Fantasy: A Value-Based Drafting Retrospective of 2011, Part 1

| 5 years ago

Fantasy: A Value-Based Drafting Retrospective of 2011, Part 1


Pretend you knew, in advance of the season, how many fantasy points every player would score. It would make the game pretty easy, right?  You could just draft Aaron Rodgers and be done with it. As it turns out, Aaron Rodgers would not have been the correct first pick in 2011, even though he scored the most points.

The value of a drafted player is determined not just by his fantasy points but also by his relative worth versus the best available alternative. It is the same concept that sabermetrics applies to baseball players to determine WAR, wins above replacement. When it is applied to fantasy, it is called value-based drafting (VBD), and it is the methodology I use to evaluate my selections.

The replacement player at any position exists in the context of your specific league, which means that the value of any player will change because of differences in the number of teams in your league, the roster sizes and requirements of those teams, and your scoring system. For my purposes, I will use a 10-team league with the following roster allocations:

Position Starters/Team Total Starters VBD Total
QB 1 10 16
RB 2 20 36
WR 3 30 60
TE 1 10 12
DST 1 10 10
K 1 10 10
BE 7 70 16
160 160

The starters/team and total starters columns are self-explanatory. The VBD total column represents the number of players above replacement-level value. There is as much art as science to it. The simplest way to find those numbers in your league is to count how many players were drafted at each position. For example, many teams will draft 2 quarterbacks, but often teams with elite quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees will just have one. I estimated that 16 QBs would be owned in this type of league.

I took it a step further. Bench slots are filled by some number of QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs—I am assuming that no one will own multiple defenses or kickers—but you’ll notice that I did not allocate 16 bench slots in my VBD roster numbers. I did that because teams will draft some players worse than replacement level to protect their roster. The easiest example is handcuffed running backs. The team that has Michael Turner will likely also have Jason Snelling, but that does not mean that if you needed another RB, you would have to pick up one worse than Snelling. Those below-replacement-level players are most often running backs, which is why the VBD total for RBs might seem low.

I used a typical scoring system where 25 passing yards is a point, 10 rushing or receiving yards is a point, a passing TD is 4 points, a rushing or receiving TD is 6 points, and an interception is -2 points. I included a separate column for PPR. For my own sanity, I excluded rushing yards for WRs, so I have slightly undervalued players like Percy Harvin.

I will begin with the VBD table from 2010, which set the draft expectations for 2011. The table is sorted by standard-scoring VBD, which is calculated by subtracting the replacement player’s fantasy points—Kyle Orton, Chris Ivory, Ben Obomanu, and Ben Watson, in this case—from another player’s fantasy points. A few of the TE values are negative in the PPR column because the points from receptions dropped those players below Watson in value. The auction prices are based on a $200 per team budget.

