Cutting your losses and the art of selling low
Earlier in the season I wrote about how people anchor their value of a player to their average draft position. That anchoring effect is rapidly diminishing in people’s minds as the weeks go on and we’re probably in the last week or two left before what you thought will be completely irrelevant to what you know.
So with that in mind, I want to focus this week on cutting your losses. We spend a lot of time in the more positive space, figuring out who to add off waivers, who to acquire via trade and who to start in your lineups. But a close cousin of the anchoring effect is the sunk cost fallacy, which is our faulty decision to keep doing something despite the cost already being incurred. Surely you’ve kept watching a terrible movie or struggled through a book you’ve lost interest in because of this fallacy. You feel that you’ve already invested the time and money into it so you don’t want to ‘waste it’ by not finishing. But in reality, the cost is already sunk. You paid for that movie or book and you’re not getting the money or the time you invested back. By sticking with it, you end up deepening the loss rather than moving onto something more worthwhile.
Similarly, in fantasy football we hang onto players far too long. We know that we invested an early round draft pick or waiver dollars on a player, so when he’s not playing up to expectations, we’d rather stick with him than cut our losses. But again, the cost has already been incurred, so you need to shift to forward thinking. Will this player that I’m holding onto help me more than that player sitting on the waiver wire or that guy I can get in a trade?
Now in trade talks, we always want to maximize our return so it’s important to shop these sunk costs strategically.
Here are some players I’m considering as sunk costs and I’d be looking to sell low on their value. I’m going to focus on running backs because, frankly, there’s a lot of them.
For each of them, I’ve also listed something called ‘Attribute Primer’. Attribute priming is another behavioural economic principle that suggests that by simply talking about an attribute can make people desire that attribute more. You’ve inevitably bought something because the salesman talked up this hot new feature only to realize after a month that you don’t actually even use that feature. My mom being upsold to an iPhone has attribute priming written all over it.