Mike Trick recently wrote about fantasy football leagues and OR. He writes:
Mike Fry, Andrew Lundberg (both of the University of Cincinnati) and Jeffrey Ohlmann (University of Iowa) analyzed [the issue of drafting players] in depth in an article published in the new Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sport. Their work got a fair amount of press a few months ago, including a writeup in USA Today (sorry I missed it earlier: New Zealand doesn’t cover football well!). I just went through the article (while waiting for my son to wake up and enjoy Christmas), and it is terrific, going well beyond the obvious points. I particularly liked the analysis of the value of each of the draft positions. There is a view that drafting early is best, but the serpentine nature of the draft evens things out. With the data they looked at, it is true that the first position is best, but the differences are quite slight, and the value is not monotonic in draft position.
I’m not a fan of fantasy football since football is a team sport and reducing it to the sum of individual achievements seems unnatural and arbitrary (It also distracts me from cheering for the Chicago Bears). But with its popularity, I wholeheartedly approve of applying OR to fantasy football. Other leagues, however, may be more up my alley.
New fantasy leagues are popping up all over the place. The most recent fantasy “sport” is based on celebrity gossip.
Think fantasy football. But instead of Tom Brady, you draft Lindsay Lohan. You go for Brad Pitt, not LaDainian Tomlinson. Your top picks score points not for their performances but for how many times they make the news.
If you’re interested, you can play at Fafarazzi.com. I will wait until a similar analysis used by Fry, Lundberg, and Ohlmann is applied to celebrity fantasy leagues and published in the Journal of Quantitative Tabloids. But let me know if it is any fun.