JJ Zachariason

Draft Analysis

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Fantasy QB Supply & Demand

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Author of The Late Round Quarterback (2012), JJ Zachariason is doing a Rotoworld offseason series on quarterback value in fantasy football. A link to Zachariason's book can be found here. JJ is also on Twitter.

Find the first two parts of JJ's Quarterback Draft Analysis Series here (Part I: QBs & Fantasy Value) and here (Part II: QBs & Depth).

I had an Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card growing up. You may remember it: The card displayed Junior’s mug smiling innocently, holding a bat like it was part of his body. I think I stole the card from my brother, but I still considered it my own. Anytime I got together with my neighborhood buddies to “trade”, they always asked what it would take to get my Griffey. I told them the only thing I’d accept for it was a Nintendo with the Track & Field pad.

At one point, the Griffey was the focus of conversation among seven-year-olds in my neighborhood. Everyone was talking about it, and everyone wanted it. That is, until Matthew moved across the street from me.

My friends and I were all trading one day, and we decided to invite this “Matthew” character to join. Aside from having another dude my age in the neighborhood to play street hockey with, I was excited to show off my awesome card collection to someone new. We were in my basement displaying our cards like it was some sort of professional event, and I reached into my box and pulled out my beloved Griffey. The guys in my basement were impressed, as usual, except for the newbie.

Matthew acted like the Griffey rookie card was just another potato chip under the couch cushion.

He arrogantly smiled as he pulled out the exact same card from his box. That moment – that smile – was when I learned about the basic concept of supply and demand.

Before Matthew moved to my neighborhood, I could have had anything for Griffey. After, I could barely squeeze out a ’93 Topps Walt Weiss from my friends. I understood the reason, though: My pals saw less value in something because the supply of that something had doubled.

This same type of logic is really identifiable in fantasy football. And for whatever reason, thousands of fantasy owners fail to realize it.

Without boring you with a regurgitation of my college economics classes, let’s look at supply and demand at a very basic level. We’ll define supply as “how many of something is available”, and demand as “how much people want that something.”

In most markets, when the supply of a widget is greater than the demand of a widget, participants will pay lower costs to obtain that widget. If there’s an apple stand that has nine apples, but only six people want one apple, then those six people aren’t going to pay much to get an apple. There are apples for everyone! But if 17 people want an apple when there are only nine apples available, you’ll find that they’re willing to pay a higher price.

In fantasy football, there’s a way to determine supply and demand of particular positions in a standard lineup. And when you’re able to do this, you’re capable of seeing which positions are inherently more valuable in our beloved fantasy game.

Demand is more obvious, as we can look at a lineup and determine the exact number of players a team needs to fulfill its requirements. In most leagues, a squad must have one quarterback, at least two running backs, and at least two receivers. So in a 12-team league, we’d expect the demand for quarterbacks to be 12, and the demand for running backs and receivers to be 24 each. Of course, anytime there’s a flex spot in a lineup, the demand for the positions involved in said flex increases.

Things become a little more subjective when the supply of particular positions is analyzed. As defined previously, supply is “how many of something is available.” There are plenty of running backs and receivers accessible because so many of them get opportunities in a game, but how do we determine the pool of players that are actually worthy enough to start in fantasy football? Even though Mewelde Moore is a running back, for instance, should he really be in our running back consideration set?

This notion is extremely important when trying to understand the supply of a specific fantasy position. If you look at any 2012 box score, you’d often find three or four different runners touching the rock, and potentially eight or nine receivers catching passes. Unless injury or poor performance occurs, you only see one quarterback on each team throwing the ball. It may appear that there’s an excess of backs and receivers, but really, quantity doesn’t equate to quality in this case.

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