Two Halves

‘There are two sides to every coin’

‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’

These are old adages that we typically here thrown about in classrooms or in literature, but being cognizant of such simple concepts can keep you one step ahead of your competition in college fantasy football.

All hardcore players know how important it is to have yourself plugged into beat writers, and put in the requisite time to research the game thoroughly. Unlike the NFL, information is a commodity that not everyone has equal access to. Boiled down: you’re more likely to see a return directly correlated to on your investment in college fantasy football (CFF) than the NFL iteration – and that is one of the reasons I love it so much.

However, as important as research in and of itself is, it won’t be enough to elevate your skillset to where it needs to be to vault you into the upper echelon of your standings, in a competitive environment. In a highly competitive league, everyone is putting in the time and effort – what will set you apart will be your ability to process that information correctly and quickly – and see the potential impact of news as it’s unfolding.

Admittedly, what I’m effectively saying is that you have to predict the future, but in like any other field, the ability to do so is valued more highly than the capability to assess the present or past. Why do you think people in Finance get paid more than those in Accounting?

Every year, we see a handle of position battles result in surprising outcomes. What is often reported is the more headline grabbing side of the story, however what you need to discern is why that outcome occurred as it did – and what is the potential fantasy impact. The under reported second side of the coin is undoubtedly something that can and should be used to your advantage. If you put in the effort to draw inferences from what is being widely reported, and act accordingly, you’re going to be in a +EV scenario where you’re acting on conjectures that you’ve drawn (that others haven’t even started to consider.) Invariably, some of your conclusions will end up incorrect, so it’s still important to be smart about how large a bet you place with your draft equity. However in the world of the college fantasy football preseason, where even seemingly sure bets can end up losing tickets, I tend to value my informed opinion over the consensus in almost instances.

Let’s take a look at some recent examples that highlight the above:

2012 – Jameill Showers loses Texas A&M starting QB job to Johnny Manziel

The year 2012 represented far less trying times for Head Coach Kevin Sumlin than the present. Having just arrived to College Station, hopes were high given the record setting offenses that Sumlin lorded over at Houston. Having sat behind Ryan Tannehill the year before, the expectation was that Jameill Showers was a shew in to ascend to the QB1 spot in Sumlin’s high flying attack. When news came out shortly prior to the season beginning that Showers had lost out on the competition to a redshirt freshman, well, the media focus was initially more on the man who came in second than the victor. If you still have access to the data, go back and look at where Manziel went in your fantasy drafts that year – and prepare to shake your head in disgust, as it was likely far later than you’d expect – given all of the elements (pedigree, system, weapons) working in his favor.

2015 – Brett Stockstill beats out Austin Grammer for the starting job at Middle Tennessee State

If you played CFB DFS to the level I did back in 2014, you were familiar with Grammer’s work – as MTSU was consistently featured in mid-week slates. I won’t attest that Grammer was spectacular, but he was competent and useful, and I certainly expected him to maintain his grip on the starting job heading into his Junior year. While it was surprising when we found out that Grammer lost his job to a Freshman, I’ll admit I was mildly upset to hear that he’d come in second place to ‘The Coach’s Son.’ Without doing any further digging, I chalked this up to a case of nepotism – and angrily dismissed the MTSU QB scene from my draft board. Fast forward two off-seasons and I’m backing up the Brinks truck to pay for Stockstill in my dynasty league. Stockstill was by and large free leading up to week one in 2015, but very few actually acted prior to his coming out party.

2016 – Jovon Robinson dismissed from Auburn right at the outset of Fall camp

Few running backs had more hype heading into the 2016 draft season than Jovon Robinson. After operating as a non-factor for much of 2015, Robinson finally seized the lead back role down the stretch, and looked prime for a big 2016 campaign. The day Robinson was dismissed from the Auburn program, I was in the middle of a draft, and remember two main takeaways that were front and center of initial reports:

Kerryon Johnson was to be viewed as the best bet to ascend to the highly coveted role of lead running back at Aubun

Kam Martin was set to be a hot commodity in dynasty leagues – with a much more clear path to immediate playing time

Martin was snatched off the board pretty much immediately in the draft I was in as soon as the news broke. What did not gain enough attention, initially, was that neither Martin nor Johnson possessed an ideal frame for a lead back in Gus Malzahn’s offense. The inquisitive mind that dug a little deeper would have read about the 240 pound battering ram that had been making waves in the running back room.

2017 – Tom Flacco leaves Western Michigan as Joe Wassink is named starting quarterback

Search for both of these players via whatever media provider you desire and one thing will become abundantly clear – Tom Flacco’s departure is garnering significantly more headlines than Joe Wassink’s ascension. Now, do yourself a favor and look into Wassink’s resume. A prolific high school career, a skillset perfectly suited for fantasy stardom, and a notch in his belt earned from taking down the presumptive heir to Zach Terrell’s throne, are a few of the things working in his favor. Wassink is the latest example of the underreported side of the coin being the informational advantage you can use to get a jump on your competition. He is basically free at this point, so pull the trigger in your upcoming draft and thank me later.

Information is no longer decisive factor in college fantasy football – processing that information is what will earn you that banner to raise at year’s end.