I’ve been writing about cognitive biases in fantasy sports for a while now, and one thing people always wonder is why they exist in the first place. It’s a good question, because evolution and natural selection tends to get rid of things that don’t benefit the species, right? Not surprisingly, then, cognitive biases do serve us in many aspects of our lives. They enable us to make fast decisions and rely on first impressions. They help us avoid pain and fear. These neural shortcuts even (somehow) make us more attractive to members of the opposite sex!

When it comes to making decisions involving value and predicting future performance, however, cognitive biases can hurt us. That applies to things like the stock market, buying a car and, of course, drafting and managing a fantasy team. At the core of it, cognitive bias refers to the brain relying on primitive, emotional and/or habitual processing to make decisions rather than on more advanced neo-cortical regions that use logic, reasoning and sophisticated executive processing.

Those more simply wired primitive areas link sensory inputs to motor outputs very fast, without necessarily forcing us to call on slower circuits that access previous memories and can predict future outcomes, as well as take into account accumulated knowledge or research on the subject. Because the more primitive circuits rely on some of the same chemicals as the gastrointestinal tract, some people feel these rapid, biased decisions as “gut instincts.” Make no mistake, however, the brain is firmly in control of them.

I go into a little bit of detail on the brain mechanisms of biases because just being aware of their possibility can help you avoid falling prey to them. Sometimes all you need is a little time to recognize what’s really going on and your advanced human forebrain can take over and enable you to call on logic to make your decision. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the biases that can plague you during your preseason MLB research and during your draft, as well as tips on how to overcome them.

Continue reading on the next page!