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Different (Better?) Categories

Postby bokzg » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:07 pm

I've been thinking about playing with different categories this season in one of my leagues and am considering the following:

11-Cat: PTS, FGM, FG%, FTM, FT%, 3PTM, AST/TO, OREB, DREB, STL, BLK

Add AST/TO, remove AST and TO
I've always liked AST/TO as a category just because I think it more accurately represents a player's contribution to the game via passing by adding an element of efficiency to assists, while also putting turnovers in context. I think the two categories are interrelated, and taking either by themselves is an incomplete picture.

Add OREB and DREB, remove REB
By adding AST/TO and taking out AST and TO, guards become favored due to the fact that many bigs simply don't rack up assists as much due to their roles on their teams and the amount of time they handle the ball. In order to balance things a bit, I thought to break REB into two categories, which I also support because I think both types of rebounds are important enough to a team's success to qualify as their own categories. Having an advantage in either type of rebounding can help a team a lot in real life (OREB = extra possession, DREB = completes successful defensive play), so it seems fine to me to value them both on their own in fantasy.

Add FGM and FTM
While I think it's important for players to score efficiently, I don't think that PTS, FG% and FT% are enough to measure a player's value to their teams' scoring. Put simply, scoring is just important since a team has to outscore its opponent to win a game. While part of me thinks this goes against the idea of efficiency, I also think that the standard 9-cat system overvalues efficient role player/specialist types. With all that said, these two categories are the more questionable additions and I'm still not sure about them.

More categories
I also found that adding more categories generally tends to reward the better players by rewarding more well-rounded players and by downplaying having one or two major weaknesses. Key examples would be D12 and Blake, both of whom are ranked pretty low in fantasy as compared to their real life value due to their FT% and/or TOs. While it's true that their inability to make FTs is a significant problem for them and their teams, I don't think it's so significant as to drop their value as far as standard 9-cat does. Plus, just drawing fouls by itself tends to help their teams because it puts opponents in the penalty and allows their better FT shooting teammates to get to the line more easily.

By adding more categories that measure a player's positive contribution to their team (as opposed to cats like Games Played, or Technical Fouls), I think it also values players more holistically.

Conclusion
I ran those categories in BBM and the rankings seemed to be pretty good. Valuable players like D12 and Blake are ranked closer to their actual real life rankings, and specialists like Ibaka are dropped due to the impact of a single category being reduced. It's not a perfect system, but I do think that a ranking that puts D12 and Blake over Ibaka is arguably more accurate as players who can put up 20/10/1-2 are going to be more valuable to teams than guys who can put up 9/7/3.

I'm by no means convinced that this system is better though, so I'd really like to hear your thoughts.
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Re: Different (Better?) Categories

Postby jphanned » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:43 pm

Love these conceptual, outside the box type posts. Before we dig deeper into this, let's take a step back. Is the ultimate goal to come up with a scoring setting that replicates real-life value? Because for me personally, it isn't. It doesn't really bother me that much to see D12 and Blake ranked so low in 9-cat BBM. I look at these players more as pieces in a bigger chess match, as part of an overall team strategy. I love fantasy hoops for the complexity - that you just can't luck into a well-built team. In a competitive hoops draft there's no way in hell you're winning if you get autodrafted. In other sports, football for example, it's possible. There's one category, and it doesn't matter how you get there, whether it be yards, TD's, INT's, receptions. You don't have to worry about punting (H2H) or evenly distributing your value across all categories (ROTO).

To bring it back to football, its scoring system is even further skewed from real-life value than basketball. If it reflected reality then as many as 11 QB's would be drafted within the first 12 picks. RB's are more or less drones with short shelf lives, and the majority of them are interchangeable. An example - the Redskins dealt three firsts and a second rounder to get RGIII. Anthony Davis wouldn't command nearly that much. So given that, I'm not complaining.

For me, the goal should be to grow the sport and make it so more people want to play it. As much as I love our close-knit community of die-hard fantasy hoops nerds, I'd much rather see it become more mainstream and easier for people to understand. Tacking on more categories is counter-intuitive to that, and having played in 11, 12, 13-category leagues, I can tell you that I'd never do it again. Having to monitor/hyper-manage nine categories is way more than enough. Any more than that it just starts to get out of hand. I'd actually be in favor of cutting down categories, settling on a system in the range of 7.

