Odds Theory & Fantasy: Perfect Combo
In America alone over 110 million people settled down to watch February’s Super Bowl and were rewarded by a game which saw many twists and turns along the way. Of these many millions the chances are that a high proportion had gone through the season with a fantasy league team, whether playing for fun with friends or trying to win some serious money.
For everyone who takes part in fantasy NFL – and in 2015 this was estimated to be around 75 million people in the US – they have different strategies behind how they pick their teams. For some it’s focusing on favourite teams or players while others take a more scientific approach looking at previous form, the stage in their career that a player has reached and even the venue for a specific match.
But for some it’s a question of diving even deeper still and exploiting the same kinds of odds theory that serious players use whether they’re in an online poker game or round the roulette or blackjack table.
Put very simply, odds theory is a question of calculating the probability of something happening and representing that likelihood as a number. Many factors come into play and these vary from sport to sport but, broadly speaking, the ones that are most relevant if we’re looking at football are the past performances of teams or players and any external factors such as the weather or condition of the playing surface that may conceivably have an impact.
It may sound like you need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of every player and every team before you can start to put the theory into practice - but you don’t. There’s a huge amount of information that you can get from the stats section of the NFL website which should give you more than enough to get going.
So what are the key things to be looking at before you start to make your picks? Well obviously the track records of players are key. By seeing how they’ve performed over the previous seasons you can start to create a set of odds in your own mind about the likelihood of them putting in some star performances for you. But try to look a little deeper than the obvious. The clearly outstanding players like Cam Newton and Tom Brady are clearly going to come at a premium price so it’s far better to spot up and coming starts that may still be operating under the radar.
The results records of teams who have played each other in the past is also a great indicator, especially if you can get access to the game odds and compare them with the actual result. Obviously elements will be different from previous encounters but in terms of giving you ballpark odds you’ll be onto a winner.
You should also factor in the influence of the managers, both in terms of individual success rates and the results of previous encounters as this can also complete the picture.
The actual calculation of at least approximate odds should be reasonably straightforward after you’ve absorbed all of this information. But remember, however carefully they’re calculated the odds can still be can defied – just ask anyone who had given up on the Patriots in the 3rd quarter of the Super Bowl and they’ll tell you just how wrong they can sometimes be.