The Weekly Gut Check No. 199 - Crank Scores
By Matt Waldman
August 1st, 2010

The Weekly Gut Check examines the players, strategies and guidelines fantasy football owners use to make personnel decisions.

Crank Scores

I have written a lot about player consistency in the past five years. This is a very similar concept to what Jeff Pasquino covers in his Quality Games series. The main difference is that I have my own unique formula created from a database of game stats to determine fantasy points baselines for what makes a performance "quality," and I break those baselines into lineup-friendly tiers - for example, what baseline differentiates a fantasy RB1 from an RB2?

I also began incorporating X-values into my analysis to highlight the Value Based Drafting style influence from which Crank Scores evolved. Then I started integrating it into my experiments with projecting consistency.

If you are new to Crank Scores and you don't have a clue about what I'm writing, I suggest you check out these articles:

  • Crank Score Projections - How it all works
  • What Makes QBs and RBs Consistent?
  • What Makes WRs and TEs Consistent?
  • In this column I will combine the basics of what makes each of the fantasy skill positions consistent and publish the Crank Scores from the 2009 season.

    I believe the most valuable thing about Crank Scores is analyzing which factors in hindsight contribute to a high scorer at each position. I believe this is helpful with projecting future performance, but I need to emphasize that there is no magic Crank Score formula that predicts consistency.

    While I do have a trusted assistant, he's not a magic elf and his duty isn't projecting fantasy performers (although he provides occasional editorial input, much to Clayton Gray's dismay). His greatest service is stress reduction, low-level radiation shield between my TIVO and me, and sterling judge of character.

    Once again, the best way to use this information is to take the bulleted points about what makes a player a consistently high scorer and apply it to your own projections and rankings. If you want to see how I apply what I learn from analyzing consistency, check out at my redraft rankings.

    2009 Crank Scores - Quarterbacks

    Quarterback
    Gms
    FPG
    Crank
    Sub Par
    Elite
    QB #1
    Aaron Rodgers
    16
    26.21
    20
    18.75%
    62.50%
    81.25%
    Ben Roethlisberger
    15
    22.84
    14
    26.67%
    46.67%
    73.33%
    Drew Brees
    15
    25.51
    13
    33.33%
    53.33%
    66.67%
    Matt Schaub
    16
    22.45
    13
    31.25%
    43.75%
    68.75%
    Brett Favre
    16
    22.61
    11
    37.50%
    43.75%
    62.50%
    Peyton Manning
    16
    22.29
    10
    43.75%
    50.00%
    56.25%
    Philip Rivers
    16
    21.61
    10
    37.50%
    37.50%
    62.50%
    Tom Brady
    16
    21.52
    10
    37.50%
    37.50%
    62.50%
    Tony Romo
    16
    22.04
    8
    43.75%
    37.50%
    56.25%
    Donovan McNabb
    14
    20.98
    6
    42.86%
    28.57%
    57.14%
    Kurt Warner
    15
    19.38
    6
    46.67%
    33.33%
    53.33%
    David Garrard
    16
    17.82
    3
    50.00%
    18.75%
    50.00%
    Jay Cutler
    16
    18.10
    3
    56.25%
    31.25%
    43.75%
    Eli Manning
    16
    19.66
    3
    56.25%
    31.25%
    43.75%
    Alex Smith
    11
    17.15
    2
    54.55%
    27.27%
    45.45%
    Kyle Orton
    16
    17.39
    1
    50.00%
    6.25%
    50.00%
    Matt Ryan
    14
    17.05
    0
    64.29%
    28.57%
    35.71%
    Joe Flacco
    16
    16.70
    -1
    62.50%
    18.75%
    37.50%
    Jason Campbell
    16
    17.53
    -1
    62.50%
    18.75%
    37.50%
    Matt Moore
    7
    12.62
    -2
    71.43%
    14.29%
    28.57%
    Matt Hasselbeck
    14
    15.31
    -2
    64.29%
    14.29%
    35.71%
    Kerry Collins
    7
    11.82
    -3
    71.43%
    0.00%
    28.57%
    Matthew Stafford
    10
    16.12
    -3
    70.00%
    10.00%
    30.00%
    Brady Quinn
    10
    10.88
    -4
    80.00%
    20.00%
    20.00%

    What Makes A QB Consistent?