Conceptually I'd be in favor of cutting down on the importance of those efficient role players. They're valuable in the context of their teams as complementary pieces, but in a vacuum their value is cut down significantly. What about cutting out FT%, TO, AST and subbing in AST:TO and FTM? That gets us to 8.
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Re: Different (Better?) Categories

Postby bokzg » Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:20 am

I guess I should clarify that my goal when thinking about coming up with new categories was to mix things up and come up with an interesting league for more established FBB people to try out. I personally think that the 8 or 9 category formats are sufficiently simple enough for casual people to grasp and play with, and that simplifying it any further won't pull in that many more people. I was thinking that I might want to start up another league, but wanted to try to do it a little different and maybe in a way that hasn't been tried before.

As for making FBB ranking closer to real life ranking, that's just my preference. I do think it's a bit counter-intuitive for guys like D12 and Blake to be ranked so far below a guy like Ibaka when considering their relative value in real life. I've also heard casual fans complain about that aspect of fantasy bball as well. However, I'm also not going to redo an entire system for the sole purpose of making those guys more valuable either. I just want a system that makes as much sense as possible.

Your idea to replace AST and TO with AST/TO and FT% with FTM is a very interesting one. I've already talked about why I prefer AST/TO over AST and TO as separate categories, so no need to discuss that further. Swapping FTM in place of FT% doesn't seem to make sense initially because the ability to make your FTs is clearly an important skill. However, I guess it could be argued that even missed FTs can be considered valuable since they require a player to draw a shooting foul, which will put opponents in the penalty and/or foul players out.

My concern is that your proposed 8-cat system may be simplifying the game too much, which will result in a less complete picture than we already have when it comes to valuing players in FBB. Personally, I don't mind more complexity personally if it results in a more interesting and fun experience. Do you mind explaining your experiences in >9 category leagues? I've never been in any since most of the ones I've seen seemed to be adding categories for the sake of adding categories, with little reasoning behind it.
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Re: Different (Better?) Categories

Postby jphanned » Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:18 am

I do think that there should be some sort of permanent change in the default setting that we have now. So even if you're just proposing this for a side league to try out with established managers, I see it more as a much-needed face lift.

Last time I checked the split for registered Y! leagues, it was about 75% H2H and 25% ROTO. I suspect that number may be even higher now for the H2H side. In that format, a healthy Dwight is a top-5, top-6 overall pick and Blake is a second-rounder. So I don't think those two pose much of a problem. I hear those complaints too, and it's funny they say that about basketball and are completely oblivious to how out of whack football is with real-life value.

There is a difference in FGA's and FTA's, as you've touched on. Creating FTA's not only creates personal fouls as a byproduct, but it's also far more preferable to a FGA. Dwight goes to the line for a pair of FT's. He theoretically shoots 58.8% (his career average). That nets a PPP of 1.176. The average NBA offense nets a PPP around 1.02. I'll have to crunch some more numbers, but it's not a stretch at all to say Howard's FT shooting, faults and all, is a net positive. But he's getting severely penalized. That's why I like FTM a lot more. His total gets docked for all the FT's he misses, but he gets rewarded for creating those attempts. I'm in favor of AST:TO because there are a number of low-usage role players that don't turn the ball over (because they never dribble) and see their value benefit a great deal from it. I'm all for cutting them out.

More categories just create more of a headache. In hoops, understanding value distribution is just as important (if not more) than being able to predict a player's overall value. I can predict player A will post top-25 value, but it matters just as much how that value fits with my team's strategy and how it's distributed among the nine categories. I'm sure you use BBM and track where you are in each category when you're in the middle of a draft. Imagine having to do that with another two categories. It gets out of control. Which categories you're punting, which one you want to stack, which ones you want to be average/competitive in. It's not worth tacking on more to create a system that may bring us closer to mimicking real-life value. There's already enough layers of complexity as is.
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Re: Different (Better?) Categories

Postby Fenris-77 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:41 am

I spend enough time crunching 'real' stats to analyze the real basketball I watch. I have no burning desire to bring that over to the fantasy side. I have a buddy who plays in a league that scores mostly efficiency metrics and after looking at the league, and his team, and the sheer amount of work he had to do to figure out whom to acquire, I passed on taking a team, even though I'm a pretty hard core advanced metrics nerd.

