Fantasy Roundtable: Risk vs. Reward

Just like there’s no one way to be successful in gymnastics, there’s no one way to be successful at fantasy gymnastics. In these installments of the Fantasy Gym Roundtable, College Gym News editors will discuss their strategies for a variety of topics, from drafting to setting lineups.

This week, eight editors sat down to discuss their thoughts on drafting high risk gymnasts: Do they bother? How do they determine which ones are worth it? And where do they place them in their draft order?

Have a unique strategy we didn’t discuss here or want to see us discuss a particular fantasy gym topic on a future roundtable? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

What type of gymnast would you consider “risky” to draft?

Elizabeth: I would consider a gymnast risky if they only compete one event (see Grace Glenn), can compete all four but rarely do (see Lexie Priessman) or have an average in the 9.7s but a career high of 9.950.

Emily M: Injury comebacks. I like drafting gymnasts who competed frequently, then were out with injury, because there’s often less competition for them (especially if they didn’t compete enough the previous season to have an NQS). But there’s always the risk that they’re not totally healthy yet, or their gymnastics will be different. You never know! This year, I’d put Kynsee Roby and Bre Showers in this category, for example.

Rebecca: Newcomers at big teams, or as others have said, ones who have been injured. Let me confess: I thought Evy Schoepfer was going to be a big deal. Also think of the likes of Margzetta Frazier, who while still useful for those bars scores, wasn’t quite what many fantasy players hoped for when they drafted her. These are gymnasts with whom you can you can do everything right and watch all the intrasquads and still end up with no weekly routines because their teams are too deep to predict.

Jenna: I’m hesitant to draft freshmen in general, because while some are great, most take a while to adjust to collegiate-level competition. Second, I’d consider it risky to draft any specialist on a team that tends to change its lineups every single week. For example, I probably have most of the UCLA gymnasts (outside of Ross, Hano and maybe Flatley) lower in my draft than most because I don’t like having to deal with the stress of not knowing whether or not a gymnast will be competing.

Tara: First, someone who isn’t consistently in lineups or even isn’t consistently in the same lineup. It’s too unpredictable. Second, gymnasts who are in lineups but only consistently compete one event. 

Mary Emma: I have two: a gymnast who is in and out of the lineup a lot and a gymnast that only consistently competes one event. 

Katherine: I think gymnasts are risky if you haven’t seen much of them in preseason training clips, even if they’ve been reliable in the past. Teams have their reasons for not showing certain routines, but like I said last week, it doesn’t look great for a gymnast’s prospects.

Kalley: Either a gymnast who only competes one event (as mentioned above) or a gymnast who is injury-prone and therefore lineup questionable (like Lexie Priessman, who was a fantastic addition when she competed, but I never really knew if she’d be in the lineup or not).

To you, is it worth sacrificing getting someone consistently good for the chance of getting someone who is occasionally great?

Elizabeth: This is an annoying answer, but it really depends on the gymnast. If they’re someone that will compete so infrequently across multiple events that you can never guess correctly when they’ll be in lineups, I say it’s not worth it. Otherwise, I like to stick to the consistent all arounders who I know I can depend on for solid scores week after week.

Emily M: Yes, but not with my entire draft! A little risk is great, but I usually try to choose a few risky picks to draft highly, and make sure to sprinkle in some more reliable folks as well. A healthy mix of both usually makes for a solid team.

Rebecca: Oh yeah. Frankly with a roster of 20 it’s usually not hard to scrape 24 routines. Use common sense, don’t go drafting Alyona Shchennikova No. 1 or anything, but it’s usually not a big issue for me.

Jenna: I definitely crave consistency first and foremost, but to be competitive in fantasy gym you have to have that balance of consistently good all arounders and occasionally great specialists. My draft tends to have both, but I rank the gymnast who can consistently get a 9.825 higher than the gymnast who oscillates between 9.700 and 9.900.

