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Caveats to #ZeroG?

Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. In this one I’m going to address Ian Gooding’s caveats on the #ZeroG strategy as well as Dobber’s comments in his Reddit AMA. Before I do that, I want to take a second to invite you to join the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon where I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about the AMA, MAF, or any other relevant abbreviations.

If you haven’t seen it yet, a couple of things happened this week that heightened the conversation around #ZeroG. First, Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs had a Reddit AMA on Wednesday and was asked for his thoughts on the #ZeroG strategy:

Dobber AMA #ZeroG Question & Response

Second, Ian Gooding (Managing Editor at Dobber Hockey) wrote two “Ramblings” articles that included mock drafts using the #ZeroG strategy and a third that included a section entitled “Caveats to Zero G”. I want to continue the conversation because I think it provides a ton of value to the fantasy hockey community as a whole and because I want to make it clear that the concerns raised are not new to me or have me questioning the strategy on the whole. Let’s dive in:

First, let’s address Dobber’s concern with the strategy in relation to leagues where goalies are given a heavy weight (his example was 5 goalie cats out of 11 total in a cats league setup). Before I jump into the analysis, my advice would be to simply not play in a league with this much riding on goalie performance. If goalie performance cannot be accurately predicted (which I think I and many others have shown pretty conclusively), a league that weights goalie performance this heavily decreases the amount of skill and increases the amount of luck required to win. I don’t want to play in leagues where luck’s role is higher than normal, and you shouldn’t either if you’re confident in your ability as a fantasy hockey manager.

Ian also mentioned this concern with the #ZeroG strategy as one of his caveats:

Excerpt from Ian Gooding’s Caveats on Zero G Article

This is the most common argument against #ZeroG and to me is an attempt to address a forest fire by wearing a fireproof suit: even if the suit works you’re going to burn alive from the heat. The correct solution is to get the hell out of the forest. You’re not addressing the fundamental problem of goalie variability by drafting one earlier, you just feel like you are. If you believe that the difference between early and late round goalies is almost completely a coinflip (which is one of the takeaways of my original #ZeroG article), they don’t get better because the format changes. The only thing you can control is how much draft capital you put into the goalie position. This also has cascading positive effects on your roster as I’ve outlined in my #ZeroG for 2021/22 article.

Excerpt from Ian Gooding’s Caveats on Zero G Article

Perhaps I haven’t done a good job of pounding this point home outside of my Discord server, but #ZeroG is not about avoiding goalies at all costs until “X” round in your drafts. The point is to spend LESS draft capital on your goalies than your leaguemates. You will still certainly need goaltenders who are playing hockey games in order to win fantasy matchups. So get a couple of goalies in Tier 4 of my goalie rankings (wherever they fall in your draft) while everyone else trips over themselves to spend second round picks on Frederik Andersen.

Excerpt from Ian Gooding’s Caveats on Zero G Article

I think I pretty much covered this above. The idea is not to set a certain point in your draft necessarily (although I have mentioned double-digit rounds for your standard 10 or 12 teamers), but simply to get goalies later than your leaguemates.

Excerpt from Ian Gooding’s Caveats on Zero G Article

Totally agree with this point, but the best part of #ZeroG is that you don’t have to get worried when goalies start to fly off the board. There will likely be primary and secondary goalie runs in a lot of drafts, and you can absolutely wait to see where those runs start to peter out and grab a couple guys in my 4th tier a good bit later. Keep an eye on it, but don’t stress over it – you’re in a better position than all of your leaguemates to sit back and let them fight over goalies that you know are a coinflip chance to be any better than the guys you will take a few rounds later.

Excerpt from Ian Gooding’s Caveats on Zero G Article

I heavily disagree with this point as you might imagine. #ZeroG is LESS risky than taking an early goalie in my opinion. Goalies are the greatest injury risks in the game, their performance can fall off at any time without warning, and a history of success can evaporate in a heartbeat:

Taking an early goalie only feels less risky, because it’s what everyone else is doing. But we’re not interested in what everyone else is doing, we’re interested in the optimal way to draft a fantasy hockey team.

Excerpt from Ian Gooding’s Caveats on Zero G Article

I agree with this strategy in general. I do not believe you can apply it to goaltenders. I do 100% believe that staying fluid and scrapping whatever pre-draft plan you laid out for yourself when the draft dictates it is good process, but your “clearly best option” at goalie is just as likely to be a bust as the next guy you don’t like at all. Until we as a fantasy hockey community have data that accurately predicts future goalie performance, fading goalies will remain the best way to attack the position.

In summary, these caveats are not new concerns to me and they haven’t swayed my belief in the validity of the theory. I welcome the discussion and if convincing evidence were ever presented to me that opposed the #ZeroG theory I would have no problem abandoning it and following where the data leads. But I’ve tested it, plenty of people have tried to tear it down, and I am still waiting for the first truly substantive argument against. If you’ve got an argument to make, let’s have it! And most of all, let’s all get better at fantasy hockey, together.

Much love,

Nate

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Published by Apples & Ginos

Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Advice

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