Overcoming cognitive biases in fantasy drafts: The false-consensus effect

Cognitive bias refers to an erroneous way of thinking that occurs when people process and interpret information that is made available to them, and filter that information through their personal preferences.

While most decision makers like to think that they are being logically sound, our brain naturally takes shortcuts that can lead to poor decision making.

One particular cognitive bias that can be especially costly to fantasy owners, both during their drafts and throughout the season (think waiver wire pickups and trades), is the false-consensus effect. A false-consensus effect comes about when someone thinks that their beliefs about a particular subject are shared by the majority, when in fact the masses actually disagree.

The reverse can also take place, where someone presumes that they are the only one with a certain point of view, while most people actual feel the same way.

For fantasy footballers, this psychological shortcut can be detrimental on draft day. Let's assume that you get your hands on Denny Carter's always perfect draft day sleepers and you have your late round quarterback target (let's call him Mike Glennon). After you hear Denny praise Glennon all summer, the evidence is so heavy in Glennon's favor that he's an obvious choice on draft day, and everyone knows it.

You don't want to miss out on your hidden gem, and you draft Glennon in the 9th round, as the 12th signal caller off the board. But drafting Glennon was a huge mistake. This particular league is hosted on ESPN, a site that had Glennon ranked as the 21st quarterback with an ADP at pick 14.08.

Since it's a home league that has been running for the better part of a decade, we know that most owners almost always stick to site consensus rankings. When it comes to filling the QB slot, more than four out of 12 owners have drafted backup quarterbacks just once in the league's history. There was that guy that had to go to a wedding that was on auto-pick, as well.

If our Glennon enthusiast had taken all the information available into account, he could have easily snagged him four or five rounds later.

Similar scenarios are not uncommon on draft day, and those reaches can often be attributed to the false-consensus effect. Most of the time, this cognitive bias goes unnoticed for the simple fact that a person believes what they believe to be true. (Otherwise, why would they believe it?)

An educated, outside perspective, which you will get from Draft Day Consultants, Inc., can help you avoid the false-consensus effect by offering objective analysis that carefully considers all relevant factors on draft day.

We encourage you to do your homework and tell us which late round targets you like, but your edge will come when we explain how and why you should approach picking up those mid to late round studs. If, and when, you miss out on a particular player, we'll explain why it's probably a good thing, and help you adjust properly.

See you in the draft lobby.

-TJ Hernandez