The FPC and the Team Defense and Place Kicker Positions
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 Team Defense Position

Under the microscope this time around is the position of team defense. 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:

    Scoring system - Team Defense

  • 1 point for D/ST sack
  • 2 points for all turnovers
  • 6 points for all D/ST touchdowns
  • 5 points for every safety
  • 12 points for every shutout
  • 8 points for allowing between 1 - 6 points
  • 5 points for allowing between 7 - 10 points
  • So how do you analyze the impact of this scoring system to the current crop of potential fantasy team defenses? We need to dig into some numbers.

    First, let's take a look at 2010 production for this scoring system over the course of NFL Weeks 1-16. Why not Week 17? Two reasons. First, the FPC (and FFPC) end their contests in Week 16, and if you can recall last year's final week there were many "throwaway" games played out with teams resting players. That data would really not be valuable at all, so we focus on the first sixteen contests.

    Listed in Table 1 are all the NFL Team Defenses in descending order of fantasy points using the FPC scoring system. In addition, all the points are broken down by the component of the total scoring. Points from touchdown returns (six points each), turnovers (two points), sacks (one point), safeties (five points) and the points against (ranging each week from 0-12):

    Team Defense
    Def Pts
    TDs
    Turnovers
    Sacks
    Safeties
    Pts Vs
    Pittsburgh
    165
    24
    62
    43
    0
    36
    Green Bay
    159
    24
    60
    40
    0
    35
    Arizona
    151
    60
    60
    31
    0
    0
    NY Giants
    146
    0
    70
    45
    0
    31
    Detroit
    142
    24
    56
    41
    5
    16
    Chicago
    141
    24
    66
    31
    0
    20
    NY Jets
    139
    24
    48
    37
    10
    20
    Oakland
    138
    36
    44
    40
    10
    8
    New England
    135
    48
    36
    30
    0
    21
    San Diego
    131
    18
    42
    44
    5
    22
    Seattle
    130
    36
    42
    34
    5
    13
    Philadelphia
    128
    18
    66
    36
    0
    8
    Tennessee
    128
    18
    48
    39
    10
    13
    Atlanta
    125
    24
    58
    28
    0
    15
    Kansas City
    121
    24
    44
    35
    0
    18
    New Orleans
    119
    12
    46
    30
    5
    26
    St. Louis
    119
    0
    50
    43
    5
    21
    Dallas
    118
    36
    52
    30
    0
    0
    Baltimore
    115
    24
    44
    27
    0
    20
    Tampa Bay
    114
    24
    50
    23
    0
    17
    San Francisco
    107
    24
    40
    30
    0
    13
    Cleveland
    106
    18
    56
    27
    0
    5
    Indianapolis
    104
    30
    40
    29
    0
    5
    Miami
    104
    6
    36
    39
    5
    18
    Washington
    104
    18
    52
    29
    0
    5
    Carolina
    97
    6
    56
    30
    5
    0
    Buffalo
    94
    18
    42
    26
    0
    8
    Minnesota
    94
    12
    48
    29
    0
    5
    Cincinnati
    93
    12
    48
    23
    0
    10
    Jacksonville
    76
    6
    36
    26
    0
    8
    Houston
    72
    0
    32
    28
    0
    12
    Denver
    63
    6
    34
    18
    0
    5
    Averages
    118.1
    20.4
    48.9
    32.5
    2
    14.2

    Table 1: 2010 NFL Team Defense Scoring Under FPC Rules

    A few things stand out in Table 1. First, there is a clear reason why Pittsburgh and Green Bay squared off in February.

    The next item to notice is that the Cardinals greatly benefited by scoring on defense and special teams, racking up 10 touchdowns.

    The Giants were quite good at holding teams to 10 points or less with five such performances, on par with the Packers and just one fewer than the leading team in the category - Pittsburgh with six games in that same 0-10 points against range. Only four other teams even achieved more than 20 points from this category (New Orleans 26, San Diego 22, New England 21 and St. Louis 21). That's a big drop from 2009, when not only nine teams scored over 20 points in this "Points Against" category, but seven had over 30 points. The league average in 2010 was only 14.2 for Points Against for the year, down over 20% from the 2009 average of 18.5.

