Guillotine League, Week 1 Recap

Quick recap typed out on my iPhone due to connectivity issues.

First Loss of the Season

My personal update is that one of my teams – the Fantrax one – lost in week 1. This is kind of a bummer because this was not an impersonal league like the fanball ones, but one of my two leagues in which I was interacting with real live people. Which I can still do, but being out of contention kind of takes some of the fun out of it.

It was also my largest wager, at $50, and it was a 100% payout league, so out of all my leagues it was the biggest financial loss.

Why did I lose? My RBs were Guice, Penny and Breida. My QB was the $80 million dollar man, Kirk Cousins, who threw for just about 1 yard per million dollars. Guice and Penny were upside bets in the late 3rd/early 4th, which I felt okay with because I took two reliable WRs at 1/2, namely Julio and Keenan Allen. For my third WR I added Dante Pettis. So basically my whole team sucked in week 1 except Keenan.

A related strategic thought: some people are counseling drafting for early matchups in guillotine leagues to guarantee survival in the early weeks. I think this is a mistake.

Leave aside whether it is possible to execute reliably on such a strategy, and assume that you can accurately assess which players have good matchups at different points in the season.

By drafting for early season advantage, you are picking players who have less favorable matchup in the rest of the season. That means that you are shifting risk from the early season to the mid-late season.

But this is not a good move. The risk of losing due to bad luck increases as the season goes on, because the fewer teams there are, the less likely it is that someone suffers a freak bad week. If you are doing a good job of putting your team together, you want to concentrate risk as much as possible in the early season, where it is spread across more teams.

The upshot is that the optimal strategy *increases* your chance of early elimination, if others are optimizing for the early season.

Spending Frenzy

If I’ve been pushing one message, it has been: don’t overspend, especially early. To my gratification as a competitor, but not as an evangelist, people are spending like the season’s going to end in 3 weeks.

I’m going to focus on Fanball leagues here. I’m in 7 of them. In these 7 leagues, 35 players have been acquired for $100 or more in the last week. I think all of this is overspending, some of it pretty extreme. Here’s the list:

Juju Smith-Schuster 758
James Conner 562
Todd Gurley 501
Travis Kelce 501
Davante Adams 451
Odell Beckham 450
George Kittle 373, 351
Mike Evans 350
David Montgomery 350, 136
Devonta Freeman 325
DJ Moore 325, 150, 101
Kyler Murray 303 (this one had no other bids – he could have been had for $1.)
Damien Williams 291
Cam Newton 251 (no other bids)
Leonard Fournette 225
Joe Mixon 195
Baker Mayfield 191
Chris Godwin 181
Mike Williams 170
Latavius Murray 148
Tyler Lockett 121
Tyler Boyd 111, 110
Sony Michel 107
Matt Breida 101
Hollywood Brown 101
Chris Thompson 101
Miles Sanders 101
Rex Burkhead 100
James White 100
Darren Waller 100

Fanball’s rake is the equivalent of about 3 teams’ entry fees out of 17. That means if 3 or more teams knock themselves out of contention with bad bidding, then it’s a zero- or positive-sum game. Given the average of 5 overbids after week 1 alone, I like my odds.

Of the 96 teams remaining, 67 (around 70%) have between 901 and 1000 FAAB left. 14 (15%) have between 801 and 900. Two teams (2%) have between 701 and 800. Four teams (4%) have between 601 and 700. Three teams (3%) have between 501 and 600. Four teams (4%) have between 301 and 400. One team (1%) has between 301 and 400, and one has between 201 and 300.

No time for a week 2 preview, but I’ve got some ugly teams out there!

Good luck in Week 2.

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