One of the most important parts of being in an NFL fantasy league is understanding the statistics and the economics of the sport. Knowing football is important, but understanding when a player might be overvalued is even more important. A classic example would be the effects of age on certain positions. Obviously running backs don’t age very well. They take a fantastic amount of punishment, and need to be not just blazing fast, but lightening quick. People know to avoid a running back on the wrong side of 30, what happens to wide receivers though? You might be better off asking the Economics department at UCLA than the football coaches at USC, because of the two groups in Los Angeles, CA they’re more likely to be able to find an answer.
The reason why is because the answer has more to do with understanding statistics and regression trends. Since fantasy league statistics are about volume and not value to the team it’s even easier to answer. An example of a wide receiver that might be starting to face a decline would be Mike Wallace of the Pittsburg Steelers. He’s a blazingly fast receiver who makes most of his living between the 20s; he’s not a crisp route runner and not much of a jump ball guy. His value to the perspective of fantasy league statistics is all about the amount of times he can get open for a deep pass outside of the red zone. Since he’s not a crisp route runner like a Jerry Rice (though who was) or even a Chad Johnson he will have a hard time getting open as frequently once his speed diminishes.
From a football purist you’re going to hear about the value he has to a team as a threat, how he’ll force the safety to play deep over him and create more space underneath for tight ends and other wide receivers. From an economist or statistician you’ll hear a breakdown of how that type of player ages. Injuries and time will take a bit of speed away from a player, and when speed is your biggest weapon it doesn’t take much for the difference to be profound. By not getting as involved in an individual player, but by comparing him to similar players you can build an accurate perspective. That’s why even though the coaching staff at USC knows a lot more about football than the statisticians and Economists at UCLA (not that UCLA doesn’t have a good football program, but because USC has more national acclaim, and UCLA has one of the more storied economics departments) are going to give you a more accurate and realistic answer as to the effects of age on a speedy wide receiver’s fantasy league statistics. Sometimes, even in a city like Los Angeles, CA, the nerds can still beat the jocks.