In finance, there are what is referred to as the 5 C’s of Credit. These are categories of which a credit must be analyzed under in order to be deemed creditworthy. The less of these factors a credit meets the more inherent the risk involved. I’m going to take a moment and relate each of these categories back to player evaluation in such a way you can gather a consolidated view of a player by using this method. This is not a binary formula where you’re going to be able to place a concrete number on players or create an algorithm to run on the NFL as a whole and pop out a who you should own list. This is simply an effective way to analyze players mentally or on paper if you’re a visual person, in order to gather what value YOU place on an individual player. I emphasize you because there is a lot of subjectivity that goes into player evaluation, and while you could measure several of these factors with concrete numbers there would still be subjectivity baked into the ratios used as benchmarks and the other factors which cannot be measured.
When evaluating a credit you must take into consideration an individual’s character in order to analyze the “human aspect” of the credit. Not everything can be attributed to numbers with credit just like not everything is measurable with football. A person’s heart and dedication to their craft isn’t something that can be measured but it is most definitely impacting results. There are people who can make a business work no matter the hardship simply by working more hours, being creative in the face of adversity, or by simply getting a second job. In dynasty fantasy football there are players who simply beat the odds in the NFL. Players such as Devonta Freeman whose combine and rookie year left his ADP in the mud somehow dig themselves out of a hole to become a top 5 dynasty running back asset. A man like Frank Gore can continue to impress at age 34 while coming into the NFL running a 4.63 40 placing him at the 32nd percentile according to PlayerProfiler.com. Gore has made a second fantasy football career, after San Francisco, out of being underestimated every single year. This grit factor which is a fascinating character trait is shared by many in the NFL, but not all. You don’t have to look far to find promising players who just didn’t have the work ethic to stay in shape, learn the playbook, surround themselves with good influences, or simply stay out of trouble.
Speaking of staying out of trouble leads us the more talked about part of character within an evaluation. A person’s ability to keep their record clean is important in business and the NFL is a business. We’ve all seen the exceptions to the rule where their talent supersedes the risk inherent based on their track records, but there are second chances in life and who are we to judge if someone gives one out. Our job is to judge as a dynasty player what value we place upon those character flaws as it relates to their talent. The hot topic for 2017 has most definitely been Joe Mixon. What he did was reprehensible and I will not get into any discussions about evaluating the action nor his character within this article. I will, however, use him as an example of how widely people place value on character concerns when evaluating players. I’ve seen instances where people will not own Mixon on principle, will not own him based on their belief that’s who he is and always will be and it will only be a matter of time before he screws up again, and those who sing his praises on the football field and are willing to take the risk on him being reformed. In the end, it’s an individual decision within each dynasty owners evaluation process and it obviously can create market swings. Simply look at the price swings for players like Josh Gordon or Martavis Bryant and you’ll see how character risk can impact a player’s usefulness for your team.
Capital, as it relates to credit, is simply what assets and liabilities do a person have attributed to them at a point in time. A balance sheet is used to assess this metric and further ratios are derived from the information held here. Measures and ratios such as equity, liquidity, owner’s equity, and working capital are used to gauge what risk is held within the credit. In dynasty a player’s capital can be measured in several ways; for this scenario, we’re taking their age, draft capital and college attended to gauge their likelihood of success on a go forward basis. Obviously, the school attended would be less important as their career moves forward and they are measured on merit more and more, but one thing we know is age becomes more critical as it goes up as well.
We all know an NFL player’s useful life in the league and on our rosters is limited. There are bell curves showing age and production that give us “prime years” for each position and in most instances, players are valued heavily based on their remaining useful life. This is why a 24-year-old Devante Parker has a dynasty ADP of 52 overall with only 1,238 yards and 7 TDs to his name over his career, versus DeSean Jackson at age 30 who has a distinguished career and is a year removed from a 1,005 yard 4 TD season but holds a dynasty ADP of 105. Our natural process is to value the potential upside higher while we discount the inevitable age cliff at a rate that is arguably the inverse. This creates an opportunity for value on veteran players as they crest the age threshold so many other players have fallen off of in the hopes they beat the average. Guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Darren Sproles, Danny Woodhead, and Frank Gore have all paid dividends way past their age apex’s which almost invariably makes them worth more over time than their original cost.
