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Thursday 23rd Feb 2017

Last week, I took a look at a concept known as value based drafting.  While the proper conclusion would have been drawn either way, in it, I made a rather significant mistake when it comes to more useful fantasy football rankings.  The basis for my calculation was the total points scored by each player.  The more useful metric to investigate is points per game.

While the head-to-head format is growing in fantasy baseball, it is the stalwart in football.  The majority of baseball leagues are rotisserie scoring based, and thus only care about the season-long totals of the pertinent statistics.  It is a bit more difficult to account for injury replacement as most leagues are weekly formats where players will miss portions of weeks as opposed to football, where he either plays that week or he does not.  Thus, since it is quite easy to compute projected points per game in football, this is a much better measure of what is expected when it comes to setting your draft lists.  The same value based calculation that was discussed last week can be utilized with points per game as the component ranked.

The following are the final point totals and point per game totals derived from a private league I run.  The columns to focus upon are the last two as these rank first total points, then points per game.  I used eight games played as the cut-off.

QUARTERBACKS

Player

Points

PPG

Games

Points rank

PPG rank

Vick, Michael PHI QB

374.5

31.208

12

4

1

Rodgers, Aaron GBP QB

383.7

25.58

15

1

2

Rivers, Philip SDC QB

383.4

23.962

16

2

3

Manning, Peyton IND QB

381.8

23.862

16

3

4

Brees, Drew NOS QB

373.8

23.363

16

5

5

Brady, Tom NEP QB

360.5

22.531

16

6

6

Roethlisberger, Ben PIT QB

269.8

22.483

12

19

7

Manning, Eli NYG QB

344

21.5

16

7

8

Orton, Kyle DEN QB

273

21

13

16

9

Garrard, David JAC QB

293.8

20.986

14

14

10

Fitzpatrick, Ryan BUF QB

272.7

20.977

13

17

11

Palmer, Carson CIN QB

321.8

20.112

16

8

12

Hill, Shaun DET QB

221

20.091

11

24

13

Schaub, Matt HOU QB

319.85

19.991

16

9

14

Freeman, Josh TBB QB

314.95

19.684

16

10

15

Cutler, Jay CHI QB

295

19.667

15

13

16

Ryan, Matt ATL QB

313.75

19.609

16

11

17

Kitna, Jon DAL QB

211.25

19.205

11

26

18

Flacco, Joe BAL QB

304.2

19.013

16

12

19

Cassel, Matt KCC QB

284.3

18.953

15

15

20

 