    My views are based on a few years of analysis. These are the factors that I believe make a quarterback a good Crank scorer:

  • Few Top-12 Crank QBs have RBs with commensurate production unless the player is a strong receiver.
  • The best Crank QBs have a high ratio of touchdowns to attempts and a higher attempt per game average than their peers.
  • The best Crank QBs have at least two receivers or one receiver and tight end with commensurate skill/productivity.
  • These points hold true for 2009's passers. Only Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and David Garrard had top-12 consistency and also played with a top-12 consistent runner. Garrard was at the bottom end of the list and not so coincidentally his top-12 runner is a very strong receiver. Both Manning and Favre's starting backs had at least 40 receptions as well.

    Only six more quarterbacks in the top-12 actually had a runner produce in the top-24. While 75 percent of the QB1s had a fantasy starting quality RB, only 33 percent of them had a top-12 RB. What this means to me is that these top-12 quarterbacks play on a team with offensive balance, but that balance benefits the passer more than the runner.

    As for scoring efficiency, the top-five Crank-scoring QBs had the highest ratio of touchdowns to attempts in the league last year. Is it a coincidence that all five of these passers, (Rodgers, Favre, Brees, Manning, and Rivers) had a top-24 consistent runner? It's just another example of offensive balance favoring the passer.

    The reason it does has to do with the quality of players available to spread he field for the quarterback to find open men quickly. Only David Garrard lacked both a top-24 WR and top-12 TE, but if you place Maurice Jones Drew back into the equation as a productive receiver out of the backfield, then you see that consistently productive fantasy quarterbacks have at least two productive weapons to throw the ball.

    It's these points that play into this year's lower ranking of Phillip Rivers. While Darren Sproles might provide some help to Antonio Gates, I'm not convinced Malcolm Floyd or Legedu Naanee have the consistency of a top-flight receiver like Vincent Jackson. It was their rising start at wide receiver pared with Antonio Gates that helped Phillip Rivers to be as consistent has he was from 2008-2009. If Jackson doesn't play or misses significant time, Rivers lacks the tools to produce to his capability.