A player’s college attended is a slight indicator of potential for success in the NFL if for one reason alone, opportunity. It is well known that players from higher pedigree schools are given a longer leash than those from the smaller conferences with lower levels of competition. This issue is compounded by draft capital which is also impacted by school attended rather than strictly characteristics and merit. It’s very rare that a player such as Corey Davis is drafted as highly as he was after attending Western Michigan, it’s even rarer that a player from Western Michigan becomes a successful producer in the NFL much less your dynasty team. I’m in no way saying I don’t believe in Corey Davis, I’m simply stating in today’s NFL your likelihood for success is impacted by the opportunities given and the bigger school players are given more opportunities. Take for instance Dorial Green-Beckham, Christine Michael, Bishop Sankey, Trent Richardson, or Cody Latimer as players all drafted highly who have received multiple chances within the NFL even after proving they didn’t have what it took to be successful at the next level. These guys, and many others like them, have stuck around much longer than their counterparts drafted later especially if they were from small schools. It’s the nature of the beast and if we don’t acknowledge it within our evaluation process we’re ignoring history on the bet our evaluation on an outlier is correct.
In credit, capacity is a person’s ability to repay the debt they have incurred or are taking on. A person has income generating abilities through labor, the production and sale of a product, or ownership of income producing assets. Much like capital, many measures and ratios can be derived from an income statement put together to analyze this credit factor. Capital asset replacement, working capital to adjusted gross income, capital debt replacement capacity and margin after debt servicing, depreciation expense, interest expense, and so many more ratios are used to analyze this particular credit factor in finance. For dynasty, we’re going to simplify this into opportunity.
While subjective, in the aspect a player’s opportunity depends on a coach’s decisions, we can reasonably assume targets or carries based upon available targets or carries in an offense and a player’s particular position on the depth chart. Take for instance Ezekiel Elliot a year ago. Zeke was drafted number 4 overall to the Dallas Cowboys who had shown the propensity for several years to run the ball continuously with their considerable offensive line. After the seasons in 2014 where Demarco Murray had 392 carries and 2015 where Darren McFadden had 239 attempts on top of the short-lived Joseph Randle saga including totaling 76 attempts, the correct assumption that Elliot’s capacity was near 300 carries was vindicated with 322 attempts. Likewise, it can be assumed that Leonard Fournette, drafted 4th overall, will slot in for the lion’s share of the carries in Jacksonville. His capacity as a pure rusher is evident while his capacity as a receiver is largely unknown. Jacksonville is not as easy to predict as Dallas because of the split in carries between T.J. Yeldon (130) and Chris Ivory(117), but Fournette has the capacity to be a bell-cow back and should take over for the majority of those rushing attempts plus soak up the extras from tertiary players.
We also know that running back opportunity is easier to project as the position burns hot and burns out quickly much like a sparkler on the 4th of July. Wide receivers generally receive an opportunity as they earn playing time over other more established veterans on their team. It’s not assumed a player like Mike Williams will come in and demand the highest target share on the team simply because he was drafted higher than his counterpart, Keenan Allen. Keenan Allen has established himself as a highly productive member of the offense, when healthy, and slotting anyone in over him in targets would be a mistake. Veteran capacity, or target allocation, goes hand in hand with collateral which I will explain in the next section. The collateral in which a player has established helps to smooth out the projection for targets in subsequent years.
The takeaway for capacity is simply a player’s opportunity in the game is largely a combination of multiple factors converging to create their ability to pay you back in fantasy points. The higher capacity a player possesses the less risk he presents to your fantasy team. This is illustrated in the price of all players but especially running backs in dynasty. The easier it is to project a high amount of touches the more a player costs. It takes quite a bit of risk from other factors to bring the price down for these players.
