RotoViz Time Machine: Happy Anniversary
An occasional column highlighting milestones in RotoViz history. Knowing where we came from helps understand where we are and where we’re going. Along the way we’ll excavate actionable insight, laugh at our faux-pas, and dance to the classics. Let’s start at the beginning.
January, 2013 – Launch
Hard to believe it’s been four years this month since launch. Feels like we just met. Of course you’re still skinny and sexy babe. Love ya.
RotoViz was a one-man show when it launched; Fantasy Douche laid down the first month’s worth of content, and set the stage for some enduring concepts. The first full article tackled the myth of the “Curse of 370.” Challenging commonly held assumptions is something we still do regularly. And we’re not opposed to revisiting the same questions periodically, to see if anything has changed.
The second article? Similarity Scores. A simple but powerful concept, that’s grown into a suite of Sim Apps for both seasonal and game-level similarity projections (GLSP). Fun fact: the first two wide receivers to go through the Sim Score exercise were Dez Bryant and Josh Gordon. Remember when they were relevant?
Another highlight from that inaugural month: scouting college wide receivers.
The since-retired college receiver stat app has morphed into the Box Score Scout, which is one of the most powerful tools around for quickly comparing and generating comps for college prospects at any position. You’ll be hearing a lot about the Box Score Scout in the next few months, as we head into the NFL draft.
Money for Nothin’
In RotoViz parlance we call that concept Arbitrage. We’ve spent so much time talking about exploiting inefficiencies that I think we should get Weird Al to do a remake of the Beastie Boys “Sabotage,” except called “Arbitrage.”
“You’re schemin’ on a thing that’s a mirage, I’m trying to tell you now, it’s Arbitrage”
Although we no longer have a straight-up ADP Arbitrage App, the concept of arbitrage permeates almost all of our current content. Douche explains the concept:
…part of the attraction of [arbitrage is] looking for inefficiencies. When you look for a similar thing, but at a reduced price, you’re building in some cushion so that you don’t have to be perfect.
You’ll find that concept at play in the aforementioned Box Score Scout (plug in a high profile prospect, find less-expensive comparables), the Dynasty ADP App (which includes a trade calculator), the RB Prospect Lab, the Buy Low Machine, and in much of our writing, from DFS value plays to draft strategy, and more.
One thread that permeates the site to this day is the concept of visualization (thus the ‘Viz’ in ‘RotoViz). Peep this glorious graphic.
That graphic is so retro. But it’s also an early demonstration of market share, although it’s not explicitly called that. Market share (of yards, TDs, attempts/targets) has become one of our enduring and most valuable concepts. It figures prominently in Shawn Siegele’s Dominator Rating, Jon Moore’s Phenom Index, Matthew Freedman’s Workhorse Score, and even Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards metrics.
Market share is a powerful concept, but it doesn’t mean we always get things right. Stedman Bailey obviously didn’t pan out. When we miss, we’ll be accountable and we’ll try to figure out why. But even when we’re wrong, there’s often something useful to be learned. Bailey didn’t pan out, but neither did Tavon Austin, for whom an inability to dominate his own college team (so obvious in the graphic) turned out to be a big red flag that RotoViz highlighted later in the draft season.
We’ve come a long way baby. From a one-man, one-sport shop, to four sports and over 60 writers. Many of the seeds planted way back when have grown, and thrived, and still inform our work today.