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When not picking the best strategy IS the best strategy

It’s football season again and our fascination with the national pastime of fantasy football is back! For anyone who has never played fantasy football, the goal of the game is to pick players who will accumulate the most points. Players earn points through the accumulation of positive statistics in their games that week. In the newest variant of fantasy football, daily fantasy football, the competition is played out over the course of one day. In the traditional format of “daily fantasy” each user is given a total salary to spend on their selected players to their roster. Each player has a salary cost based on future projections. The goal is to assemble a team roster that scores the most points while staying under the team salary cap. The salary cap prevents you from selecting the best player at each position for your team. Now with so many players, there can be an infinite number of possible lineups a user can create. Each lineup has a potential to score the most points, but, there are certain lineups that have a higher probability of actually achieving the most points based on historical performance. A good example to consider is whether you should select Tom Brady or Brock Osweiler. While Tom Brady is likely to score more points than Brock Osweiler, there is still a chance that Osweiler scores more points than Brady. The game theory of fantasy football comes in when the fantasy player must consider who their competitors are drafting for their teams. They must balance picking the lineup that is more likely to get the most points, with the lineup that may be less likely to achieve the most points, but if it does, there is a higher chance they will win. Additionally, the fantasy player needs to consider how many other people they are competing with to balance how risky they need to be in order to win. In a competition that may have thousands of people and only a few winning spots, it is important to have a unique lineup or the odds of winning are extremely low. However, in a pool where a large percentage of entries win, there is less of a need to be as risky. Another consideration is that if everyone shies away from picking the “best” lineup since they are afraid of other people’s picks, it may be to your advantage to pick that lineup since everyone else mistakenly assumed other people would pick it. There is a lot to consider when playing fantasy football and a lot of it centers on stuff outside of actually picking football players.


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September 2017