The FPC and the Running Back Position
By Jeff Pasquino
July 31st, 2011

Footballguys continues to advance the world of fantasy football. With several additions to their offerings last year, the much heralded Best Online Content Site for 2009 joined the world of High Stakes Fantasy contests and made an instant splash. Joe Bryant and David Dodds teamed with David Gerczak and Alex Kaganovsky of the Fantasy Football Players Championship (myffpc.com) to create the first annual Footballguys Players Championship contest in 2010 and by all measures it was a huge success. Now the FPC and FFPC are back again, better than ever for 2011.

By studying the rules of both the FFPC and the FPC along with some of the history and previous performances by FPC players, insights can be found that will help many players to not only compete well in both contests but also to be in a position to win their league and be in the running for a top prize in the championship round.

As the summer rolls on, I will continue analyzing many aspects of the Footballguys Players Championship and the Fantasy Football Players Championship. Through these articles I hope to provide extra help with fully understanding how to best build a top notch fantasy team within the contest. As someone who has competed against the best players in the world and in several contests much like the FPC and the FFPC, I fully understand how every possible advantage and extra edge can make all the difference in the world.

The Running Back Position

Under the microscope this time around is the position of running back. According the rules of the Footballguys Players Championship, the rosters are as follows:

Starting Roster

  • 1 QB
  • 2 RBs
  • 2 WRs
  • 1 TE
  • 1 K
  • 1 D/ST
  • 2 flex players (RB/WR/TE)
  • With the following relevant scoring system in place:

  • 4 points for passing TDs, 6 points for all other TDs
  • 0.05 point for every 1 yard passing
  • 0.1 point for every 1 yard rushing or receiving
  • So how do you analyze the impact of this scoring system to the current crop of potential fantasy running backs? We need to dig into some numbers.

    First, let's take a look at both the projected scores for the Top 60 running backs this season and calculate some VBD numbers using the worst starter method (more on that in a minute). The results are in Table 1:

    Rank
    Points
    VBD
    Rank
    Points
    VBD
    1
    306.7
    151
    31
    148.1
    -8
    2
    280.8
    125
    32
    147.3
    -9
    3
    279.4
    123
    33
    145.1
    -11
    4
    275.5
    120
    34
    138.7
    -17
    5
    275.0
    119
    35
    135.7
    -20
    6
    270.0
    114
    36
    133.3
    -23
    7
    248.7
    93
    37
    131.4
    -25
    8
    248.1
    93
    38
    130.5
    -26
    9
    246.0
    90
    39
    127.5
    -29
    10
    245.4
    89
    40
    125.4
    -31
    11
    240.4
    84
    41
    122.1
    -34
    12
    235.7
    80
    42
    121.6
    -34
    13
    224.8
    69
    43
    118.6
    -37
    14
    218.1
    62
    44
    115.3
    -41
    15
    209.7
    54
    45
    114.9
    -41
    16
    200.2
    44
    46
    108.4
    -48
    17
    191.2
    35
    47
    108.2
    -48
    18
    188.8
    33
    48
    107.4
    -49
    19
    186.5
    30
    49
    105.7
    -50
    20
    182.5
    27
    50
    104.0
    -52
    21
    180.2
    24
    51
    101.9
    -54
    22
    180.2
    24
    52
    97.7
    -58
    23
    179.1
    23
    53
    96.5
    -59
    24
    178.2
    22
    54
    95.9
    -60
    25
    175.4
    19
    55
    95.5
    -61
    26
    175.0
    19
    56
    85.0
    -71
    27
    170.2
    14
    57
    84.4
    -72
    28
    161.0
    5
    58
    82.2
    -74
    29
    153.8
    -2
    59
    81.5
    -74
    30
    148.7
    -7
    60
    80.8
    -75

    Table 1: FPC Projected Fantasy Points For Top 60 Running Backs

    First a comment on the worst starter method. Even though only 24 RBs are necessary as starters (the rules require 2 RBs per team), the Dual Flex rule put more of them into play. As a result, the 28th running back is regarded as the last starter - meaning that some teams will be going with one RB as one of two flex players.

