Strength in Numbers?

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By Frank Thomason
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, October 19, 2006; 2:18 PM

Congratulations to the team "Cars" for doing just what they needed to win Week 5. Their week was full of magic as they shook things up to drive into first place. "Let's Go" was their rallying cry but now they can let the good times roll until we say hello again next week.

Strength in Numbers?

In the book "The Wisdom of Crowds," James Surowiecki contends that "under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them." So does that mean that you savvy Pick the Pros players would do better as a group than you would as individuals? Let's analyze the numbers ...

Each week we created a team of the players that were picked the most. The teams are very strong and had a good shot each week at winning. The players used are:

Quarterback: Peyton Manning (Weeks 1-5).

Running Backs: Shaun Alexander (Weeks 1-3), LaDainian Tomlinson (Weeks 1, 2, 4, and 5), Larry Johnson (Weeks 4-5) and Brian Westbrook (Week 3).

Wide Receivers: Chad Johnson (Weeks 1-5), Larry Fitzgerald (Week 1) and Marvin Harrison (weeks 2-5).

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates (Weeks 1, 2, 4, 5), Jeremy Shockey (Week 3).

Offensive Lines: Seattle (Weeks 1-3), Indianapolis (Weeks 4-5).

Defense: Chicago (Weeks 1-5).

In general, the group did very well but never managed to crack the top 100. The best performance was in Week 2 when they finished in 207th place with 1,906 points, 398 points behind the winner. The worst performance was in Week 3 when they finished in 475th place with 1,408 points, 601 points behind the winner. The group picked 70 percent of the games correctly which is significantly better than average. Nice job! Overall, the group performed better than 80 percent of the individual teams.

In fairness, Surowiecki did not have fantasy sports in mind when he wrote about the wisdom of crowds. He mostly focused on trivia questions and estimating numbers (i.e. "How many gumballs are in the big jar?"). There is so much randomness in fantasy sports from week to week that it's probably more akin to playing the lottery than estimating numbers. So Surowiecki's contention about the wisdom of crowds does not apply to fantasy sports or maybe the group just got off to a slow start. In any case, we'll keep monitoring it each week to see if the group gets any wiser.


Mark Maske, NFL News Feed

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