VAM..Value Above Mean-
It's difficult to say that any one
concept is fully encompassing, but when it comes to Fantasy Drafting, the
Fantistics' theory of Value Above Mean (VAM), is
the definitive concept
to winning on draft day.
Shortly after having taken a career as
quantitative analyst in the early 1990's. I realized that there had
to be a formula to capture the optimal drafting strategy. The
variables had to be independent of chance and expectation and needed
to capture enough of a sample size to be considered valid. The
result was the first published strategy (1998) on the benefit of
Position Scarcity in Fantasy Sports. Although many have caught on
to this concept, the model has been refined since then to also include
the probability of prediction of each position.
The model was developed using a linear regression model. A model
designed to find the best fit given the specific constraints of each
unique league. One can not reasonably argue that both scoring and the
variable of both the teams in your league and number of starters at
each position does not in some way dictate where certain players
should be valued/ranked.
That is what our position scarcity model called VAM does (Value
Above Mean). It quantifies the exact value of each position based on
your scoring parameters. This thus leads me to say it's not who to
draft, it's how to draft. There are points in every draft that
dictate where a Tier
of positions should be triggered or drafted.
VAM: Value Above Mean (or
average) is a computation which first measures a player's fantasy
"worth" among his peers at his position and then secondly compares that "worth" to other
players at different positions. VAM is also popularly known as the
Value Based Drafting Method or the Position Scarcity Theory. By taking the average fantasy
for the typical number of starters at each position (based on your
league specifics) we form a "baseline" which we can use to relatively compare
each of the players at the particular position by. In a perfect world, we
compared this strategy against "simulation owners" who were set to draft
according to total fantasy points or $ valuations, and found VAM to be a 20-30%
more effective tool. VAM is
most effective in the early rounds of a draft (as shown
in the graph below)
In 1998, we developed
the concept using a statistical software package (MATLAB),
and since then we have run over 100,000 simulations. 2009 will be our
11th year in which we have recommended this strategy to our
The reason why VAM
is effective is due to a theory called "positional value",
or "position scarcity".
The positional value system works because it values players in
relation to their positional peers. In recent seasons, some
fantasy folks have incorporated the position scarcity concept in
their bidding or valuations without the numerical algorithm that we
have quantified using the VAM formula.
What is the drop-off from the best to the
mid level replacement player that will be selected at each position in
your draft? This is the basic tenant of Value above Mean. The
elevation of value from the top performers which come from the weakest
positions, according to your draft parameters. This is the principal
behind our draft software. Our algorithm will produce a value (a rank
per se) for each player based on your league criteria. It's really
relative to your league parameters, as an example, if your league
requires a high number of outfielders, it's quite possible that
outfielders will be in demand, creating a righteous artificial
increase in their absolute value.
on the VAM Concept
Depending on your
league setup, subscribers who use our projections model database,
will see the scarcity of quality at these positions
(Catchers, Shortstops, and Third Baseman). If you're in a
league that sets rosters according to position (and most are),
then you have to value the incremental gain by stars (like Joey
Mauer C, Miguel Cabrera 3B, Jose Reyes SS) at
a higher premium, since the average player at these positions are
worth much less in general than a typical player (in fantasy
terms), and some of these players are substantially better than the
others at their position. For instance the average catchers'
production is approximately 35% less (assuming 200 drafted
batters) than that of the average fantasy batter. In simple
terms why pay $20 for Johnny Damon (OF) when you can purchase
Joey Mauer for $20. Their fantasy statistics will be comparably
balanced, but Mauer will outperform the typical catcher by 50%,
while Damon will only outperform the typical outfielder by 10%.
Thus you capture that incremental gain of 40% (assuming a perfect
world)…doing this over and over again you can see how the odds
stack up in your favor (Of course we don't live in a perfect
world, thus these gains will not be calculated on a 1:1
basis, as you'll read ahead in our Positional Probability
After the top 80-90 players are
should start considering your positional and specific category needs. As you can see from
the chart above, the incremental gain starts to diminish rapidly at this point.
The software will guide you through the favorable VAM players based on
your league parameters and
then its time to "switch off" and consider the straight dollar values/
or rank as the players remaining to be drafted do not show a
significant difference in projected valuation.
Add in Positional Probability
In 2002, we refined the VAM model to account for the forecasting
probability of every position. Since every sound forecasting
model begins with the most recent statistical information as it's
base, we performed extensive research on the predictability of using
prior year stats as a barometer for future performance.
Based on our FPI (Fantasy Performance Indicator) calculation, the
following chart highlights the 3 year predictability of
following season performance within
As you can see, based
solely on prior year stats, Catchers and Pitchers offer remarkably
poor predictability. Even at 35% of last year's performance only 53%
of catchers and 47% of Starting Pitchers are able to attain mediocre
results. While over 87% of 1st basemen reached their mark within the
The reason for these
results are numerous, but they revolve around logical explanations.
Consider that the catching position is one of the most physically
abusive positions on the diamond and the unnatural motion of throwing
a baseball (pitchers) can take it's toll, making players from
these positions a calculated risk. On the flip side, 1st basemen are
historically the least likely position players to get injured. Likely due to
the relative non physical nature of their playing position.
The bottom line is that
these variability's should be captured in any position scarcity
model...and they are captured in ours. It's a big reason why a catcher
like Joey Mauer is not the #1 player recommended to be drafted.....he
likely would be based solely on a position scarcity model due to the
lack of production from the position in general.
Line: VAM Increases your odds of success
Although VAM would
work perfectly if we lived in a vacuum and our projected
valuations turned out to be 100%
prophetic...of course we don't and they're not going to be.....However
through the power of mathematical probability, the odds are in
using the VAM strategy.
It does however
take more to winning a championship than just drafting an optimal
set of players, you will still need to stay on top of
the game during the season and make good management decisions (we'll help you here as
strategy is incorporated in our Draft Advisor module contained within the
Our player rankings/valuations adjust as players are selected,
adhering to the changing dynamics of your draft (changing scarcity value
within the player positions). After a player is selected/drafted, the
software will display/suggest the best players remaining....which should
guide you to a successful outcome.
(end of excerpt)
baseball is an exclusive provider of the VAM theory and VAM draft
day cheat sheets. For more information on the Fantistics draft day
package, click here, and when
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Rankings by registering .
the details of the Player Projections Software
Written by Fantistics Publisher &
Statistician :Anthony A. Perri