    2009 Crank Scores - Running backs

    Running Back
    Gms
    FPG
    Crank
    Sub Par
    Elite
    RB #1
    RB #2
    Chris Johnson
    16
    21.68
    32
    12.50%
    50.00%
    75.00%
    87.50%
    Adrian L. Peterson
    16
    18.12
    32
    6.25%
    43.75%
    68.75%
    93.75%
    Ray Rice
    16
    15.76
    26
    18.75%
    25.00%
    75.00%
    81.25%
    Frank Gore
    14
    16.47
    25
    21.43%
    50.00%
    71.43%
    78.57%
    Thomas Jones
    16
    14.38
    25
    18.75%
    31.25%
    62.50%
    81.25%
    Maurice Jones-Drew
    16
    17.03
    24
    25.00%
    43.75%
    56.25%
    75.00%
    Ryan Grant
    16
    13.19
    21
    18.75%
    25.00%
    43.75%
    81.25%
    Steven Jackson
    15
    13.19
    19
    26.67%
    13.33%
    66.67%
    73.33%
    Joseph Addai
    15
    12.96
    19
    26.67%
    20.00%
    60.00%
    73.33%
    Cedric Benson
    13
    13.25
    17
    23.08%
    15.38%
    61.54%
    76.92%
    Ricky Williams
    16
    13.53
    16
    31.25%
    12.50%
    50.00%
    68.75%
    DeAngelo Williams
    13
    13.76
    16
    30.77%
    23.08%
    61.54%
    69.23%
    LaDainian Tomlinson
    14
    11.46
    15
    28.57%
    14.29%
    50.00%
    71.43%
    Rashard Mendenhall
    15
    12.33
    14
    33.33%
    6.67%
    53.33%
    66.67%
    Jonathan Stewart
    16
    12.08
    13
    50.00%
    37.50%
    43.75%
    50.00%
    Jamaal Charles
    15
    12.65
    13
    46.67%
    26.67%
    53.33%
    53.33%
    Michael Turner
    11
    13.69
    12
    27.27%
    27.27%
    36.36%
    72.73%
    Knowshon Moreno
    16
    10.63
    12
    37.50%
    12.50%
    37.50%
    62.50%
    Pierre Thomas
    14
    11.25
    11
    42.86%
    21.43%
    42.86%
    57.14%
    Steve Slaton
    11
    11.58
    10
    36.36%
    27.27%
    36.36%
    63.64%
    Ronnie Brown
    9
    13.62
    10
    33.33%
    33.33%
    44.44%
    66.67%
    Marion Barber III
    15
    10.49
    10
    40.00%
    13.33%
    33.33%
    60.00%
    Laurence Maroney
    15
    9.31
    9
    46.67%
    20.00%
    33.33%
    53.33%
    Cadillac Williams
    16
    9.13
    8
    43.75%
    6.25%
    31.25%
    56.25%
    Fred Jackson
    16
    10.46
    7
    56.25%
    25.00%
    31.25%
    43.75%
    Tim Hightower
    16
    9.41
    7
    43.75%
    0.00%
    31.25%
    56.25%
    Kevin Smith
    13
    11.25
    7
    46.15%
    7.69%
    38.46%
    53.85%
    Jerome Harrison
    13
    11.55
    6
    61.54%
    30.77%
    38.46%
    38.46%
    Willis McGahee
    15
    9.79
    5
    66.67%
    33.33%
    33.33%
    33.33%
    Matt Forte
    16
    10.25
    5
    56.25%
    12.50%
    31.25%
    43.75%
    Chris Wells
    16
    8.48
    4
    62.50%
    12.50%
    37.50%
    37.50%
    Brandon Jacobs
    15
    9.19
    2
    60.00%
    6.67%
    26.67%
    40.00%
    Darren Sproles
    16
    7.88
    1
    68.75%
    12.50%
    31.25%
    31.25%
    Jason Snelling
    14
    8.37
    1
    64.29%
    7.14%
    28.57%
    35.71%
    Clinton Portis
    8
    8.39
    1
    62.50%
    12.50%
    25.00%
    37.50%
    Ryan Moats
    8
    9.95
    0
    62.50%
    12.50%
    12.50%
    37.50%
    Brian Westbrook
    8
    7.19
    0
    62.50%
    0.00%
    25.00%
    37.50%
    Ahmad Bradshaw
    15
    9.37
    0
    66.67%
    13.33%
    20.00%
    33.33%
    Mike Bell
    13
    7.43
    -1
    69.23%
    7.69%
    23.08%
    30.77%
    LeSean McCoy
    16
    7.41
    -1
    62.50%
    0.00%
    18.75%
    37.50%
    Quinton Ganther
    8
    6.00
    -2
    75.00%
    12.50%
    12.50%
    25.00%
    Felix Jones
    14
    7.03
    -3
    71.43%
    0.00%
    21.43%
    28.57%
    Lex Hilliard
    7
    6.10
    -3
    85.71%
    14.29%
    14.29%
    14.29%
    Donald Brown
    11
    5.73
    -3
    63.64%
    0.00%
    0.00%
    36.36%
    Marshawn Lynch
    13
    5.76
    -3
    69.23%
    0.00%
    15.38%
    30.77%
    Julius Jones
    14
    8.11
    -3
    78.57%
    14.29%
    21.43%
    21.43%
    Justin Forsett
    16
    7.93
    -3
    75.00%
    12.50%
    18.75%
    25.00%
    Michael Bush
    15
    5.83
    -3
    73.33%
    6.67%
    20.00%
    26.67%

    What Makes an RB Consistent?

    As you can gather from the quarterback analysis, top-Crank runners aren't as tied to quarterback play:

  • Top 12 Crank RBs are predominantly in offenses without a Top 12 Crank QB.
  • Top 24 Crank RBs are more (72% in four seasons) often the clear-cut starter and not in a committee.
  • Less than one third of the backs in four seasons made the top 12 as Crank RBs with a Top 12 Crank QB and all but one (Ryan Grant in 2009) at least 40 receptions that year.
  • The vast majority (43 of 48) of Top 12 Crank RBs from 2006-2009 missed no more than two games.
  • The top six Crank RBs for the past four years averaged no fewer than 331 touches for a season; the top 12 no fewer than 310; and the 13th-24th ranked had no less than 231 opportunities.
  • As with quarterbacks in 2009, last year's runners performed to these trends. None of the top-five runners on this list had a quarterback with top-12 production and only three of the top-12 had a top-12 Crank QB. Of the RB1s on this list, only Ricky Williams and DeAngelo Williams were arguably in a committee and with Ronnie Brown gone for half of the season, Williams did most of his best work last year as the featured back. In fact, 14 of the top 17 backs were not committee runners.

    These factors are why I think Ryan Mathews and Knowshon Moreno are good candidates to make the leap into the top-12 in 2010. They should get the ball enough, their offenses lack at least two top-tier talents at tight end or wide receiver, and this impacts the potential of their quarterback play. As long as they can stay healthy, I think they are reasonable bargains if you choose to opt for a non-runner with your opening pick(s).