RUNNING BACKS

Player

Points

PPG

Games

Points rank

PPG rank

Foster, Arian HOU RB

401.8

25.113

16

1

1

McFadden, Darren OAK RB

291.4

22.415

13

5

2

McCoy, LeSean PHI RB

305.2

20.347

15

2

3

Hillis, Peyton CLE RB

305.05

19.066

16

3

4

Peterson, Adrian MIN RB

284.3

18.953

15

6

5

Gore, Frank SFO RB

206.5

18.773

11

18

6

Charles, Jamaal KCC RB

292.5

18.281

16

4

7

Johnson, Chris TEN RB

282.9

17.681

16

7

8

Forte, Matt CHI RB

280.6

17.538

16

8

9

Rice, Ray BAL RB

276.9

17.306

16

9

10

Jones-Drew, Maurice JAC RB

240.1

17.15

14

13

11

Bradshaw, Ahmad NYG RB

252.4

15.775

16

10

12

Mendenhall, Rashard PIT RB

251.1

15.694

16

11

13

Moreno, Knowshon DEN RB

200.1

15.392

13

19

14

Jackson, Steven STL RB

245

15.312

16

12

15

Tomlinson, LaDainian NYJ RB

216.2

14.413

15

15

16

Turner, Michael ATL RB

230

14.375

16

14

17

Best, Jahvid DET RB

211

14.067

15

16

18

Benson, Cedric CIN RB

206.9

12.931

16

17

19

Tolbert, Mike SDC RB

188.3

12.553

15

23

20

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Player

Points

PPG

Games

Points rank

PPG rank

White, Roddy ATL WR

318.2

19.887

16

1

1

Johnson, Andre HOU WR

256.6

19.738

13

8

2

Nicks, Hakeem NYG WR

250.2

19.246

13

9

3

Bowe, Dwayne KCC WR

290.6

18.163

16

2

4

Johnson, Calvin DET WR

272.2

18.147

15

6

5

Lloyd, Brandon DEN WR

287.8

17.988

16

3

6

Jennings, Greg GBP WR

286.5

17.906

16

4

7

Wayne, Reggie IND WR

282.5

17.656

16

5

8

Wallace, Mike PIT WR

267.7

16.731

16

7

9

Owens, Terrell CIN WR

230.3

16.45

14

17

10

Jackson, DeSean PHI WR

229

16.357

14

18

11

Harvin, Percy MIN WR

219

15.643

14

21

12

Witten, Jason DAL TE

250.2

15.637

16

9

13

Johnson, Steve BUF WR

249.3

15.581

16

11

14

Colston, Marques NOS WR

228.3

15.22

15

19

15

Austin, Miles DAL WR

243.3

15.206

16

12

16

Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR

241.7

15.106

16

13

17

Moss, Santana WAS WR

241

15.062

16

14

18

Maclin, Jeremy PHI WR

236

14.75

16

15

19

Marshall, Brandon MIA WR

205.7

14.693

14

24

20

 

The important thing is not to focus on the specific players as much as it is to demonstrate that looking at PPG and not just points can alter the ranking of the player.  Of course, there is a little more to it than that as obviously, you will need to use an inferior player for the games your player is expected to miss.  We will get to that in a minute.

The take home lesson from this bit of analysis is if you are a person that crunches the numbers in fantasy football to come up with your draft list and not simply make intuitive rankings like so many, you must account for the number of games each player is expected to play.  If you use an outside source of projections, it is imperative that they include a games played column.  If not, you cannot really be sure what the prognosticator intended.  For an example, does anyone really expect Michael Vick to play a full season?  Most projections will be tempered to account for the injury factor.  To properly gauge Vick’s relative rank, you really need to know his PPG, not his projected points.

As suggested, an adjustment needs to be made if the player is anticipated to miss time.  One way to account for this is to estimate the PPG of the player you will use in his stead and determine the PPG via a weighted average.  By means of example, let us go back to Vick and last season’s numbers.  He averaged an impressive 31.2 in twelve games.  Ignoring the fact that most fantasy leagues have a regular season and playoffs and most do not play in Week 17, we need to account for the four missing games from Vick’s total.  The average PPG of the 13th- 24th ranked QB was 19.0, so a reasonable estimation would be for 19.0 points per game in the four missing games.  The adjusted calculation is

((12 x 31.2) + (4 x 19))/16 = 28.15

So let’s say that instead of the above being actual stats, they were in fact 2011 projections.  The 28.15 PPG would still put Vick as the top-rated QB, it would then be up to you to decide if the injury risk, and the “inconsistency” of the expected numbers are worth drafting. 

While I do not profess to be qualified to project football numbers, I am comfortable suggesting that even without the health concerns, Vick’s PPG in the games he plays is likely to drop from last season, so when you do the injury adjustment, you will be forced to choose between Vick’s adjusted PPG and someone else’s similar PPG but who is expected to play the full season like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Philip Rivers.  For those of you trying to determine how far to drop Payton Manning, you may want to run this calculation with the anticipation he misses a game or two to see where the numbers fall.  A similar treatment can be given to Chris Johnson if you want to account for his potential of missing games due to his holdout.

On Thursday, we will conclude this foray into fantasy football with an examination of the notion that consistency trumps upside when it comes to designing a roster.

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