Last Week's Question: Should RB scores
in performance leagues be tweaked in response to a pass-happy NFL?
Strap yourselves in. We started this wild ride with intriguing (and
very different) answers from Joel and Andy last
week. We'll survey six more answers today to demonstrate that
there are too many perspectives on this particular subject for me
to offer anything close to a "consensus view."
I'll start with Ryan's answer because he explicitly agrees with
Darren's original point (about the diminishing impact of RBs):
Our league is in its fourth season now, and
if there's one thing I've noticed it's that running backs are having
a smaller impact. The first three seasons, each winning team has
had an elite qb. Coincidence? Possibly, but it's hard to ignore
that fact. It has not made me consider altering the running back
scoring (however, maybe I'll take a gander in the offseason), but
what it has done is reassessed drafting priorities. Not many people
in the league have noticed this trend yet, but I have started to
consider having an elite quarterback a much more important part
of fantasy football.
This is not to say that having an elite qb is the end all be all.
It still takes a solid group to win it all. Especially in our league
(16 teams, 1 qb, 2 rb, 2 wr, 1 te, 2 flex, 2 dp, 1 d/st) having
an elite qb cannot make up for having holes at other positions.
For instance, the (previous) owner of Drew Brees is 4-7 and Aaron
Rodgers is 2-9. This may make it seem that having an elite qb in
our league is worthless, but the top three teams in our league have
Manning, Romo and Brees (Formerly Ryan/Cutler until I poached Brees
away from the 4-7 team when he was 3-6). The difference between
the bad teams with elite qb's and the great teams with elite qb's
is the supporting cast. Brees' team has Forte and Gore, as well
as drafting Stacy, Allen, and Julius Thomas.
Overall, I think QB is definitely becoming a necessary position.
However, I think it's more important in smaller leagues where the
caliber of every starter is roughly the same. In larger leagues
(where the caliber of starters on each team varies widely), I think
you just need a consistently good quarterback surrounded by a good
Ryan's main point (that RBs may not be as important as they used
to be, but that it's on owners to adapt to the change) is echoed
Personally, I don’t want to see the scoring
change precisely because it is changing the dynamics of roster building.
Most years all you hear heading into the draft is “RB-RB-RB”
and the mantra was valid due to the steep value gradient caused
by a combination of scarcity and point production. If the RB top
10 scoring gets a little flatter, the first round choices are not
going to be what they used to be.
Fantasy Draft Day is the best day of the year, and variety is the
spice of life! Embrace the changes!
Years ago, Jeffrey's league went through a debate over scoring adjustments
before deciding against it. His logic isn't identical to Ryan's,
but his league is (like Ryan's) undergoing a change of attitude
about the relative value of QBs:
We are in the 8th year of our league, and a
few years ago, as points for QBs and WRs have gone up, ideas have
been floated regarding adjusting points to equal out the positions.
This would mean that QBs, RBs, WRs/TEs, DEF and K all score about
the same number of points on average.
This didn't gain any traction, nor should the concept of adjusting
RBs just because the NFL is increasingly pass-happy. While this
is "fantasy" football, it should be at least somewhat
reflective of "reality" football. QBs and WRs should have
increased value in fantasy, because they have increased value in
reality. Actual GMs and coaches have to change over time or get
left in the dust. Fantasy is no different. The days of automatically
drafting RB-RB are over.
First of all, while the dynamic has changed, the top RBs are still
at the top, excluding QBs. As of week 11, of the top RB/WR/TE, Calvin
Johnson is first in fantasy points, but followed by Marshawn Lynch,
Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, and Jamaal Charles. So the top RBs are
still extremely valuable. After that, it starts to vary. Rounding
out the top 10 are 3 WRs, 1 RB and 1 TE. Out of the top 25, there
are 14 WRs, 2 TEs and 9 RBs.
Our league places a lot of value on QBs. There are 17 QBs with more
points than Calvin Johnson, the highest scoring non-QB. And guess
what...that's the way it should be. QB is the most important position
on a team. And if you want to "blow" your first round
pick on a QB, then you either benefit or suffer from that decision.
The key to drafting well isn't who can get the best combination
of RBs in the first two rounds, but who drafts the best overall
team, based on the scoring rules of your league and the current
statistics in the NFL. I drafted Adrian Peterson with the #2 overall
pick (1st pick was Drew Brees). I was still able to draft Peyton
Manning, Brandon Marshall, DeMarco Murray, Larry Fitzgerald, Pierre
Garcon, Greg Olson and even grabbed Knowshon Moreno with my final
pick. I am 10-1 this season. I also picked up Alshon Jeffery and
Philip Rivers in free agency, eventually flipping them for Seattle
DEF after Manning's bye week. I needed an upgrade on DEF and barring
injury, Rivers and Jeffery weren't going to be in my starting lineup
(maybe Jeffery, but was willing to sacrifice).