    A second look at this data would be a good idea, and this time it would be smart to look at the percentages of Team Defense scoring that comes from each category. Table 2 breaks this down nicely by percentages, with high and low percentages highlighted:

    Team Defense
    Def Pts
    TDs
    Turnovers
    Sacks
    Safeties
    Pts Vs
    Pittsburgh
    165
    15%
    38%
    26%
    0%
    22%
    Green Bay
    159
    15%
    38%
    25%
    0%
    22%
    Arizona
    151
    40%
    40%
    21%
    0%
    0%
    New York
    146
    0%
    48%
    31%
    0%
    21%
    Detroit
    142
    17%
    39%
    29%
    4%
    11%
    Chicago
    141
    17%
    47%
    22%
    0%
    14%
    New York
    139
    17%
    35%
    27%
    7%
    14%
    Oakland
    138
    26%
    32%
    29%
    7%
    6%
    New England
    135
    36%
    27%
    22%
    0%
    16%
    San Diego
    131
    14%
    32%
    34%
    4%
    17%
    Seattle
    130
    28%
    32%
    26%
    4%
    10%
    Philadelphia
    128
    14%
    52%
    28%
    0%
    6%
    Tennessee
    128
    14%
    38%
    30%
    8%
    10%
    Atlanta
    125
    19%
    46%
    22%
    0%
    12%
    Kansas City
    121
    20%
    36%
    29%
    0%
    15%
    New Orleans
    119
    10%
    39%
    25%
    4%
    22%
    St. Louis
    119
    0%
    42%
    36%
    4%
    18%
    Dallas
    118
    31%
    44%
    25%
    0%
    0%
    Baltimore
    115
    21%
    38%
    23%
    0%
    17%
    Tampa Bay
    114
    21%
    44%
    20%
    0%
    15%
    San Francisco
    107
    22%
    37%
    28%
    0%
    12%
    Cleveland
    106
    17%
    53%
    25%
    0%
    5%
    Indianapolis
    104
    29%
    38%
    28%
    0%
    5%
    Miami
    104
    6%
    35%
    38%
    5%
    17%
    Washington
    104
    17%
    50%
    28%
    0%
    5%
    Carolina
    97
    6%
    58%
    31%
    5%
    0%
    Buffalo
    94
    19%
    45%
    28%
    0%
    9%
    Minnesota
    94
    13%
    51%
    31%
    0%
    5%
    Cincinnati
    93
    13%
    52%
    25%
    0%
    11%
    Jacksonville
    76
    8%
    47%
    34%
    0%
    11%
    Houston
    72
    0%
    44%
    39%
    0%
    17%
    Denver
    63
    10%
    54%
    29%
    0%
    8%

    Table 2: 2010 NFL Team Defense Scoring Percentages By Category

    The first thought would be to worry about teams that put up a great deal of their points due to touchdown returns, as those seem to be riskier to reproduce from a previous season. Arizona sticks out like a sore thumb here with 40% of their defensive team points coming from touchdowns. The other concerning area would be for points against. Teams that struggle to hold teams down on the scoreboard would also be a concern. The interesting results in Table 2 are that the teams that scored a larger percentage of their points from touchdowns are also the ones that tend to get less value from holding teams to lower scores - which was also the trend in 2009. While that does make sense on some levels - these teams are going to be in more shootout-style contests - it is a nice check on the balance of their team scoring. Of course, this is not a 100% correlation, as Washington, Carolina and Minnesota struggled all year long and were near the bottom of many team defense categories.

    Now let's move on to the Place Kicker position.

    The Place Kicker Position

    Under the microscope now is the position of place kicker. 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:

    Scoring system - Place Kicker

  • 3 points for every FG of 1 - 30 yards plus 0.1 point for every yard thereafter
  • So how do you analyze the impact of this scoring system to the current crop of potential fantasy kickers? We need to dig into some numbers.

    No, not really.

    Sorry, folks. These are kickers. This is not that deep of an analysis here for place kickers. Odds are that most teams in the FPC will draft one kicker total for their team, so a list of your favorite 15 kickers will do just fine. The recommendation would be to target a kicker that will be on a good offense and be playing in good weather for the first two months of the season, as it is quite likely that you may switch kickers due to bye weeks between Weeks 5-11 on the NFL calendar.