An individual is almost always expected to put up some sort of collateral for the loan they receive when dealing with credit. Value is given to the proposed collateral based upon market values established through a public market. There are even appraisers who give value to these assets as independent contractors in order to remove bias from the situation. There are direct correlations to collateral for dynasty fantasy football as we are dealing with assets within a game that hold value as useable or tradeable pieces. We even have public markets that mimic credit in ADP, and independent contractors to appraise value, trade calculators.
A players collateral (value) is driven by several factors, many of which have already been discussed in the prior credit factors. The main factor that hasn’t been baked into capital, capacity, or character is production. We all know that a player’s value means nothing if they never produce fantasy points for your team. A player who is injury prone has less collateral than one who is an ironman. Take for instance a player like Larry Fitzgerald over Kevin White. Fitzgerald is arguably worth more to your team as a producing asset than he would as a trade chip, but Kevin White has an ADP of 86 to Fitz’s 112 due to other factors. A contending team would be very hesitant to trade away Larry Fitzgerald for an injury prone asset like Kevin White while the opposite could be said for a rebuilding team. I get that flipping a player who’s commercial collateral value has exceeded your personal valuation of him is just good business as long as the collateral you get in return puts up meaningful points for your team on your quest for a championship. However, in dynasty, it is easy to forget that we are not simply playing for value but to win and winning takes fantasy points. Do not forget what “collateral” a player presents to your team as a producing asset in relation to their intrinsic value.
When making a loan there are always conditions put on the loan outside of the collateral put up. These conditions are typically represented by an interest rate, loan term, repayment plan, and any additional covenants put in place to mitigate risk. In dynasty, we can use this factor very simply, the conditions surrounding the player themselves. Players are drafted into the league onto specific teams with unique situations. Things as simple as whether the stadium is indoor or outdoor can impact the way we feel about certain players, but the biggest factor is surrounding cast. An established quarterback goes a long way in making skill players relevant in the league. We all have those teams we hope and pray our favorite player doesn’t go to on draft night. There’s no debating that Dalvin Cook’s draft stock dropped a little further after going to the Vikings even after it had dropped due to a poor combine. Guys like Todd Gurley in St. Louis have begun to feel their ADP slipping as inept coaching and quarterback play have exposed their weekly upside. On the flip side, we have players like Alvin Kamara go to the perfect situation for a player who we knew was a good receiver out of the backfield but the jury was out on his 3 down capabilities after spending so much time behind Jalen Hurd at Tennessee. Players like Corey Davis pairing with a rising star in Mariota on a team devoid of an Alpha receiver, until Decker randomly became available. Backs like Samaje Perine going to backfields with little to no competition in front of them that compares to their pedigree or draft stock, you didn’t think I’d go a whole article without mentioning Perine, did you?
The conditions surrounding a player extends further to injury history where the impact is significantly higher on veteran players who’ve cemented their roles within an organization. Guys like Jeremy Maclin, Keenan Allen, Adrian Peterson, Alshon Jeffery, Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Lamar Miller, etc. all have shown they deserve their place at the top of the pecking order with the caveat “as long as they’re healthy.” These players situation impacts them much less than being available for their team and we spend a large amount of time determining whether their injuries are going to hinder them for the short term or end their careers abruptly. We all evaluate players based upon their conditions nearly immediately and for good reason, but it is simply one piece of a larger evaluation of their “credit worthiness” for our teams.
The 5 C’s of Credit and Dynasty are very similar and I laugh when people get bent out of shape about considering players in this fashion. We play a game within a game with pieces similar to magic the gathering cards, shares in stocks on the open market, or Pokemon on the latest gaming platform. It’s nerdy and we love it! We over analyze it, spend way too much time on it, and most of us spend too much on it but this community is great and we’re all here to have a good time. I hope this article gave you another way to evaluate players as the opportunity to acquire them presents itself to you through trade, draft, or free agency. Thank you for reading and go out and live that Dynasty Life to the fullest!