Posted on: October 26, 2009 4:37 pm

More Thoughts on Predictive Content

I had no idea that the topic about the Guru was going to be such a polarizing subject.  I absolutely love the fact that you (the collective fantasy community) can put so much thought into not only whether you preferred one way over another way, but also coming up with totally different ways to derive a data point that would be relevant in making your lineup decisions.  I even enjoyed the fact that people took the time to criticize my spelling. For the record I don't spell, grammar, or even fact-check these blogs.  My main goal is to make it through each blog without swearing (a challenge for me on a sentence to sentence basis when I speak). 

A few main themes I have gotten either through the feedback on this blog or feedback from other forums:

1.  The Guru (or any predictive number for that matter) being on the Set Lineup page sways people's decisions.

This may sound strange but I don't think I understood the effect that putting a predictive number on the lineup page has on people until I read this column.  We've had it as a part of our products for so long that it's easy to forget that people actually use this as the sole basis for setting their lineups.  I have always looked at this number sort of like an 'over/under'.  It's a number that's out there, determined by some "expert" and it's on me as the team owner to figure out whether each player will exceed that number or fail to reach that number.  After all that is supposed the be the allure of Fantasy Sports...that I, as the team owner ultimately decide what each player will do each week.  If you are like me, you do not want to rely on someone else, even someone who gets paid to analyze this stuff, to make the final decision on who goes into your lineup.  But I am now realizing how tempting it can be to see a big number next to a player and want to put them in because of that. 

I saw the idea tossed around that maybe there should be an option to have the Guru turned off, or at least not show it on the Set Lineup page.  I even saw a comment that the lineup page is cluttered enough already and the Guru doesn't need to be on there.  We already have plans to tweak the Set Lineup page, and all of this feedback will be considered. 

2.  Both ways of doing the Guru, either by formula or by human, are inadequate.  Users seem to want additional data points. 

This one doesn't really suprise me at all.  And I want to give you all of the data points you can handle.  I've mentioned before the idea of a 'Consistency Factor', which would come in handy when trying to decide between between two players who average 10 points a week, but one guy is consistently in the 8-12 range while the other guy is either scoring 20 points or 0 points.  For some, they may want the guaranteed 8-12 points, but for others, they need the risk/reward play of a guy capable of blowing up for 20+ points. Regardless, it's relevant data. 

So, what else would you use as a data point for making your lineup decisions? 

3.  Users seem to want to see a "rating" of the predictions.  Meaning that you'd like to see how close/far the predictions have been overall.

I love this idea.  I've always believed that there isn't nearly enough accountability in the Fantasy prediction field.  Plus, Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg are running out of reasons to dislike me, so I should provide them with a few more.  Seriously though, I think we should do this not only for our writer predictions, but for the formula as well.  I'll have to see if I can get buy-in from our editorial team. 

I really appreciated all the feedback I got from that last post and would love to see everyone keep it coming.  There are some big changes on the horizon not only in Fantasy but for all of CBSSports.com and this has proved to be a great source for great ideas.   

Posted on: September 17, 2009 4:54 pm

Who is the Guru?

Throughout the years, we've had many incarnations of and therefore, questions about the Guru.  The Guru, as it was designed, was a formula that was supposed to give an indication of how well your player will perform in the upcoming week's football game.  It appears on every team's 'Set Lineup' page.  It used to take into account the player's past performance, some projections, injury status, and opponent.  We would tweak the actual formula from time to time.  It wasn't perfect, but we thought that it served its purpose. 

Our content team, including but not limited to Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg, apparently used to get some emails from readers who thought that they were the 'Guru' offering this advice. And when it didn't work out for that particular reader, those emails could get pretty nasty.  I guess those guys had just about enough of that when they came to us last year and said that if they were going to take flack from the readers that they at least wanted it to be based on their own weekly projections for each player so that they could defend their decisions.  It seemed like a daunting task, but they were up to the challenge. So now those Guru numbers you see on your Lineup page are the result of those guys projecting out a weekly stat line for each player.  Each site then applies those stats to your league's specific scoring system and spits out what your score would be with that stat line.  If you want to see the stats that go into your 'Guru' number, just click "Weekly Projections' at the top of your 'Set Lineup' table. 

Personally I'm still not sold on which way is better.  While it's nice to have a projected stat line on each player, it really puts pressure on thye football writers to have to determine which players are going to score TDs that particular week or not.  For instance, with the old system, because it was a formula, the number could be the result of an average number of TDs per game.  Say RB 'X' rushed for an average of 65 yards and had scored 3 TDs for the first 6 weeks of a season.  The formula might have projected that he would have 65 yards and .5 TDs that week - an average score of about 9 points.  With our content team projecting out a weekly stat line, they don't have the luxury of predicting out .5 (or half of a Touchdown).  So if they player has been averaging about 65 yards a week, they have to make the call between saying he'll score a TD which would put the player at about 12 points, or not scoring a TD which would put the player at about 6 points.  It's a pretty big difference.   Which do you prefer?  Think about it and let me know. 

Category: Fantasy Football
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com