    2009 Crank Scores - Wide Receivers

    Wide Receivers
    Gms
    FPG
    Crank
    Sub Par
    Elite
    WR #1
    WR #2
    WR #3
    Andre Johnson
    16
    13.24
    39
    12.50%
    50.00%
    56.25%
    62.50%
    87.50%
    Larry Fitzgerald
    16
    11.70
    38
    12.50%
    43.75%
    50.00%
    68.75%
    87.50%
    Randy Moss
    16
    12.78
    36
    18.75%
    43.75%
    56.25%
    62.50%
    81.25%
    Miles Austin
    15
    13.19
    34
    26.67%
    46.67%
    60.00%
    73.33%
    73.33%
    DeSean Jackson
    15
    12.69
    33
    26.67%
    46.67%
    53.33%
    73.33%
    73.33%
    Sidney Rice
    16
    11.20
    32
    25.00%
    37.50%
    50.00%
    62.50%
    75.00%
    Reggie Wayne
    16
    11.65
    31
    31.25%
    43.75%
    50.00%
    62.50%
    68.75%
    Steve Smith
    16
    10.25
    30
    12.50%
    18.75%
    37.50%
    56.25%
    87.50%
    Chad Johnson
    15
    10.79
    30
    20.00%
    33.33%
    40.00%
    66.67%
    80.00%
    Marques Colston
    16
    10.13
    29
    25.00%
    31.25%
    43.75%
    56.25%
    75.00%
    Wes Welker
    14
    11.60
    29
    28.57%
    42.86%
    50.00%
    71.43%
    71.43%
    Steve Smith
    15
    9.49
    28
    26.67%
    40.00%
    46.67%
    53.33%
    73.33%
    Vincent Jackson
    15
    11.45
    28
    33.33%
    33.33%
    60.00%
    60.00%
    66.67%
    Roddy White
    16
    11.34
    28
    37.50%
    31.25%
    56.25%
    62.50%
    62.50%
    Santonio Holmes
    16
    9.71
    27
    25.00%
    25.00%
    31.25%
    62.50%
    75.00%
    Brandon Marshall
    15
    11.73
    27
    40.00%
    46.67%
    53.33%
    60.00%
    60.00%
    Derrick Mason
    15
    9.67
    26
    33.33%
    40.00%
    46.67%
    53.33%
    66.67%
    Robert Meachem
    14
    9.60
    25
    42.86%
    50.00%
    57.14%
    57.14%
    57.14%
    Hines Ward
    16
    9.54
    25
    43.75%
    37.50%
    50.00%
    56.25%
    56.25%
    Calvin Johnson
    14
    9.69
    24
    35.71%
    42.86%
    42.86%
    57.14%
    64.29%
    Mike Walker
    14
    9.21
    22
    42.86%
    35.71%
    50.00%
    57.14%
    57.14%
    Donald Driver
    16
    8.96
    22
    37.50%
    31.25%
    37.50%
    43.75%
    62.50%
    Anquan Boldin
    15
    8.91
    20
    40.00%
    26.67%
    40.00%
    46.67%
    60.00%
    Hakeem Nicks
    14
    8.27
    18
    35.71%
    21.43%
    35.71%
    42.86%
    64.29%
    Percy Harvin
    15
    8.57
    18
    46.67%
    26.67%
    40.00%
    46.67%
    53.33%
    Mike Wallace
    15
    7.76
    18
    46.67%
    26.67%
    40.00%
    46.67%
    53.33%
    Greg Jennings
    15
    9.07
    17
    46.67%
    26.67%
    40.00%
    40.00%
    53.33%
    Jerricho Cotchery
    14
    7.63
    17
    35.71%
    21.43%
    28.57%
    42.86%
    64.29%
    Terrell Owens
    15
    8.29
    15
    53.33%
    33.33%
    33.33%
    40.00%
    46.67%
    Roy Williams
    13
    7.82
    15
    30.77%
    23.08%
    23.08%
    30.77%
    69.23%
    Jacoby Jones
    12
    6.83
    14
    41.67%
    25.00%
    25.00%
    50.00%
    58.33%
    Mario Manningham
    14
    8.01
    14
    50.00%
    14.29%
    35.71%
    50.00%
    50.00%
    Pierre Garcon
    14
    7.25
    14
    50.00%
    14.29%
    42.86%
    42.86%
    50.00%
    Chris Chambers
    9
    9.42
    13
    44.44%
    33.33%
    44.44%
    55.56%
    55.56%
    Dwayne Bowe
    11
    7.54
    12
    36.36%
    9.09%
    27.27%
    45.45%
    63.64%
    Austin Collie
    16
    6.86
    12
    43.75%
    12.50%
    12.50%
    37.50%
    56.25%
    Steve Breaston
    14
    6.69
    11
    50.00%
    21.43%
    21.43%
    35.71%
    50.00%
    Jeremy Maclin
    13
    7.65
    11
    46.15%
    15.38%
    23.08%
    38.46%
    53.85%
    Nate Washington
    16
    5.90
    10
    50.00%
    6.25%
    12.50%
    43.75%
    50.00%
    Braylon Edwards
    12
    6.51
    10
    58.33%
    25.00%
    33.33%
    41.67%
    41.67%
    Brandon Stokley
    8
    7.09
    10
    25.00%
    12.50%
    25.00%
    37.50%
    75.00%
    Nate Burleson
    12
    8.30
    10
    50.00%
    16.67%
    25.00%
    41.67%
    50.00%
    Lee Evans
    16
    6.45
    9
    62.50%
    18.75%
    25.00%
    37.50%
    37.50%
    Kenny Britt
    14
    6.29
    8
    57.14%
    7.14%
    28.57%
    35.71%
    42.86%
    Laveranues Coles
    14
    5.89
    7
    50.00%
    0.00%
    14.29%
    35.71%
    50.00%
    Johnny Knox
    14
    5.91
    7
    57.14%
    14.29%
    14.29%
    35.71%
    42.86%
    Brian Hartline
    14
    5.54
    6
    57.14%
    0.00%
    21.43%
    35.71%
    42.86%
    Devery Henderson
    16
    5.86
    6
    56.25%
    12.50%
    12.50%
    25.00%
    43.75%

