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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

RB Scoring Discussion Postponed Due to Tryptophan
Q & A: Week 13

Last Week's Question: Should scores for running backs be tweaked in performance leagues?

In my column for Week 12, I shared one reader's concern about decreased RB productivity in 2013. I'm not sure the problem is as significant as Darren makes it out to be, but I will concede that the top RBs of 2013 aren't performing quite as well as top RBs in recent years. This may just be a statistical anomaly, but it may be (as Darren suspects) connected to recent rule changes in the NFL that seem to favor the passing game.

I had no idea that the question would trigger such heated and thoughtful responses from so many readers. Consider Joel's reaction:

How about instead of a knee-jerk reaction like changing the scoring, people change the way they draft running backs? [Darren] drafted Peterson in a down year, but does that really necessitate a change in how running backs are scored? "I can’t win my league drafting RB-RB, so change the scoring." [Maybe he should consider changing] the way [he] drafts [instead of changing] the scoring system just so [he] can continue drafting like [he] did five years ago. It is almost to the point of why not make all positions score the same? Aren’t the different positions supposed to score differently? Isn’t that what fantasy sports are about, taking a bunch of players at different positions and trying to build a high-scoring team? In the one league that I run, we have adjusted the scoring, but it wasn’t to make the wide receivers score as much as a running back would or vice versa. It’s the [w]ussification of fantasy football when we have to figure out how to even out the scoring.

My apologies for all the editorial modifications, but Joel wrote the middle section of his response as if he was speaking directly to Darren, which could be confusing to some readers. The "wussification" change was made in order to keep Joel's note family friendly. If you're curious about the word that Joel used in his note, you only need to change that first letter.

Like Joel, Andy saw Darren's question as an opportunity to reflect on what a fantasy scoring system should accomplish. But he took a much more statistical approach:

Our league is one of few that I know of that awards QBs a point for each completion and RBs a point for each carry – in addition to fairly standard ppr scoring.

Consider this hypothetical (especially for PPR leagues), why is it that player 1) gets 11 points for 5 receptions and 60 yards, player 2) gets 11 points for 5 receptions and 60 yards and player 3) gets only 6 points for 60 yards? Player 1 is Jarrett Boykin, Player 2 is Ogbannaya, and Player 3 is Alfred Morris on 7 carries.

We believe that our award system better accounts for position scarcity, performance, effectiveness, and percent of game plan. In our league, Morris with 7 carries and 60 yards would get 13 points in the above scenario. He’s a slightly greater portion of the game plan and a carry is really equal to a reception conceptually.

From an overall standpoint our league’s weekly point totals are high – in the neighborhood of 175-200 is a pretty good week. Qbs with a point for each completion have the most value, but there is a pretty good distribution after the elite couple – the highest totals can be up around 60+ points per week for a Manning or Brees. Average QB scores are 45-50ish. RBs have the 2nd most value at the elite level where there are or five’ish – their totals push about 50 per week like a Marshawn Lynch or Jamaal Charles. Average is 28-35 ish. WRs and TEs have fewer points per week. An elite WR or TE score ends up being around 30-35 with average being in the 20 range.

To me those numbers also better reflect the relative scarcity of their positions around the league. It’s a rare RB that is not in a committee and can take over a game (Lynch this year or Peterson last year) and their scores should reflect that scarcity on a regular basis.

My problem this week is twofold. Firstly, the responses of Joel and Andy barely scratch the surface of the feedback from readers that I would like to cover. But secondly--and much more importantly--the Q&A column that appears on Thanksgiving Day is invariably my least read column of the year.

I know how you guys are. You don't sit around thinking, "Boy, I can't wait for the next installment of Q&A on FFToday." Most of you only know about Q&A because it flies far enough under the radar not to have been blocked by whoever is in charge of policing the internet at your place of work. To put things as simply as possible in the language of Office Space: You read Q&A when your boss thinks you are filling out TPS reports.

