Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

How to Avoid Cognitive Bias on Draft Day


Cognitive bias: whether or not we fully understand what it means or how it operates, we have all seen it at one time or another on draft day, regardless of the sport in question. It can take the form of a co-worker who insists on drafting a full roster of players from their favorite hometown team, my cousin Alex who can't help himself from spending 40% of his draft budget on LeBron James, or an overly optimistic reach for a charismatic athlete who had no business making his way on to a roster through the league draft.

It bothers us when we see it in action, because as managers of fantasy sports, we learn that it is typically wisest to not let your heart rule your head. At the same time, as vital seconds tick off the clock while you furiously attempt to distinguish between two players that could make or break your season, we constantly find ourselves relying on gut-feelings, irrelevant peripheral details, and untested preconceived expectations that we pick up from years of following sports.

The toughest part about beating an unconscious, cognitive bias is just that - the bias is unconscious, so we often times are not even aware that a bias is exercising its influence throughout each round of the draft. Like handling any other type of unconscious compulsion, recognizing that there is a problem is half of the battle towards conquering the issue. Note that if you are one of the individuals that believes that they are immune from cognitive bias on draft day, you should pay especially close attention, as this hubris may leave you all the more vulnerable to fall prey to your own devices. Now that we know that cognitive bias is present on draft day, what are some concrete methods to keep a cool head and beat the bias en route to a championship season?

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Pick Your Poison

The first method to eliminating your draft-day cognitive bias is to identify what your triggers are. That is, what factors of an athlete's performance, personal life, personality, team, or background cause either positive or negative subconscious reaction that constitutes a "gut feeling." These triggers could come from a plethora of factors, such as hating or being a dedicated fan of a particular professional organization, a specific player having come up big (or was a massive disappointment) for your team in seasons from the past, believing that players from a particular college or conference "just don't tend to pan out," or simply liking or disliking a player's personality.

On a personal note, I would be a liar if I didn't admit to drafting players like Yasiel Puig above his appropriate draft slot while avoiding players like Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer for these very same reasons. This step is important to avoiding draft-day cognitive bias because it forces you to come to terms with the factors that typically influence your underlying biases so that they can be actively circumvented when it comes time to select your squad.

 

Eyes on the Prize

Remember, managing a fantasy sports team and being a fan of sports are two very different activities with two very different objectives. Much like a school or work project, you don't have to be in love with every member of your team, you just have to get along in order to accomplish the task at hand. It can be a painful and reluctant process to draft and proceed through a full season of professional sports by following and relying on players that you have a genuine distaste for (as I found out through my time with DeAndre Jordan, Ezekiel Elliott, and Sidney Crosby).

Despite this, it is vital to keep your eyes on the prize and always keep in mind that you are trying to win weekly match-ups and produce the best possible results by season's end. If this is not your goal for your team on draft day, then go ahead and rock your bias to the fullest extent and have fun with your roster (while ignoring the rolling eyes of fellow league managers). However, if your goal is to win, compartmentalize your priorities as a fantasy sports manager and as a sports fan. No one is going to question your loyalty or fandom because you drafted the best available player who just happens to play for a rival team. If they would, politely ignore them as you laugh your way to the bank at year's end.

Being a sports fan is the time to kick back with our cozy biases and irrationality that make us who we are, but playing fantasy sports to win is all business, and playing favorites will get you burned.

 

Anonymity is Key

There isn't much time between each pick on draft day, so avoiding cognitive bias is easiest when you have done your homework. Be familiar enough with the true statistical figures and performance of players to be able to compare two athletes in your head from a numbers perspective while keeping their names and backgrounds out of the equation and maintaining anonymity.

Academic research in the field of workplace discrimination suggests that blind interviews are the most proven method of limiting cognitive bias, as the applicants are anonymous and therefore project no stereotypes to be received by the employers. This method should be applied to the formulation of your roster, as the only way to ensure that you were unbiased in your selection of a player is to not know anything about them besides their statistical performance. To aid in this anonymous comparison process, always try to stick to figures that isolate key factors of a player's performance and eliminate additional environmental variables such as FIP, ISO, or hard contact on batted-balls.

More 2019 Fantasy Draft Strategy




More Recent Articles

 

Week 11 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 11... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 11 George Kittle (ankle, knee) has officially been ruled out. Matt Breida will not play in Week 11. Jay Ajayi... Read More


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 11

Welcome to our Week 11 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More


Week 11 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis

Welcome back to Mexico City. Last season, the Chiefs were supposed to take on the Rams in this game before field conditions moved the game to Los Angeles. Even though the game was moved, the fantasy output was amazing as both teams scored over 50 points and there was not an unhappy fan among us.... Read More


Wide Receiver / Cornerback Matchups To Target in Week 11

In Week 10, the Buccaneers defeated the Cardinals in a game that featured a whopping 57 points scored between the two teams. Christian Kirk was expected to exploit the Buccaneers weak secondary, and he exceeded all expectations by catching three touchdowns, finishing as the No. 1 wide receiver on the week. On the other side... Read More


Holiday Shopping - Who To Buy For The Playoffs Run

As the fantasy football season nears the home stretch, most owners should begin turning their eyes towards the remaining six weeks of the fantasy schedule. Either you're comfortably in the playoffs and need to see who you should be rostering in order to get the best matchups or you need that extra boost to qualify... Read More


Updated Week 11 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 11 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 11 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: George Kittle (ankle, knee) has officially been ruled out. Matt Breida will not play in Week 11. Jay Ajayi was signed by the Eagles and is expected to... Read More


The King's Key Starters and Tough Calls - Lineup Spotlights for Week 11

Welcome to Week 11, RotoBallers! Below you will find some of my spotlight plays and tough lineup decisions for the upcoming week of the fantasy football season. These player selections are based on my Premium Weekly Lineup Rankings, available as part of the RotoBaller's NFL Premium Pass. Enter promo code KING at checkout for a... Read More


Woos and Boos - Starts and Sits for Week 11 Lineups

If we learned anything from the fantasy scoring in Week 10 is that hitting on the right quarterback can make or break your week. Sure, the household names like Lamar Jackson (35.65 FP) and Patrick Mahomes (34.30 FP) paced the field, but it was the play from lesser QBs like Daniel Jones (33.40 FP) and... Read More


Week 11 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More


Week 11 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Below are RotoBaller's Week 11 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 11 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver... Read More


Week 11 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that the bye weeks are in full swing; streaming becomes a more viable and almost necessary strategy. Knowing who to add and when to start them could be the ultimate difference-maker in a weekly matchup. Making the right streaming decisions throughout the season could easily be the difference between missing the playoffs and having... Read More


Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Philip Rivers, Devin Singletary, O.J. Howard

Fantasy football players are going to have to go under the radar to find booms and busts this week because many of the NFL’s superstars will be on bye. Fantasy footballers will not be getting any Aaron Jones touchdown runs or Daniel Jones touchdown tosses this week, nor will they be getting any 300-yard passing... Read More


Late-Season Fantasy Football Surgers and Breakouts

Winning a fantasy football championship is about finding the right mix of players at the right time. It’s not easy to do, because it takes a full season process to build a roster that can win it all. You must start by drafting well, then making the right deals, pinpointing the best waiver pickups, and... Read More


Fantasy Football Mailbag - Q&A for Week 11

This article's content may vary week-to-week, but generally, it will be answering questions fielded from either the @RotoBallerNFL twitter account or my personal one (@RotoSurgeon). This week, the focus is on start/sit questions, and there were plenty. Every week, many of us struggle with which quarterback to start, or who to flex, and I am... Read More