    What Makes a WR Consistent?

    Note that the top receivers have the highest Crank Scores of any position. There were six receivers in 2009 that had a Crank Score has high or higher than Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson - the top two Crank scorers at running back. There are 23 receivers and 7 backs that equaled or outscored Aaron Rodgers, the top quarterback. In fact, 35 receivers and 19 runners were more consistent hitting starter quality production at their positions on a weekly basis than the 5 best quarterbacks in 2009.

    Although the top quarterbacks and runners score more fantasy points as individuals, this data is a big reason why I've opted to wait until as late as the fifth or sixth round to select running backs in recent seasons. If you play in a league where you start at least as many receivers as runners and quarterbacks combined, this information makes a compelling argument to opt for three receivers, a quarterback and/or tight end before you take a runner. Of course, this depends on where you're drafting and which players fall to you.

    Here are the factors that I believe make a consistently productive receiver:

  • Top-36 WRs have a teammate at WR and/or TE with strong Crank score productivity
  • The QB has a history of Crank-consistent productivity or is taking the reigns of an offense that passes more productively than it runs the ball.
  • Receivers that catch at least 5 balls per game or have a highly productive yards per catch average. Considering the examples, these deep threats have a strong RB or ground game in the fold that helps the offense stretch the field.
  • Receivers that produced a season with a top 36 ranking and attained a high yards per catch and more than 40 receptions are likely flashing bigger production to come.
  • Top 12 WRs are three times more likely to have a second WR in the top 36 than a TE teammate in the top 12 at their position.
  • An average of three, top-12 WRs per season from 2006-2009 had a top 12 RB as a teammate.
  • Viewing this list of bullet points, I'm looking for receivers with obvious qualities in the early rounds: the likelihood of a lot of targets, a fantasy starter-quality teammate at receiver or tight end (preferably receiver), and a highly productive quarterback.

    These are some of the reasons why I'm not as bullish on Larry Fitzgerald as my peers. I like Steve Breaston and Early Doucet and Andre Roberts are also promising players, but I'm not convinced Matt Leinart will be playing football at even close to the same level as Kurt Warner. Leinart lacks the experience and savvy to deal with pressure as effectively as Warner, and because he's only marginally more mobile than his predecessor, Leinart is going to encounter a lot of pressure unless his offensive line has vastly improved. Combine these issues and this makes Fitzgerald a very good, but not great fantasy option.

