A Look at Yahoo and ESPN Owned Percentages

I have had several discussion in the comment here at Fangraphs that the players we discuss are not available in the reader’s leagues. I decided to look at the percentages owned at ESPN and Yahoo and see how they compare. Also I will look at what size of league in total players on rosters corresponds to what percentage owned.

I have seen some huge discrepancies in the owned percent between Yahoo and ESPN. I took the percentages of the top 250 owned pitchers and hitters. I didn’t match them up, I was more looking at just the percentages. What I found was that there were basically 3 zones of players. Those owned by all teams (>90%), those owned by some teams (more than 10% and less than 90%), and those owned by few teams (<10%). Of the 500 total players 194 were in the top 90% for ESPN and the top 114 for Yahoo. In next bracket of players, ESPN has 107 in that group and Yahoo has 245. ESPN leagues seem to take more top players and then drop off quickly, while more of the middle players are used in Yahoo. This leads to be believe that Yahoo has larger leagues as a rule and the percentage owned will be higher.

The following data is the percent owned for the different sized leagues. The number is for the total number of players (roster size * number of teams).

Total Players Yahoo ESPN
200 – 66% 87.8%
250 – 45% 58.4%
300 – 26% 11.5%
350 – 11% 3.7%
400 – 6% 1.7%
450 – 3% 0.5%
500 – 1% 0.2%

With these numbers and taking into account previous comments, I will write only on percent owned cutoffs for leagues of 300 total players or higher.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Gigantic Phil
12 years ago

Just as I suspected. Thanks for the footwork.