Debbie King - Aug 31, 2015

3 Steps to Fantasy Football and Association Analytics Success

ffA popular theme in the DSK blog is to explore how applications of data analytics in business and culture relate to our work with Associations.  With the NFL season kicking off in 2 weeks, fantasy football draft season is at its peak and is an obvious candidate.  It’s a massively popular pastime that calls on casual fans to gather and analyze data and use it for data guided decisions.

Drafting your fantasy team is like an annual strategic planning and budgeting for a fictional organization or association, often with a silly name.  You spend considerable effort gathering data, researching and planning.  The goal is to allocate limited resources (draft picks) in the optimal way to maximize your probability of success.   Here are three keys to success:

1. Do your Homework

Prepare a Custom Draft Sheet

A prepared fantasy owner will need more than a sheet of player rankings.  “Expert Consensus Rankings” are a safe bet and good place to start but won’t give you an advantage over the competition.  Have a plan for how you want to construct your team that considers the relative value of players by position.

Consider Outcomes and Actions

Whether you’re just launching an analytics initiative or have already incorporated data analytics into your organization, spend some time to consider the impact of the decisions that can be made with your data. Start with key business questions and an idea of expected actions and outcomes that can be measured.  Remember to consider the resources (human and otherwise) required to take action, not only those required to provide analysis.

2. Segment your Market

Use Tier Strategy

One of the simplest and best ways to draft a team is by using the Tier Strategy.  This is a clustering technique where players with similar expected output (and often average draft position) are grouped into Tiers where there is a significant drop in expected output from one to the next.  Here is a simple example an owner may face in the middle rounds of their draft.   In rounds 1-5 you’ve loaded up on running backs and wide receivers.  The top tier quarterbacks (QB) are off the board.  Should you draft a QB in round 6?table-for-blog-2 1024x652

Most likely, no. In this simple example you would more likely target a Tier 2 tight end (TE).  You may prefer Russel Wilson but his production will not differ significantly relative to other players in his Tier.  On the other hand, passing on the TE position might drop you down to the next Tier of Production.  Draft Travis Kelce now and target another Tier 2 QB in a later round.

Segment Your Members and Customers to Maximize Engagement

Associations interested in targeted marketing, recruitment and retention for members and prospects use additional bases of segmentation, generally:

  • Demographic – Members and customers are routinely clustered by gender, age, education, professional level, and other demographic data.
  • Geographic – aside from where members and customers live, consider factors and constraints that may change regionally or locally such as population density, climate, or just distance from a certain venue.
  • Behavioral – with an understanding of the basic demographic and geographic segments, the real value is in understanding how do members and customers behave? How frequently do they interact and with what content/services? What do they buy, when, in what combinations, and how frequently?  How much do they spend?
  • Psychographic – attitudes, lifestyles, sentiment. Once you understand what customers do (behavioral), this segmentation attempts to group based on why they do it.  Although in some ways it’s the most powerful in that it gets to underlying motivation, this data is probably the most difficult to obtain and to interpret.

 3. Act and React

Flexible Draft Strategy, Active Management

Start with a general strategy on how you want to build your team, but be flexible.  Take advantage of opportunity if an elite player falls to you at a big value and adjust accordingly.  After the draft, a savvy fantasy owner is typically holding a statistical advantage over the competition.  But once the actual games begin, the clear advantage goes to teams that make the best data guided decisions on a weekly basis.  Elite players are injured or suspended and relative unknowns come from nowhere to produce big results. Owners who react to breaking news and other trends to adjust their rosters and choose their weekly lineups best, will be standing at playoff time.

Execute, Measure, Adjust

Similarly, incorporating analytics into the organizational strategic plan is only the first step.  The key is in the execution.  First you need the ability to analyze, interpret, and translate your data into action.  Without this, it’s just a fantasy cheat sheet -- merely informational with limited value.  Once an action is taken you must have the ability to measure results and adjust as necessary.  Data guided decisions are a key component to reaching your strategic goals as well as fantasy championships.

Written by Debbie King