So drafting Adrian Peterson with your first overall pick doesn't
automatically mean success or failure. It's about drafting the best
overall team and then working free agency throughout the season.
With all due respect to Darren, complaining about being in last
place because RBs aren't as valuable in today's league is like complaining
that you can't find a VCR to watch your favorite movie on VHS. Go
buy a Blu-Ray man...or better yet, stream it.
My favorite part of Jeffrey's response is the first two paragraphs,
in which he uses plain language to advance a philosophical position
regarding the relative value of skill positions in the NFL. The
response of his league to the question, "Should QBs score roughly
the same as kickers?" was simple: "No."
But how much difference should there be? When Brian joined a league
with a scoring system that created huge gaps between QBs and the
other skill positions, he started introducing modifications to level
the playing field:
The scoring system in a league makes or breaks
the league. There is nothing else more important than the scoring
system. I do understand your theory that everyone plays by the same
rules, but to me that does not justify using unfair or poorly constructed
scoring systems. After a lot of modifications over the years, I
have come up with this scoring system below. I feel it rewards (and
penalizes) players for their contributions to the game. The more
you're involved each week, the more points you get. I retired the
league after last season, before implementing the last change so
I did not get a chance to see how it worked out. But overall the
system in my eyes was a huge success. The original system that I
inherited when taking over the league is in parenthesis. The changes
occurred gradually over a 5-year period, as a way to see how each
change effected the league.
The LFN scoring system:
1 point per 25 yards passing (1 per 50 yards)
4 points per td (6 per td)
-2 points per int (same)
.1 points per completion (same)
-.1 points per incompletion (no negatives for incompletions)
1 point per 10 yards rushing (same)
6 points per rushing td (same)
.2 points per carry - never actually implemented before league retired
(no points per carry)
1 point per 10 yards receiving (1 per 20 yards)
6 points per receiving td (same)
.5 points per reception (same)
1 point per 50 return yards (same)
6 points per return td (same)
* return points are awarded to the individual player not the team
defense (def received return points not the player)
Default kicking scoring for field goals made (same)
* however a missed extra point was -5 points, a missed fg of 20
yards and less was -2 and a missed field goal of 21-30 yards was
-1 (no negative scoring)
Default team defense scoring (received return points.)
*minus the return points
As you can see, I didn't recreate the wheel. I just made some subtle
adjustments to the default scoring system with the goal of improving
an already effective system. The original system was tiered with
qbs being dominant, rbs being middle tiered and wr/te almost useless.
This new scoring system bridges the gap between these positions
and rewards players for things that usually get ignored during fantasy
like qb accuracy or being a workhorse rb for your team ( although
being a workhorse usually means scoring a lot of points or at least
the opportunity to score). Do you think this scoring system is a
fair and equal system which would keep rbs relevant like they were
back in the day?
Like Brian, Craig found it impossible to talk about tweaking scores
at the RB position without re-examining the underlying logic of
the scoring in his league from a holistic perspective.
Throughout the years we have tweaked our lineup
and scoring requirements to do our best to mimic the actual value
the NFL players provide to their teams. We are a ten-team league.
You MUST have 3 quarterbacks, 4 running backs, 4 receivers, 2 tight
ends, 2 kickers, two offenses, and two defenses on your roster –
no less – no more. We believe, and we think the NFL has shown,
that the quarterback is the make-or-break piece, more often than
not, on an NFL team. Admittedly, we are a quarterback-heavy league.
However, our scoring system is the same for all skill position players:
QB RB,WR, & TE: six points for every touchdown, whether thrown,
caught, or run in; 2 points for a two point conversion, whether
thrown, caught or run in; 1 point for every three carries; 1 point
for every 3 pass completions; 1 point for each reception; and 1
point for every 10 yards gained either rushing or receiving, but
not combined; Through the first 12 weeks, quarterbacks hold the
top 12 scoring positions and over the last 5 weeks quarterbacks
still hold 12 of the top 13 positions. But running backs are in
no way overshadowed by receivers. Over the first 12 weeks running
backs held 7 of the top 32 points scoring spots, while receivers
held only 3 of the top 32 scoring spots, the rest were filled in
by more quarterbacks. Over the past 5 weeks however, Calvin Johnson
has jumped to the number 3 spot, but that is an anomaly. Running
backs still hold spots 14, 16, 19, 27, 31 and 32. Receivers, on
the other hand are found at just positions 3 (Calvin) and 21, the
remaining positions are filled with receivers and running backs
at positions 32-64. Tight ends, over the last 5 weeks, don’t
appear until you get near that number 64 position.
