Back for the 2014 football season, we will be providing a significant amount of weekly daily fantasy content for the NFL, including dollars-per-fantasy-point rankings for every player (both FanDuel and DraftDay), an optimized lineup for public FanDuel and DraftDay leagues and in-depth analysis and strategy advice from Daily Fantasy expert (and poker player and quantitative public opinion researcher) Brian Harnisch. Below, we let Brian introduce himself and the work he has been doing in the Daily Fantasy space. Watch for his weekly columns, which will include optimized lineups, on Friday mornings throughout the NFL season.
A few years ago while scouring the web for fantasy football content I stumbled upon a different and unique format for fantasy sports: daily salary cap fantasy leagues. I was immediately drawn to this new format, and I believe now as I believed then that it is the future of fantasy sports. We've all had less than ideal experiences in traditional fantasy formats, whether it be half of the league not taking it seriously and dropping out, having your own teams go bust mid-season due to a bad injury, or getting knocked out of the playoffs by the guy you recruited at the water cooler to fill the 12th spot. With daily salary cap leagues a lot of this pain can be avoided; every week is a fresh start and you can enter as many leagues as you want with as many roster variations as you can come up with. Not only is this format incredibly fun, but its rapid increase in popularity has created a soft market flush with new players.
After completing my undergraduate work in Psychology and Statistics, I began working in a statistical analysis center in a university environment. As a public opinion researcher and pollster I came to appreciate the power of statistics, and how quality research methods and analysis of quantitative data can lead to reliable, actionable predictions in all sorts of real world situations. I went on to complete my MBA, where I focused a number of projects on optimization modeling and forecasting. I immediately saw the potential for optimization modeling (specifically, integer linear programming) in salary cap fantasy football leagues and focused my efforts in that direction. The concept is simple: find a source of superior player level fantasy forecasts and, based on salary values, build a team with the highest expected fantasy value under a particular salary cap. PredictionMachine.com has proven extremely successful in predicting NFL game outcomes, and last year added player level fantasy forecasts. Over the past season I had many discussion with this site's founder and my friend, Paul Bessire, about the idea of optimized salary cap fantasy teams using the Predictalator's game simulation data. We both felt that at the very minimum the simulation data could provide users a substantial advantage when trying to complete their rosters under the salary cap, while a fully optimized team could provide significant advantage in certain formats. I spent last season fine tuning the concept of a statistically optimized team and in the end had a very successful season. I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way and look forward to sharing those with you this season.
As an avid user of the analysis provided here on PredictionMachine.com for both betting and fantasy football, I am excited to have the opportunity to join the team for the 2013 NFL season. Look for a column in late August to introduce and discuss some of the basic concepts and strategy behind daily salary cap fantasy leagues. Every week throughout the season we will present value rankings for each player (based on cost per predicted fantasy point), optimized lineups based on various league formats, and a discussion of strategy and alternative plays to help you build your own successful teams. I will also be available to answer your weekly lineup questions via twitter @Brian_Harnisch.