    The VBD does not do much for a complete analysis without some context of other positions. Looking at the Draft Dominator, we can run a mock draft to get a feel for when the various wide receivers are slated to come off of the draft board. Table 2 gives some more insight as to when the mock draft says to take a wideout:

    Rank
    Points
    VBD
    DD ADP
    Rank
    Points
    VBD
    DD ADP
    1
    306.7
    151
    1
    31
    148.1
    -8
    78
    2
    280.8
    125
    2
    32
    147.3
    -9
    80
    3
    279.4
    123
    3
    33
    145.1
    -11
    82
    4
    275.5
    120
    5
    34
    138.7
    -17
    83
    5
    275.0
    119
    6
    35
    135.7
    -20
    84
    6
    270.0
    114
    7
    36
    133.3
    -23
    86
    7
    248.7
    93
    9
    37
    131.4
    -25
    91
    8
    248.1
    93
    14
    38
    130.5
    -26
    92
    9
    246.0
    90
    16
    39
    127.5
    -29
    100
    10
    245.4
    89
    17
    40
    125.4
    -31
    102
    11
    240.4
    84
    18
    41
    122.1
    -34
    103
    12
    235.7
    80
    23
    42
    121.6
    -34
    104
    13
    224.8
    69
    24
    43
    118.6
    -37
    105
    14
    218.1
    62
    29
    44
    115.3
    -41
    106
    15
    209.7
    54
    33
    45
    114.9
    -41
    107
    16
    200.2
    44
    45
    46
    108.4
    -48
    130
    17
    191.2
    35
    49
    47
    108.2
    -48
    132
    18
    188.8
    33
    50
    48
    107.4
    -49
    135
    19
    186.5
    30
    51
    49
    105.7
    -50
    141
    20
    182.5
    27
    60
    50
    104.0
    -52
    142
    21
    180.2
    24
    61
    51
    101.9
    -54
    145
    22
    180.2
    24
    62
    52
    97.7
    -58
    161
    23
    179.1
    23
    63
    53
    96.5
    -59
    164
    24
    178.2
    22
    65
    54
    95.9
    -60
    165
    25
    175.4
    19
    66
    55
    95.5
    -61
    166
    26
    175.0
    19
    67
    56
    85.0
    -71
    170
    27
    170.2
    14
    68
    57
    84.4
    -72
    178
    28
    161.0
    5
    69
    58
    82.2
    -74
    180
    29
    153.8
    -2
    75
    59
    81.5
    -74
    181
    30
    148.7
    -7
    76
    60
    80.8
    -75
    184

    Table 2: Draft Dominator FPC Mock - ADP For Top 60 Running Backs

    Based on the results, the first round would seem to be all about running backs, and Round 2 would be about 50% dedicated to RBs as well. If drafts went as predicted here, 13 out of the first 24 picks would be running backs and once 15 went off of the board, nearly everyone would look in another direction for at least one more pick. The value would start to come back for RBs in Round 4 and then practically every team would have two RBs by the end of Round 5. Round 6 would then be a huge run on running backs as teams try and scoop up the last starters, either as their second RB or third back on their roster. Various mini-runs would hit over the next few rounds until most squads wind up being three-deep at RB by the end of Round 9, if not deeper.

    This is great for a mock draft, but how about some real life comparisons? With the help of Clayton Gray here at Footballguys, he has pulled together some great ADP data based on last year's drafts and married that with the current ADP data for all of the top players. We can use this information to compare against the Draft Dominator mock results. Here are both ADPs compared side-by-side and their relative differences:

