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There's a lot of really strong dynasty analysis out there, especially when compared to five or ten years ago. But most of it is so dang practical-- Player X is undervalued, Player Y's workload is troubling, the market at this position is irrational, take this specific action to win your league. Dynasty, in Theory is meant as a corrective, offering insights and takeaways into the strategic and structural nature of the game that might not lead to an immediate benefit but which should help us become better players over time. (Additionally, it serves as a vehicle for me to make jokes like "theoretically, this column will help you out".)
The Curious Case of Rhamondre Stevenson
One of the things that most people on Twitter don't understand is that people who aren't on Twitter really don't care about what happens on Twitter. If they did, they'd sign up and be on Twitter. So while I'll include a few tweets with relevant data from time to time, I largely try to avoid writing up Twitter Drama as if it's interesting or newsworthy.
But earlier this week, there was a little bit of Twitter Drama that pushed me off the fence to do something I'd been meaning to do for a while, so I'm going to make an exception, and I hope you all can forgive me. It all started when my friend Ryan McDowell ran one of his weekly value studies where he uses Twitter polls to compare a specific player against a range of others. This week's subject was Rhamondre Stevenson, who fared better than I would have expected, especially in this head-to-head comparison against Josh Jacobs.
Which RB do you prefer in a dynasty league?#dynastyvaluestudy— Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23) December 19, 2022
For those who have been living under a rock, Josh Jacobs has been fairly good this season. How good? Well, we can use Footballguys' Historical Stats tool to see that Josh Jacobs has been the #2 fantasy running back in PPR leagues with 297.8 points. Rhamondre Stevenson has been 8th but has just 225.5 points, a difference of nearly 5.2 points per game.
But value in dynasty leagues isn't just about production, it's about age, too, and Stevenson (a second-year player) is a lot younger than Jacobs (in his 4th year), right? Well, about that...
There are a lot of other reasons to prefer Stevenson to Jacobs. Jacobs is a pending free agent, and he could wind up in a much worse situation next year. (Though it's not like New England has historically been a stable place for fantasy running backs.) Maybe you think, production differences notwithstanding, Stevenson is simply a better player than Jacobs. But the most common response I got didn't cite any of those reasons.
The most common response was that Jacobs and Stevenson might both be 24, but Jacobs was an "old" 24 and Stevenson was a "young" 24. Jacobs has 1176 career touches while Stevenson has just 390. Jacobs has "higher mileage", Stevenson has "more tread left on his tires". Which would be relevant if "mileage" were actually a thing that predicted career length. But despite how popular the concept is, it's simply not. It's predictively meaningless.
The concept's so popular that every time I say this I get a lot of pushback, so I've been saying for years that one of these days I was finally going to write up a long post explaining why age, not mileage, is the datapoint we want to use when predicting remaining career. That way I can just send a link rather than going over all of the research again and again.
Readers, today is that day.
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