Part V: Final Player Pricing

by Sam Waters

This is the fifth and last section of our guide to calculating player value in fantasy football. Each part lays out a different aspect of the process. Part IPart II, Part III, and Part IV are up at these links.

After a little bit of a layoff, the Fantasy Value Handbook is back to finish what it started. Earlier in this series, we wound our way through the many steps for calculating fantasy player value. Now that we’ve made that calculation, it’s time to put a price on every player. We can use these prices to analyze trade offers this year and draft decisions next year.

Right now we have our value measure, Draft Points Above Replacement, which is enough to compare the value of players across positions. But with the popularity of auctions growing, it would be helpful to convert points above replacement to dollar values.

We want our pricing system to assign each player an auction price commensurate to his actual value. In order to uphold this concept, each player should receive a share of the total auction dollars equal to his share of the total points above replacement. If Adrian Peterson holds 5% of the player universe’s value, for example, he gets 5% of the money. In equation form, this would read:

Player Auction Price = Total Auction Dollars * (Player Draft PAR/Total Draft PAR)

In a ten-team standard league with $200 per team budgets, there is a total of $2,000 available to spend in the auction, so we take each player’s share of Draft PAR and multiply by $2,000 to get his auction price. (In leagues that don’t allow zero dollar bids, we adjust this slightly to account for the price floor of $1.) Now we have projected prices for each positional ranking:

Overall Ranking

Positional Rank

Price

1

RB1

112

2

RB2

90

3

RB3

77

4

RB4

68

5

QB1

62

6

RB5

61

7

RB6

55

8

RB7

50

9

RB8

46

10

QB2

45

11

RB9

42

12

WR1

39

13

RB10

39

14

WR2

37

15

TE1

37

16

RB11

36

17

QB3

36

18

WR3

35

19

WR4

34

20

RB12

33

21

WR5

32

22

RB13

31

23

WR6

30

24

QB4

29

25

RB14

28

26

WR7

28

27

TE2

27

28

WR8

27

29

RB15

26

30

WR9

25

31

RB16

24

32

WR10

23

33

QB5

23

34

RB17

22

35

WR11

22

36

TE3

21

37

RB18

20

38

WR12

20

39

WR13

19

40

QB6

19

41

RB19

19

42

WR14

17

43

RB20

17

44

TE4

16

45

WR15

16

46

RB21

16

47

QB7

15

48

WR16

15

49

RB22

14

50

WR17

14

51

TE5

13

52

RB23

13

53

WR18

12

54

QB8

12

55

RB24

11

56

WR19

11

57

TE6

10

58

RB25

10

59

WR20

10

60

QB9

9

61

WR21

9

62

RB26

9

63

TE7

8

64

WR22

8

65

RB27

8

66

WR23

7

67

RB28

7

68

QB10

6

69

TE8

6

70

WR24

6

71

RB29

5

72

WR25

5

73

RB30

4

74

WR26

4

75

TE9

4

76

QB11

4

77

WR27

4

78

RB31

3

79

K1

3

80

WR28

3

81

DEF1

3

82

TE10

3

83

RB32

2

84

K2

2

85

WR29

2

86

QB12

2

87

WR30

1

88

DEF2

1

89

RB33

1

90

TE11

1

91

K3

1

92

WR31

1

93

RB34

1

94

WR32

1

95

K4

1

96

QB13

1

97

DEF3

1

98

DEF4

1

99

DEF5

1

100

DEF6

1

101

DEF7

1

102

DEF8

1

103

DEF9

1

104

DEF10

1

105

K5

1

106

K6

1

107

K7

1

108

K8

1

109

K9

1

110

K10

1

111

QB14

1

112

QB15

1

113

QB16

1

114

QB17

1

115

QB18

1

116

QB19

1

117

QB20

1

118

RB35

1

119

RB36

1

120

RB37

1

121

RB38

1

122

RB39

1

123

RB40

1

124

RB41

1

125

RB42

1

126

RB43

1

127

RB44

1

128

RB45

1

129

RB46

1

130

RB47

1

131

RB48

1

132

RB49

1

133

RB50

1

134

TE12

1

135

TE13

1

136

TE14

1

137

TE15

1

138

TE16

1

139

WR33

1

140

WR34

1

141

WR35

1

142

WR36

1

143

WR37

1

144

WR38

1

145

WR39

1

146

WR40

1

147

WR41

1

148

WR42

1

149

WR43

1

150

WR44

1

More meaningful than the placement of certain positional rankings in the overall rankings is the shape of the overall value distribution itself.  We can compare our new overall distribution to the prevailing one by looking at the difference between HSAC auction prices and ESPN auction prices for each ranking slot. If the difference is positive at a given slot, the player at that ranking tends to be undervalued by ESPN. If the difference is negative, the player at that ranking tends to be overvalued by ESPN.

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 10.01.27 PM

You can see that the first twenty picks or so are undervalued, with part of their deserved salaries being appropriated to mid-tier players. As a result, the players from about twenty to seventy-five in the rankings are overpaid. Since the market inefficiency in fantasy football is its elite players, smart owners should pounce on them through the auction or through trades. As you allocate more of your budget to top-ten guys, you rack up more of a surplus in value while avoiding a deficit in value on good to mediocre players.

This advice is even more important for owners who are more attentive and skilled  than average. If you are a hawk on the waiver wire and in the draft room who gets more out of your free agent pick-ups and late round draft picks than your league mates, your personal draft replacement level is higher. This gives you, the exceptional fantasy owner, a different value curve than other owners, where mediocre players are devalued and elite players lap up an even larger share of the league’s production. With a value curve that differs even more from the mainstream’s curve, you are in an even better position to exploit the market and acquire even more value for you team.

That was the goal of this series from the beginning: putting your team in position to win by helping you to accumulate value. The system outlined here helps you to become that value-hoarding owner because its price-generating system better reflects reality and gives you a better idea of what players are actually worth. Going forward, you can use this series to get a better sense of your players’ actual values in this season’s trade negotiations and next season’s draft decisions.

Over the next few months I plan to build on the groundwork laid out here with some more narrowly focused articles on fantasy strategy. Good luck to everyone with their fantasy seasons- even if this article was a little too delayed to help with your fantasy team this year, I hope you at least enjoyed reading the methodology. And if you just read thirty pages of fantasy football methodology without enjoying the methodology, I am sincerely very, very, very sorry and I hope you get better soon. As for the rest of the readership, the only thing more fun than reading a five-part, thirty-page manifesto on the theoretical underpinnings of fantasy football value is reading a five-part, thirty-page manifesto on the theoretical underpinnings of fantasy football value twice. Luckily I know just the place to get started on this.