Adam\’s Stream of Consciousness

If you blog it, they will come

The New American Pastime

Posted by Adam on August 12, 2006

Baseball will probably forever be known as “the American pastime”, and many argue that football is the true American pastime for the 21st century, but I am here to tell you that neither is truly deserving of the title. Baseball and football have become big business in the modern era, and while it is still easy to track and follow your favorite team (or really any team) there is a lack of personalization and intimacay from these sports today. There is still an outlet for sports fans to express their love and passion, to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, and to ridicule and deride their friends and foes alike. Yes, fantasy football is the new American pastime.

Football is the perfect fantasy game. Unlike baseball or hockey, each team only plays once a week and all games are completed in the span of 36 hours. This means that even casual players can be competitve by checking their team once a week for five minutes just to check results and set a new roster. Conversely fantasy die-hards are limited by the lack of on-going action. If you felt the need you could access your team daily, scouring waivers for a player upgrade, offering up trades, and tracking those minor injuries to see if they will have an affect on next week’s action. The one flaw in the game, if there are any, is that scoring tends to vary wildly from league to league. If you are discussing fantasy football with a friend or co-worker who is not in your leauge, you will invariably spend the first part of the conversation describing how you scored your points. Furthermore, traditional scoring seems to always favor runningbacks over the other positions. This is why I set out to create the Optimum Fantasy Football Scoring criteria (henceforth to be known as OFFS).

The Backyard Nerf Ball Game league has grown to a whopping 16 teams for the upcoming season. After having mixed success/trouble with AOL and Fanball last year we have switched to using as the host site. Expectations are high as the site allows for total customization free of charge. The question remained how to level off scoring to make quarterbacks, wide receivers, and runningbacks have equal value. That is where my old friend Mr. Excel came into play.

I am what you could probably refer to as a sports nerd. I would call myself a Sabermatrician, but quite frankly I don’t know enough of the formulas and data sorts necessary to be graced with such a title. I’m one of the people who was playing fantasy sports before it was cool. Back when I started you didn’t have everything spoon fed to you. There were no fantasy columnist, the major sports news sites didn’t have their own leagues, and I think there was only one (possibly two) fantasy magazines available (and they only had one issue that came out in the summer). Knowledge and data are good things though, and it is their abundance that allowed me to derive the inagural OFFS values.

The spreadsheet that I used to determine OFFS should be attatched to this entry below. What my research showed was that regardless of how I manipulated the numbers (I used 2005 final statistics), the elite runningbacks were gonna be ahead of everyone else no matter the valuations. The stats don’t lie, and sometimes there is no way to camouflage them. What I did find to work was incorporating points for completions and receptions, while decreasing the value that touchdowns had. In past leagues, and in many default league settings, the value of touchdowns can greatly distort a player’s true value. Therefore I de-emphasised this statistic and, in addition to generous yardage points, added in the third main stat of completions/receptions. This seems to allow for well rounded players to flourish and furthermore helps to level the playing field. A good player is going to score his fantasy points, regardless of position.

Only a full season will show if I have indeed solved the fantasy scoring conundrum with OFFS. I would be amazed if some tweaking were not needed for future seasons, but I will keep on keeping on until I have results that I am satisfied with. And really this is the joy of fantasy football. I can sit here and toy with the scoring system all I want, but once the season starts it is the same system that everyone in my league will use. It is the system that will allow us to bicker over the fairness of trades, pickup the unknowns off waivers who have breakout games, and most importantly talk trash as we rise and fall in the standings. Baseball came first, the NFL rules on television, but fantasy football truly is the new American pastime.



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