Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Aug 2013

On the Issue of KUBIAK and Fantasy Auctions

I've gotten a few very technical e-mails this year detailing problems that people had where they don't like the results that come out of the auction functionality in KUBIAK. I just wanted to say a little bit about that.

The ranks in KUBIAK are not necessarily built to exactly equal pure value over baseline. They are built to try to simulate what rankings look like when people really draft in real leagues. That's why you have things like the waiver adjustment to move kickers and defenses down the list. We also know that it doesn't fully add up to the correct amount of money to be spent at the auction. This is because of another change we make to try to make our auction values do more to reflect how players will be valued in real leagues, attempting to model the fact that (Auction Bid / Roto Value) tends to curve upwards in most auction leagues with the best players going for a premium. I'm sure there is a way to do this and make the money work out correctly. Unfortunately, I've never figured it out myself.

The equations are also built to cut the listed values for players who based on the projections should be taken for bench roles. Fantasy football doesn't work like fantasy baseball. Not every player you draft will end up scoring points for you. So in almost all fantasy football auctions, bench players are discounted. In almost all auctions, a good number of players at the end of the auction will go for $1 even though their real values are more like $4 or $5. We want to list things in such a way that it corrects for these issues.

Of course, we can't know how much discount is given to bench players in your league. That gets to the biggest reason why delivering perfect auction values is impossible. We simply cannot determine exactly what you should bit for players in your league. Understanding the bidding patterns and the aggressiveness of the other players in your league is far more important than having the best preseason projections, and there is nothing that Football Outsiders can do to help with that.

Now, all that being said, we know that the auction functionality can be improved. We are certainly open to ideas from readers on how to improve the equations to get closer to an even more realistic model of auction values. However, there are two issues with this.

1) We very specifically don't want to create a model that displays things solely based on a very simple equation that just looks at how many "points over baseline" are in the league, how much money is in the league, and then just divides the first by the second. That won't end up helping people. It will tell them to spend $5 on a backup defense.

2) Unfortunately, the time to make major changes in the KUBIAK application is February, not August. Good ideas now need to be stored away until the 2013 season is over.

If you disagree with how we try to model auctions, go ahead and have at us in the comments. We're open to suggestions.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 23 Aug 2013

18 comments, Last at 14 Sep 2013, 4:47am by kavin

Comments

3
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 08/23/2013 - 11:41pm

Aaron and others, I appreciate Kubiak. But I realize it can't take human wackiness (for lack of a better term) into account. One league I'm in trends to overvalue QBs. The other has more experienced players and tends to be cutthroat. (Which is to say they have a habit of stealing handcuffs.) every league has their idiosyncrasies. I just change my strategies accordingly.

1
by sn0mm1s :: Fri, 08/23/2013 - 11:35pm

I find the results to be useful and fairly representative on the most aggressive setting. In fact, in my last two auction drafts top players went for more than what the most aggressive setting suggested they were worth.

2
by Sifter :: Fri, 08/23/2013 - 11:36pm

I have no real answer, just wanted to share my auction experience. I used KUBIAK for my auction a couple of days ago (we have a 10 team league with 22 man rosters, 2 QBs, 3 RBs, 4 WRs, 1 TE and 2 W/R/T flex players starting each week). KUBIAK was my ace to make sure I was calculating correctly. It gave me a fairly high value on receivers (it's PPR), and a few picks in I was concerned. I'd bought 4 WRs, and was being outbid fairly easily on QBs and RBs. It was just a matter of adjusting my values, to make sure I was spending more on positions I needed. Having a lower and upper value on players you can switch between mid-draft is important, don't rely just on one number so that you can react to what is being spent. I guess that's the trick, making an adjustable, reacting spreadsheet. But anyway...all that said, I drafted 6 pretty good WRs with my first 7 buys, and while it scared me at the time, I now look across at the other teams and see that my WRs sitting in the flex spot are looking better than the flim-flam most others have there. So I've got no real regrets using KUBIAK for the auction.

I made my cheat sheet this way: I put aggressiveness at 5 (the max), then started with what KUBIAK spat out, adjusting it downwards manually. I multiplied that KUBIAK auction value by 75% for top 50 players, 50% for everyone else - that became my lower limit for each player. Then my upper limit was an inflation adjusted figure where all the dollars in the spreadsheet equaled the number of dollars that could be spent by all owners, which for me added about 20% to the number.

