During this desperately joyous week of our fantasy football lives, I felt it timely to offer you a potential fantasy mind cleansing – Some game thinking that takes a step back and looks at the key factors weighing into our collective decision making processes.Excepts from Rudyard Kipling’s “If”; …… If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; ….. If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; ….. If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; …… Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Magnificence penned in 1895 with the final line seemingly delivered from Jock himself!
Doubts, blame, dreams, risks …. “if you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.” Powerful. Strength in our convictions, to remain stoic and unaffected.
Unfortunately, we are not unaffected. When it comes to the decision making processes around selecting our starting squads, our brains are hard-wired to work against us. How can we remain stoic and unaffected when we evolved to be driven by emotion, to follow the herd – to survive.
Our emotional reasoning is eager, noisier and holds sway over our logic. Our brains are still working as they evolved – to be dealing with the issues as they would arise on the African plains – survival means quick response times and conforming to the group. Decisions that pay off are well regarded. Social acceptance will result in increased connectivity and as a consequence, an increased survival probability.
In the 2015 preseason I wrote an article on Shoal verses Shark game play. The underlying concept within was that while there was much safety and comfort to be drawn from starting with the common consensus in your selection strategy, doing so would mean that you simply could not rank highly enough to win.
Refusing to follow the crowd goes against every instinct – it is why there is a crowd to follow in the first place! Consider a scenario where a coach makes a comment on a player who he advises may spend more game time in a potentially higher point scoring role. This throw-away line, a line that the media might well have provoked and cut, feeds online chatter and the selection now becomes high on people’s selection radar. This player plays well during a NAB game in undermanned squads and performs better than previous statistics would dictate. Highly connected online fantasy communities begin to find reasons as to why this player becomes strategic while finding reasons to ignore potential associated risks. That small seed of possibility initially thrown out by the coach and replicated in an unrealistic game, now has been nurtured by the media, fertilised online and begins to spread its roots. Suddenly, this selection is being locked into starting fantasy lineups across the country.
The proliferation of fantasy football information available online is both the best and worst thing to happen to fantasy football. In many instances, it is quite probable that your decisions can actually become worse with the more information you receive. Rising confidence generated via a saturation of knowledge – statistics, coaches or player comments, expert analysis, new articles, multiple appearances in ‘Rate My Teams”. This socially acceptable pick now results in a fixed and rigid mindset.
We must value objectivity over both optimism and pessimism when making decisions and guard ourselves against any of the herd’s speculative euphoria. Be aware and acknowledge that a strong emotional cognitive bias is at play in each and every preseason.
While I did not want to mention any actual player names as it would in many ways contradict my key message, I would like to offer up one example purely to consider in the context of this opinion piece. I am in no way endorsing or condemning these selections, merely using them as a discussion piece.
|Player||Position||Price||Projected Rd.1 Score||Break-Even||% Ownership|
Without going into the fantasy relevant pros and cons of the selections, is Hannebery an example of a preseason hype pick? Is the elevated spend of $82,800 on Hannebury justified when comparing him to Boak? Did Hannebury’s NAB Challenge hit-out against Carlton where he scored 139 result in an over-inflated ownership rate?
…..If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too …..
Shark, shoal and now consider the pioneering ant.
The colony of ants is presented with two equidistant and identical food sources. The socially predicted outcome will be a mass gathering on only one of the food sources. Will you be the brave pioneering ant who strikes out on its own and feasts on the possibility of excess even if failure will mean social rejection?
I just deleted my team – it’s time to start again.
Enjoy this most significant week!
Peter J Higginbotham