Analyzing the Analysts: Fantasy Football Edition

Fantasy Football has become it’s own thriving industry with every major sports outlet now funding entire departments to feed America’s insatiable thirst for rampant speculation.  So out of sheer curiosity I’ve decided to see just how good some of these professional fantasy experts really are.  Each week, I’m going to grade fantasy experts on the quality of their advice.  The idea is to see who’s making a real effort to give you good advice and who’s just blowing smoke up your tuchus.

The Rules:  I’m only going to look at specific writers who do a weekly “start ’em, sit em” column (or something to that effect).   Those are easy to keep track of, and much easier to assign a success value to than, say, a waiver-wire pick-up column.  For each player they recommend either to sit or start, I’ll assign a number: 1 for a good recommendation (i.e. if you followed the advice, you won’t be pissed) or 0 for a bad recommendation (if you followed the advice, you’d be in tears on Sunday).  Then, since every writer makes a different number of recommendations, I’ll generate a “Good Advice Percentage.”  The analyst with the highest GAP wins the week.

Here are the writers I’ll be covering:

Matthew Berry, ESPN

John Halpin, FOX

Matt Pitzer, USA TODAY

David Sabino, Sports Illustrated

Dr. Jaun, The Faster Times (The who at the what?  I’ll get to that…)

So let’s see how they did with their Week 1 fantasy advice…

Matthew Berry, ESPN

Mr. Berry, aka “The Talented Mr. Roto” has a very conversational style that appears to be somewhat polarizing in the fantasy world.  I don’t mind it, even if it means taking a 1000 words just to get to a single pick.

Here’s how his weekly “Love/Hate” column went:

Total number of recommendations for week 1: 20

Best call:  Arian Foster on his Love list.

Worst call:  Hakeem Nicks on his Hate list.

Number of good/decent calls: 11

He loved Kyle Orton, Ronnie Brown, Arian Foster,  Mike Wallace, Jabbar Gaffney, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Cardinals D — all of whom got TDs or decent yardage/catches.

He hated Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Brandon Marshall — all of whom put up numbers that you wouldn’t want from a starter.

Number of bad/frustrating calls: 9

He loved Dennis Dixon, Jerome Harrison — neither produced starting caliber numbers.

He hated Eli Manning, LeSean McCoy, Reggie Wayne, Anquan Boldin, Hakeem Nicks, Tony Gonzalez and the Dolphins D — they all did quite well, either in the TD or yardage department.

Borderline calls:  Brandon Marshall and Jerome Harrison.  Marshall had 8 catches for 53 yards.  In a PPR list, that’s good.  Straight-up yardage, not so good.  Considering where Marshall was drafted, I’m giving this one to Berry.  Jerome Harrison is in a similar boat with a middling performance, but since Mr. Berry promised more than just a decent spot play, he goes in the “bad call” column.

Percentage of advice that’s good:  55%

Notes:  Berry went 8 of 10 on his Love list.  So if TMR tells you to love someone, you should probably take note.  In that regard he may be more like a Fantasy Matchmaker.


John Halpin, FOX

Didn’t know much about the guy ’til I started looking for people to check out for this blog entry.  His style is mostly dry and too-the-point.  He’s a bit of an anti-Berry.

Total number of recs:  9

But the number is a bit misleading.  He also lists all the guys he considers “must-starts” based on past performance (i.e. the elite guys, Brady Manning, etc.).  In general, I want to avoid guys who list elites as “loves” in any given week. But he does that as a formality, so I’m not going to count them.

Best Call:  Sit Jonathan Stewart.

Worst Call:  Sit Anquan Boldin.

Number of good/decent calls:  4 (Start Cutler, Sit Ryan, Start Stewart, Sit Gaffney)

Number of bad calls: 5 (Start Alex Smith, Start Jerome Harrison, Start Marshawn Lynch, Sit Anquan Boldin, Start Jacoby Jones)

Borderline call: James Harrison.

Percentage of advice that’s good:  44.4%

Notes:  He did qualify the Marshawn Lynch rec by saying to look for news as to weather Fred Jackson would play.  But since I don’t think too many FF players can wait until Sunday morning to check for such news to adjust their lineups (especially on the west coast), I’m not giving him a break.


