The FPC and the Team Defense and Place Kicker Positions
By Jeff Pasquino
July 28th, 2010

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Footballguys continues to advance the world of fantasy football. With several additions to their offerings once again in 2010, the much heralded Best Online Content Site for 2009 has joined the world of High Stakes Fantasy contests. Joe Bryant and David Dodds have teamed with David Gerczak and Alex Kaganovsky of Fantasy Football Players Championship (myffpc.com) to create the first annual Footballguys Players Championship contest.

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 2009 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
    New Orleans
    175
    54
    78
    33
    0
    10
    Philadelphia
    172
    36
    74
    42
    10
    10
    San Francisco
    172
    24
    66
    36
    0
    46
    Green Bay
    165
    24
    74
    37
    0
    30
    Denver
    153
    24
    56
    39
    0
    34
    NY Jets
    152
    24
    56
    29
    0
    43
    Baltimore
    151
    24
    60
    29
    0
    38
    New England
    139
    18
    54
    30
    0
    37
    Minnesota
    137
    18
    44
    45
    5
    25
    Carolina
    133
    6
    68
    31
    10
    18
    San Diego
    133
    30
    52
    33
    5
    13
    Houston
    130
    24
    50
    28
    10
    18
    Cincinnati
    128
    24
    50
    34
    0
    20
    Chicago
    125
    18
    52
    32
    5
    18
    Dallas
    125
    18
    40
    37
    0
    30
    Arizona
    124
    18
    56
    42
    0
    8
    Buffalo
    122
    12
    60
    32
    0
    18
    Cleveland
    122
    24
    36
    36
    5
    21
    Indianapolis
    122
    18
    52
    34
    0
    18
    Kansas City
    121
    30
    52
    21
    5
    13
    NY Giants
    121
    24
    48
    32
    0
    17
    Atlanta
    120
    18
    52
    27
    0
    23
    Tampa Bay
    114
    30
    52
    27
    0
    5
    Miami
    113
    24
    38
    41
    0
    10
    Seattle
    112
    18
    42
    28
    0
    24
    Pittsburgh
    110
    18
    38
    44
    0
    10
    Tennessee
    110
    24
    52
    29
    0
    5
    Detroit
    98
    18
    46
    24
    10
    0
    Oakland
    83
    0
    40
    33
    0
    10
    Washington
    81
    0
    32
    39
    0
    10
    St. Louis
    78
    6
    40
    22
    0
    10
    Jacksonville
    62
    0
    48
    14
    0
    0
    Averages:
    125.1
    20.3
    51.8
    32.5
    2
    18.5

    Table 1: 2009 NFL Team Defense Scoring Under FPC Rules

    A few things stand out in Table 1. First, the Saints were dominant early in the year with their turnovers and touchdowns, a trait which helped them to win their first Lombardi Trophy in February. The next item to notice is that the Jets were great at holding teams to 10 points or less, the 49ers were right there with them with another six games in that same 0-10 points against range. That’s remarkable given that the NFC West is expected to struggle again in 2010. Only five other teams even achieved 30 points from this category (Baltimore 38, New England 37, Denver 34, Dallas 30 and Green Bay 30). The league average was below 20 with just 13 teams coming in either at or above that mark.

    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
    New Orleans
    175
    31%
    45%
    19%
    0%
    6%
    Philadelphia
    172
    21%
    43%
    24%
    6%
    6%
    San Francisco
    172
    14%
    38%
    21%
    0%
    27%
    Green Bay
    165
    15%
    45%
    22%
    0%
    18%
    Denver
    153
    16%
    37%
    25%
    0%
    22%
    NY Jets
    152
    16%
    37%
    19%
    0%
    28%
    Baltimore
    151
    16%
    40%
    19%
    0%
    25%
    New England
    139
    13%
    39%
    22%
    0%
    27%
    Minnesota
    137
    13%
    32%
    33%
    4%
    18%
    Carolina
    133
    5%
    51%
    23%
    8%
    14%
    San Diego
    133
    23%
    39%
    25%
    4%
    10%
    Houston
    130
    18%
    38%
    22%
    8%
    14%
    Cincinnati
    128
    19%
    39%
    27%
    0%
    16%
    Chicago
    125
    14%
    42%
    26%
    4%
    14%
    Dallas
    125
    14%
    32%
    30%
    0%
    24%
    Arizona
    124
    15%
    45%
    34%
    0%
    6%
    Buffalo
    122
    10%
    49%
    26%
    0%
    15%
    Cleveland
    122
    20%
    30%
    30%
    4%
    17%
    Indianapolis
    122
    15%
    43%
    28%
    0%
    15%
    Kansas City
    121
    25%
    43%
    17%
    4%
    11%
    NY Giants
    121
    20%
    40%
    26%
    0%
    14%
    Atlanta
    120
    15%
    43%
    23%
    0%
    19%
    Tampa Bay
    114
    26%
    46%
    24%
    0%
    4%
    Miami
    113
    21%
    34%
    36%
    0%
    9%
    Seattle
    112
    16%
    38%
    25%
    0%
    21%
    Pittsburgh
    110
    16%
    35%
    40%
    0%
    9%
    Tennessee
    110
    22%
    47%
    26%
    0%
    5%
    Detroit
    98
    18%
    47%
    24%
    10%
    0%
    Oakland
    83
    0%
    48%
    40%
    0%
    12%
    Washington
    81
    0%
    40%
    48%
    0%
    12%
    St. Louis
    78
    8%
    51%
    28%
    0%
    13%
    Jacksonville
    62
    0%
    77%
    23%
    0%
    0%

