Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bang the Gavel: The Not So Talented Mr. Roto, and the than More Talented Ms. Bell

Last week, Matthew Berry (better known at ESPN as the "Talented Mr. Roto") advised fantasy owners to start the Cincinnati Bengals defense. The Browns then promptly scored a rousing 51 points on the Bengals "D" leading to a lot of bad will.

In his follow-up article, Mr. Berry acknowledged his misdeed. What followed, however, was the general laundry-list of excuses of generally follows a failed gamler, including Mr. Berry's own defense that he should be forgiven for his terrible pick -- and maybe even lauded -- because he, unlike others, was willing to take a risk. Simply preposterous! is the largest fantasy sports site in the world, and Berry is ESPN's no. 1 featured "expert". Fantasy sports players rely on these so-called "experts" to provide accurate advice, much as how individual stock investors rely on the stock-picking advice of investment fund managers. This does not mean someone like Berry is expected to be correct 100% of the time. But an "expert" prognosticator's performance needs to be closer to the likes of Mr. Bill Miller -- the Legg Mason fund manager beat the market 15 consecutive years. When prognosticators cannot yield consistent accuracy, they should lose the pulpit to project.

Before I blast and its fantasy "expertise" too far, however, I also have to give the website kudos from hiring away from a fantasy prognosticator that truly is talented: Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Stephania Bell. Ms. Bell's work is a positive innovation over that of most fantasy "experts" because she focuses her writing on the estimated time for players to recover from injuries, and her expertise is based on real training in that subject area. The work of academic experts like Bell in the arena of fantasy sports is the kind of innovation that will allow our game to transcend its perception as quasi-gambling. Ideally, Bell's work would be supplemented on the major sites by others with similar expertise that tie comfortably to sport.

Where the major sites drop the ball is where I hope SportsJudge Blog to pick it up and run into the endzone. In coming weeks, we plan to launch regular columns from a staff of statisticians and medical doctors. It remains our steadfast belief that while sports reporters are best at writing post-week recaps, pre-game predictions should remain a job for those with a different set of expertise.

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