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Game Theory in Fantasy Football

Football season starts tomorrow, and in the past few weeks, many people have been joining fantasy leagues and drafting players in hopes of earning as many points as possible and winning a cash prize at the end. The obvious strategy seems to be to draft the players with the highest number of points. However, the resource I found claims that game theory shows that this strategy is not necessarily the most optimal and using a strategy that may not seem so smart on the surface might be your best shot at winning.

The problem is that the vast majority of people in fantasy leagues will be using the same strategy of picking the players with the highest projections. For example, suppose that a certain quarterback has the highest projection and everyone wants to draft him. However, looking through game theory, if your opponents draft that player, then your gain in drafting that player is negligible. Every game that the quarterback scores many points, you will get those points but so will your opponents, so your advantage is effectively nullified as you will not be able to jump ahead of the competition.

A good strategy would be to draft the good players who are not as popular. As the article states, when the “hot” players fluctuate in performance throughout the season, you can gain an advantage by having drafted less popular players for a lower price but decent enough performance that when everyone else has a bad week, your fantasy team can jump ahead of the competition. Thus, by using game theory, you can go against the crowd and over the season, have an increased chance of winning your fantasy league. Of course, your performance would depend on many other factors not in your control, such as player injuries and fluctuating performances. However, using game theory smartly can greatly increase your chances of winning in fantasy football.


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