The Importance of Variance – ConfidencePoolPicks

What’s Variance?

The prime three definitions from dictionary.com are:

  1. the state, quality, or reality of being variable, divergent, totally different, or anomalous.
  2. an occasion of varying; distinction; discrepancy.
  3. Additionally referred to as mean sq. deviation. Statistics. the square of the usual deviation.

Divergent, anomalous, deviating from the mean/average, abnormally high or low scores – That is VARIANCE.

We would like variance in our fantasy football workforce.  Very few teams win within the playoffs by simply scoring their season’s common (and counting on their opponent to bomb).  We would like our teams to ramp up and score a ton of factors within the playoffs (variance).  We also want variance in our particular person gamers as properly. How many teams final yr picked up Damien Williams late in the season, to be rewarded together with his dominance weeks 14-16?  Williams broke away for giant dashing yardage while breaking away from his season lengthy average.

Variance is even more necessary in Greatest Ball as a result of house owners don’t need to determine when players will growth or bust.  House owners routinely get to start out their gamers once they growth and bench their players once they bust.

In case you take one thing away from this article, let it’s this:  Variance is simply used as a tiebreaker within the earlier rounds.  When choosing between two players, if one is clearly higher but has lower variance, nonetheless select the higher participant.  Near the top of the draft, variance is rather more necessary than projected player level complete. In the late rounds, you’ve already drafted your stars and together with your last picks, you need gamers that can growth and crack the beginning lineup.

One other strategy to body variance is thru risk-taking.  For those who go to the on line casino and solely make minimum bets on the roulette desk, after an hour, you is perhaps up slightly, but most certainly you’ll be down because of the house edge.  Nevertheless, when you place a $100 guess on black, you’re both going to have $zero or $200 after the spin of the wheel. When utilized to Greatest Ball (12 workforce league), should you’re up slightly (scored 1850 factors) or down so much (scored 1550 points), you in all probability didn’t win something.  Greatest Ball is about going for the very best ceiling (2000+ points), so take greater risks.

Recreation to Recreation Variance

What do Marvin Jones, Brandin Cooks, Robby Anderson and DeSean Jackson have in widespread?

Matt Harmon breaks down receivers by watching each route they run in a season and tracks their success charges.  The success rates on deep routes by the receivers talked about above are above average or wonderful. Deep threats are extremely useful to Greatest Ball teams, since these varieties of players can get a 70 yard TD reception and blow the ceiling off the scoreboard.  Except for Jones who was harm mid-season, the opposite three have been widespread denominators on profitable teams last yr (https://confidencepoolpicks.com/key-components-of-winning-teams).

How about Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees?  Except for them both being future first ballot Corridor of Famers, they both have traditionally giant home-road splits.  That’s variance.

With a view to illustrate the importance of variance, let’s think about a theoretical instance where you draft two QBs and each scored 300 factors within the season.  If they each had no variance and scored their common of 18.75 pts each week, you’d have a horrible state of affairs.  The QBs would cancel each other out (except for the bye week) and you’d rating roughly 300 points from these two QBs on the finish of the season.

Let’s take the other state of affairs the place both QBs have high variance.  When one has a terrific week and one has a horrible week, that’s an enormous constructive because you get the excessive score.  There will probably be some weeks where they each have very low level totals and each have very high level totals and nullify each other, however you’re no worse off in those weeks than the first state of affairs with no variance.

Now, let’s take a look at the purpose totals and variance from real gamers.  We calculated that worth for each QB in 2018. We went all the best way right down to Alex Smith, who was drafted in a good amount of leagues.  QBs are the simplest to take a look at since Draft (draft.com/bestballbadger) solely permits the beginning of one every week they usually don’t rely towards the flex position.

Participant (Bye)CompleteAvgVariance
Patrick Mahomes QB KC (12)429.0826.8247.17
Matt Ryan QB ATL (9)361.4622.5973.42
Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT (7)357.3622.3455.64
Andrew Luck QB IND (6)342.4221.4043.70
Deshaun Watson QB HOU (10)340.7021.2971.46
Jared Goff QB LAR (9)322.3220.1595.96
Aaron Rodgers QB GB (11)314.5819.6681.62
Drew Brees QB NO (9)309.4820.63111.66
Russell Wilson QB SEA (11)305.9219.1235.70
Philip Rivers QB LAC (12)297.0218.5635.63
Cam Newton QB CAR (7)295.6021.1146.16
Dak Prescott QB DAL (8)293.9018.3757.35
Kirk Cousins QB MIN (12)292.6218.2962.15
Tom Brady QB NE (10)291.8018.2442.40
Mitchell Trubisky QB CHI (6)275.0219.64132.94
Baker Mayfield QB CLE (7)254.1018.1524.71
Eli Manning QB NYG (11)250.9615.6924.70
Case Keenum QB WAS (10)229.9014.3721.99
Derek Carr QB OAK (6)226.2614.1472.54
Matthew Stafford QB DET (5)223.1813.9535.52
Josh Allen QB BUF (6)220.0618.34134.97
Jameis Winston QB TB (7)209.7819.0773.40
Carson Wentz QB PHI (10)200.1618.2037.93
Andy Dalton QB CIN (9)185.5416.8738.87
Blake Bortles QB LAR (9)184.2214.17100.02
Marcus Mariota QB TEN (11)183.4213.1089.29
Sam Darnold QB NYJ (4)183.4014.1140.55
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB MIA (5)177.8422.23147.47
Lamar Jackson QB BAL (8)162.5410.1679.53
Ryan Tannehill QB TEN (11)151.4613.7758.73
Joe Flacco QB DEN (10)143.1015.9025.96
Alex Smith QB WAS (10)143.0014.3013.38