    Table 2: 2009 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. 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. 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 Detroit and Jacksonville 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 4-10 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 2009 data for the top kickers sorted by 40+ yard attempts is shown in Table 3:

    Rank
    Place Kicker
    Team
    FGM
    FGA
    Pct
    XPM
    XPA
    FPTs
    40+Yd
    Attempts
    10
    Rob Bironas
    TEN
    27
    32
    84.4
    37
    37
    118
    18
    19
    Sebastian Janikowski
    OAK
    26
    29
    89.7
    17
    17
    95
    18
    2
    David Akers
    PHI
    32
    37
    86.5
    43
    45
    139
    16
    26
    Josh Scobee
    JAX
    18
    28
    64.3
    30
    31
    84
    16
    7
    Jay Feely
    NYJ
    30
    36
    83.3
    32
    32
    122
    15
    20
    Nick Folk
    DAL
    18
    28
    64.3
    36
    36
    90
    14
    22
    Jason Hanson
    DET
    21
    28
    75
    25
    25
    88
    14
    28
    Josh Brown
    STL
    19
    24
    79.2
    16
    16
    73
    14
    4
    Mason Crosby
    GB
    27
    36
    75
    48
    49
    129
    13
    8
    Matt Prater
    DEN
    30
    35
    85.7
    32
    32
    122
    13
    14
    Robbie Gould
    CHI
    24
    28
    85.7
    33
    33
    105
    13
    1
    Nate Kaeding
    SD
    32
    35
    91.4
    50
    51
    146
    12
    12
    Rian Lindell
    BUF
    28
    33
    84.8
    24
    24
    108
    12
    15
    Ryan Succop
    KC
    25
    29
    86.2
    29
    29
    104
    12
    3
    Ryan Longwell
    MIN
    26
    28
    92.9
    54
    55
    132
    11
    6
    Stephen Gostkowski
    NE
    26
    31
    83.9
    47
    47
    125
    11
    11
    Dan Carpenter
    MIA
    25
    28
    89.3
    37
    38
    112
    11
    33
    Connor Barth
    TB
    14
    19
    73.7
    12
    12
    54
    11
    13
    Kris Brown
    HOU
    21
    32
    65.6
    43
    44
    106
    10
    17
    John Kasay
    CAR
    22
    27
    81.5
    31
    32
    97
    10
    25
    Joe Nedney
    SF
    17
    21
    81
    33
    33
    84
    9
    5
    Lawrence Tynes
    NYG
    27
    32
    84.4
    45
    45
    126
    7
    9
    Jeff Reed
    PIT
    27
    31
    87.1
    41
    41
    122
    7
    18
    Shayne Graham
    CIN
    23
    28
    82.1
    28
    29
    97
    7
    23
    Shaun Suisham
    WAS
    20
    24
    83.3
    25
    26
    85
    7
    24
    Neil Rackers
    ARI
    16
    17
    94.1
    37
    38
    85
    7
    29
    Phil Dawson
    CLE
    17
    19
    89.5
    18
    19
    69
    7
    30
    Jason Elam
    ATL
    12
    19
    63.2
    32
    33
    68
    7
    16
    Olindo Mare
    SEA
    24
    26
    92.3
    28
    28
    100
    6

    Table 3: 2009 NFL Place Kicker Scoring Sorted By 40+ Yard Attempts

    Parting Thoughts

    Every fantasy league and its rulebook is 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 over 90 times in the first 16 weeks of the 2009 season, which equates to roughly 19% of all team scores through Week 16. Finding a team that can hold a team to 10 or less is not easy (only 10 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 Jets defense and Nick Folk may create roster headaches in Week 7).

    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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