iRobot - Will SmithIn the movie, I-Robot, Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan - right) realizes that by making machines that are no longer controlled by humans, the world balance will be jeopardized.   The machines she makes are governed by three laws:
  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Brilliant. Right?

GET THE MACHINEWell, when The Machine from Advanced Sports Logic, Inc. challenged Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Host Ray Flowers (aka The Oracle) to compete in Fantasy Football, we needed rules too.  So our rules were:
  1. The settings would be set the same for all three drafts.
  2. The earliest round for a position would be set based on most likely round they are picked in drafts this season.
  3. Josh Rabbitt had to take The Machine’s advice for the first or second player it suggested.
The Machine is made to be used with a human so you can decide to use its recommendations in any way you want.  For our experiment that would not work.  We needed to take The Machine’s advice ALL THE TIME. Fantasy Football Week in AmericaThe actual results don’t matter.  Even the polls don’t matter.  All that matters is that the people at Advanced Sports Logic had the guts to put their technology up against The Oracle and USA Today Sports felt it important enough to cover as part of their Fantasy Football Week in America (http://fantasyweek.usatoday.com).  There was no incredible upside for The Machine. No pundit would ever admit defeat. Read Ray Flower’s View on USA Today:  Ray Declares Victory
There is no winner now.  There cannot be.  Fantasy Football leagues are not won at the draft.  We need to play the season to see which is better: Man or Machine.
The Oracle vs The Machine completed in three High Stakes Drafts on Real-Time Fantasy Sports: OK…it is no surprise that The Machine beat a human by the sheer numbers, but let’s also look at the teams from my standpoint as I have seen hundreds of drafts including drafting fourteen times this summer.  We want to look at how they can compete during the season. ..and by New Year’s Day, we will have a winner.

BY THE NUMBERS - Round 1 - August 26th Draft

The Machine

PPR RD The Oracle PPR RD
QB Cam Newton

343

5

Tony Romo

329

8

RB Steven Jackson

224

2

M Lynch

229

1

RB Lamar Miller

196

3

Matt Forte

251

2

WR Calvin Johnson

309

1

V Jackson

230

3

WR Danny Amendola

229

4

V Cruz

230

4

Flex Eric Decker

219

6

Antonio Brown

210

5

TE Greg Olsen

167

9

Kyle Rudolph

146

12

K Matt Bryant

147

15

Greg Zuerlein

133

16

DT Seahawks

152

11

Browns

112

15

  TOTALS

1986

   

1870

 
BN Miles Austin

188

7

Chris Ivory

154

6

BN Danny Woodhead

140

8

R Mendenhall

139

7

BN Brian Hartline

160

10

Vincent Brown

135

9

BN K Moreno

142

12

Michael Vick

289

10

BN Joe Flacco

286

13

Ryan Broyles

133

11

BN Greg Little

141

14

Michael Bush

91

13

BN Brandon Myers

137

16

Coby Fleener

114

14

  TOTALS

1194

   

1055

 
WIN STARTERS

116

  RESERVES

139

 
Ray Flowers:  Very strong draft at Running Back and the team is well-rounded.  Cruz dinged up and just signed a huge contract and Vincent Jackson puts up the numbers, but tough to do with the QB he has.  Solid at all other positions, but not stellar.  Steal of the draft is Romo in the 8th round.  Backups are good with upside.  Don’t love the Handcuff of Forte with Michael Bush.  Like a movie without sex or violence…why bother? Grade: B+ The MachineTaking Calvin Johnson in the first round does two things: (1) gives you a leg up on WRs of any team in the league; (2) gives you a not as good RB1.  For me, Steven Jackson will have a great year.  He carried an entire offense for years in St Louis.  Not worried about the 2400 carries.  He is fine.  It is the second RB in Lamar Miller that proves that it was taken by a Machine.   What I find to be interesting about the rest of the draft here is that it has a lot of upside: Amendola, Austin, Hartline, Woodhead.  Also , Manning said that his chemistry with Welker is not there and he would be throwing to DT and ED.  Decker could have more points than projected.  He had 14 TDs last year.  Cam Newton could put it all together in 3rd year, so huge upside. Grade: A-

BY THE NUMBERS - Round 2 - August 29th Draft

The Machine

PPR RD The Oracle PPR RD
QB Russell Wilson

330

6

Romo

306

7

RB CJ Spiller

260

1

L McCoy

260

1

RB D Sproles

233

3

Chris Johnson

211

2

WR V-Jackson

243

2

M Colston

227

4

WR R Wayne

236

7

A Brown

225

5

Flex L Miller

196

4

Stevan Ridley

205

3

TE B Pettigrew

150

10

M Bennett

174

10

K Matt Bryant

152

15

Greg Z

137

16

DT Broncos

186

13

Bengals

160

15

  TOTALS

1986

   

