General Consensus Data

Should you use a General Consensus draft list?

Is it a safe bet?

Or, will it actually destroy your chances for a killer draft?

Ask a few football buddies for their fantasy rankings this year. Next, combine that feedback with rankings from several Fantasy Football services. Average it all out and chances are you’ll have a reasonable ‘General Consensus’ ranking list.

But, is it a good idea to use a consensus list? Does an average taken from 5, 10, 15 or 50 individuals result in truth? More importantly, will averaging information give you an edge over your competition?

If you’re not really sure how to answer, don’t worry. A distressingly high proportion of Fantasy Football owners, many of whom spend hours each week working on their team and making season-long projections don’t know either.

The good news is reliable answers exist. How? By pooling years of prior expert opinion rankings, 4for4 has tracked ‘General Consensus’ forecasting accuracy. From this rather basic, but well suited research, we offer the following observations.

Consensus cheat sheets actually do okay. In short, they can keep you out of trouble, especially if you are new to Fantasy Football. If you don’t want to embarrass yourself on draft day, you can feel reasonably safe using an up-to-date consensus cheat sheet. In fact, if you just want to ‘try your luck’ this year, you can stop reading right here. For this owner, feel free to try a consensus list. Who knows, you might get lucky! However, if you really want to win, by all means, keep reading.

It turns out, on average, a consensus cheat sheet will typically forecast better than 60-65% of the experts making up the panel. That’s not all that bad. However, by definition, consensus cheat sheets, do not offer the serious Fantasy Football owner a sustainable and true competitive advantage.

Let’s look at an exaggerated example to illustrate this key point.

Example: Imagine you’re in a league with 10 competent veteran Fantasy Football owners. Further, let’s assume you and each of the other 9 cagey owners, independently and unknowingly, all set out on a mission to create the ultimate consensus cheat sheet - try and obtain as many qualified opinions as you can. You and your rivals all end up drawing from 10-15 sources.

As a result, you and your competition all have virtually identical rankings. Now, what are your chances of having an exceptional draft?

Sorry to say, but your odds are not very good! In the above scenario, everyone is fundamentally drawing from the same lot. Worse yet, acing the draft in this exaggerated circumstance would largely be a function of random events outside of your control. Not cool at all.

Please never forget, the single most important thing on draft day is proper player evaluation. Draft strategies, value selection tactics, computer tools and other methods can aid in your success. However, don’t get misguided, keep your eye on the ball, and remember, proper player evaluation is what draft day is all about. Several engineering friends think of it this way: Wallpaper can make a building more enjoyable, however if your foundation and flooring is weak, you’re going to be in for some serious trouble. Optimal player evaluation is the foundation to draft day success, not cool looking draft tools or interesting draft tactics. If you have limited time to prepare for a draft, focus on player evaluations (and don’t get distracted with the wallpaper).

If you follow ‘General Consensus’ and have reason to believe your competition is largely doing the exact same thing, your ability to draft a truly spectacular roster will be dictated by factors beyond your control.

And, that's not a good way to manage your team. Simply hoping you get lucky on draft day is not a viable long-term winning strategy. Without realizing it, this is what many Fantasy Football owners actually do! They follow the crowd and go with a watered down average consensus cheat sheet. Sure this type owner may occasionally walk away with a killer draft. However, for them, the success won’t often be replicated. In the long run, consensus draft strategists often end up with rather mundane rosters.

All that being said, properly leveraged, ‘General Consensus’ information can assist you on draft day. In addition, shrewdly knowing when and how to deviate from ‘General Consensus’ is key when generating player evaluations.

In short, uses historically proven factors to properly adjust player values. Leveraging time-tested odds allows us to surgically modify player values accordingly. Many of these factors are statistically based, but not all. Optimized rankings properly adjust for late camp news, hard to find workload information, offensive system, team factors, as well as unique, powerful and proven statistical analysis focused on player durability and consistency.

Overall, ‘General Consensus’ information provides a decent 30,000 ft. view of the NFL landscape. It’s a good way to spot land, but not very effective if your looking for an ideal neighborhood. If you want to ace your draft, using average (consensus) cheat sheets and projections simply won't do it for you.

Bottom Line? If you want a killer draft, don't draft using ‘General Consensus’ data. Rather, only use it as a guide to anticipate what other managers will likely do.