The Buy Low Machine: A Primer
The Buy Low Machine has been updated for this season; here’s some basic advice on how to use it to maximize your fantasy football trade, waiver, and start/sit decisions. Like the Streaming D App, the Buy Low Machine adjusts matchups strength of schedule, instead of just using raw points.
The core idea of the app is using strength of schedule to find players whose matchups during certain weeks may cause them to either underperform or overperform. Then, use that information to cheaply buy players who’ve been underperforming but are entering a stretch of favorable matchups. Or, conversely, sell high on players that have had an easy stretch of games before they enter a rough patch.
The app has four filtering options and an output display.
- Position Group – Which position are you studying?
- Games in Position Screen – How many recent games for the subject position group should be considered? In the image above, the app is evaluating wide receivers based on their 12 most recent games.
- Games in Defensive Screen – How many recent games for opposing defenses should be considered? In the image above, the app is evaluating team defenses based on their five most recent games.
- Target Weeks – For which weeks of the season do you want to project performance for this positional group? To sum up the example above, I’ve asked the app to “Project WR performance for Weeks 4 through 7, based on the 12 most recent games for the WRs and the 5 most recent games for their opposing defenses.”
- The output table ranks each team’s subject positional group in order from best to worse matchups during the target weeks. In this example, Washington, Tennessee, and New York Giants wide receivers have the best-projected matchups for Weeks 4 through 7. Matchups are color coded so you can quickly spot (un)favorable situations.
How many games should I include in the position screen?
It depends. In general, more games is best, because it gives you a larger sample size, which usually leads to better projections. The caveat is that the app doesn’t know about recent events. Did a wide receiver change teams 10 games ago? Did a tight end play with an injury for a few weeks before getting fully healthy? Did a running back start the season as a backup, then ascend to a workhorse role? In cases like this, you may want to adjust the slider to only include the number of games that best reflect the player’s current situation.
How many games should I include in the defensive screen?
Basically the same answer as above. More games are more meaningful if the team’s situation is largely the same. That’s helpful early in the season, so you can include games from last year. That’s fine if the team’s coordinator is the same and the personnel is largely unchanged. But if a team had a scheme change X number of weeks ago, or if the defense lost some key personnel, you may want to reduce the number of games in the defensive screen.
What range should I use for target weeks?
First, ask yourself what your goal is. Are you looking for a wide receiver with rest of season value? Or a running back with a favorable playoff schedule. There’s your answer.
Tips and Tricks
- Since there’s no hard and fast rule for setting the screens, try setting them a few different ways and compare results. Maybe look at the past three weeks (most immediate) of performance, then see what changes when you extend it to the past 16 games, etc. Sometimes the results will be largely the same; that’s a good sign that the app is confident in what it’s telling you. Sometimes the results will vary quite a bit. One likely explanation is that something significant changed — and maybe you should investigate to see what it is. Maybe a team defense had a really fluky couple of weeks to start the season, and you don’t think that performance is likely to repeat. Maybe filter out those weeks.
- The app isn’t telling you about specific players. In the image above, the Giants WR group has the best matchup in Week 4, against Tampa Bay. Knowing that you can then consider New York’s individual wide receivers: who’s healthy, who’s on waivers, who’s on the trade block, etc. You probably can’t get Odell Beckham but maybe you can make use of Sterling Shepard.
- In most cases, you still probably want to play your studs. In the image above, the Giants WRs have two tough (red) matchups against Washington. Am I sitting Odell Beckham? No, no I am not.
- The app is also useful as a bye week planner. Need to pick up a tight end to stream when Rob Gronkowski is on a bye? Look for favorable TE schedules for that week.
- I like to use the app, starting around midseason, to look for favorable playoff schedules. Then I consider that when making waiver and trade decisions.
- To expand on that, the Buy Low Machine probably shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when making a move. Just because a player has a good or bad schedule doesn’t mean you should acquire or get rid of them. But the app does give you some very important intel that’s useful as a tiebreaker. Think two players are similar? Go with the one who has the better matchup.
From the Creator
Here’s what Fantasy Douche had to say about this app when he created it:
It’s important to note that identifying trade targets by SOS is somewhat akin to counting cards in blackjack. Not every trade will actually work out. Sometimes the player you trade away with the difficult schedule will still perform well and sometimes the player you acquire with the easy schedule won’t perform any better than if they had an average schedule. But if you make enough “plus” trades over time you’ll end up a winner.
In order to get the most out of your trades it’s important to trade players that have equal value today, but where you’re getting the better player for the future. It doesn’t work to overpay for the player with the easy schedule because you’ll end up sucking all of your advantage out of the deal. For best results focus on trying to find the very best schedules over a period (top 3 easiest) and then put your trade energy into acquiring the very best opportunities.
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