Tara: It depends. I usually err on the side of consistency, but I do like to throw in some risky ones. I need to know the gymnast has a chance of competing for it to even be plausible, though. Someone who consistently makes lineups but has inconsistent scores is the better risk for me. There’s a lot of spots to fill on the draft and I usually don’t get there without throwing some risky picks in. 

Mary Emma: Definitely not worth the risk. I tend to prioritize solid all arounders for that reason. Sure, you might not get a huge score out of them every week, but it’s better than having to count a fall (or a zero).

Katherine: If you’ve seen her compete strongly in seasons past, the prospect for reward is there. But I think the risk outweighs any chance of a positive outcome. There’s a possibility she won’t contribute, and that lost depth is so important to your team as the season goes on. 

Kalley: I tend to prioritize consistent all arounders or three-event gymnasts, but I definitely do include people who fit into this category. I usually add these types of gymnasts toward the middle of my draft list. 

How do you determine which high risk, high reward gymnasts are worth it?

Elizabeth: I’ve kind of talked about this already, but I look at a couple factors: Do they have a rocky injury history? Do they consistently make lineups? Do they stay on the apparatus? I prefer someone who might fall occasionally but also get 9.9-plus over someone who is in and out of various lineups, making me risk counting a zero just in case they do compete and score well.

Emily M: A lot of it comes down to gut for me. My gut is right maybe half of the time (I drafted Taylor Houchin as a freshman! But I also drafted Abi Solari as a freshman), so it might pan out. That’s why it’s key to have the reliable standbyes mixed in, so you can get by until trading opens.

Rebecca: A bit of gut feeling and a holistic view of the athlete’s competitive history and environment. Let’s just say that if I’m undecided about an athlete’s draft position, and she’s from Texas Dreams, I’ll usually nudge her downward.

Jenna: The biggest factor is whether or not the gymnast competes week in, week out. I’m willing to draft someone who averages 9.700 but occasionally goes 9.900 if they genuinely compete every week because I’d rather have a 9.600 fill out my lineup than risk the chance of counting a zero. This is one reason why I’m so hesitant about freshmen, especially on top teams with a lot of depth, because we have no way of knowing how much they’ll actually compete.

Tara: Consistency is the biggest thing for me. If I’m drafting a gymnast that only competes one event, I want one that consistently generates high scores has a good probability of making the lineup. 

Mary Emma: For me, the ones worth it are those who may only compete one event but are pretty much a guaranteed 9.85-plus on that event. Someone like Grace Glenn on beam, for example.

Katherine: I think it’s worth it to draft a gymnast who consistently is placed in the back half of whichever lineup she competes in; it shows she’s expected to score higher. It also helps if they’re in one of the Big Four conferences because, as we know, scores tend to trend upward there in general.

Kalley: I’d add a gymnast with high scoring potential and good consistency (even with injuries) over a gymnast who is either scoring a 9.9 or falls. Someone like Bre Showers, for example, scores incredibly well when she competes, but has been plagued by injury her entire career. 

Where do you put these gymnasts in your draft order?

Elizabeth: I’m pretty conservative when it comes to these types of gymnasts and tend to lean toward consistent producers over these high risk, high reward options. However, sometimes I’ll throw them on my draft anyway, lower, even though I know I won’t get them, simply because it feels weird not to draft them at all.

Emily M: I sprinkle a few into my top 30 or so, the ones who have huge potential, but never more than maybe three. Ten percent is even a big risk! I’m more inclined to stick these gymnasts smack in the middle, around the 100 mark.

Rebecca: Maybe 20 to 30 spots below where I would if I knew for sure that they would pan out—with a few exceptions. Every year I fixate on a few wildcards that I’m just SURE will materialize, and I tend to put them high. Those often don’t work too well but I have fun, and if they do work out, I don’t shut up about it for weeks.

