Breaking Down the Reggie Bush vs. Pizza Trade


So, of course the first reaction to the Reggie Bush vs. a $10 Pizza deal that has been running for the last month is that the dude trading the pizza totally got robbed. The second reaction? Why did the other guy have Reggie Bush in the first place?

But after taking a moment to ponder it, and after staying up all night suffering from insomnia, I decided to give it a closer look. Let’s be honest here. You may mock Reggie Bush, but let he who has not scrambled to pick up someone named Seyi Ajirotutu cast the first pizza stone. Also, Reggie Bush has just followed up his 2nd career 100 yard rushing day with another performance with over 100 yards from scrimmage, plus an actual NFL touchdown. Maybe that pizza peddler was crazy like a fox.

Let’s talk fantasy football, replacement level, win expectancy, and cross-reference it with a little VORP (value over replacement pizza). Is it possible that Reggie Bush is worth a $10 pizza? I guess it depends on your league size, number of starters, and just how much you threw into that pot without your wife knowing about it, and thus what your winning share might be.

I went through my 12-team league that allows up to 3 running backs with flexes, and plugged in Reggie Bush’s weekly performance to get an approximation for the win expectancy with Reggie Bush in your starting lineup each week. Reggie Bush is currently 26th in that league in points for running backs, so it’s not like he wouldn’t be a starting option or on rosters. With his points plugged in each potential RB/Flex spot in place of whoever that owner used, I calculated how often the outcome would have changed by either Bush improving the outcome to a win, or changing it to a loss with his presence.

That is 288 total spots (8 weeks/12 teams/3 spots). Reggie Bush would have improved 12 cases to wins, and would have resulted in 15 losses with those substitution. The most extreme case was my team with Fred Jackson, where replacing him with Bush would have resulted in 3 fewer wins. The overall win expectancy with Bush versus a random starting RB or flex: -0.01. Basically average. This is a testament to how much fantasy football is decided by the big performances. There were very few cases where, even when he did nothing, he cost teams wins because the score wasn’t close enough anyway. He rarely made a difference in wins either, and most of that was last week’s game.

Of course, just because he is basically average compared to the entire population of other potential starters, doesn’t mean he has negative value. We want to compare him to what a replacement level starter that is freely available would do. I settled on Javon Ringer to represent “replacement level” in this league. Ringer is 48th in points and has never been the clear starter for any week this season. Starting Ringer is not ideal. If you had plugged in Ringer to every RB or flex starter, the win expectancy is -.07, because again it was rare for his dropoff to matter. Reggie Bush is +0.06 in win expectancy versus our replacement starter. For a 13 game regular season, a team that starts Reggie Bush should expect to get about 0.8 more wins than if they had Javon Ringer (and Ringer served as a backup getting some touches for every game).

So let’s talk about Pizza. Pizza can rank in value from the top end high quality local stuff to the stuff with square imitation pepperonis that passes for food at school cafeterias. Those delicious Chicago-style Deep Dishes? They may have negative future life expectancy value, but they have excellent present value. I’m a big fan of a good thin crust Hawaiian pizza and would easily value it over $20. If we are talking chains, while Papa John’s may not stand alone on the pizza merits, getting that garlic sauce is like getting the key throw-in on a fantasy trade; it adds value. Pizza Hut wants to say $10, I guess, we’ll go with that, but they are like getting Reggie Bush instead of Fred Jackson in the 8th round for the same money.

So in what scenario is Reggie worth a $10 pizza? Your league would have to be worth a lot of money. Then, having one of several players with a +0.06 win expectancy over replacement value, to go with stars, would have some value. It probably takes about 8.5 wins to get to the playoffs if your league has 4 playoff teams. An entirely replacement level team would barely ever win, so Bush would be worth about 10% of your win expectancy. Then we would have to discuss things like marginal value and how much more guys who account for about 30% are worth, but we’ve spent too much time here.

If you are in a friendly league where the winner clears less than $100, you might consider swapping out for the temporary enjoyment of some Totino’s pizza rolls. If the first prize was as large as $500, and you knew you had a 25% chance, then Bush might be worth a $10 pizza. If you played in a really high stakes league of over $1,000, then acquiring Bush for a high end gourmet pizza may be an even trade.

Of course, if you are paying that much to play in a league, the question still remains:

Why did you draft Reggie Bush instead of Fred Jackson in the first place. Jackson is worth a whole pizza party.

[photo via Getty]