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Fantasy Football, the Next Generation.

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Like the original, but with more Data! (Get it!?) 

What if player stats were only half the story?

Fantasy Football is a fantastic metaphor for what is happening today in business analytics; it allows the otherwise
analytical layman to get a taste of what making data-based decisions is all about.

Like in business, there are three levels of sophistication when it comes to decision making which I will refer to as experiential, informed, and predictive.
Each of these layers requires incrementally more access to both information, and processing power. As in life, those with the greatest access stand to be
the most informed and on a whole, most advantaged.

Experiential Decision Making

Experiential decision making is what all of us utilize on a minute-to-minute basis in order to live our lives.The more experience we have with a given subject matter, the more personal experience data we have to rely on in our minds in order to make decisions that allow us to best posture ourselves for desirable outcomes. Everything from knowing where to find the best cup of coffee, to knowing which way to get to work in order to avoid traffic all boils down to one’s personal knowledge and then ability to utilize it in order to achieve an outcome.

Until rather recently, this is what the best business people in the world were paid for: Their intuition. Football coaches and team managers of course were no exception. Many of the greats just ‘knew’ the right thing to do at the right time in order to win.

Informed Decision Making

Informed decision making is really the first step to making truly, data-based decisions. This is where you are using actual captured historical data to compare statistics, spot trends and forecast results based on the hard numbers. The advantage of this is that unlike experiential decision making, data-based decisions should take the individual bias out of it. When the right question is asked, the numbers should point to a clear answer.

Current fantasy football leagues as well as most business environments are at home here. People have access to a limited set of defined data and are able to draw trend lines and compare players side-by-side to see whose performance should be favored. For football, passing yards, rushed yards, touchdowns, are all data points for analysis.

Predictive Decision Making

The differentiator between merely being informed, and being predictive are twofold. The first is type and quantity of data. The second is the ability to project future outcomes with high and quantified levels of certainty.

In the world of predictive analysis, no data is out of scope. From game day temperatures, to what the QB had for breakfast, the more data you can throw at a predictive model the higher likelihood you are of finding a hidden correlation. Once you understand those correlations, you are able to accurately apply your predictions to future events.

Very few organizations or football teams are using this level of analysis today. But the data is starting to become available. With the recent trend of ‘fitbit’ or biometric tracking devices, coaches will be able to take player’s sleep and nutrition patterns into account when they consider starters. Managers will be able to visualize when players are in their primes. The possibilities really become endless.

This is the world we are moving into: One where we will be able to get more accurate answers, to a wider variety of questions. All in order to gain the edge over the competition! 

So – How much data do you have in your corner?

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