    Sneaky-good picks this year? Santana Moss and Nate Burleson. Moss finally gets a quarterback with top-12 ability and a strong offensive mind in a head coach. He's moving to the flanker spot, which means he will see a lot more underneath work and this should translate into a target-rich environment for the veteran receiver. Moss also has talented personnel at tight end, and I expect these factors to make him a more productive player - and potential steal - in 2010. The impending Dr. Anthony Galea HGH case might be an additional factor depressing his value but if Moss' head coach is stating for the record that he doubts we'll see any action taken against Moss this season, that's a good sign.

    Burleson is a skilled player teaming with perhaps the most physically talented receiver in the league. Second-year quarterback Matt Stafford had three things working against him last year that will change: 1) He was a rookie. 2) His surrounding talent was injured. And 3) His coaches limited the offense due to the lack of talent working with Stafford and not due to the quarterback's development. Burleson's injury history has rarely allowed him to show his wares for a full season, but his ADP is low enough to take him as a reserve while potentially reaping the benefits if he performs like a top-36 starter.

    2009 Crank Scores - Tight Ends

    Quarterback
    Gms
    FPG
    Crank
    Sub Par
    Elite
    TE #1
    Antonio Gates
    16
    10.23
    14
    18.75%
    25.00%
    81.25%
    Dallas Clark
    16
    10.73
    14
    25.00%
    37.50%
    75.00%
    Brent Celek
    16
    9.07
    12
    25.00%
    25.00%
    75.00%
    Vernon Davis
    16
    10.91
    12
    31.25%
    37.50%
    68.75%
    Tony Gonzalez
    16
    7.67
    8
    37.50%
    25.00%
    62.50%
    Visanthe Shiancoe
    16
    7.66
    7
    43.75%
    31.25%
    56.25%
    Kellen Winslow Jr
    16
    7.44
    5
    43.75%
    18.75%
    56.25%
    Owen Daniels
    8
    10.24
    5
    37.50%
    37.50%
    62.50%
    Heath Miller
    16
    7.18
    4
    56.25%
    37.50%
    43.75%
    Jermichael Finley
    12
    8.13
    3
    50.00%
    25.00%
    50.00%
    Zach Miller
    14
    7.04
    3
    50.00%
    21.43%
    50.00%
    Jason Witten
    16
    7.19
    1
    56.25%
    18.75%
    43.75%
    Greg Olsen
    16
    6.83
    -1
    62.50%
    18.75%
    37.50%
    Fred Davis
    15
    5.79
    -1
    66.67%
    26.67%
    33.33%
    Brandon Pettigrew
    9
    5.18
    -1
    66.67%
    22.22%
    33.33%
    Kevin Boss
    14
    6.31
    -1
    64.29%
    21.43%
    35.71%
    John Carlson
    15
    6.63
    -1
    60.00%
    13.33%
    40.00%
    Ben Watson
    12
    5.87
    -3
    66.67%
    8.33%
    33.33%
    Dante Rosario
    11
    3.94
    -4
    72.73%
    9.09%
    27.27%
    Ben Patrick
    8
    3.33
    -4
    75.00%
    0.00%
    25.00%
    Anthony Fasano
    12
    3.83
    -4
    66.67%
    0.00%
    33.33%
    Jeremy Shockey
    13
    5.76
    -4
    69.23%
    7.69%
    30.77%
    Zach Miller
    9
    3.72
    -4
    77.78%
    11.11%
    22.22%
    Dustin Keller
    15
    4.33
    -4
    66.67%
    6.67%
    33.33%

    What Makes a TE Consistent?

    What leaps off this table (and past years) is that I want an elite player at this position and it's worth paying for one.

  • The elite TEs tend to dominate the fantasy world for at least 3-4 seasons, if not longer. You have a good shot to be right on at least two of the top three TEs if you project from the previous season.
  • When that one new TE enters the top three at his position, he is a player capable of playing split from the offensive line.
  • An average of seven of the top-12 TEs are players that are split away from the offensive line frequently.
  • Although not a strong factor, it is more likely for a top-12 TE to have a strong starter at RB than a strong starter at WR.
  • It's worth the cost because these players seem easier to identify and have a longer tenure at the top. There are few sure things in fantasy football, but identifying an elite player at this position is generally easier to do.

    (4-Year) Average Crank Value Chart

    If you aren't familiar with VBD or AVT, then I suggest you learn more about them here and here before getting knee deep into my explanations of my process for projecting with Crank Scores.

    A short summary is that you can determine the projected value of a one player versus another across positions with a concept called X-Value, which is a positive or negative number calculated against a baseline player at each position. The baseline player at each position is the lowest-ranked starter according to your leagues lineup rules - for example, the 12th-ranked QB in a 12-team league that starts 1 QB or the 36th-ranked RB in a 12-team league that starts 3 RBs.