    Rank
    FFPC ADP
    DD ADP
    ADP Diff
    Rank
    FFPC ADP
    DD ADP
    ADP Diff
    1
    1
    1
    0
    31
    77
    78
    -1
    2
    2
    2
    0
    32
    81
    80
    1
    3
    3
    3
    0
    33
    83
    82
    1
    4
    4
    5
    -1
    34
    86
    83
    3
    5
    6
    6
    0
    35
    89
    84
    5
    6
    7
    7
    0
    36
    92
    86
    6
    7
    10
    9
    1
    37
    94
    91
    3
    8
    14
    14
    0
    38
    97
    92
    5
    9
    18
    16
    2
    39
    100
    100
    0
    10
    23
    17
    6
    40
    103
    102
    1
    11
    26
    18
    8
    41
    105
    103
    2
    12
    28
    23
    5
    42
    109
    104
    5
    13
    31
    24
    7
    43
    112
    105
    7
    14
    33
    29
    4
    44
    114
    106
    8
    15
    35
    33
    2
    45
    119
    107
    12
    16
    37
    45
    -8
    46
    122
    130
    -8
    17
    40
    49
    -9
    47
    127
    132
    -5
    18
    42
    50
    -8
    48
    129
    135
    -6
    19
    45
    51
    -6
    49
    134
    141
    -7
    20
    47
    60
    -13
    50
    139
    142
    -3
    21
    50
    61
    -11
    51
    141
    145
    -4
    22
    52
    62
    -10
    52
    147
    161
    -14
    23
    54
    63
    -9
    53
    151
    164
    -13
    24
    57
    65
    -8
    54
    155
    165
    -10
    25
    59
    66
    -7
    55
    161
    166
    -5
    26
    61
    67
    -6
    56
    163
    170
    -7
    27
    64
    68
    -4
    57
    169
    178
    -9
    28
    67
    69
    -2
    58
    173
    180
    -7
    29
    70
    75
    -5
    59
    178
    181
    -3
    30
    74
    76
    -2
    60
    181
    184
    -3

    Table 3: Draft Dominator FPC Mock vs. 2010 FPC Data - Comparison of ADPs

    Several key facts can be pulled from Table 3 about running backs and FPC scoring:

  • The Top 6 running backs are still the Top 6, mock or no mock. They are the clear class of the class according to everyone's outlook right now.
  • After the first tier is over, most FPC teams will look in a different direction that RB with their first round selection. Running backs are still important, but he perceived value lies in becoming more dominant at other positions.
  • After teams grab their first running back, value slides about a half to a full round for RB2s and RB3s. The phenomenon of RBBC coupled with studs at QB, WR and TE push the value of RB down the chart.
  • The values start to agree again near Rounds 8 and 9, where both the real drafts and the mock forecast 39 RBs to be rostered after 100 overall selections.
  • A run at the running back position can be expected, but it appears to be more likely in Round 3 or 4 than in Round 2. Drafters tend to want to grab either a stud RB and WR or another combo (such as WR/WR, QB/RB or QB/TE) before scooping up the remainder of the value in the RB pool.
  • A second run on RBs is expected in Round 5-6 right about when RB20 goes off of the draft board. Teams will start to realize that there are few clear starting backs left, and teams with at least two will have an advantage - and those with three could be dominant.
  • Parting Thoughts

    Every fantasy league and its rulebook are a little different. For the FPC and the FFPC, the configuration of the scoring and the rosters really emphasize the running back position. The Dual Flex rule allows teams that have four dominant rushers to all count each week, which is a huge advantage. That sounds great, but the likelihood of one squad cornering the market on feature rushers is very unlikely. That means teams have to address RB as much as they can but still get depth at WR and TE to cover a likely shortfall of stud running backs. Odds are high that many teams will use at least one rusher as one of two flex spots each week, but if the injury bug hits or a projected starter winds up as the second back in a committee, other options have to be used to field a competitive roster.

    So what is the right answer? Grab your starters and a third RB reasonably early then look for value throughout the draft. Should luck and fate shine upon you (and the right mix of injuries both miss your roster and hit one of the guys in front of your backups) then you could get the ultimate roster of four starting running backs. Odds are against that, however, but to push towards the ultimate prize of the FPC it will likely be for a team with studs across their lineup in December. When in doubt, take a running back.

    That leads us to a final point on your team's running backs - do not be shy about grabbing the backup (or "handcuff") to the first RB you draft. With a top pick invested in a guy like Adrian Peterson it would be foolish not to lock up Rice's full potential with his very capable understudy Toby Gerhart. Should you not have Gerhart the pain of losing Peterson will be hard to digest and overcome. With 20 roster spots, plan on having one handcuff on the squad.

    It takes a little time to get your mind wrapped around a new contest with a new set of rules, but the time spent is often well worth it if the goal is to field a competitive team. Giving a little bit of effort to get a greater understanding of the twists and turns to the rulebook can give turn a good fantasy player into a great one and a great player into a dominant force. Knowledge is power - so be as powerful as you can!

    Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.

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