Analytics and Fantasy Football: 6 Simple Tips for Success

Fantasy Football and AnalyticsAs football fans know, the 2012 season started earlier this month.  What does this mean to me? Instead of combing and shaping my beard, now all of my free time will be dedicated to fantasy football and winning my league championship.

While listening to one of my daily football podcasts, I started thinking about the similarities between fantasy football and my work at MaassMedia.  As a web analyst, my key responsibilities include reporting on and analyzing web data for a variety of companies. I know what you’re thinking–fantasy football and web analytics are nothing like each other.  Well, in this post I’m going to show you how they are similar by giving you six simple tips that will help you become both a great web analyst and a champion fantasy football player.

1. Don’t get hung up on one stat.

As my fellow MaassMedia colleague stated a few months ago in her post Don’t Get Misled by Your Metrics, “it’s important to distinguish meaningful metrics from vanity metrics.” Note that she said metrics and not metric, meaning you will most likely need to look at data from a variety of sources to find something of value.

This same rule applies to fantasy football.  When making a decision about which player to start this week or to pick up from the free agent list, you need to look at multiple pieces of information.

For example, when I decide which player to start, I look at information on what defense the players are going against, how well they have done in the past against their opponents, and if there is anyone hurt on his team or the opposing team that would affect his performance.

Using multiple stats allows me to make the best decision without focusing on one sole metric that may be misleading on its own.

2. Consider the bigger picture instead of making hasty decisions.

In most fantasy football leagues, players face off head-to-head against someone else in their league every week. Then, to determine the league champion there is a playoff between the teams that have the best records of the season. Every week counts, which is why consistency matters so much.

Web analytics data is often inconsistent. There might be a spike in traffic one day, followed by a drop the next, so it’s unwise to make business decisions based on a day’s worth of data. If traffic from a campaign is low one day, it is better to monitor it over time instead of immediately deciding to pull the campaign.

The same concept applies in fantasy football. You may have player A score 10 points a week over 3 weeks and player B score 30 points in one week but 0 in the next 2 weeks. Even though both players have scored the same amount of points overall, I would always take player A over player B because the consistent player will help you win more in weeks to come.

3. Look for the trends.

As a web analyst, I often find myself digging through data to find a valuable insight. Many times, the most valuable discoveries come from finding hidden trends in the data. Looking at trends with a discerning eye can allow you to stop a negative movement or capitalize on a positive one.

In fantasy football, the same principle applies when deciding which players to add to your team and which to start. Let’s say Player A has been increasing his output over the last 3 weeks and has a favorable match up against a bad defense this week. This upward trend in the player’s stats in combination with a solid match up (use multiple metrics – see tip 1) could be a good indicator that he has a strong possibility of doing well this week.

4. Think ahead.

Staying aware of future events happening on a website can have a major effect on the site’s performance.

For example, if there is a site redesign that will change the internal URL structure, this can drastically affect reporting.  Also, there could be new analytics code that must be added to specific sections of all new pages. Knowing that these modifications are coming will allow a web analyst to plan in advance and ensure reporting data continues seamlessly as the changes take place.

Fantasy football is no different. Knowing what your players’ schedules look like weeks in advance will allow you to make the proper roster changes before it’s too late. For example, knowing when your “bye weeks” are for all players will allow you to pick up a player that you think will perform adequately in place of the players that are not in a game that week.

5. Have a backup plan.

Web analytics deals with such vast amounts of data that it can be hard to determine if something isn’t working correctly. To prevent this from happening, MaassMedia uses multiple analytics tools to back up data if needed. For example, if visits in Adobe SiteCatalyst appear to drop for no apparent reason, I can use the visits report in Google Analytics to see if there is a similar trend (look for trends – see tip 3).

Similarly, having backups in fantasy football is crucial to your success. In a report released at the end of the 2010 season by the NFL Players Association called , each team suffers nearly four injuries per week and of those injuries 13% are season ending. Anyone familiar with football knows that it is a dangerous sport, so having capable backups can make your fantasy team indestructible.

6. Stay current on industry news

Analytics technology and tools are always advancing in new and innovative ways. Whether it’s an update to an existing tool or a new type of tagging technology, staying aware of new capabilities allows me to better serve my clients.

Keeping up-to-date on fantasy news might be the most important tip I can give you in this article. In the past, team managers only had to worry about injury news, but now teams must consider player suspensions, inclement weather and even pregnant wives ready to give birth (this happens more than you might think). Knowing this information every week will put you in a position to become league champion.

As you can see, web analytics and fantasy football do have a lot in common. Now that you have these six tips, you are ready to excel professionally and recreationally. Have a great season!

Editor’s note: While MaassMedia hasn’t been asked to provide a client with Transformative Insights™ about a fantasy sports team (yet), we’re no strangers to data. Our job is to uncover insights in your digital data to help your organization deliver better customer interactions and maximize your revenue. Contact us to learn more about what MaassMedia can offer your business.

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