Compared to doing ordinary paperwork, reading this column may seem like fun. But compared to getting a second helping of turkey and sitting down to watch the Cowboys or Lions, Q&A isn't very much fun at all. That might not stroke my ego, but it is the reality of the situation, which means that if I were to use this column to showcase all the great responses I received to Darren's question, then I would be showcasing them for a much-smaller-than-usual audience in Week 13.

Well, I'm not going to fall for that trap this year. I liked the responses I received to last week's question so much that I'm going to postpone sharing the bulk of them for one week. Consider the notes from Joel and Andy an appetizer. We'll get to the meat (turkey!) and potatoes (mashed!) next week.

Next Week's Question: How should scoring mechanics work?

The most interesting characteristic of the responses I received to my Week 12 question was that so many readers used Darren's plight as an opportunity to talk about how scoring should work (either across positions or as a way of separating the top performers at any one position from their average counterparts). If you feel like waxing philosophical on the subject of fantasy scoring, now's your chance to get on a soapbox.

Survivor Picks - Week 13 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

Trap Game: Tampa Bay at Carolina
The Carolina Panthers are riding high. Second in their division at 8-3, they are handily in control of their own playoff destiny. On top of that, their defense has allowed only two first half touchdowns all season and has given up the fewest points in the NFL (only a little over 13 points per game). So it would make sense to take the Panthers at home against a Buccaneers team that cut its opening day starting quarterback (Freeman), has lost two running backs to Injured Reserve, and started the season 0-8. But Bucs fans may have found something in Mike Glennon and Bobby Rainey. If so, Carolina will have a hard time believing that they are playing against the 4th-worst scoring offense (31st in yards gained). After winning the last three games, why can't Tampa Bay continue the streak?

#3: Dallas over Oakland (8-4: KC, NEP, MN, NO, SF, DEN, MIA, GB, SEA, IND, NYG, HOU)
Fresh off their win last week against rival New York that almost certainly kills the Giants' playoff chances, you might expect a letdown from Dallas against an Oakland team that is still trying to find its identity. That isn't the case with the Cowboys. Although the Cowboy defense has had its troubles, this Raiders offense doesn't scare anyone (especially with the dual threat of Terrelle Pryor out). Darren McFafadden is expected to return to the field as a complement to Rashad Jennings, but it won't be enough to beat a Dallas team that won the last meeting in 2009 by a score of 24-7.

#2: Jacksonville at Cleveland (8-4: DEN, PHL, SF, IND, STL, HOU, GB, SEA, DAL, NYG, SD, DET)
The Jaguars come off a squeaker over a Houston Texans team in total disarray (see below for further info) and this week face a Browns team on a 2-game skid. As if the losses aren't bad enough, the Browns are also visibly moving backward at the QB position by relying (once again) on their ineffective opening day starter, Brandon Weeden. The fact that Maurice Jones-Drew is playing for a contract (with any team next year) and has started to show the flash of his younger years should put fear in linebackers trying to find this 5’6” running back as he darts through the holes. Combine that with a serviceable quarterback in Chad Henne who manages the game better than his backup Blaine Gabbert, and you have the formula for an UPSET in Cleveland. This is not a trap game as the Jags are going in the right direction and thus my number two pick this week.

#1: New England at Houston (9-3: IND, OAK, SEA, DEN, ATL, CHI, SD, SF, CAR, TEN, HOU, NO)
The New England Patriots always seem to "get healthy" and play their best football as we get into late November. This year is no exception with a great 24-point comeback against the team everyone expected to represent the AFC in this year's Super Bowl (Denver). Meanwhile, nothing seems to be going right in Houston with Gary Kubiak yanking Case Keenum in favor of Matt Schaub in the middle of last week's game. But the Texans' faults aren't limited to just the quarterback position. The defense has given up the 6th-most points per game while their offense is 30th in points per game. This is not a winning formula for a team that went from being a preseason playoff contender to its current 2-9 record, not to mention a media circus that features a star receiver saying "We suck" on offense and leaves the rest of the NFL wondering if Kubiak will keep his job after a very disappointing season. Barring a total fluke and assuming that you haven't used Brady and company yet, take the Patriots as we flip the calendar into December and watch Belichick pull the strings on another playoff run.

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.