The Paradox of Unanimity and Saquon Barkley

TRANSCRIPTION: Hello and welcome back to another video from Fantasy Football Forever! Today, I would like to talk about something called The Paradox of Unanimity and how that applies to Saquon Barkley. Derek Abbott, a physicist and electronic engineer at the University of Adelaide in Australia, talks in a TED talk about the idea of The Paradox of Unanimity. The idea behind it is that, if every single person agree on a matter of opinion, there has to be a flaw in the system. First, he takes one example, which is not a matter of opinion. Imagine there were a police lineup and in that light up you had four bananas and one apple and every witness was told to identify the apple. You would expect everyone to identify the Apple correctly. There’s no opinion there: one is an apple; one is the banana. On the other hand, his research has shown that if you have a lineup of suspects and every single witness picks the same suspect, odds are there is a flaw, a bias that exists. One example of The Paradox of Unanimity came up between the 15 years of 1993 and 2008 where police in Europe found the same female DNA sample in 15 different crime scenes across France, Germany, and Austria. This mysterious killer has famously been dubbed The Phantom of Heilbronn. She was never found. The DNA evidence was overwhelming and consistent, but ultimately it was proved to be wrong. It turns out that there was a systemic error: the cotton swabs used to collect the DNA samples were accidentally contaminated — all by the same lady in the factory that made the swap. In other words, having every single case be one hundred percent consistent and unanimous meant that there had to be an error. Put it more bluntly take a survey of a hundred people about an opinion. We aren’t going to get a hundred people to agree unless there’s something flawed in the question. When we talk about The Paradox of Unanimity and fantasy football, the word that we often use is group-think. People tend to agree with the group. If we have an opinion, which a lot of people say, our inclination is not to want to be different, not to want to stick our necks out. Our inclination is to follow along with what the group says. This is group-think. This is The Paradox of Unanimity: the more people that agree, the more likely it is not that the consensus is right but rather that there is a flaw in the thinking. My prime example of The Paradox of Unanimity and fantasy football applies to Saquon Barkley. Coming into this year, everyone acknowledge that Saquon Barkley was either the number one or the number two running back in Dynasty. It’s unequivocal that he is a top two running back coming into this year. And even if you look at Dynasty Top 10 rankings factoring in Saquon Barkley’s injury, he’s still a top two or top three running back in almost every single Dynasty ranking. This is the epitome of The Paradox of Unanimity. I’m saying it right now Saquon Barkley is not a top ten Dynasty running back. That’s correct. If we were redrafting a dynasty starting over from the get-go beginning and week 5 of 2020, Saquon Barkley would not be one of the first 10 running backs whom I would choose. There’s a great flaw in Saquon Barkley’s game that will drag down his career and bring him outside the top ten. If we look back at historically productive running backs, we can look at guys like LaDainian Tomlinson, like Adrian Peterson, like Saquon Barkley: elite talents who, when they are on the field, are going to put up the proverbial generational numbers. But here’s the difference: Tomlinson did not miss games; Frank Gore does not miss game’s; Saquon Barkley is going to miss many games over his career. The nature of how he runs, the nature of how he cuts, the nature of how he jumps, the nature of how he lands is going to expose him to hit after hit after hit. His career will be a little bit more like A.J. Green’s: when you have put together a full season or even 12, 13 games, they are going to be elite numbers. And if you can guarantee that AJ Green would have 15 or 16 game seasons every year in his career, he would have been the number one Dynasty wide receiver for about a decade. That has not been the case with AJ Green, and that I do not believe that will be the case with Saquon Barkley. He’s going to miss games every year. He’s going to miss parts — potentially even all — of seasons. Saquon Barkley is the prime example of The Paradox of Unanimity. Coming into this 2020 football season, I had sequin Berkeley in two effective keeper/Dynasty leagues. In the preseason, I sold him off, traded him for what was probably a bit of an undersell. In the other my co-owner Jeremy McKenna and I determined before the season that Saquon Barkley was a big sell. We wanted to trade him away. Unfortunately, he got hurt before we were able to do that and we undersold when we traded him relative to his value before the injury. I share this with you because, if you have Saquon Barkley on a dynasty team and you can get 90, 95 percent — even potentially 85 percent — of the value that he had coming into the season, I think you should do it. He’s never getting going to reclaim his status as a perennial top two running back because he will continue to be injured and injured. Even if you disagree with me about Saquon Barkley, that’s okay. Still learn the lesson of The Paradox of Unanimity. Just because every expert, every ranker, every YouTuber like me — even if all of us say the same thing, the more people who feel the same thing the more likely it is that there is a flaw in the thinking or in the system that we’re all missing. So think for yourselves, reach out of the proverbial box, find your own beliefs, do your own player evaluations, and, when you differ about a player on whom everyone else agrees, that is your invitation to capitalize. Trade that player away if you have them if you think he’s overrated. Trade for that player if you think everyone else is dismissing him too early. We’re all here to give you advice, but you’re going to lead your team, Remembering The Paradox of Unanimity. Thank you again for joining in for this video from Fantasy Football Forever. If you want to, like this video. Please also subscribe and do me one more favor: share this YouTube channel, get other people on the email list. The more of all this we have the more of these videos I will be able to put out. Have a wonderful day, and good luck in week 5!

I am long-time fantasy football player (entering my 24th year), a long-serving commissioner of multiple leagues, and creator and designer of two leagues, including a one-of-a-kind contract league.