Position Player Standard Points PPR Points Standard VBD PPR VBD Standard Price PPR Price
RB  Arian Foster 330 396 226.5 291.5 $66 $58
RB  Peyton Hillis 243.8 304.8 140.3 200.3 $41 $40
RB  Adrian L. Peterson 241.9 277.9 138.4 173.4 $40 $34
WR  Brandon Lloyd 210.8 287.8 137.4 184.4 $40 $36
RB  Jamaal Charles 240.7 285.7 137.2 181.2 $40 $36
WR  Dwayne Bowe 206.2 278.2 132.8 174.8 $39 $35
WR  Roddy White 198.9 313.9 125.5 210.5 $37 $42
WR  Greg Jennings 198.5 274.5 125.1 171.1 $36 $34
RB  Ray Rice 227.3 290.3 123.8 185.8 $36 $37
RB  Darren McFadden 226.4 273.4 122.9 168.9 $36 $33
RB  Rashard Mendenhall 222.7 245.7 119.2 141.2 $35 $28
RB  LeSean McCoy 219.7 297.7 116.2 193.2 $34 $38
RB  Michael Turner 217.5 229.5 114 125 $33 $25
RB  Matt Forte 216.1 267.1 112.6 162.6 $33 $32
WR  Mike Wallace 185.7 245.7 112.3 142.3 $33 $28
WR  Calvin Johnson 184 261 110.6 157.6 $32 $31
RB  Maurice Jones-Drew 204.8 238.8 101.3 134.3 $29 $27
RB  Chris D. Johnson 203.6 205.6 100.1 101.1 $29 $20
RB  Ahmad Bradshaw 203.3 250.3 99.8 145.8 $29 $29
QB  Michael Vick 316.32 316.32 98.24 98.24 $29 $19
WR  Reggie Wayne 171.5 282.5 98.1 179.1 $29 $35
WR  Hakeem Nicks 171.2 250.2 97.8 146.8 $28 $29
WR  Andre Johnson 169.6 255.6 96.2 152.2 $28 $30
RB  Steven Jackson 197.5 243.5 94 139 $27 $27
WR  Steve Johnson 167.3 249.3 93.9 145.9 $27 $29
QB  Aaron Rodgers 307 307 88.92 88.92 $26 $18
WR  Mike A. Williams 161.5 225.5 88.1 122.1 $26 $24
RB  BenJarvus Green-Ellis 187.3 199.3 83.8 94.8 $24 $19
WR  Jeremy Maclin 156.4 226.4 83 123 $24 $24
QB  Tom Brady 301 301 82.92 82.92 $24 $16
WR  Terrell Owens 152.3 224.3 78.9 120.9 $23 $24
WR  Larry Fitzgerald 149.7 239.7 76.3 136.3 $22 $27
WR  Mario Manningham 148.4 208.4 75 105 $22 $21
WR  Santana Moss 147.5 240.5 74.1 137.1 $22 $27
RB  LeGarrette Blount 176.9 219.9 73.4 115.4 $21 $23
WR  Miles Austin 146.5 215.5 73.1 112.1 $21 $22
QB  Philip Rivers 289.6 289.6 71.52 71.52 $21 $14
WR  Marques Colston 144.2 228.2 70.8 124.8 $21 $25
QB  Peyton Manning 287.8 287.8 69.72 69.72 $20 $14
WR  DeSean Jackson 141.6 188.6 68.2 85.2 $20 $17
RB  LaDainian Tomlinson 164.2 216.2 60.7 111.7 $18 $22
TE  Jason Witten 154.2 248.2 59.7 85.7 $17 $17
RB  Knowshon Moreno 163.1 200.1 59.6 95.6 $17 $19
WR  Braylon Edwards 132.4 185.4 59 82 $17 $16
WR  Kenny Britt 131.5 173.5 58.1 70.1 $17 $14
RB  Frank Gore 160.5 206.5 57 102 $17 $20
RB  Cedric Benson 159.7 170.7 56.2 66.2 $16 $13
QB  Drew Brees 272.5 272.5 54.42 54.42 $16 $11
RB  Fred Jackson 157.4 188.4 53.9 83.9 $16 $17
WR  Wes Welker 126.8 212.8 53.4 109.4 $16 $22
WR  Johnny Knox 126.4 177.4 53 74 $15 $15
WR  Anquan Boldin 125.7 189.7 52.3 86.3 $15 $17
WR  Lance Moore 124.3 190.3 50.9 86.9 $15 $17
WR  Derrick Mason 122.2 183.2 48.8 79.8 $14 $16
QB  Josh Freeman 264.32 264.32 46.24 46.24 $13 $9
WR  Brandon Marshall 119.4 205.4 46 102 $13 $20
WR  Percy Harvin 117.1 188.1 43.7 84.7 $13 $17
TE  Antonio Gates 138.2 188.2 43.7 25.7 $13 $5
WR  Pierre Garcon 114.4 181.4 41 78 $12 $15
QB  Matt Ryan 258.4 258.4 40.32 40.32 $12 $8
WR  Austin Collie 112.9 170.9 39.5 67.5 $12 $13
TE  Vernon Davis 133.4 189.4 38.9 26.9 $11 $5
RB  Brandon Jacobs 141.8 148.8 38.3 44.3 $11 $9
WR  Davone Bess 111.7 191.7 38.3 88.3 $11 $17
WR  Santonio Holmes 110.6 162.6 37.2 59.2 $11 $12
RB  Jahvid Best 140.6 198.6 37.1 94.1 $11 $19
WR  Michael Crabtree 110.1 165.1 36.7 61.7 $11 $12
RB  Mike Tolbert 140.1 141.1 36.6 36.6 $11 $7
TE  Marcedes Lewis 130 188 35.5 25.5 $10 $5
WR  Malcom Floyd 107.7 144.7 34.3 41.3 $10 $8
RB  Thomas Jones 137.8 151.8 34.3 47.3 $10 $9
WR  Chad Ochocinco 107.1 174.1 33.7 70.7 $10 $14
QB  Matt Schaub 251.64 251.64 33.56 33.56 $10 $7
RB  Felix Jones 137 185 33.5 80.5 $10 $16
WR  Mike Thomas 105.6 171.6 32.2 68.2 $9 $13
WR  Hines Ward 105.5 164.5 32.1 61.1 $9 $12
WR  Anthony Armstrong 105.1 149.1 31.7 45.7 $9 $9
WR  Nate Washington 104.7 146.7 31.3 43.3 $9 $9
RB  Michael Bush 132.6 150.6 29.1 46.1 $8 $9
WR  Deion Branch 100.6 148.6 27.2 45.2 $8 $9
WR  Jabar Gaffney 100.1 165.1 26.7 61.7 $8 $12
WR  James Jones 99.2 149.2 25.8 45.8 $8 $9
WR  Mike Sims-Walker 98.7 141.7 25.3 38.3 $7 $8
RB  Danny Woodhead 128.6 162.6 25.1 58.1 $7 $11
WR  Nate Burleson 98.5 153.5 25.1 50.1 $7 $10
QB  Joe Flacco 242.12 242.12 24.04 24.04 $7 $5
QB  Eli Manning 241.08 241.08 23 23 $7 $5
WR  Robert Meachem 93.8 137.8 20.4 34.4 $6 $7
RB  Ryan Mathews 123.7 144.7 20.2 40.2 $6 $8
TE  Rob Gronkowski 114.6 156.6 20.1 -5.9 $6 -$1
RB  Ryan Torain 122.9 140.9 19.4 36.4 $6 $7
WR  Dez Bryant 92.1 137.1 18.7 33.7 $5 $7
WR  Kevin Walter 92.1 143.1 18.7 39.7 $5 $8
RB  Tim Hightower 119.2 140.2 15.7 35.7 $5 $7
WR  Mike Williams 87.1 152.1 13.7 48.7 $4 $10
WR  Danny Amendola 86.9 171.9 13.5 68.5 $4 $14
QB  Matt Cassel 231.14 231.14 13.06 13.06 $4 $3
RB  Ronnie Brown 115.3 121.3 11.8 16.8 $3 $3
RB  Ricky Williams 115.3 143.3 11.8 38.8 $3 $8
QB  Carson Palmer 229.4 229.4 11.32 11.32 $3 $2
QB  David Garrard 229.26 229.26 11.18 11.18 $3 $2
WR  Roy E. Williams 83.8 120.8 10.4 17.4 $3 $3
TE  Kellen Winslow 103.3 169.3 8.8 6.8 $3 $1
TE  Chris Cooley 102.9 179.9 8.4 17.4 $2 $3
WR  Lee Evans 81.8 118.8 8.4 15.4 $2 $3
WR  Josh Morgan 81.8 125.8 8.4 22.4 $2 $4
WR  Eddie Royal 80.7 139.7 7.3 36.3 $2 $7
WR  Donald Driver 80.5 131.5 7.1 28.1 $2 $6
TE  Tony Gonzalez 101.6 171.6 7.1 9.1 $2 $2
QB  Jay Cutler 222.96 222.96 4.88 4.88 $1 $1
WR  Jordan Shipley 78 130 4.6 26.6 $1 $5
WR  Steve Breaston 77.8 124.8 4.4 21.4 $1 $4
TE  Zach J. Miller 98.7 158.7 4.2 -3.8 $1 -$1
TE  Dustin Keller 98.7 153.7 4.2 -8.8 $1 -$2
RB  Marshawn Lynch 107.1 128.1 3.6 23.6 $1 $5
TE  Brandon Pettigrew 96.2 167.2 1.7 4.7 $0 $1
RB  Jonathan Stewart 105 113 1.5 8.5 $0 $2
WR  Jacoby Jones 74.4 125.4 1 22 $0 $4
WR  Earl Bennett 74.1 120.1 0.7 16.7 $0 $3
WR  Brandon Gibson 74 127 0.6 23.6 $0 $5
QB  Kyle Orton 218.08 218.08 0 0 $0 $0
RB  Chris Ivory 103.5 104.5 0 0 $0 $0
WR  Ben Obomanu 73.4 103.4 0 0 $0 $0
TE  Ben Watson 94.5 162.5 0 0 $0 $0

