Blog Entry

The "Blocking" Strategy Analyzed

Posted on: November 16, 2009 4:49 pm
This has become a popular strategy among fantasy owners today. It's fairly simple, target the player you think your opponent will go after. The idea of course being that you prevent that owner from getting a potentially big game from a hot name on the waiver wire. This strategy is no more prevalent than during the bye weeks, though it does occur at any time in the season. This strategy is frequently used, but is it really effective? Let's take a look at an example that actually occurred in one of my leagues this year:

Team A faces Team B this week. Team B has its stud QB on a bye and his back-up QB is injured. He needs to pick up a QB off the waiver wire to field a full team. Team A has a higher waiver priority, however. Team A isn't really interested in anybody on the wire, but he notices that there aren't too many appealing QBs on the wire and his opponent is short a QB and must pick one up. Team A considers his options and decides to "block" his opponent. He grabs the best QB. Team B is not happy and is forced to take a gamble on a less than thrilling option. So how did it work out?

Team B defeated Team A by 6 points. Team A already had 2 QBs, but picked up David Garrard to block his opponent. David Garrard had a great match-up against the Titans and was far and away the best option for anybody needing a QB for a week. Team B reluctantly picked up Matt Stafford for the week. Well color everyone surprised when Garrard put up a whopping 3 points that week while Stafford put up 15. Team B actually sent Team A an email THANKING him for stealing Garrard because he said that's who he had intended to claim. Team A was irate, but he did it to himself.

This is an example of why this is a flawed strategy. Team A determined here that Garrard was the logical pick-up, but it didn't work out. It cost him a win. And this is an example where the targeted player was clear cut. There was a case earlier in the year where someone in my division wanted me to beat this one guy, so he picked up Favre (facing DET) so the guy I was playing couldn't have him, thinking he was doing me a favor. Wrong. The guy I was playing ended up picking up Orton against NE, and Orton put up 22 points while Favre put up only 14. I lost by 4. Thanks guy. I appreciate the help.

We can also take a look at this from a cost/benefit point of view. When you are making a decision to block another owner, you are using YOUR own assigned values to the players available. You are assuming he values the players the same way you do. This assumption is flawed. No two owners assign the same values to players. While you think you may be taking away his best option, he may have never even considered that guy anyway. Therefore, you just wasted a waiver pick on a guy who has zero value to your team, and in the process passing on guys who may be of use to your roster. Also, how much of a difference do you think picking up a player will ACTUALLY make. Over the long haul, you can maybe expect a 2 or 3 point difference. That's hardly worth passing up an opportunity to improve your team.

There are just not enough rewards to make "blocking" an effective strategy. It can just as easily blow up in your face as it could help you. You risk passing up potentially helpful players for a player who has no value to you. It's just too risky. Fantasy sports are about making the right decisions. It's ALWAYS the right decision to add a player if you think he will help you out, regardless of whether or not he actually does. It's SOMETIMES the right decision to add a player you think your opponent needs because you don't know who he actually does want and even if you do guess correctly, your gambling his 2nd choice doesn't have a better day than his 1st choice. The "blocking" strategy sounds great in theory, and it may work a few times. But in reality it is a losing strategy over the long haul.
Category: Fantasy Football
Tags: Strategy

Since: Aug 31, 2007
Posted on: November 18, 2009 11:43 pm

The "Blocking" Strategy Analyzed

I picked up every available backup RB I could (now starters because of the injuries) this week, but I had to drop my backup QB Matt Ryan.  I surely hope my starter Phillip Rivers doesn't get hurt.

Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2009 2:14 pm

The "Blocking" Strategy Analyzed

Thanks guys for the comments! Appreciate it. Going back to some earlier examples you guys laid out, most leagues don't allow teams to drop a player they just added. This is to prevent situations like the one where the guy added and dropped all the kickers.

And I agree with you, goodfellas. It is a bit easier to block when getting a RB or WR. But one can always argue it's worth it to pick up top waiver options at RB and WR each week. You definitely don't have a need for Betts, but adding him for depth is valuable to your roster, maybe even as a trading chip. And you just never know with injuries and killer matchups. I'm always looking to pick up a RB and WR each week.

