Why RotoGraphs Is Infatuated with the NFBC

There are been complaints about being FanGraphs being NFBC (National Fantasy Baseball Championship) centric (e.g. Big Kid Adds) and we should consider other league types. The deal is that besides a few exceptions, the NFBC provides a superior product to analyze drafts and in-season player movement.

First off, I know there are leagues just as or more competitive than the NFBC, but are their drafts and rosters movements made public like the NFBC. Just last week you could notice that I was ranked 2457th out of 2460 teams in the Online Championship. Having the information available is huge.

Additionally, the NFBC provides comparable information on multiple competitive leagues so a single draft pick or add doesn’t stand out. The Wisdom of the Crowds helps to even out valuations.

The final advantage is that the managers will remain active since they put dollars on the line. Again, I know free leagues can be active and competitive, but does someone curate a list of these leagues with all the moves available? The reason I like to use the higher stake leagues for Big Kid Adds is that I’ve found them more competitive. Having been in leagues at different NFBC price points (from free to $2500), I know the leagues are more competitive the higher the entry fee. In one of the free leagues last year, three teams didn’t make one move once the season started. That’s not the case in my higher stake leagues.

The NFBC ADP (average draft position) and FAAB (free agent acquisition budget) moves used to not be available for all analysts because a person needed to have paid for an NFBC league to view them. They just weren’t publicly available. When the NFBC opened up their ADP and AAV (average auction value) up to the public, their ADP began to dominate the early season player valuations discussion. It helps that the NFBC starts drafting leagues before the post-season is over.

I remember back to the times of when MockDraftCentral.com and Howard Bender’s Mock Draft Army would be the best sources for player evaluations. Additionally in mid-February, 15 fantasy “experts” completed the mixed LABR draft and that draft board was scrutinized. Each of the draft sources gave a snapshot of player evaluation at that time and place.

Additionally, if the NFBC just kept averaging out the draft information from their October to March drafts, like every other site does, it would lose a lot of its luster. The key feature of the NFBC ADP is to be able to set the league type (e.g. draft-and-hold, auction) and a date range. Setting the date allows seeing how the market changes after an signing or an offseason injury. If other sites had these options, they would get used more.

Another aspect of the NFBC leagues is most use a larger player pool than the average league, so the moves involve a larger player pool. While the average ESPN and Yahoo league won’t come close to drafting 450 players (15 teams, 30 man roster), the NFBC leagues provide great options for watch lists or insights on changes in player valuation.

With at least a few dollars being dropped in the standard NFBC games, managers are going to trying to find value with every single draft pick. I remember back in the mock draft days when people would show up for five to six picks and then let the auto draft finish things. The NFBC isn’t perfect with the early drafts anchoring down some player valuations that could take months to correct.

For an in-season source, the NFBC does cater to the deeper leagues but not to the depths of AL or NL-only leagues. Again, I find looking at these deeper adds and drops useful for future shallow league options. Also, they help to figure out why a certain player was added. Many times it is a soft schedule that week or next.

I have found several other in-season sources that provide some unique insight that the NFBC can’t provide.

1. Yahoo’s player adds are from the last 24 hours so it does a great job of helping to find that day’s hot add.

2. CBS has the combination of fastest draw and FAAB league but their reported adds and drops are for the past seven days. It provides a snapshot of public demand before weekly adds take place. I use the changes as the baseline for my weekly FAAB article.

CBS Reliever Rostership Rates
Name Previous Roster% Current Roster% Change
Giovanny Gallegos RP STL 37% 40% 3%
Adam Ottavino RP NYM 30% 34% 4%
Jose Alvarado RP PHI 20% 50% 30%
Jose Quijada RP LAA 12% 33% 21%
Brad Boxberger RP CHC 11% 21% 10%
Erik Swanson RP TOR 10% 12% 2%
Steven Wilson RP SD 5% 10% 5%
Jesse Chavez RP ATL 5% 9% 4%
Nick Anderson RP ATL 4% 7% 3%
Drew Smith RP NYM 4% 6% 2%
Dylan Lee RP ATL 3% 9% 6%
Zach Jackson RP OAK 3% 6% 3%
Colin Holderman RP PIT 3% 5% 2%
Tyler Rogers RP SF 2% 4% 2%
Bryse Wilson RP MIL 1% 3% 2%
Mark Leiter RP CHC 0% 3% 3%

3. Tout Wars runs their FAAB two hours before the NFBC runs on Sunday evening. The Tout Wars rank can be used to find a few of the players in demand. I provide the results from the two 15-team mixed leagues in my Sunday night chat.

The various leagues including AL and NL only can be found from this page with the links on the top under the Tout Wars banner. Click on “Transaction Logs” and then “View Bid-Miester Results”. Two notes on the link, one confusing and the other good. The confusing one is that that the players who look like they are being dropped, might not get dropped. The league rules are that players can be added and then teams can decide on drops later. Second, on the left are all the bids made for every player bid on. While it takes a little searching, the back up and unfulfilled bids can be checked.

I know the NFBC is far from perfect but for most analysis, it is the best available option.

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 twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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1 year ago

No complaints here! I love the weekly Big Kid Adds post, please keep them coming.