The 2010 season told the same story we have always heard. The top player, Arian Foster, was a running back, as were six of the top ten by value. Michael Vick had an incredible year, but he should have been no more than the 20th overall selection behind 13 RBs and 6 WRs. The best TE, Jason Witten, had only the 42nd most value.

Continued in part 2.

  • CaptainHuggyFace

    Scott:

    How much more valuable are QBS with 6pts per TD? Would you move Brees, Rodgers, Stafford, and Brady up a slot or two?

    • http://www.nonewsjustsports.com Scott Spratt

      If you change the points for a TD pass from 4 to 6, it widens the gap between the elite QBs and the replacement level ones. Here are my calculations for 2011:

      Name VBD
      Aaron Rodgers 237.52
      Drew Brees 236.3
      Tom Brady 198.56
      Matthew Stafford 178.1
      Cam Newton 162.74
      Eli Manning 96.92
      Tony Romo 94.82
      Matt Ryan 87.58
      Philip Rivers 68.66
      Mark Sanchez 55.36
      Michael Vick 27.12
      Ryan Fitzpatrick 24.96
      Ben Roethlisberger 18.18
      Joe Flacco 5.3
      Andy Dalton 1.22
      Alex D. Smith 0

      Those numbers vault Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady to the first 3 overall selections (in a non-PPR league) and moves the other semi-elite QBs up versus other positions. It also devalues QBs who get many of their points from rushing, e.g. Cam Newton and Michael Vick.

  • CaptainHuggyFace

    Scott:

    Thanks!