    To create these X-Values, I opted to take the average Crank Score over the four-year period of 2006-2009 for each position. I also generated a number I called the Percentage of Perfection, which is how close a particular Crank Score is to the highest possible Crank Score at the position for a league.

    I like using AVT because performance trends haven't changed dramatically for the NFL. There will be years where there are significant outliers in performance, but there hasn't been a huge shift overall. It means if I use average values, I have less risk of distorting my entire draft board by over-projecting stats.

    It's possible that eight RBs could rush for at least 1700 yards in 2009, however if I go that far against the historical grain, I throw off potential accuracy of the rest of my draft board due to my unusual expectations for these eight runners and if I'm wrong I likely miss out on key values in the early rounds of my draft.

    When you look at my Average Value Crank Score Cheatsheet listed below, you'll see that the players with the highest X-values are receivers and backs. In fact, six of the top seven players from the standpoint of consistency are receivers.

    I have often mentioned that the wide receiver position has historically less turnover from year to year, and individual receivers in the top tiers hold their value longer than top players at other positions. This is why targeting as many elite receivers as possible in the early rounds can be a valuable strategy.

    PosRk
    C
    %
    XV
    PosRk
    C
    %
    XV
    PosRk
    C
    %
    XV
    QB1
    21
    66.40%
    18
    RB1
    32
    66.70%
    26
    WR1
    43
    67.20%
    33
    QB2
    15
    47.70%
    12
    RB2
    30
    62.50%
    24
    WR2
    39
    60.20%
    29
    QB3
    13
    40.60%
    10
    RB3
    27
    55.20%
    21
    WR3
    37
    57.40%
    27
    QB4
    13
    40.60%
    10
    RB4
    24
    49.50%
    18
    WR4
    35
    54.30%
    25
    QB5
    11
    33.60%
    8
    RB5
    22
    45.30%
    16
    WR5
    33
    52.00%
    24
    QB6
    10
    31.30%
    7
    RB6
    20
    42.20%
    15
    WR6
    32
    50.40%
    22
    QB7
    9
    27.30%
    6
    RB7
    19
    39.10%
    13
    WR7
    30
    46.90%
    20
    QB8
    9
    26.60%
    5
    RB8
    18
    37.50%
    12
    WR8
    29
    44.50%
    19
    QB9
    7
    23.40%
    4
    RB9
    18
    37.00%
    12
    WR9
    27
    42.20%
    17
    QB10
    6
    18.80%
    3
    RB10
    16
    32.30%
    10
    WR10
    26
    41.00%
    17
    QB11
    4
    13.30%
    1
    RB11
    15
    30.20%
    9
    WR11
    26
    40.20%
    16
    QB12
    3
    10.20%
    0
    RB12
    14
    29.20%
    8
    WR12
    25
    39.50%
    16
    QB13
    3
    7.80%
    -1
    RB13
    14
    28.10%
    8
    WR13
    25
    39.10%
    15
    QB14
    2
    6.30%
    -1
    RB14
    13
    27.10%
    7
    WR14
    24
    38.30%
    15
    QB15
    2
    5.50%
    -1
    RB15
    12
    25.50%
    7
    WR15
    24
    37.10%
    14
    QB16
    1
    3.10%
    -2
    RB16
    12
    24.50%
    6
    WR16
    23
    35.90%
    13
    QB17
    1
    2.30%
    -2
    RB17
    11
    22.90%
    5
    WR17
    22
    34.80%
    13
    QB18
    0
    0.80%
    -3
    RB18
    10
    20.80%
    4
    WR18
    22
    33.60%
    12
    QB19
    0
    0.80%
    -3
    RB19
    9
    19.80%
    4
    WR19
    21
    32.00%
    11
    QB20
    0
    -0.80%
    -3
    RB20
    8
    17.20%
    3
    WR20
    20
    30.90%
    10
    QB21
    0
    -0.80%
    -3
    RB21
    8
    15.60%
    2
    WR21
    19
    30.10%
    10
    QB22
    -1
    -1.60%
    -4
    RB22
    7
    15.60%
    2
    WR22
    19
    28.90%
    9
    QB23
    -1
    -3.10%
    -4
    RB23
    7
    14.10%
    1
    WR23
    18
    27.30%
    8
    QB24
    -1
    -3.90%
    -4
    RB24
    6
    12.00%
    0
    WR24
