Guillotine League: Week 8

In this series, I track weekly progress in my guillotine league. For the main post, covering the league’s details and my overall Bid Low, Bid Late strategy, click here.

My Team’s Outlook

I’m nervous. I figure I’ve got the third or fourth worst starting lineup in the league (out of 10 teams remaining), and some of my players have got tough matchups. Alshon Jeffery, one of the players who’s really come through for me, is playing Jacksonville and will undoubtedly be covered by Jalen Ramsey. Not expecting a big game out of him. Kelce and Watkins are facing Denver. Mixon looks good but might continue to see frustratingly limited usage. Baldwin has looked fine but has been getting few targets.

I take some solace in the fact that Kelce (like tight ends generally) has done fine against the Broncos and that Bradley Roby has not been awesome. Landry seems to be developing a rapport with Baker Mayfield in a way that my benchwarmer Antonio Callaway has not.

And then there’s my new upgrade, Shady McCoy. I was thrilled to get him for $11. If he gets traded (Eagles? Falcons? You know you want him), I’ll be more thrilled. But McCoy only helps me this week if he’s healthy, and he plays Monday night. That means I won’t be confident he’s starting until after I’ve had to decide whether to start or sit my other RBs. If McCoy is not available,  then I have to hope that Chris Thompson is. If Thompson is out, I have to choose between Kapri Bibbs (against the Giants), Wendell Smallwood (against the Jaguars) and Trenton Cannon (against Chicago). Or I could pick up Bills backup Marcus Murphy and play him in case Shady gets injured, but it looks like Chris Ivory is relatively healthy and would be the starter. I tried to trade Agholor for Ivory,  but the owner only sent me counteroffers involving me giving up Kelce or Mixon.

Luck vs. Talent

Something else gives me solace. There are still 9 teams I’m competing against. It seems to me that in this stage of the season, luck is still a more important determinant of survival than team quality. The way I see it, success in guillotine leagues is largely a matter of luck early in the season, but as you get closer to the end of the season, the makeup of your team matters more and more. That’s simply because there are so many teams in the first half of the season that even teams significantly worse than the rest will probably beat the least lucky team. As the number of teams shrinks, the probability of outlier low scores shrinks too, meaning bad teams are more likely to lose. I expect to post an article soon showing how sharply the importance of luck fades in the last few weeks of the season.

In my league, I believe there is one team that stands far above all the others in talent, and the remaining nine are all within one standard deviation of one another, in terms of probable scoring this week. Even a team that one standard deviation below the rest would have a 65% or so chance of survival against eight other teams, and my team is nowhere near that bad. So based on chance variation alone, my team should survive.

Failed Tactic

I tried something new this week, a tactic that just occurred to me. I dropped a player that I value as a potential (though long shot) Week 16 starter, hoping that other teams would also value him and overbid on him. I posted to the league’s Facebook group that I dropped him, just to make sure everyone knew he was available.

It didn’t work. Maybe because the player is Devonta Freeman, who is injured and certainly hasn’t done anything impressive in recent memory. He’s still a star, and I figure he could come back  fresh from the injured reserve list and light up the league during the fantasy playoffs. Apparently, others didn’t think so.

Since I value Freeman, I also put a bid on him. I was hoping some team might bid $30-$40 on him. Instead, my bid of $12 was the winner. Next time, I’ll need to try this tactic earlier in the season, or toss out a player like Mixon to get higher bids. The upshot is that after way overspending to get Freeman in the first place (at $115), I dropped him only to pay more FAAB to pick him up. I probably look like a bit of a ding-dong right now.


As the season wears on, FAAB money becomes more and more valuable. This is one reason my strategy has involved saving FAAB. The decline in Devonta Freeman’s value could be an indication – I got him for $12 after Week 7, after he went for $115 after Week 2 – but that’s a little unfair because he went from having a week-to-week injury to being placed on IR in the meantime. A more striking example is Stefon Diggs. As I reported last week, Diggs went for $350 after Week 6. The team that got him was eliminated, and he went for $90 after Week 7.

Another player who was auctioned twice is the aforementioned LeSean McCoy. As I said earlier, I got him for $11 after Week 7. He was picked up after Week 1 for $201.

Lamar Miller went for $214 after Week 2, and $10 after Week 6.

Demaryius Thomas went for $205 after Week 2, $106 after Week 3.

Rob Gronkowski went for $312 after Week 4, $151 after Week 6.

Nelson Agholor went for $95 after Week 5, $9 after Week  7.

Granted, to some extent this is due to diminished outlook of the player. Some players, like Sony Michel and unaccountably Marshawn Lynch, increased in auction bids over the season. But the sharp contrast in numbers show that deflation is a lot of it.

Starting Lineup

As of right now.

QB: Cam Newton
RB: Joe Mixon
RB: Chris Thompson
WR: Doug Baldwin
WR: Jarvis Landry
TE: Travis Kelce
FLEX: Alshon Jeffery
FLEX: Sammy Watkins
FLEX: Trenton Cannon

FAAB Totals

Me: 782

I have just a little less FAAB than all the other teams combined. I know I keep saying this, but it becomes a little more probable every week. If I survive, I’ll feast.


Guillotine Leagues: It Helps to Reason Backwards

Guillotine leagues have something in common with the 21 Flags game from Survivor: reasoning backwards from the last move to the present is an important part of winning. In 21 Flags, each team has an optimal strategy that can be discovered by picturing the winning move at the end of the game, and working backwards to figure out how to get there.

For those who are interested in 21 Flags, here are two videos about it. The first one shows the game as it was played on Survivor. The second one is from a Youtube math channel, showing the optimal strategy for winning the game.


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Guillotine League: Week 7 Post-Mortem

In this series, I track weekly progress in my guillotine league. For the main post, covering the league’s details and my overall Bid Low, Bid Late strategy, click here.

As I expected, I did not have too much trouble surviving Week 7. Three of my players – Cam Newton, Jarvis Landry, and Alshon Jeffery – scored over 20 points. Kapri Bibbs surprised with 4 receptions, 56 total yards and a touchdown, and Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins both had decent games. I had no right to expect anything from Damion Ratley, and really should have started Larry Fitzgerald instead and gotten his 14 points. Corey Davis and Joe Mixon disappointed, but in Mixon’s case it was due to lack of usage, as Cincinnati played from behind.

Continue reading “Guillotine League: Week 7 Post-Mortem”

Guillotine League: Week 7

In this series, I track weekly progress in my guillotine league. For the main post, covering the league’s details and my overall Bid Low, Bid Late strategy, click here.

It’s Week 7, and the league is down to below 12 teams. That means the talent concentration, after waivers, is greater than in typical fantasy leagues. In my league, however, we start 3 flexes in addition to the usual 2 WR, 2 RB, and 1 TE. I am therefore satisfied with this week’s starting lineup, which is:

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Real Points and Pointless Points

Points scored by fantasy starters while they are benched by their fantasy team do not help their fantasy team. This truism, while obvious, does not  play much of a role in fantasy analysis. This article introduces a new stat, Real Points. A player’s real points are simply the  total of fantasy points scored in games in which the player was a projected starter.

It is obvious that some players’ total point production is identical to, or at least not far off from, their point production when starting – because those players are never benched when active. Other players may have wasted a significant portion of their production because they were widely benched in their most productive weeks. Think Keelan Cole, who scored 132.8 fantasy points in 2017 without earning many starts, or, as discussed on this website, Alex Smith in 2017, whose lack of fantasy value in 2017 was largely attributable to ranking below the top 12 QBs in his most productive weeks.

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