What does this chart say?  Points are king (and draft worth).  Should you drafted Pat Mahomes within the 11th and he destroys everybody with factors, it doesn’t matter that he had low variance.  Part of the calculation is predicated on average (greater common, lower variance).

Let’s say we’ve two quarterbacks.  One which scored 309 points over the season and on that score 305 points over the season.  Understanding nothing else about them, we’d anticipate that the teams that drafted the primary QB scored somewhere between zero and 4 points more than teams that drafted the second QB.  Let’s say 2 factors more to the final season rating (the other 2 factors have been tacked on to a meaningless low scoring recreation).

Now, let’s add on extra info.  The first QB was Drew Brees who had quite a bit of variance (high and low scoring video games) and the second QB was Russell Wilson who was pretty constant all through the season.  What would you assume the difference can be? 5 points? 10 factors? 20 factors?!

For this evaluation, we paired up Brees and Wilson with the top 20 other scoring QBs (from Mahomes to Josh Allen) and calculated the rating.  Brees + QB on average scored 407.84 pts and Wilson + QB on common scored 382.36. That’s a whopping 25 point distinction although Brees solely outscored Wilson by 4 factors on the season.

Just to provide a comparability, if we owned Brees and Wilson and then drafted a 3rd QB like Matt Stafford, it bumps our complete from 396.96 to 426.18 or a few 29 point bump.  Stafford was an inexpensive QB drafted within the 11th round last yr. Most groups who drafted a third QB, drafted them at the very finish of the draft (16th-18th). Guys like Flacco, Tannehill, Darnold, Eli Manning, Dalton, Bradford, and Tyrod Taylor.  These QBs would have resulted in 18.24, 9.66, 5.14, 24.90, 25.78, zero, zero point bumps respectively. It’s a bit of a crapshoot with the third QB and it requires a draft decide.  Meaning the worth of a excessive variance mid-tier QB is roughly equivalent to a low variance mid-tier QB + late round QB that doesn’t bust.

Participant to Player Variance

Let’s check out the two QB state of affairs again.  The one the place they both scored 300 points. That mixture will score roughly 380 factors by the top of the season with 220 points going to waste as they cancel each other out.

Okay, now think about kicking those two comparable and boring gamers out the door and replacing them with a QB that scored 600 points and a QB that scored zero points.  That may be AMAZING since your workforce just scored 600 factors and wasted zero factors from the QB place. That’s fairly an extreme example, nevertheless it illustrates the profit of owning prime tier players at every place (i.e. difference makers).

Final yr, wouldn’t it have been better to own the QB pair of “Pat Mahomes + Case Keenum” or the QB pair of “Andrew Luck + Deshaun Watson”?

Take a number of moments to think about that state of affairs…

Despite the fact that Luck + Watson scored a mixed 683 points compared to Mahomes + Keenum combined 659 points, there was far more overlap.  The vaunted Luck/Watson combo would have contributed 429 points to your group, whereas Mahomes and the pedestrian Keenum would have yielded 449 points.  The huge level/little point combo labored out better than the middle/center level combo.

Last yr, the highest 4 scoring QBs have been all drafted across the 10th and 11th spherical (Mahomes, Matty Ice, Massive Ben, Luck).  Might that occur this yr with Wilson, Newton, Winston, Goff, Prescott, and Roethlisberger getting into that range? Yes, but odds are nonetheless on Mahomes, Watson, Luck, and Rodgers to outpace the sector.

Grabbing two QBs within the 10th to 11th rounds is a legitimate technique, but Greatest Ball Badger recommends making an attempt to snag a QB earlier with a greater shot at a Prime 3 season (Watson, Luck, Rodgers, Ryan, Wentz – within the Sixth-Ninth round).  Mahomes draft capital is steep however could be value a stab at with Tyreek Hill avoiding suspension.

Different Varieties of Variance


We’ve already talked about speedsters or deep threats having an edge on the WR place by creating variance with long cross plays.  Similar thing goes at TE with subject stretchers getting alternatives for giant performs.  OJ Howard, Evan Engram, and Vance McDonald have shown they will rating lengthy TDs.  It may be too early for Noah Fant, but watch him in future years.

