By Anthony Reimer (@mrmeseeksff)
For most fantasy football fans, June is the Hump Month of the NFL season. The excitement of the NFL Draft and free agency are long in the past. The excitement of real live football seems excruciatingly distant. For a lucky few however, June is Fantasy Christmas. If you were lucky enough to be selected to the prestigious Scott Fish Bowl (SFB) 8, this annual tournament will be your chance to prove your worth against both your peers and your idols.
Last season, Scott added an unexpected twist to the SFB scoring: point per first down (PP1D). While some attributed this addition to Scott’s long running war against wide receivers, he explained that it was intended to give people something new to think about in player evaluation. SFB is supposed to be for the truly great fantasy minds, so a simple point per reception (PPR) or point per carry (PPC) wouldn’t suffice. The fact that it devalued wide receivers so heavily was just a bonus.
This year, Scott evened things out a little bit by lowering the PP1D to only a half point for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. Meanwhile, he added half a point for each reception to those positions as well. Since Scott loves tight ends, he kept the tight end premium aspect, giving them a full point per first down and a full point per reception.
There is still a problem that remains for some fans: first down statistics can be hard to find and even harder to put into context. So, I decided to help out. Below you will see the percentages of running back attempts, running back targets, wide receiver targets and tight end targets which went for a first down. In other words, the number of times the player received a first down divided by the number of attempts or targets the player received in that category. The goal here is to give an idea of how efficient players were in this area.
Running Back Attempts (minimum 115 carries)
A couple things stand out to me about the running back group. For starters, while Leonard Fournette is a great player, he may be slightly overvalued in this format. His lack of involvement in the passing game means he won’t benefit much from the half point PPR scoring, and his lack of efficiency compared to running backs with similar carry totals means he won’t benefit as much from the half point PP1D scoring. Another standout is Alex Collins and the Ravens backfield as a whole. Both Collins and Javorius Allen had above average efficiency rates. Collins seems like a nice 4th or 5th round investment and Kenneth Dixon is a good stash in the double digit rounds. Finally, Alvin Kamara. He’s really good. Enough said.
Running Back Targets (minimum 45 targets)
In the passing game, Fournette’s efficiency went up, which is an encouraging sign. However, I once again question the volume he’ll see in that aspect of the game. It’s rare to find a bigger fan of Tarik Cohen than me but I think he may be overvalued in this format. If he qualified in the attempts category, he would have been close to the bottom in efficiency there as well. Given the amount of weapons and his role in the offense, he’ll need to improve that efficiency in order to be a reliable week to week starter. Personally I’d rather take a shot on guys like James White or Chris Thompson who have the potential for similar volume, with much more efficiency. Also, in case you missed it, Alvin Kamara is really good.
Wide Receiver Targets (minimum 75 targets)
While wide receivers matter less than other positions in this scoring format, it is still good to notice some trends. First among them deals with the true “number 1” wide receivers. Of the players that received the most volume, the wide-outs tied to quality quarterbacks were the most efficient with first downs. Guys like Antonio Brown, Keenan Allen and Michael Thomas were all well above average, while guys like Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins and AJ Green were at or below average. So, if you’re going to use the draft capital to invest in one of these top talent wide-outs, make sure you’re comfortable with his quarterback. Another player that stood out to me was Cooper Kupp. Despite being labeled as an “underneath, slot receiver” he still had one of the best 1st down efficiencies. This shows me that Head Coach Sean McVay had some trust in Kupp in 3rd down situation. It also showed that Kupp was able to justify that trust. One more thing to note: with wide receivers, it is best to not only look at their efficiency but to compare it to players with similar situations and skill sets. So comparing your “deep threats” to guys who work the underneath routes or to volume hogs may lead to inaccurate conclusions.
Tight End Targets (minimum 60 targets)
The tight end premium scoring will make this one of the most interesting positions in your draft. The obvious standout is Gronkowski. His 54% efficiency is not only best among tight ends, but best across all positions. While running back and quarterback are king, this leads me to believe Gronk is easily worth a late 1st or early 2nd round pick. If this efficiency holds, Gronk will get two points more than half the time Tom Brady throws a ball his way. Travis Kelce is a standout as well, but given the addition of Sammy Watkins and the change at quarterback, I’m a little more hesitant to put him in that tier. That doesn’t mean if you miss out on Gronk you’re screwed. There are still some good names that were average or above average that will be available in the mid to late rounds. Both Kyle Rudolph and Delanie Walker should be available in the 4th or 5th rounds, and should be able to help you utilize this premium scoring. Jared Cook sticks out as well. He’s an unattractive name that can be had late and posted above average first down efficiency.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you’re in SFB8 congratulations! You got the golden ticket. Enjoy it and I hope this is useful to you. The only thing I ask is please make a donation to Fantasycares.net. It really is a great cause. Since SFB8 is free, view it as a league fee. The amount you’ll fun you’ll have and the jealousy of your peers will more than pay you back. If you’re not in SFB8 take this data and join one of Scott’s SFB9 satellite leagues on FantasyCare.net. Not only will you help buy toys for needy children, you could also win an automatic entry into SFB9.