We think that giving one point for every three carries keeps the
elite running back positioned where he should be and recognizes
the value of grinders like Jerome Bettis or Alfred Morris to their
NFL teams. Giving credit for rushing yardage to all positions acknowledges
the importance a receiver, who runs an end-around for big yardage,
or a quarterback who keeps one or more drives alive with 3-yard
We meet each Friday night. Waiver wire picks can only be made then.
It's normal for teams to look for players at ALL positions, which
tells me no one position has become so dominant that any one of
the other positions has become an afterthought. It may not work
for everyone, but it works for us.
I received a lot of detailed answers about scoring systems such
as the ones from Brian and Craig, but these two were the most clear.
I hope the other readers who submitted long notes can appreciate
that the column would become unreadable if I strung too many such
answers together. I also received short answers about how scoring
should work, such as this one from James:
Football is about SCORING, not how many completions,
receptions or carries a player gets or how many times he scratches
his sack……when your league scores avg over a 100, that’s
just ridiculous, way overboard. For 22 yrs ours have remained the
same, based on length of score, 0-10 yrds, 11-50 yrds, 51+, rb’s
and wr’s points are 6, 9, and 12….qb’s pts 3,5,7
and kickers 1,2,3 pts. Bonus 4pts for rb’s and wr’s
over 100yrds and qb’s over 300yrds. Then couple more for def
player and team def, that’s it. Our weekly avg score is 35-50pts
and an amazing week, in the 70’s.
James makes his thoughts on scoring very clear, and if that scoring
philosophy has sustained a league for 22 years, then he has every
right to be confident about his thought process. But what works
for James' league might not work for everyone. For James, it's obvious
that even though players shouldn't get points for receptions and
carries, they should get more points for long scores than short
scores. Other FFers might argue that James' rules don't go far enough
to mimic the NFL because, according to any NFL scoreboard, a 99-yard
TD is worth exactly as many points as a 1-yard TD. I'm not trying
to find fault with the system James advocates; I just want to point
out that different leagues will have different attitudes about how
scoring mechanics should work (as we saw in the difference between
Jeffrey's and Brian's answers to the question of whether there should
or should not be gaps between the different skill positions).
To return to Darren's original question, although I have heard from
various leagues that have tweaked the scoring at certain positions
over the years, I didn't hear from a single commissioner who thinks
that the stats from 2013 are sufficient to justify a change in scoring
solely at the RB position. That doesn't mean Darren's league shouldn't
make any changes it wants to make--as long as Darren's peers value
RB production as highly as he does.
Week's Question: Is this extortion?
A reader named Michael is in a position that some of us know all
too well. He doesn't simply need to win the final game of his league's
regular season to make the playoffs. He needs someone else to lose:
My season is over unless [the division leader]
loses next week, but he's up against an owner that has pretty much
This clown didn't start a TE last week because the only one left
on his roster (Julius Thomas) is injured. Plenty of TEs are out
there for the taking, but this deadbeat says that since he can't
make the playoffs, he's not going to pay a $5 transaction fee just
to play spoiler for me.
He says if I give him the money, he'll pick up whichever TE I choose
for him. What a douchebag!
Starting a full lineup is his responsibility. I shouldn't have to
pay for it.
I told him what he's doing is extortion, and it's illegal, but he
just laughed. So I told the commissioner, and he laughed too.
What would you do?
Yikes. Where do I start?
I guess I'll begin by telling you what I wouldn't do. Firstly, I
wouldn't join a league with $5 transaction fees if $5 is a big deal
to anyone involved (as it seems to be here).
Secondly, I wouldn't hesitate to give the other owner the $5 he's
asking for if I thought his team could realistically eliminate my
rival from the playoffs (though I would probably post a message
on the league website to explain what I was doing and why). Yeah,
it sucks for you that he's asking you to subsidize his team to do
something he should do on his own. But it also sucks for him that
he has to throw away good money (the transaction fee) after bad
(the already forfeited entry fee) just to complete a lineup.
Thirdly, even though I agree that this qualifies as a shakedown
and may, on some technical level, be "illegal," I can
guarantee you I wouldn't go throwing that word around. What would
the person behind the counter at your local police station say if
you actually tried to report this as a crime? I'm no lawyer, so
I don't know what s/he would say, but I suspect it would be hard
to make out through the gasps of laughter.
