Let's hope you are REALLY good at fantasy sports when you read this. Otherwise you are going to feel bad.


Researchers find most fantasy sports are based on skill, not luck

November 7, 2018 by Jennifer Chu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

If you've ever taken part in the armchair sport of fantasy football and found yourself at the top of your league's standings at the end of the season, a new MIT study suggests your performance—however far removed from any actual playing field—was likely based on skill rather than luck. Those looking for ways to improve their fantasy game will have to look elsewhere: The study doesn't identify any specific qualities that make one fantasy player more skilled over another. Instead, the researchers found, based on the win/loss records of thousands of fantasy players over multiple seasons, that the game of fantasy football is inherently a contest that rewards skill.

"Some [fantasy] players may know more about statistics, rules of the game, which players are injured, effects of weather, and a host of other factors that make them better at picking players—that's the skill in fantasy sports," says Anette "Peko" Hosoi, associate dean of engineering at MIT. "We ask, does that skill have an impact on the outcome of the [fantasy] game? In our analysis, the signal for skill in the data is very clear."

Other fantasy sports such as baseball, basketball, and hockey also appear to be games of skill—considerably more so than activities based on pure chance, such as coin-flipping. What ultimately do these results mean for the average fantasy player? "They probably can't use our study to assemble better sports teams," says Hosoi, who is also the Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "But they can use it to talk better smack when they're at the top of their standings."