Fast RBs can act as residence run hitters.  Matt Breida and Kalen Ballage are being drafted very late and each have shown to have breakaway velocity.  Matt Breida was the fastest ball-carrier in 2018 based on Next Gen Stats. Kalen Ballage ran a 4.35 40-yard dash in his professional day and had a pleasant 75-yard run close to the top of last season.  Each might be in devoted RB committees, however can rating factors on your group even with restricted opportunities.


Rookies have a really wide selection of outcomes at this level within the offseason (before pre-season) as few know what sort of workload they’ll receive.  Every year we’ve got rookies (rookie RBs particularly) that come out of the woodwork and right into a outstanding position. Last yr, Nick Chubb waded via a sea of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson to earn the starting position.  Kerryon Johnson was starting to seem like a fantasy beast, averaging 15.1 ppg in 5 weeks after the bye, until he went down with an damage. Even Saquon being drafted at 1.6 might be thought-about a steal. In 2017, Kamara, Hunt, Fournette, and McCaffrey all significantly outperformed their draft position.

Josh Jacobs might be a McCaffrey lite with the backfield all but locked up (Lynch retired and Crowell with an Achilles damage) and having receiving expertise.  This yr there are numerous potential sleepers on the position. Alexander Mattison (MIN) seems to be to fill the Latavius Murray position however with more upside.  Devin Singletary (BUF) only needs to carve out some time from getting old and oft-injured LeSean McCoy, 36-year previous Frank Gore, and cross catching specialist TJ Yeldon.  Miles Sanders was picked in the second spherical and finds himself on an incredible offense. By midseason, we anticipate him to takeover the first RB position from Jordan Howard who has been engaged on his pass-catching since 2016.

We try to keep away from Rookie QBs each time attainable until they’ve solidified the starting job they usually can run.  Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson have been draft day steals in case you had the center to draft them. This yr we anticipate the pool of relevant rookie QBs to be Kyler Murray and nobody else.  Even when Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones play this yr, they’re not projected to be fantasy relevant.

Rookie TEs and WRs are within the avoid class as properly.  We haven’t seen a bumper crop of Rookie WRs since 2014 which might reside on as the most effective WR draft class of all-time.  Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin, Jarvis Landry have been fantasy relevant (Davante Adams and Allen Robinson have been drafted in 2014 as nicely).

Final yr, Calvin Ridley was the only WR to actually assist their workforce.  Dante Pettis, DJ Moore, and Christian Kirk have been mediocre picks as rookies, however we anticipate them to take an enormous step up in their 2nd yr.  If you wish to take a shot this yr, DK Metcalf is value taking a look at. He has recreation breaking velocity and is paired with one of the perfect deep ball throwers in Russell Wilson.  Andy Isabella might have a handful of long bomb alternatives with Murray scrambling around and shopping for time.

Backup RBs

Backup RBs or handcuffs are all lottery tickets.  Worth on the position is equal elements alternative and expertise.  Very often there will probably be RBs that change from fantasy non-existence to RB1 with an damage or a suspension.  Guys like Damien Williams and James Conner have been elevated to celebrity standing when given the starting position. Phillip Lindsay seemed to return out of nowhere to take the job from larger drafted Royce Freeman.

Greatest Ball recommends drafting 6 RBs at a minimum to take advantage of this large potential worth.  Every group has a backup RB, but a couple of potential targets can be Rashaad Penny, Royce Freeman, and D’Onta Foreman.  They’re well-rounded backs that would takeover if an damage occurred to the bigger share-owner in front of them within the RBBC.


Drafting multiple gamers from one workforce also increases variance as you’re relying heavily on one staff’s success.  The key’s selecting the workforce that significantly outperforms expectations.

Examples of fairly protected stacks for this yr (ought to stay in the higher echelon of offenses):

  • Colts – Luck (6th), Mack (third), Hilton (third), Ebron (7th), Doyle (13th) – this combo would sometimes be drafted on the 2-3 turn
  • Falcons – Ryan (eighth), Freeman (3rd), Julio (2nd), Ridley (5th)

Stacks from common offenses which are primed for a bounce again:

  • Eagles – Wentz (9th), Sanders (7th), Jeffrey (seventh), Ertz (third)
  • Packers – Rodgers (6th), Jones (3rd), Adams (1st), Valdez-Scantling or Allison (eighth)

Stacks from under average offenses that should make huge enhancements:

  • 49ers – Garopollo (13th), take your decide at RB (Sixth-14th), Pettis (7th), Kittle (2nd)
  • Cardinals – Murray (8th), David Johnson (1st), Kirk (6th), Fitzgerald (9th)

General Danger

As with most things in life, moderation is vital.  We need to take on an honest amount of variance and danger, but not so much that we put our possibilities of profitable just like profitable the lottery.  It does us no good to break the report in factors in a single league and sputter out in all the remaining.

As all the time, good luck in your drafts (draft.com/bestballbadger) and when you have any questions, don’t hesitate and e-mail us ([email protected]).

Written on 7/15/19 by Winston Lee (Up to date 7/20/19)