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My Next Chapter

Hi friends,

I’m re-branding my writing under my personal account name, @MSilb7 on Substack, with a focus on the areas where my professional life has taken me, and where I hope to go: business, consumer, startups, and tech (maybe with a sports skew).

My attempts to put coherent words on paper have been few and far between, and have had a heavy lean towards baseball and sports, (by that I mean 100% lean) which was without a doubt my passion early in my life. Unfortunately, this obsession has been fading over time for me, and I’m finding myself becoming more excited for a startups podcasts’ episodes, and less excited for Marlins games. With my roots in sports, and the level of experience to both sort of know, and also not at all know what I’m talking about, I hope that I’ll have a unique perspective worth reading. If not, I’ll just go back to anonymously getting 1-2 likes on Twitter.

My Writing History

I started blogging I think in my sophomore year of high school (shout-out Blogger). I was writing super under-the-radar about my pitching performances throughout the baseball season with no real intentions beyond message board fame, (tbt early internet) and catching scouts’ attention. Turns out, my athletic ability had very much already peaked, so I entered college on a purely academic path (Go Gators). Early on I wanted to pursue a “Moneyball” career path, which was the concept of using analytics to build a championship baseball team. I reached out to every MLB team through whatever contact info I could find (most times it was the ticket office), and luckily heard back from a few. I was young and had no experience outside of my playing days, so the best advice I received was along the lines of “thousands of people say that they want to work in baseball, but you have to differentiate yourself and show what you can bring to the table that can actually help a team win.” This motivated me to start MSilbBaseball, a blog where I tried to develop economic efficiency metrics and wrote about what I would do as an MLB GM. The blog idea worked, and the next summer I had an internship in baseball, although on the systems side of things. I then admittedly got a little burnt out on baseball once the business side became my life, but started developing an interest in Fantasy Football projections. So, the next wave was a rebrand to MSilbAnalytics, which I updated on and off for about 5 years (time flew). My professional career veered as far away from sports as you can get; starting in defense, moving to consumer / e-commerce, and now on to broader business strategy across industries that I know nothing about (yet).

In Closing

Thousands of people want to work in startups, venture, tech, etc., but what can we bring to the table to help a team win?

Follow me @MSilb7 on Twitter and Instagram!

*Thoughts, views, etc are completely my own and do not represent any past, present, or future employer.

Analytics

2016 Fantasy Football Value Projections

2016 Score+ Fantasy Football Value Rankings (Download .xlsx file)

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View Full Rankings Here

2016 Fantasy Football Individual Player Value Projections are linked above.  The “Score+” column represents a player’s projected added value to a team with a score of 0 meaning no added value.  The higher a player’s Score+, the more value they add to your team relative to their position.

Methodology

To generate the projections, I used historical position data from 2010-2015 to calculate the correlation of each individual statistic to future fantasy points performance.  These correlations contributed to a composite statistic consisting of the strongest predictive statistics for each position in each across the major fantasy scoring categories.

QB: Completions, Passing TDs, Interception %, Air Yards/ Attempt, Passing Yards / Game, QBR, Rushing TDs

RB: Rushing TDs, Rush Yards/ Attempt, Rushing Yards/ Game, Rushing Attempts/ Game, Receptions/ Game

WR/TE: Targets, Receiving TDs, Receptions/ Game, Yards/ Game

K, DEF were not included.

Each individual players’ 2015 statistics were then used to create this composite Score+ statistic heading into the 2016 season.  This means that players who did not play in 2015 will not appear (Rookies, Suspensions, Injuries).  Also suspended players Tom Brady (4 games), and Le’Veon Bell (3 games) had the worth of their suspensions replaced by the value of a replacement/average player.  It’s worth nothing that Brady and Bell still rank toward the top of Score+.  Watch out for retired or injured players as well who are included in the rankings.

In intermediate steps of the model, each player is given a raw score, which is then converted to Score+ to standardize the scores across positional groups.  Since the scores are generated by position, I think it’s more beneficial to view the rankings position by position.

Takeaways

I’m a big believer in analytics, but I think they’re best used to support and guide your decisions, not replace your ultimate decision making.  I used the rankings in my leagues primarily to understand the landscape of each positional group, but secondly in comparison to the pre-draft rankings or Average Draft Position (ADP) of my respective league.  As an example, Antonio Brown is ESPN’s #1 player, and my Score+ #1 player.  Therefore, I’d conclude that Antonio Brown is a safe selection at the top of the 1st round.  In contrast, Todd Gurley is ESPN’s #5 overall, #2 RB, but my Score+ has him at #35 overall, #6 RB.  So Todd Gurley still projects well, but you would be passing on value to take him in the first round.  Same goes with Dez Bryant who (even before the Romo injury)  projected at Score+ #146 overall, and ESPN #15.

A better strategy would be to go after Antonio Brown, Julio Jones (ESPN: #4 ovr, #3 WR Score+: #2 ovr, #2 WR), Odell Beckham Jr. (ESPN: #2 ovr, #2 WR Score+: #11 ovr, #5 WR), or Adrian Peterson (ESPN: #3 ovr, #1 RB Socre+: #23 ovr, #2 RB) in the early 1st, or DeAndre Hopkins (ESPN: #7 ovr, #3 WR Score+: #8 ovr, #4 WR), Le’Veon Bell (#17 ovr, #1 RB), Devonta Freeman (ESPN: #9 ovr, #5 RB Socre+: #24 ovr, #3 RB) later in the 1st.  These are players that have top value, but are only available during the 1st, maybe early 2nd round.  This represents a prime example of using analytics to guide your decision, but NOT be your ultimate decision maker.  Adrian Peterson is my #23 overall value player, but there is absolutely no way to expect that he’ll be around past about the 5th pick of your draft.  Be smart with your value, but you can only get it if it’s available.

Since Score+ essentially shows you a player’s value over their position, the accumulation of TEs near the top of Score + overall rankings show that there is a large range of value for tight ends, but that the position is also extremely top heavy.  Score+ shows Delanie Walker, Jordan Reed, Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, Antonio Gates, and Jason Witten all in the top 25 overall.  it is ridiculous to suggest that all of these TEs should go in the top 25 (remember to play to pre-rankings and ADP) but there is plenty of value in that group, so it may not make complete sense to reach for Rob Gronkowski, ranked #11 overall by ESPN with the cluster of other TEs at the top.  WR seems to have deep value as well, with RB looking very thin.  This leads me to prefer RBs early in the draft.  I’ve been targeting guys like Jamaal Charles, Demaryius Thomas, Allen Robinson, and Brandon Marshall in rounds 2-3, with strong value in Jarvis Landry, Keenan Allen, and Larry Fitzgerald in rounds 4-6 among a huge group of quality WRs.  Notable low ranking WRs and RBs include Mike Evans, Dez Bryant, Lamar Miller, David Johnson, and Eddie Lacy.

The Quarterback position is deep just as it has been in the past, and there’s not much separation in the position.  So, there’s no reason to reach in an early round for a QB, get your value at RB and WR.  The biggest discrepancy is ESPN’s #1 QB Cam Netwon comes in at #13 in Score+.

Stay away from the busts, and use Score+ to maximize your value!  I’ll be answering Fantasy Football questions on Twitter @msilb7 throughout the season.

Thanks to Pro-Football-Reference for the historical data, ESPN for being my fantasy league host, and Stack Overflow for answering my Python and SQL questions.