The Machine: A Fantasy Football Savior?

by Howard Bender on September 13, 2013

WOPRIf you follow me over at RotoWire.com, then you’ve likely seen my most recent post about a product from Advanced Sports Logic called The Machine. That post was the first in a cross-over series between the two sites that will document the product’s use and effectiveness throughout a full season of fantasy football. For those who missed it or don;t have a RotoWire subscription, click the link and read as this is something we’re going to be turning back to often this season. But as a quick sum-up, I’ll just say this — with a code provided by ASL that you input, The Machine gains access to your fantasy football league and evaluates your team, your competition’s teams, and the free agents list and makes lineup, waiver wire and trade suggestions to help you win your league this season. It started off as an extremely helpful draft tool, assessing which player you should take based on your league’s specific draft, but has taken the process even further by now with its in-season help. Though I was unable to use the product during the actual draft, for reasons explained in the RotoWire post, I have decided to put The Machine to the test and see how it fares in my 14-team, standard scoring league. Any waiver move, roster choice, or trade will be suggested by The Machine. I will not make any decisions on my own unless specifically needed (to be explained later) and we will see how The Machine does in competition.

Here is the team as it was drafted and the lineup recommended for Week 1:

STARTERS
QB Andrew Luck
RB Adrian Peterson
RB Stevan Ridley
WR Dez Bryant
WR Mike Wallace
WR Chris Givens
TE Brandon Myers
FLX Ahmad Bradshaw
DEF Cincinnati Bengals
K Josh Brown
BENCH
QB Alex Smith
RB Andre Brown
RB Isaiah Pead
WR Vincent Brown
WR Quinton Patton

 

I lost my Week 1 match-up by a score of 100 – 82 with top performances by Andrew Luck, Adrian Peterson and Brandon Myers. I got seven points out of my kicker, but no other player scored more than two points. On my bench, the only player to outperform a starter at the same position was Vincent Brown whose seven points were better than all three of my starting receivers combined. It was, for lack of a better word, disgusting.

So using The Machine, I was ready to hit the waiver wire on Tuesday morning and see what suggestions it had to help out my team. After all, Julian Edelman, Julius Thomas, Leonard Hankerson and Jerome Simpson were all available. However, what I was expecting and what was suggested to me were totally different. After allowing The Machine to evaluate my roster and the players on the waiver wire, it was recommended to me to make two moves — dump Isaiah Pead and pick up Darius Heyward-Bey and dump Josh Brown and pick up Kai Forbath.

Now, obviously, I disagreed with the moves being suggested to me, but given that we’re playing for a whole season and hopeful playoff berth, I am just going to run with it. I would have tried for Edelman and Thomas first, but we’ll just have to wait and see which moves will prove more positive in the long run. While it’s not the marathon a fantasy baseball season is, it’s still more than just a one-week thing.

I requested another waiver wire suggestion today, figuring that we were now in first-come-first-served as opposed to dealing with waiver priority, but the only suggested changes were a different kicker and a second defense. While I want to stay true to The Machine’s suggestions and allow it to make all of the decisions, I opted not to make these moves because they required dropping skill players and neither the new kicker nor the new defense would have been a recommended start over what was in the lineup already. You gotta draw the line somewhere, right? Granted, the lineup recommendation doesn’t suggest I start DHB this week, but dumping Pead to add depth at a position that failed miserably in Week 1, seemed like a reasonable move.

So we’re ready for Week 2. Hopefully we fare better this time around, although it didn’t exactly start on the right foot with Stevan Ridley scoring just four points. Positive attitude though as I place my faith in The Machine’s analytics.

 

 

 

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