a step forward. He changed his diet! He runs differently now! Coach X is a XYZ whisperer!

Various reasons give us hope and sometimes these reasons do lead to fruition. Players changing teams can be beneficial such as Demarco Murray leaving the disaster that was Chip Kelly’s Eagles for the Nashville Exotic Smash mouth attack. It can also lead to disappointment, guys like Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, and Andre Johnson moved on after being productive, they received lucrative free agent deals which lead to abysmal returns. Other factors like coaching changes or personal changes can implicate changes to player production. However it brings us back to having to project what the difference will result in. Isiah Crowell has been a hot name as a player many expect to have a big season coming up largely due to a better offensive line. While this thinking and logic has worked in the past with projecting RBs, it isn’t exactly a science. It has failed and often many factors can contribute to this, which few people tend to input when evaluating complex situations. Can the Browns offensive line gel quick enough to be as good as we think they will be? Will the collective stay healthy? Will they get decent QB play to avoid a stacked box? Will Duke siphon away touches? Will the Browns run the ball in the second half when they are losing by 14+ points? Again all things we won’t know until the season is well under way. Over shooting on your projections based on situations can often leave you limping to the end of the season. Be realistic, of course you may strike gold occasionally but often you’ll find yourself with a handful of quartz.

Speaking of limping injuries often kill players value. Due to modern medicine progress injuries that once could have been career killers, are no longer a death sentence. Injuries often leads to big discounts on players who when healthy are some of the best in the league, however it comes with inherit risk that the injury becomes a consistent issue going forward. Players who have been labeled as “Injury Prone” often take significant hits to their overall value despite how well they might play. Look at Sammy Watkins, Keenan Allen, and Rob Gronkowski as prime examples. They’ve all earned that designation from the herd, and we all watch just crossing our fingers hoping they can shake the injury bug away.

The herd mentality is a common word in describing how stock brokers trade. If you stick with the herd and everybody is wrong you won’t shoulder the blame. If the herd is right you all win. This tends to be what the dynasty community does in evaluating trades and rankings. Of course some have discrepancies but we often learn from each other. The buy low, sell high philosophy is one that I embrace fully, however if everyone is onto who the players are, why would other owners buy high and sell low? Trade calculators are the embodiment of this, I often will enter discussions with someone and they rely solely on what the calculator tells them. It’s a dangerous way to proceed as it leaves you blind in many ways. So many more factors have to be calculated into the process, such as team positioning, team needs, assets you own, quirky scoring or league setups. All things ADP can’t decide for you.

You need to trust your eyes. Trust your gut and learn from your mistakes. Rankings, Trade Calculators, and ADP are tools for you to help win your league, but everyone has access to the same ones. Take some time to craft your own personal rankings and trust them. Evaluate your risk tolerance. Do you like taking the guys like TY Hilton who can win or lose you a week, or are you more of a Jarvis Landry type? Someone who enjoys the consistency aspect with a lower ceiling. We all build our teams differently and this leads me to my next important piece. Intrinsic valuations.

These are painfully apparent in most of your home leagues. Blatant favoritism for hometown players. Heck Tom Brady is more valuable then Andrew Luck in my home league, it makes little sense as Brady only likely has a few more years where Luck could have 10 of similar production. Stepping away it seems silly, but we all tend to like different players for reasons that aren’t directly related to on field production. We are all biased. Maybe they said something you don’t agree with, so you have a distaste for a player so their value in your mind is lower than a league mates who wasn’t bothered by it. Maybe they went to the same college you did and it blinds you a little, you want them to succeed badly. Perhaps they won you a championship a few years back and despite your team being in shambles now, you refuse to move him because of that. Sometimes we get stuck on our preconceived connotation of a player instead of looking at him for what they really are. This for me is the by far the most difficult to evaluate in trades. You can offer a tremendous amount for someone but the other owner won’t budge. He’s a scorned lover, you burnt him in a trade last time. He drafted this guy in the third round a while back. He went through the ups and downs of his development and spent every Sunday in the past three falls watching him. He’s worth more to that owner than what he is to you. It’s one of the beautiful things of dynasty, and one of the most frustrating.

Value in the end is a perception. Its ones idea of the worth of something. You will never always be right, and you’ll never always be wrong. We all do it differently. It’s something I try to win in trades but it’s hard to really know. It’s a double edged sword because values always change. You may win the trade now but lose it in three years. Learn your strengths and weaknesses and build upon them. Acknowledge trends in your league and take advantage of them. Value is a slippery slope, dare to be different. Go against the current and see what you find. It may just lead you to the finish line.

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About Brendan Moar

I enjoy long walks on the beach, Belichick press conferences, and statistical analysis. I hate the goal line back. I try to play dynasty different through various measures of value. Dynasty is a imperfect game, find the imperfections and capitalize. Tim Tebow once won me a championship.