    17
    26.20%
    7
    PosRk
    C
    %
    XV
    RB25
    5
    10.90%
    0
    WR25
    16
    25.80%
    7
    TE1
    16
    48.40%
    15
    RB26
    5
    10.90%
    -1
    WR26
    15
    23.80%
    6
    TE2
    11
    34.40%
    11
    RB27
    5
    9.90%
    -1
    WR27
    15
    23.00%
    5
    TE3
    10
    31.20%
    10
    RB28
    4
    8.90%
    -1
    WR28
    14
    22.30%
    5
    TE4
    9
    28.10%
    9
    RB29
    4
    7.80%
    -2
    WR29
    13
    20.70%
    4
    TE5
    8
    24.20%
    7
    RB30
    4
    7.80%
    -2
    WR30
    12
    18.80%
    2
    TE6
    6
    20.30%
    6
    RB31
    3
    6.20%
    -3
    WR31
    12
    18.40%
    2
    TE7
    4
    13.30%
    4
    RB32
    2
    4.70%
    -4
    WR32
    12
    18.40%
    2
    TE8
    4
    11.70%
    3
    RB33
    1
    3.10%
    -4
    WR33
    11
    17.60%
    2
    TE9
    3
    7.80%
    2
    RB34
    1
    1.60%
    -5
    WR34
    10
    16.40%
    1
    TE10
    2
    4.70%
    1
    RB35
    1
    1.60%
    -5
    WR35
    10
    15.20%
    0
    TE11
    1
    3.10%
    1
    RB36
    0
    1.00%
    -5
    WR36
    10
    15.20%
    0
    TE12
    0
    0.80%
    0
    RB37
    0
    0.00%
    -6
    WR37
    9
    14.10%
    -1
    TE13
    0
    -1.60%
    -1
    RB38
    0
    0.00%
    -6
    WR38
    9
    13.30%
    -1
    TE14
    -1
    -3.10%
    -1
    RB39
    -1
    -1.00%
    -6
    WR39
    8
    12.90%
    -1
    TE15
    -1
    -3.10%
    -1
    RB40
    -1
    -1.00%
    -6
    WR40
    8
    12.10%
    -2
    TE16
    -1
    -3.10%
    -1
    RB41
    -1
    -1.60%
    -7
    WR41
    8
    11.70%
    -2
    TE17
    -1
    -3.90%
    -2
    RB42
    -1
    -2.60%
    -7
    WR42
    8
    11.70%
    -2
    TE18
    -3
    -8.60%
    -3
    RB43
    -1
    -2.60%
    -7
    WR43
    7
    10.90%
    -3
    TE19
    -3
    -8.60%
    -3
    RB44
    -2
    -4.20%
    -8
    WR44
    6
    9.80%
    -3
    TE20
    -3
    -10.20%
    -4
    RB45
    -2
    -4.20%
    -8
    WR45
    6
    9.40%
    -4
    TE21
    -3
    -10.20%
    -4
    RB46
    -2
    -4.20%
    -8
    WR46
    6
    9.00%
    -4
    TE22
    -4
    -10.90%
    -4
    RB47
    -2
    -3.50%
    -7
    WR47
    5
    7.80%
    -5
    TE23
    -3
    -9.40%
    -3
    RB48
    -2
    -4.20%
    -8
    WR48
    5
    7.00%
    -5
    TE24
    -4
    -12.50%
    -4

    The X-Values from this chart tell us that wide receivers have more value in most leagues than any other position. During this four-year period, there are an average of 25 receivers with equal to greater value than the 10th-ranked running back, the 3rd- and 4th-ranked quarterbacks, and the 3rd-ranked tight end.

    This doesn't mean that you should take a wide receiver if you have one of the first 3-5 picks in the first round. In fact, it should encourage you that if you have one of these picks that with the right pick at RB, you should still be able to acquire valuable receivers with the next 3-5 picks and also possibly have your pick at QB and TE.

    It does mean that if you pick at the later half of the first round that following the crowd with an RB can be more dangerous because you're potentially missing two top-tier talents at other positions for a back with value you're likely to find later.

    As valuable as this information can be for a fantasy owner, one should always try to complement stats with an understanding of the game and its players. Don't ever rigidly stick to a formulaic draft strategy if a talented player drops further than you expected for an inexplicable reason and his value is better than the players you were originally considering.

    When you can incorporate good data with a knowledge of the game your drafting prowess will give you a competitive start to the season.

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

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