With 6 weeks of NFL football in the books, I decided to dive into the stats to see which players I need to get into my lineups going forward.
As always, I went to my go-to site for football data, pro-football-reference, for the weekly player stats. I also gathered data on team defenses from various sites to create my team defenses file (defensive stats include week 7 stats through the Sunday night game). I uploaded all the data into Qlik Sense to crunch the numbers and analyze the data. My analysis consisted of 3 main stat categories (per game): touchdowns, average fantasy points scored, and team defensive stats. My calculations for Total Fantasy Points (FPTS) was calculated using the scoring from one of my season long leagues. The scoring in the league loosely mirrors the scoring on FanDuel. Here is how total fantasy points is calculated:
Passing TD = 4pts Rush/Rec TD = 6pts
Passing Yards = 0.04pts per yard Rushing / Receiving Yards = 0.10pts per yard
Passing Interceptions = -1pt Receptions = 0.50pts per reception
Average Fantasy Points per Game
The top 10 fantasy points per game leaders consists of 7 quarterbacks, led by rookie DeShaun Watson (23.2), and 3 running backs, led by another rookie Kareem Hunt (22.5). Only 2 wide receivers ranked in the top twenty (Antonio Brown (17.7) and A.J. Green (16.9)). The top scoring tight end, Zach Ertz (13.6), ranked 39th overall in points per game.
Points Distribution per Game
Obviously, you want to roster players who score the most points. You are also trying to minimize your risk. To do this, you want to look for players whose points are more evenly distributed across the different scoring categories as opposed to relying on total touchdowns scored. Here you can see, by player, the breakdown of average scoring by category per game. As you go through the chart, you will see that some of the most coveted fantasy football players score many of their points in areas other than touchdowns. A couple of examples include: Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (WR) – of Antonio Brown’s 17.7 average points scored per game, only 2 PPG have been by way of touchdown. Brown earns most of his points through yards gained (11.7 PPG) and total receptions (4.0 PPG). Also, Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt (RB) – Of Hunt’s 22.5 points scored per game, touchdowns scored account for only 6.0 PPG whereas yards account for 14.8 PPG and receptions 1.8 PPG.
Touchdowns Scored per Game
There is no surprise that the list of total touchdowns is dominated by quarterbacks. What is surprising is that rookie DeShaun Watson leading the way with 17 total touchdowns (2.8 TDs /GM). The running backs with the most total touchdowns (7 TDs) includes rookie, Leonard Fournette (1.2 TDs/GM), as well as, Melvin Gordon (1.2 TDs /GM) and Todd Gurley (1.2 TDs /GM). DeAndre Hopkins and Jordy Nelson lead wide receivers with 6 TDs (1 TDs/GM) each. Cameron Brate (0.8 TDs/GM), Zack Ertz (0.7 TDs/GM), and Rob Gronkowski (0.7 TDs/GM) lead the tight ends with 4 TDs each.
Defenses to Target / Avoid
Throughout the NFL, there are a handful of teams that you want to avoid rostering players against and others in which you can’t roster enough. When rostering running backs, you should look to the players on teams playing the Colts (10 RUTDA), 49ers (8 RUTDA), and Rams (8 RUTDA). Conversely, you would want to avoid players on teams playing the Broncos (0 RUTDA), Vikings (1 RUTDA), and the Giants and Falcons (2 RUTDA).
When looking at quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends, you want to roster players on teams playing the Patriots and the Jets (15 PATDA), as well as the Giants, Browns and Cardinals (14 PATDA). Steer clear of players on teams playing the Jaguars (4 PATDA), the Bills and the Seahawks (5 PATDA). The defenses allowing the most total touchdowns (20 TD) are the Cardinals, Colts, Jets, and 49ers.
Finally, if you are looking to target against defenses which average the most plays allowed from scrimmage per game you want to look at players on teams playing the 49ers (70.7 plays), the Giants (68.7 plays) and the Cardinals (67 plays). Conversely, the Panthers (54.6 plays), the Broncos (57.8 plays) and the Dolphins (58.2 plays) are teams allowing the least amount of offensive plays.
While there is no perfect formula for predicting future player success, analyzing data from past games, allows for more clarity of what is most probable to happen in the future. With the analysis outlined above, I have only begun to scratch the surface of the more detailed analysis that could be performed. My plan is to go deeper, to look at player volatility. For example, what is the player’s floor vs ceiling and how far from average does that player deviate. For weekly fantasy football, this will allow me to build line-ups for both cash games, where I want more reliable scoring, and tournaments where I more willing to take a calculated risk and look for players with a higher ceiling and bigger point deviation. Hmmm…sounds like I have a topic for my next blog. Here is a link to the qvf if you would like to dig in and see what the data tells you.
Here’s to hoping you finish the fantasy football season strong!