The FPC and the Running Back Position
By Jeff Pasquino
August 18th, 2012

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 for their third season, ready to knock it out of the park once again in 2012.

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
    319.0
    195
    31
    132.5
    8
    2
    311.3
    187
    32
    131.5
    7
    3
    273.8
    149
    33
    128.6
    4
    4
    245.5
    121
    34
    125.3
    1
    5
    238.7
    114
    35
    124.4
    0
    6
    237.6
    113
    36
    124.2
    0
    7
    224.6
    100
    37
    122.1
    -2
    8
    221.7
    97
    38
    114.8
    -10
    9
    218.8
    94
    39
    113.7
    -11
    10
    218.2
    94
    40
    113.2
    -11
    11
    213.6
    89
    41
    112.7
    -12
    12
    213.2
    89
    42
    112.4
    -12
    13
    211.3
    87
    43
    111.6
    -13
    14
    204.4
    80
    44
    109.8
    -15
    15
    203.9
    79
    45
    108.3
    -16
    16
    201.9
    77
    46
    106.1
    -18
    17
    198.9
    74
    47
    105.8
    -19
    18
    189.5
    65
    48
    98.7
    -26
    19
    177.6
    53
    49
    96.6
    -28
    20
    173.1
    49
    50
    92.6
    -32
    21
    172.3
    48
    51
    91.1
    -33
    22
    166.2
    42
    52
    87.8
    -37
    23
    164.4
    40
    53
    86.6
    -38
    24
    160.1
    36
    54
    85.9
    -39
    25
    158.4
    34
    55
    84.4
    -40
    26
    158.2
    34
    56
    84.1
    -40
    27
    155.6
    31
    57
    76.6
    -48
    28
    150.6
    26
    58
    75.8
    -49
    29
    148.0
    24
    59
    74.4
    -50
    30
    145.4
    21
    60
    71.3
    -53

    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 27h 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 running backs 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 RB:

    Rank
    Points
    VBD
    DD ADP
    Rank
    Points
    VBD
    DD ADP
    1
    319.0
    195
    1
    31
    132.5
    8
    79
    2
    311.3
    187
    2
    32
    131.5
    7
    81
    3
    273.8
    149
    3
    33
    128.6
    4
    84
    4
    245.5
    121
    5
    34
    125.3
    1
    87
    5
    238.7
    114
    6
    35
    124.4
    0
    93
    6
    237.6
    113
    7
    36
    124.2
    0
    94
    7
    224.6
    100
    8
    37
    122.1
    -2
    97
    8
    221.7
    97
    10
    38
    114.8
    -10
    116
    9
    218.8
    94
    11
    39
    113.7
    -11
    121
    10
    218.2
    94
    12
    40
    113.2
    -11
    122
    11
    213.6
    89
    13
    41
    112.7
    -12
    126
    12
    213.2
    89
    14
    42
    112.4
    -12
    127
    13
    211.3
    87
    16
    43
    111.6
    -13
    132
    14
    204.4
    80
    19
    44
    109.8
    -15
    135
    15
    203.9
    79
    20
    45
    108.3
    -16
    138
    16
    201.9
    77
    23
    46
    106.1
    -18
    145
    17
    198.9
    74
    24
    47
    105.8
    -19
    146
    18
    189.5
    65
    29
    48
    98.7
    -26
    161
    19
    177.6
    53
    33
    49
    96.6
    -28
    165
    20
    173.1
    49
    37
    50
    92.6
    -32
    176
    21
    172.3
    48
    38
    51
    91.1
    -33
    181
    22
    166.2
    42
    45
    52
    87.8
    -37
    188
    23
    164.4
    40
    49
    53
    86.6
    -38
    191
    24
    160.1
    36
    55
    54
    85.9
    -39
    192
    25
    158.4
    34
    58
    55
    84.4
    -40
    197
    26
    158.2
    34
    59
    56
    84.1
    -40
    199
    27
    155.6
    31
    60
    57
    76.6
    -48
    214
    28
    150.6
    26
    65
    58
    75.8
    -49
    217
    29
    148.0
    24
    69
    59
    74.4
    -50
    219
    30
    145.4
    21
    71
    60
    71.3
    -53
    221

    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 with at least half of the round dominated by RBs, and Round 2 would be about 50% dedicated to RBs as well. If drafts went as predicted here, 17 out of the first 24 picks would be running backs and once Round 3 started, nearly everyone would look in another direction for at least one more pick. The value would start to come back for RBs in Rounds 4 and 5 and then practically every team would have two RBs by the middle of the fifth round. During Rounds 7 and 8 a major run would take place 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 four-deep at RB by the end of Round 13, 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 early FPC drafts and created 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
    81
    79
    2
    2
    2
    2
    0
    32
    83
    81
    2
    3
    3
    3
    0
    33
    85
    84
    1
    4
    4
    5
    -1
    34
    88
    87
    1
    5
    7
    6
    1
    35
    90
    93
    -3
    6
    9
    7
    2
    36
    93
    94
    -1
    7
    11
    8
    3
    37
    95
    97
    -2
    8
    14
    10
    4
    38
    97
    116
    -19
    9
    15
    11
    4
    39
    99
    121
    -22
    10
    17
    12
    5
    40
    103
    122
    -19
    11
    19
    13
    6
    41
    104
    126
    -22
    12
    21
    14
    7
    42
    107
    127
    -20
    13
    24
    16
    8
    43
    109
    132
    -23
    14
    27
    19
    8
    44
    113
    135
    -22
    15
    30
    20
    10
    45
    115
    138
    -23
    16
    33
    23
    10
    46
    119
    145
    -26
    17
    37
    24
    13
    47
    121
    146
    -25
    18
    41
    29
    12
    48
    124
    161
    -37
    19
    46
    33
    13
    49
    126
    165
    -39
    20
    52
    37
    15
    50
    128
    176
    -48
    21
    57
    38
    19
    51
    131
    181
    -50
    22
    60
    45
    15
    52
    135
    188
    -53
    23
    63
    49
    14
    53
    137
    191
    -54
    24
    65
    55
    10
    54
    141
    192
    -51
    25
    68
    58
    10
    55
    144
    197
    -53
    26
    69
    59
    10
    56
    146
    199
    -53
    27
    72
    60
    12
    57
    149
    214
    -65
    28
    74
    65
    9
    58
    153
    217
    -64
    29
    75
    69
    6
    59
    158
    219
    -61
    30
    79
    71
    8
    60
    161
    221
    -60

    Table 3: Draft Dominator FPC Mock vs. 2012 FPC Data - Comparison of ADPs

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

  • The Top 3 running backs are still the Top 3, 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, about half of 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 37-38 RBs to be rostered after 100 overall selections.

  • A 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 Arian Foster it would be foolish not to lock up Foster's full potential with his very capable understudy in Ben Tate. Should you not have Tate, the pain of losing Foster 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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