Make the playoffs!
As we reach the last weeks of the fantasy football regular season, we know that many of you are anxiously checking the waiver wire, looking at your bench and making important roster decisions. More than any other sport, every week in fantasy football is important and every extra point matters. We’ve all had to watch one of our benchwarmers put up the points that would have made the difference between winning and losing and it’s damned frustrating, isn’t it?
Not all players are created equal, even if their points are
Here at DraftMVP, we’ve got a particular emphasis: giving you the tools to analyze players statistics to make better roster decisions. In doing the analysis of player data in football, it’s clear to us that simply looking at a player’s total fantasy points is a woefully inadequate approach to putting together your most competitive roster. Some players are consistent contributors, getting routine touches and requiring little handholding (with the downside being that they’ll never put up major points). Others are absolute meteors, putting up 2 touchdown, 25 point performances one week and 2 points the next. You start them hoping for a stud performance but kick yourself when they put up a goose egg.
To give you some concrete examples, here are 4 players, using some relatively standard scoring conventions:
|Week||[PK#1] Olindo Mare||[PK#2] Mason Crosby||[WR#1] Larry Fitzgerald||[WR#2] DeSean Jackson|
Let’s look at Kicker #1. Olindo Mare has been either one of the highest or one of the lowest scoring kickers on a week-to-week basis, sometimes 3 points, sometimes 15 points. With a high average deviation, he is what we would call a “high variability” scorer. What the numbers tell us makes sense. Mare gets a huge proportion of his points from FG’s. Seattle has a streaky offense that has trouble moving the ball for consistent stretches, they’re just good enough to put themselves in position before stalling in the red zone, thus creating a lot of FG opportunities. But at other times, they cannot put together drives for scoring opportunities at all.
In the other extreme, Kicker #2 Mason Crosby is a solid performer every week, with little variability. He will almost always get you a solid 7 to 9 points. His average deviation is low, making him a “safe” start, but he has a lower ceiling than Mare has. And again, this makes sense. Green Bay is one of the highest-scoring and most consistent offensive teams. They sustain TD drives on a regular basis. A higher percentage of Crosby’s points come from PAT’s.
So Mare or Crosby? Their total points are very similar. But their statistical distribution are not. Before we answer the question, let’s go to our next comparison.
WR#1 Larry Fitzerald is a low variability scorer. He is one of the only blue-chip pass catchers on the Cardinals team, he will always get his touches. WR#2 DeSean Jackson is a high variability scorer. His points rely on big plays, giving him a high ceiling, but missed connections may mean a much lower-than-average performance.
Yeah, you may have already known this about Fitzerald and Jackson. They are two of the most high-profile stars. What we’re trying to show here is that the numbers support the theory and the gut instincts some of us more experienced players already feel. Now, in addition to the superstars we all know about, the numbers can also be used to point out the scoring characteristics of lesser known players, like your #2 or #3 WR.
What’s important to note here is that by thinking about your roster more analytically, you can make conscious decisions about what type of risk you’re willing to accept on your roster. Are you facing an opponent who’s got Adrian Peterson, Philip Rivers, Arian Foster, Brandon Lloyd and Antonio Gates? You’re probably going to want to roll the dice a bit and make sure you’ve got the Olindo Mares and DeSean Jacksons of the world starting. Shoot for the moon, hope the high variability players pan out, give yourself a chance! Yes, maybe some stars have to align. But that’s what’s fun, is the gamble. And sometimes you win and take down your opponent. The key is giving yourself that chance and not giving up before the games have even started.
Or maybe you’re facing an opponent who has more volatile players and no real stars – in that case, you’re probably going to prefer starting a lineup that is more consistent and dependable. The safer, low variability scorers. Why risk starting Mare when you know Crosby should get you the 6 to 8 points that you need? You’re confident knowing that as long as none of your players put up a goose egg, you SHOULD beat your opponent.
With that in mind, here are some players you should take a look at:
|Position||High Variability||% owned in Y! leagues||High Consistency||% owned in Y! leagues|
|K||John Kasay||16%||Josh Brown||7%|
|K||Dan Carpenter||76%||Matt Bryant||79%|
|WR||Austin Collie||85%||Arrelious Benn||4%|
|WR||Lee Evans||57%||Brandon Tate||25%|
|RB||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||79%||Brandon Jacobs||73%|
|RB||Chris Ivory||23%||Chester Taylor||11%|
|QB||Brett Favre||58%||Josh Freeman||58%|
|QB||Chad Henne||25%||Sam Bradford||43%|
|TE||Ben Watson||31%||John Carlson||31%|
|TE||Kevin Boss||23%||Heath Miller||55%|
Now, this list is just a start, but it should be a helpful way to identify some of the folks that might be on your rosters or on your waiver wire and if they’re worth sitting or starting. Leave us some comments below and tell us what you think of this approach and how we could add to it to help you win your league!