Who Has the Best Fantasy Football Projections: ESPN, CBS, NFL.com, or FantasyPros?

May 12, 2013

(This article was first published on Fantasy Football Analytics in R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

In prior posts, I demonstrated how to download, calculate, and compare fantasy football projections from ESPNCBS, and NFL.com.  In my last post, I demonstrated how to download FantasyPros projections, which aggregate projections from many different sources to increase prediction accuracy.  In this post, I will compare fantasy football projections from ESPN, CBS, NFL, and FantasyPros, including our average and latent projections to determine who has the best fantasy football projections.

The R Script

The R Script for downloading fantasy football projections from FantasyPros is located at:

To compare the accuracy of the projections, we will use various metrics including:

For a discussion of these metrics, see here and here.

Whose Predictions Were the Best?

The results are in the table below.  The rows represent the different sources of predictions (e.g., ESPN, CBS) and the columns represent the different measures of accuracy.  The “average” variable represents the mean of projections from ESPN, CBS, NFL.com, and FantasyPros.  The “latent” variable represents the common variance among projections from ESPN, CBS, NFL.com, and FantasyPros.  The source with the best measure for each metric is in bold.

Source R-squared Harrell’s c Somers’ Dxy ICC MAE RMSE MAPE MASE
ESPN .497 .725 .450 .695 44.18 56.23 43.66 .596
CBS .607 .775 .549 .754 41.37 53.63 59.07 .518
NFL.com .487 .743 .486 .655 48.80 62.47 38.39 .701
FantasyPros .667 .775 .549 .816 32.66 45.36 .434
Average .657 .776 .551 .810 33.62 46.18 .447
Latent .661 .779 .559 .810 34.31 46.96 76.38 .441

Note: MAPE was unable to be calculated for FantasyPros and the average because of values of zero in the series (for a discussion on this topic and for reasons to prefer MASE to the other error metrics, see here).

Here is how the projections ranked when focusing on R-squared and MASE:

  1. FantasyPros
  2. Latent
  3. Average
  4. CBS
  5. ESPN
  6. NFL.com

In general, projections from FantasyPros were more accurate than projections from ESPN, CBS, and NFL.com, and were also more accurate than our average and latent variables.  FantasyPros projections explained about 67% of the variance in the actual points scored in my Yahoo league in the 2012 season.  Interestingly, the average of the sources was more accurate than any of the individual sources.  Even better than the average was a latent variable representing the common variance of the sources, which discards the unique, error variance.

Here is a scatterplot of the FantasyPros projections in relation to the actual points scored:


The best fantasy football projections in 2012 were from FantasyPros, a site that averages across numerous sources of projections.  FantasyPros projections explained 67% of the variance in players’ actual points scored in 2012, and were more accurate than projections from ESPN, CBS, and NFL.com.  Now you know where to turn to get the best projections for your fantasy football league (note that FantasyPros have not yet updated their projections for 2013).

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: Fantasy Football Analytics in R.

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