4
by Bryan (not verified) :: Sat, 08/24/2013 - 9:57am

Yeepers, I've had no issue whatsoever. I love it. The missing element is mock auctions, which will teach everyone the rest.

5
by IrishBarrister :: Sat, 08/24/2013 - 10:50pm

I have no problems whatsoever with the auction values. I find them to be very accurate: they just cannot account for the human element in a FF draft. For example, if everyone is paying a premium for top talent, then you have to be more aggressive for second level guys since that money is off the board. I think the complaints about KUBIAK are more a failure to account for draft strategy than anything actually KUBIAK related.

6
by Andreas Shepard :: Sun, 08/25/2013 - 1:06am

I haven't had issues either. Is not perfect, and you have to make adjustments based on how your league behaves, but you have to do that in a snake draft too. One way to help with this is filling in the actual values paid in the "picked" column and seeing how the current auction values adjust. Another thing I do is add a couple formulas to get what the projected auction value is based on where the player goes in yahoo or adp, and then seeing who's relatively over or under valued.

7
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 08/25/2013 - 12:18pm

Yeah, I really, really don't have any complaints after three years of using the KUBIAK auction functionality. It's great. Obviously I have to do some mental adjustment (not least because it's a dynasty league with incredibly deep benches) but overall it's great.

8
by hd pvr (not verified) :: Sun, 08/25/2013 - 8:48pm

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9
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10
by JK (not verified) :: Sun, 08/25/2013 - 11:19pm

I agree with Shemale Cam.. You're doing a great job.. Seriously though the auction functionality isn't perfect but it's about the best thing I've used to try to figure out values.. For my draft the prices ended up being closer to what happened than the dozen Yahoo/ESPN mocks I did. I suppose every league will vary.

11
by garsonf@gmail.com :: Mon, 08/26/2013 - 11:15am

I love KUBIAK for auctions. My only request would be a wider range of options for the aggressiveness settings. I'm in a league that is so "passive" when it comes to premium talent, that even on "1", the spreadsheet overvalues top-end players and under-values B-grade players. I mentally adjust for this, and try to take advantage of the inefficiency, but it would be nice to be able to adjust the spreadsheet down to "0" aggressiveness, so to speak.

12
by tomdrees :: Mon, 08/26/2013 - 3:03pm

I'm fine with assuming that the KUBIAK values not reflecting the actual auction values is more of a market inefficiency than a problem with KUBIAK. People go crazy at an auction. That's what KUBIAK is for.

13
by FadetheRally :: Wed, 08/28/2013 - 4:42pm

“I'm sure there is a way to do this and make the money work out correctly”

The answer is to change the Auction Adjustment formula to:

=((nrAuctionBudget*nrPlayers)-(nrAuctionMin*(nrAuctionPopulation)))/(SUM(OFFSET('2013 KUBIAK Projections'!CZ2,0,0,nrAuctionPopulation-nrAuctionBenchCount,1)))

That will make the money work out correctly and still retains your Aggressiveness adjustments and your Auction Bid/Roto Value inflation.

14
by FadetheRally :: Wed, 08/28/2013 - 5:07pm

I don’t understand how it is more helpful to try to simulate what is going to happen in the typical auction draft vs. modeling Auction Values that represent the true “roto value” of a player based on projections. Of course most drafters are going to overpay for top players – they don’t have KUBIAK! The intent is to model irrational behavior and suboptimal decision making? FO takes pains to have the most sophisticated projections, but then applies multiple adjustments to undo that advantage in order to try to match the typical behavior in an auction.

Regarding 1) above: It would not “tell them to spend $5 on a backup defense” (to use Aaron’s example) -> It would tell them that backup defense is worth $5 in terms of FPOB (if that were somehow the case). But this is where individual draft dynamics come in: You are still probably going to get that back-up defense for $1! (Unless you are drafting against other players with KUBIAK).

At the very least, I don’t see how it could hurt to have the option of having a straight Auction Value based on “Roto Value” which strips out inflation and the aggressiveness adjustments. It could be a separate column or a new setting.

15
by ericrader :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 11:15am

It sounds like most people use, or would like to see a range of values. an upper, lower, and target values would be good to make an informed decision in my opinion. "Did I pay too much, fair price, or get a value steal?" You could also include the "Roto Value" based on points over baseline (option 1) or some way of adjusting values for auction league's total cash.

16
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17
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18
by kavin (not verified) :: Sat, 09/14/2013 - 4:47am

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