FAAB Quandary: Analysts Stay Greedy

I’ve been struggling this fantasy season when it comes to providing my best possible content. The root cause is that I’ve put more of my own skin in the game by joining a couple of NFBC leagues. Other owners deal with the same issue. For example, I had the following Twitter conversation this past weekend.

In all fairness, it’s a legit question coming into the weekend’s FAAB period. Carter Kieboom just got promoted and bids were going to be high for him. What got my request denied was that both Al (in Tout Wars) and Matt (NFBC Main Event) are in 15-team leagues with me. If someone else would have asked the question, would they have given an honest answer? Maybe. Would I take their honest answer and use it against them? Maybe.

I never thought others would steal my suggestion to use against me in my leagues until last season. In The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, I had a strong feeling two owners checked out my Tout Wars bids which ran FAAB on Sunday at noon. There was plenty of time for the owners to analyze my bids before the evening bids ran. Every week the same two owners beat me out on each of my sleeper picks. It got a little annoying.

In past seasons, I didn’t mind giving out more help since I was in just a few leagues with $500 or less in total entry fees. I paid nothing to be in TGFBI. This season I have ponied up over $3K for just two NFBC leagues. I budgeted for the leagues and feel an obligation to put my money where my mouth when it comes to this game. I feel every analyst should have some skin in the game and let their results do some of the talking. Some may disagree on this take, but I needed to find out if I could compete in the NFBC.

I’d love to be making enough from my writing that few thousand dollars wouldn’t make a difference but that would be a lie. A $7000 check for finishing first in my NFBC league would come in handy. Placing in the overall would be even better.

So, should I provide all my great buys for everyone like bringing attention to Jalen Beeks in this last week’s FAAB chat? He was set up for two-starts and two weak opponents until the Kansas City weather forced a cancelation. So, am I obligated to provide everyone one of my secrets? No, in my opinion.

Other fantasy writers would be lying if they said they gave out all their weekly “hidden gems”. Not one person is making available their exact bids. Many articles and podcasts run after that week’s FAAB results to talk about what they did, not beforehand on what they will do. It’s a competitive group who play the game to crush their enemies, see them driven before them, and hear the lamentations of their spouses.

So where is the line? I’m not sure but if a person takes the advice of public writer, they could check to see how often the expert follows their own advice. Who has the time or desire to judge every Tout, though?

It’s a fantasy industry issue, but how big of one? Is the incomplete information something consumers expect? Is the missing information irrelevant? Am I just making shit up? I’m not sure but it would impossible for me to provide all my thoughts and remain competitive.

The “experts” sometimes need help. A respected and successful member of the fantasy community contacted me on Sunday night and asked me for just names since he had a busy weekend. He didn’t have time to dig deep. He needed answers right away. We all do sometimes. Could he trust me? Should he trust me?

With differing quantities and qualities of the help differs from analysts and there is no good answer to this question. At least not one I’ve been able to construct. Everyone is playing with limited information, but maybe the “expert” community is not providing every bit of helpful information. Maybe some secrets need to be hidden to keep up their competitive fire going. If they were 100% transparent, they would be struggling to compete.

For owners, this is an area they need to focus their own efforts on. Find the waiver wire articles which match their team’s needs. Maybe use another host site’s most added list to find players other owners miss. For FAAB values, tracking the weekly bids and finding comps might be more helpful than relying on experts given that an article could be highlighting a group of guys simply not available in your league. While most aspects of the fantasy can be fed like who to draft, owners may need to spend some effort on who to pick up and how much to spend on them.

I’m sorry but no solution exists for me to this quandary. Hopefully, the incomplete information I provide is helpful. Maybe at some point, I’ll try going all in with my ideas. I’m sorry everyone is getting less than 100%.

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 three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Thanks for the honesty and transparency. As long as you stand behind the advice you do give, no one should have any problem with it.

It’s appreciated that you’ve articulated exactly what your conflicts are this year, and now your readers can adjust accordingly. Good luck with your leagues, and thanks for the consistently excellent analysis.