Blocking is most effective when the guy you are targeting has value to you, and as you said when going for RB & WR. Plus, Betts was a hot pickup since he was filling in for a starter. Only thing I disagree with is that Betts was certain to put up 15-20 points last week. He was facing a tough Denver run D. That was just 1 week, though. I think he's going to be fine going forward if Portis remains out.

Anyway, thanks again for the comments, guys!

Since: Oct 17, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2009 12:48 am

The "Blocking" Strategy Analyzed

I look at the blocking strategy in a different way.

I look at it as even if i dont need the guy if hes a hot commodity i will pick him up just so nobody else can, as long as im not giving up any value.

For instance after Portis went down, i went and picked up Ladell Betts. I had no need for him in a 16 team league where we only start one RB, and i have Thomas Jones, Pierre Thomas, and Justin Forsett. I wasnt going to start Betts, but I put in for him. Suprisingly even though im in 4th overall place in the league i got him on the waiver wire. I did it so nobody else could. I think we all knew he was going to put up a solid 15-20 points that week.

Yea he sat on my bench, but i tihnk it worked cause hey just in case the guy im playing wanted him, that could be an extra 15-20 points he doesnt get.

I think its a lot easier to block with positions other than QBs, DEF, and K. Because all the backups at those positions in the league are pretty much putting up the same amount of points each week.

But when a RB gets a starting job or something like that, blocking is much more effective.

Since: Sep 7, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2009 10:16 pm

The "Blocking" Strategy Analyzed

With all of the RB injuries this is a great week to use blocking strategy. We have our trade deadline tonight and Playoffs coming up soon so I intend to pick up a RB to block the owners that are hurting right now.

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2009 8:37 pm

The "Blocking" Strategy Analyzed

The blocking strategy can be effective if used properly.

One of the comments below illustrates a concept I believe in. Going back to your team A and B scenario, what if team A picked up David Garrard, placed him on waivers, and then picked up Matt Stafford? What if team A dropped Matt Stafford and picked up Jason Campbell? If you're in a league where you can neutralize your opponents' options leading up to the game, then you can effectively "block" him or her out and steal a cheap win.

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2009 7:30 pm

The "Blocking" Strategy Analyzed

brown that is absolutly hysterical !!!!!!!!

Since: Sep 29, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2009 4:54 pm

The "Blocking" Strategy Analyzed

2 weeks ago a team  in our league kicker was on a bye.  He figured no big deal and he would just grab one and and stick him in the lineup.   The guy he was playing noticed that it was game day and he still hadn't grabbed a kicker yet so he went into free agents and add/dropped every single available kicker.  This put every kicker on waivers so the guy couldnt pick one up for the game.  He lost by 2 points and was irrate.  Hilarious.

Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2009 10:11 am

The "Blocking" Strategy Analyzed

Thanks for bringing up an interesting topic.  I disagree that there are not enough rewards - although I agree it's foolish to drop players you'll need later. 

If it's worth taking the time to analyze players and use the waiver wire to replace disappointing players with hot players, then it's worth using the blocking strategy since you should be getting the same better-than-even chance of success.  Again, you have to weigh that against the guy you're dropping and against another player you may have wanted to pick up to benefit your own team's scoring.

But in the case of Garrard and Stafford I wouldn't have used the blocking strategy: I didn't see much difference between their probabilities.  I also had to grab a replacement that week (8) for Brady in two different leagues and Garrard and Stafford were both on my list.  After all Stafford, with a decent set of WRs, was playing home vs the Rams.  Garrard was high on some lists because he had three TD passes against TEN in their first game but had gone the last three weeks without a TD pass.  I also considered the reverse two QBs: Bulger @ DET and Vince Young vs JAC.

I ended up using Garrard in one league and Stafford in the other (Garrard wasn't available), preferring Garrard only because of reports that Stafford's injury wasn't completely healed.

Since: Nov 17, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2009 10:10 am
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Since: Nov 17, 2009
Posted on: November 17, 2009 10:09 am
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