1905

 
BN Miles Austin

167

7

Steve Smith

192

6

BN Lance Moore

166

8

Ben Tate

106

8

BN Danny Woodhead

113

9

Ryan Broyles

168

9

BN Eli Manning

278

11

Helu

78

11

BN Bryce Brown

80

12

C Palmer

265

12

BN Greg Little

142

14

S Greene

72

13

BN Coby Fleener

141

16

C Patterson

140

14

  TOTALS

1087

   

1021

 
WIN STARTERS

81

  RESERVES

66

 
Ray Flowers:  This is a near perfect draft. This hurts to say on a lot of levels.   First is that I will likely inflate an already justifiably large ego.  The second is that The Machine cannot win the draft contest here if the draft was “perfect”.  RBs are stellar with clear number 1 jobs and upside.  The WRs are good enough if Colston has the kind of year he should.  The backups are smart with upside.  One handcuff and then Ben Tate who if Foster continues to have injury woes, he could get value out of it.  Also trading to the owner who drafted Foster will be good if they split early to save health of Foster. Corderelle Patterson is a great flyer. Grade: A+ The MachineHonestly, a lot not to like here as an analyst.  Spiller is going to get huge load for the first time.  Sproles is good in PPR, but a lot of mouths to feed.  Wayne is getting old.  Miller is unproven.  Great bench and with The Machine at the helm for lineups/waivers, Josh will be up to the challenge. Crazy thing is that the scores are in favor of The Machine.  Don’t love this, but it is playable. Grade: B

BY THE NUMBERS - Round 3 - Sept. 3 Draft

The Machine

PPR RD The Oracle PPR RD
QB M Stafford

332

6

M Vick

293

8

RB L McCoy

260

1

M Lynch

232

1

RB S Jackson

241

2

C Johnson

211

2

WR V Jackson

243

3

L Fitzgerald

267

3

WR R Wayne

236

4

A Brown

225

4

Flex E Decker

201

5

J Nelson

205

5

TE J Cook

170

10

M Bennett

166

12

K G Hartley

131

  Alex Henry

121

15

DT Steelers

116

  Browns

118

16

  TOTALS

1930

   

1838

 
BN M ingram

112

7

A Bradshaw

162

6

BN R Wilson

330

8

Ben Tate

106

7

BN A Boldin

156

9

Joique Bell

91

9

BN B Brown (HC)

80

11

J Gordon

188

10

BN B Hartline

147

12

C Palmer

265

11

BN M Tolbert

64

13

C Michael

73

13

BN O Daniels

160

14

R Broyles

144

14

  TOTALS

1049

   

1029

 
WIN STARTERS

92

  RESERVES

20

 
Ray Flowers:  As perfect as Round 2 draft by The Oracle was, this was well…not so much.  Every way I look at this, I cannot find a way to fall in love with this.  Too many issues: (1) Ray took Lynch over Arian Foster; (2) Fitzgerald has to have major bounce season; (3) Bradshaw is always hurt and when healthy inconsistent; (4) bench is filled with backups and question marks.  Crazy, but the numbers are a lot better than I would have thought.  So how does this happen?  The competition was GREAT.  There were at least three other teams who had great drafts in this league.  That makes you have to reach.  It also makes it harder for one of these guys to win. Grade: C+ The MachineLooking at the starting lineup and this team is stacked.  Stafford in the 6th round after McCoy, S-Jax, V-Jax, Wayne and Decker is simply a steal.  Solid all the way around and love the TE duo of Cook and Daniels.  The big question mark is taking second QB so early with Russell Wilson in 8th round.  We have rules and The Machine saw that as the best way to protect the position and to lower the win probability of at least one team.  Call it playing defense if you will.  The Machine also now understands Handcuffs and when you need to own them.  Hate the Tolbert pick, but they cannot all be perfect. Grade: A-

Lessons Learned 

So what did we learn? We learned that Ray Flowers is a good drafter and a good guy to take on something like this.  We learned that it isn’t all about the numbers.  We learned that injuries and handcuffing are now included in The Machine’s features.  We learned that a machine run by a human can compete with someone who is great in just about any challenge. iRobot - Will SmithThe most important thing is to understand that in life like in fantasy football, we use machines to help us. We take as much information as we can in, but we make decisions of our own because it is simply more fun that way. Winning is fun don't get me wrong, but more fun when you make good decisions. You will make BETTER SMARTER decisions with The Machine.

So like when Ray took Lynch instead of Arian Foster in the first round of draft #3, The Machine would have used iRobot's words: “You are making a mistake. My logic is undeniable.”

 

Rick Wolf, Co-Host of Colton & The Wolfman - Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio  Rick Wolf is a leader in the fantasy sports industry. Wolf is a founding Board Member and one of only fifteen FSTA Hall of Famers including Bill James and Matthew Berry. Wolf’s career accomplishments include starting the fantasy sports division at SportsLine USA that became CBS SportsLine, incubating Rotoworld to become the #1 fantasy sports news site, and spearheading the sale of Allstar Stats/Rotoworld to NBC Sports in 2006.  With college friend and fellow Hall of Famer, Glenn Colton, the team has won 7 expert titles in baseball and football.  
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