"What have you done for me lately?"
That simple query, posed musically by Janet Jackson more than three decades ago, has always been at the heart of fantasy sports. Patrick Mahomes is clearly the greatest quarterback of all time after his performance the first three weeks of 2018, while David Johnson is never going to regain his 2016 form based on his paltry 116 rushing yards this season. That darn recency bias rears its ugly head yet again.
Take a look at ESPN's most-added/dropped list and you'll see a lot of names sitting there based on changes in injury status, contract issues or league disciplinary action. However, once you get past those very real reasons for making roster moves, most of what remains will be clear cases of recency bias.
Case in point: Jordy Nelson had just 23 yards and 5.3 fantasy points in Week 1. He followed that up with 30 yards and 5.0 fantasy points at Denver. Needless to say, the general consensus regarding his future fantasy value was far from optimistic, and the Oakland wide receiver saw a 14.1 percent decline in his ownership over the seven days headed into Week 3.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the transactional ledger, Will Dissly was pretty much a complete nonfactor when fantasy teams were drafted, but after two games in which he reeled in TD passes and posted double-digit fantasy points, the Seattle tight end saw his roster percentage nearly double (from 24.3 percent to 48.2 percent) in the weeklong buildup to yesterday's action.
So how did things turn out for this duo in Week 3? Dissly caught but a single first-quarter pass for four yards on only three targets for the Seahawks, while Nelson had his highest receiving total since September 2014, as he reeled in six receptions for 173 yards and a score -- the third-best WR fantasy output of the day.
Now, on the surface, this change of fortune isn't all that surprising. After all, Nelson has proved himself to be a solid fantasy option, when healthy, for nearly a decade. Dissly was drafted primarily for his skills as a blocker, and his early success has been quite welcome in Seattle, but definitely unexpected. So Week 3's "reversion to the mean" certainly should have been expected in these cases, especially to any veteran fantasy manager.
That's where this week's veteran move comes into play!
Inexperienced fantasy managers tend to lack confidence in their own ability to evaluate fantasy value. They're also far more likely to get frustrated with an early draft pick's struggles, as well as to overvalue a rising sleeper who has done well out of the gate. Most important, they're the most likely to be influenced by the "wisdom of the crowds." If everyone else is cutting Player X and replacing him with Player Y, fantasy neophytes will lean toward doing the same.
Calvin Ridley certainly could end up being the second coming of Roddy White, and after his insane 40.5 fantasy points in Week 3 (146 yards, three TDs), he is almost assuredly going to see his roster ownership rise greatly from its current 40.8 percent. That said, if I'm in a redraft league and Ridley's on my roster, I'd feel much better about trading guys like him for a first- or second-rounder like Keenan Allen or Tyreek Hill, who have both seen diminishing point totals week over week this season.
By trusting your long-term assessments of fantasy value, you can avoid making rash decisions and losing out on a solid performer by turning to unproven commodities simply because your friends all seem to think they're so peachy keen. Who's right? Who's wrong?