Now, as for what I would do, you've already taken the first step
by alerting your commissioner of the problem. I'm surprised the
commissioner didn't come up with a more workable solution (such
as waiving the fee for the Julius Thomas owner and inserting the
highest-rated unclaimed TE into his lineup). But since your commissioner
seems to think it's all right for this owner to demand the transaction
fee from you, I would try to make the best of the situation. I would
research the available tight ends and give the deadbeat owner the
money to pick up whichever unclaimed TE has the combination of the
most talent and the best matchup in Week 14 (not just the most points
I'm sorry if that sounds terribly amoral, but the fact that your
commissioner seems to be at peace with the deadbeat owner's shakedown
suggests that you're playing in a pretty amoral league. (I don't
care for such leagues, but there are plenty of them out there.)
Let me stress that however I responded to the shakedown, I wouldn't
do it in secret. I would explain everything and invite the league
to re-examine its policies to prevent this sort of thing from recurring.
If they think it's fine for you to pay another owner's transaction
fee for the privilege of selecting the player he will acquire, then
you just have to decide whether that's the kind of league you want
to participate in next year.
I doubt that I can get any responses back to Michael in time to
help him with his decision, but I am curious about what commissioners
do in leagues with transaction fees when owners who are out of playoff
contention are unable to submit complete lineups without acquiring
new players. I'm certainly interested
to know how commissioners might respond to Michael's plight
(apart from guffawing at it).
Survivor Picks - Week 14 (Courtesy of
#3: Baltimore over Minnesota (9-4: KC, NEP,
MN, NO, SF, DEN, MIA, GB, SEA, IND, NYG, HOU, DAL)
The Ravens aren't the Super Bowl-menacing team that they were last
year, but there are still enough champions on the roster who know
how to "get it done" when needed. They may require some
help to reach the postseason, but they need to take care of their
own business first by winning out. FACT: Ray Rice hasn't been healthy
all season, but he is almost healthy. Combine that with a defense
that has finally adjusted to life after the departure of Ray Lewis
and Ed Reed, and you have a formula for a decisive victory against
a Vikings team that is unsure of who their quarterback will be (Ponder
or Cassel). Adrian Peterson is always dangerous, so this contest
shouldn't be considered a "lock," but because the Ravens
basically need to win the remainder of their games, they must start
with the first one. And that game is this week. Welcome to the push
for the playoffs.
#2: Kansas City at Washington (9-4: DEN,
PHL, SF, IND, STL, HOU, GB, SEA, DAL, NYG, SD, DET, JAC)
How many times do you get the chance to take a visiting favorite
that is so far above its home opponent that it seems like "taking
candy from a baby"? Based upon the betting line in Vegas and
other "reputable" establishments, the Chiefs are only
favored by a field goal. Why? Because Denver has beaten the Chiefs
twice "handily," and if Denver can pull that off, then
everything else the Chiefs have accomplished this season is apparently
moot. Not true. Even after two losses to Denver, the Chiefs are
still a much better team this year than they were last year. They
are certainly better than the Skins, who have already been eliminated
from the postseason. Look for Kansas City to take advantage of any
missed opportunity by the Redskins. That is all the help a very
good Chiefs team will need to solidify another chance at playing
#1: Arizona over St. Louis (10-3: IND, OAK, SEA, DEN,
ATL, CHI, SD, SF, CAR, TEN, HOU, NO, NE)
Arizona has lost the last three meetings against the Rams, inclusive
of an early season 27-24 loss at St. Louis orchestrated by a fourth
quarter comeback led by Sam Bradford and Jared Cook. So why are
the odds makers saying that they are almost a touchdown favorite?
These are the same Rams that are 5-7 and have beaten some playoff-caliber
teams in Indianapolis and Chicago but are nevertheless underdogs
in the desert this week because of one thing: the Cardinals are
on a mission. Carson Palmer (the same quarterback who was thrown
into the dumpster by most NFL teams after his departure from Cincinnati,
went to Oakland as "veteran help," and now is a lineman
or two away from having a very solid offensive unit) hasn't played
in a playoff game since 2010 and would like nothing more than
to do that this year. The last time he suited up in January was
against the Jets, and a win this week against the Rams would get
the unheralded Cardinals one step closer to the playoffs. Arizona
has a 5-1 record at home this season and the 7th-best defense
in the league. Put that against a Rams offense ranked 25th in
the NFL, and that is why you take Larry Fitzgerald and company
Mike Davis has been writing about
fantasy football since 1999. As a landlocked Oklahoman who longs
for the sound of ocean waves, he also writes about ocean colonization
under the pen name Studio Dongo. The latest installment in his science
fiction series can
be found here.