Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winning Takes More Than Player Knowledge

posted by Jon Williams
Todd Zola, one of my favorite number crunchers, posted an article at the Mastersball Blog wherein he questioned his own ability to contend every time against the biggest fantasy baseball sharks. Todd explains his weakness as a lack of preparation.

...By preparation, I am not talking about having rankings and depth charts average draft positions. I am not talking about reading about each player, deciding in a vacuum if they are a breakout or bust candidate. I am not talking about knowing the next-in-line closers for each team. What I am talking about takes the aforementioned information to the next level and best might be describes as fantasy baseball game theory...
He goes on to describe the process by which he hopes to fill this void in his gamesmanship. Namely by doing as many mock drafts as possible. While Todd is right about needing to intimately know the player pool and have the ability to adapt to any draft scenario, I'm not sure he's right about how to get to the level he hopes to achieve.

Mock Drafts are a fine form of practice and participating in them will make you a better drafter. But what you learn from this is not really how to be a better shark but how to react to what other owners do. I think Todd knows this better than he thinks he does. It is a fine line, but what Todd really needs (in my own humble opinion of course) is to learn to draft the team he needs despite anything that his opponents might do.

Here is the difference:

Todd wants to be better at picking between player M and player J when the perfect player would have been player A who was taken just before Todd's pick.

What Todd needs to be better at is knowing that he needs quantity A to win and that it doesn't actually matter which player he takes so long as it adds up to quantity A in the end. In other words, rather than focus on better player selection as a one by one process over and over again, what he should be doing is studying the many different ways to make 23 selections add up to quantity A.

Relax your focus on each player and concentrate on the team as a whole.

Follow me on Twitter: @BigJonWilliams

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