As far as growing the game goes, I agree with Rounder. Most fans don't want to have to dig deep into the APBR Metrics forum or Basketball on Paper to draft their teams. To be honest, most fans don't even fully grasp the import of the basic stats contained in the standard NBA box score, never mind anything more complicated. Not that Ast/TO is complicated in any kind of absolute sense, but your average fan still doesn't care about it. Of course I don't think the OP was really meant to address the unwashed masses anyway, but that seems to be what we're talking about.

Paring down the standard settings is a an interesting idea, but I have to ask if the purpose is to make the game less complicated, or really to make some of the players that casual fans love more useful. Making the game more accessible, or more intuitively appropriate, for the average fan is certainly a good idea for Yahoo's bottom line and the popularity of fantasy hoops in general, but I'm not sure that it should be a real selling point for me, since I'm not one of those people. If what we're talking about is just making the casual game better for the casual fan then sure, it's probably a sliced bread sort of idea since it would mean more people playing the game. De-emphasizing the efficient role player is also probably a good idea for popular consumption because the average fan couldn't really care less about that kind of player - they want to own guys who score points, break back boards, and make the ESPN highlight reel.
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Re: Different (Better?) Categories

Postby Fenris-77 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:10 am

As far as cutting the cats down to seven there's a couple of approaches you could take, but the core issue there is how those 7 cats are suppose to reflect the game and the casual fan's appreciation of it. I like A/TO as a replacement for straight Ast - it's elegant and it's still intuitive. Cutting down from the remaining 8 to seven is a lot tougher. I can see the argument for FTM, and that fine as far far as that goes, but we're still at 8. You can't really cut points, boards, threes, blocks or steals since those are things that people identify with and recognize in game. That leaves FG%, which it also doesn't really make any sense to cut.

If you wanted to go with an advanced metric you could always combine FG% and threes into eFG% and call it something else (since eFG% isn't in the standard NBA fan lexicon). eFG% accounts for the value of the three anyway, and in a larger sense the three ball isn't that important an idea other than because it's identifiable to the casual viewer. From a real game perspective it's important because it's efficient, but as a category in and of itself it's significance palls next to the other seven we're talking about.
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Re: Different (Better?) Categories

Postby bokzg » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:55 pm

I'm interested in trying out a league with the cats that RB suggested, but I'm concerned about going with 8 categories since it'd open up the possibility of 4-4 ties. Personally, I have no experience with 8-cat leagues. Are there any significant downsides to having an even number of categories?

Otherwise, I agree with Fenris that dropping one of those remaining 8 would be very difficult (Yahoo doesn't support eFG%, which I'd like), so that leaves adding one. Looking at the options that Yahoo has, none of the rest immediately pop out as one that could be added without throwing off the balance.
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Re: Different (Better?) Categories

Postby bokzg » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:48 pm

Decided to try creating a keeper league with these settings. Click here if interested
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Re: Different (Better?) Categories

Postby Fenris-77 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:55 pm

Yeah, without a different list of categories to choose from it's tough. I noticed that Fantrax leagues have points per shot as a potential scoring category, which is interesting. At the very least that might make it possible to fold a couple of scoring categories together. Fantrax also allows you to have different scoring categories for different positions, which is also interesting. I can't think of a practical way to use that feature, but it's interesting. They also have Ast+Stl/TO which I've never seen before. It's a shame I don't like the fantrax interface more.

Using PPS would work I suppose, since it allows you to fold threes into a more general scoring stat. My problem is that it probably makes high efficiency role players who hit threes look awfully good if it's not balanced by something to reflect usage. Maybe if you change FG% to FGA or FGM and set it next to PPS you get a combo that properly credits usage and efficiency. :-? That gets us down to seven cats and looks like this:

Ast/TO, PPS, FGA/M, FTA, Reb, Stl, Blk
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Re: Different (Better?) Categories

Postby geodbear » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:08 pm

Didn't go through the responses, but I play in a roto league (going on 6 years) with those categories plus assists, and it works. Definitely puts greater weight on players that score, and in turn helps out the names you see on the headlines. In turn, guys like Tony Allen, for example, lose out. Adding in the assists to make it 12-cat seems to help in balancing out the pgs with the bigs who get a boost by oreb/dreb split.
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