Jenna: I arrange my draft in order of how many events I can expect the gymnast to be an absolute star on. She won’t make my draft list without 9.900 potential on at least one event. So if she has 9.900 potential on all four events, she’ll be near the top, but individual event specialists will come much later.

Tara: It depends, but usually somewhere in the middle of my draft. If they’re a true one event star (someone like McKenzie Wofford), I’ll put them higher up—but not as high as the ones who are generating similar scores on multiple events. Sometimes I know I don’t have as much of a chance because I’m putting some of them lower, but like Elizabeth said, it feels weird not to draft them at all.  

Mary Emma: It depends on the gymnast, but I tend to put them middle to low on my draft, if at all. Like Elizabeth said, there are some gymnasts that it would feel weird to not include in the draft at all.  

Katherine: I don’t have a lot of logic to my draft order as a whole, so I don’t have a specific order preference with risky gymnasts. But I wouldn’t put them ahead of anyone you’re seriously confident about.

Kalley: I alluded to this before, but I tend to put these gymnasts toward the middle of my draft and rank them according to the potential payoff. Are they a true one-event gymnast, or is there a possibility they will compete on another apparatus (like Gracie Kramer)? Even if they have had injuries in the past, have they looked healthy in preseason videos? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, I’ll add them toward the middle.

Are there any “risky” gymnasts you’re putting on your draft this year?

Elizabeth: The top risky pick on my draft this year will be Gracie Kramer. You’re really only getting one event out of her—albeit a fantastic one—meaning if I get her, I’m “wasting” a roster spot on someone who only consistently does one event. However, there’s also the question of vault: Will she do it? If she does, will the score be useable? Lots of doubt and uncertainty there.

Emily M: As usual, yes. Bre Showers, most likely, because it’s hard to pass up Oklahoma scores. Kynsee Roby, Mallory Mizuki and Maggie O’Hara are my big risk Big Ten picks. I’m also looking at drafting a few high-potential freshmen quite early (Kiya Johnson, Helen Hu, Sierra Brooks). Freshmen are always risky, but at a certain level they can epitomize high risk/high reward (think Natalie Wojcik and Derrian Gobourne last year).

Rebecca: You think I’ve decided? I’m a seat-of-the-pants drafter. I’ll get back to you after Christmas. Probably Jazmyn Foberg and Samantha Sakti, though. They’re objectively not the best idea but you gotta live sometimes.

Jenna: I’m absolutely going to be breaking my no-freshmen rule for Makarri Doggette, who not only has star all around potential on a team that really needs a star all arounder, but she’s also been appearing in many training videos so I’m not as worried about injuries as I am with many of the other freshmen. Second, Margzetta Frazier is going to break my no-UCLA-specialists rule because she was consistently on bars last year and has been in enough training clips on floor that I’m confident she’ll be routinely in that lineup as well.

Tara: The one that first comes to mind is Alexis Vasquez. It’s hard to find someone who’s just that good with her consistency on beam. My riskiest freshman pick is Ragan Smith. She’s looked good, but we really don’t know what underlying injuries she may still be dealing with. 

Mary Emma: I’ll be putting Grace Glenn on there somewhere, even though it will most likely be too low to actually get her.

Katherine: Since I started doing fantasy gym, I’ve thought about doing a draft of entirely one/two event gymnasts, just to see how the team would do. This might be the year! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Kalley: Definitely. It’s hard to pass up drafting gymnasts like Gracie Kramer, who is just so spectacular on her event. I’m also going to be putting some riskier freshmen on my draft list: Mickayla Stuckey has the potential to be fantastic for Eastern Michigan, but there is always the risk that the MAC won’t be rewarded with the same scores as other conferences. Chloe Widner at Stanford is another example of someone with a lot of potential—but until she competes, I just won’t know for sure.

Article by Elizabeth Grimsley, Tara Graeve, Rebecca Scally, Emily Minehart, Jenna King, Katherine Weaver, Kalley Leer and Mary Emma Burton

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