Matt Pitzer, USA TODAY

His “Studs and Duds” column is very “nuts and bolts.”

Best Call:  Darren McFadden as a sleeper.

Worst Call:  Um… a lot.  There’s like a 12th way tie for worst call.  Seriously.

Total number of recs:  15

Good/decent calls:  5 (Studs:  Forte, Steve Smith CAR; Sleepers:  Massaquoi, McFadden, Derek Anderson)

Bad calls:  10 (All his duds did well, he called Aaron Rodgers, Frank Gore & Calvin Johnson studs, and thought, Bernard Berrian, and Jacoby Jones would be good sleepers)

Borderline call:  Frank Gore.  In a PPR league, his 6 catches enhances his 45 yards in the air, but by any account, his 39 on the ground were pathetic.  Nothing “studly” about it, so I counted it as a bad call.

Percentage of advice that’s good:  30%

Notes:  Anyone can have a bad week.  Won’t hold it against him.  Also, the way he breaks up his picks — Studs, Duds, and Sleepers, he winds up recommending 10 guys for starting (the Studs and Sleepers) and only 5 for benching (the Duds).  But a recommendation is a recommendation, so I don’t think that affects things.  Also, if he continues to list guys like Aaron Rodgers as “studs” I’m going to have to institute some kind of penalty for “obvious picks.” The worst part?  The one elite guy he picked the stand out had a really poor game for him.  Rodgers had two TDs, but also two INTs and didn’t break 200 yards.


David Sabino, Sports Illustrated

His photo seems pleasant enough.

Total number of recs:  7

Best call:  Bench Joe Flacco.

Worst call:  Start Jonathan Stewart.

Number of good calls:  4 (Start Portis, Cutler, Aaron Hernandez, sit Flacco)

Number of bad calls:  3 (Start J Stew, sit Pierre Thomas, LeSean McCoy)

Borderline Call:  Aaron Hernandez.  He got just 45 yards, but for a TE, I guess that’s decent.

Percentage of advice that’s good:  57%

Notes: He waaay over-explains what few recommendations he actually makes.  A little less info and few more actual recommendations would be nice.


Dr. Jaun, The Faster Times

All the other guys have big platforms and probably make a living as sports writers.  I’m pretty sure this guy doesn’t.  I’ve got no clue who this guy is nor have I heard of The Faster Times.  But they both seem surprisingly legit. Plus, he’s a Doctor.  So that means he’s got like a Ph.D. in this stuff, right?  Anyways, I’m including this guy to represent the amateur/novices out there.  He’s got a day job, so will that affect his picks?  We shall see…

Total Number of calls: 30

Best Call:  Start Arian Foster, of course.

Worst Call:  Start Kevin Kolb.

He also said to bench Wes Welker, but since a lot of people were worried about his knee, I won’t hold that against him.

Number of good/decent calls:  18 (Start: Orton, Palmer, Foster, Cadillac Williams, Colston, Owens, Gaffney, Heap;  Sit: Flacco, Ryan, McNabb, Ray Rice, Shonn Greene, Michael Turner, Sims-Walker, John Carlson, Zach Miller, Owen Daniels)

Number of bad calls:  12 (Start:  Kolb, Henne, Mathews, Beanie Wells, LEE EVANS?!?, Kellen Winslow, Dustin Keller;  Sit: Romo, Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith CAR, Wes Welker, Hines Ward)

Borderline call:  Start Terrell Owens.  Middling performance, but passable for a 2/3 WR or flex spot, which is what I think most people considered him (if they had him in their lineup at all).  He had seven catches, which helps in PPR leagues.

Percentage of advice that qualifies as good: 60%

Notes:  According to his bio, Dr. Jaun is a psychologist. But whether Jaun is his first name or his last is still a mystery.

So the Week 1 winner is…

The Mysterious Dr. Jaun!

I’ll be doing this every week and at the end of the season.  Maybe.  It took way more time than I thought it would.

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3 thoughts on “Analyzing the Analysts: Fantasy Football Edition

  1. Pingback: The Great Prognosticate-Off Continues (But Should it?) | buchnotes

  2. Pingback: Who knew Fantasy Football analysts could be so fickle? | buchnotes

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