    The other recommendation would be to look for both teams that might move the ball well but struggle to punch it across the goal line (Philadelphia had this problem last season, making David Akers a Top 5 kicker). Also consider teams and coaches that trot their kickers out there for longer attempts. Given that the scoring favors 30+ yard kicks (50 yard field goals are worth 5 or more points), take a long look at those kickers who have a track record of longer attempts. A quick look at the 2010 data for the top kickers sorted by 40+ yard attempts is shown in Table 3 (with Top 15 scorers highlighted):

    Rank
    Place Kicker
    Team
    FGM
    FGA
    Pct
    XPM
    XPA
    FPTs
    40+Yd
    Attempts
    9
    Dan Carpenter
    MIA
    30
    41
    73.20%
    25
    25
    115
    18
    15
    Josh Scobee
    JAX
    22
    28
    78.60%
    41
    41
    107
    14
    21
    Graham Gano
    WAS
    24
    35
    68.60%
    28
    28
    100
    14
    25
    John Kasay
    CAR
    25
    29
    86.20%
    17
    17
    92
    14
    2
    Sebastian Janikowski
    OAK
    33
    41
    80.50%
    43
    43
    142
    12
    1
    David Akers
    PHI
    32
    38
    84.20%
    47
    47
    143
    11
    10
    David Buehler
    DAL
    24
    32
    75.00%
    44
    42
    116
    11
    3
    Adam Vinatieri
    IND
    26
    28
    92.90%
    51
    51
    129
    10
    4
    Matt Bryant
    ATL
    28
    31
    90.30%
    44
    44
    128
    10
    11
    Mason Crosby
    GNB
    22
    28
    78.60%
    46
    46
    112
    10
    14
    Nate Kaeding
    SDG
    23
    28
    82.10%
    40
    40
    109
    10
    17
    Connor Barth
    TAM
    23
    28
    82.10%
    36
    36
    105
    10
    20
    Jay Feely
    ARI
    24
    27
    88.90%
    29
    29
    101
    10
    6
    Josh Brown
    STL
    33
    39
    84.60%
    27
    26
    126
    9
    31
    Shaun Suisham
    PIT
    14
    15
    93.30%
    19
    19
    61
    9
    8
    Billy Cundiff
    BAL
    26
    29
    89.70%
    39
    39
    117
    8
    12
    Rob Bironas
    TEN
    24
    26
    92.30%
    38
    38
    110
    8
    19
    Ryan Succop
    KAN
    20
    26
    76.90%
    42
    42
    102
    8
    33
    Dave Rayner
    DET
    13
    16
    81.30%
    16
    16
    55
    8
    7
    Neil Rackers
    HOU
    27
    30
    90.00%
    43
    43
    124
    7
    12
    Robbie Gould
    CHI
    25
    30
    83.30%
    35
    35
    110
    7
    16
    Olindo Mare
    SEA
    25
    30
    83.30%
    31
    31
    106
    7
    18
    Jeff Reed
    2TM
    24
    32
    75.00%
    32
    32
    104
    7
    21
    Garrett Hartley
    NOR
    20
    25
    80.00%
    40
    40
    100
    7
    5
    Nick Folk
    NYJ
    30
    39
    76.90%
    37
    37
    127
    6

    Table 3: 2010 NFL Place Kicker Scoring Sorted By 40+ Yard Attempts

    Parting Thoughts

    Every fantasy league and its rulebook are a little different. For the FPC and the FFPC, the scoring of Team Defenses is favorable to teams that both create turnovers and also keep the opposing teams off of the scoreboard. Even though giving up 10 points or less sounds like a rare event, it did occur 70 times in the first 16 weeks of the 2010 season, which equates to roughly 15% of all team scores through Week 16. The rate was even higher in 2009 (happening over 90 times of that season, which is about 19% of all team scores through Week 16). Finding a team that can hold a team to 10 or less is not easy (only six teams managed to do so four or more times through Week 16), but finding one can be a difference maker.

    As far as kickers go, there is not too much science to it other than grabbing one from a team that should have a productive offense. Snagging a kicker that kicks in a dome or has a coach that trusts him to kick from 45+ yards away is also a good benefit given the scoring system.

    Given the FPC setup of 20 roster spots, most teams will only dedicate one spot to each position of kicker and team defense. With that in mind, it can be of benefit to wait as long as possible to select your choice at both positions as long as you have a list of 15 or so options for each. Just be certain that you are wary of their bye weeks, for if they share one you may have to make two moves at once and it could be tough to keep one or both should you become enamored with either of your selections (for example, taking both the Ravens defense and Billy Cundiff may create roster headaches in Week 5).

    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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