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Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football: Section III

An overview of how scoring systems influence fantasy decisions

"Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that." -- Bill Shankly

One of the most essential aspects of fantasy football success is to understand your league's scoring rules inside and out. The different nuances of scoring from one league to the next can make a big difference in which players you should (a) target in your fantasy drafts and (b) start in certain weeks. In reality, there are thousands of different scoring variations that can show up in fantasy football that can have an effect on your roster but this section will break down the most obvious differences and give you an idea what to look for when scouring your own scoring rules.

While there are almost an unlimited number of different scoring rules you can use in fantasy football, there are two main branches to deal with.

Performance Scoring

This is the most common amongst fantasy leagues. It rewards points for both touchdowns and yardage gained. For example, if a running back gains 120 yards rushing, 30 yards receiving and scores one touchdown, he could total 21 points in one league (1 pt every ten rushing/receiving yards + 6 points per touchdown), 11 points in another league (1 pt every 25 rushing/receiving yards + 6 points per touchdown) and 31 points in a different league (1 pt every ten rushing/receiving yards + 6 points per touchdown + 10 bonus points for a hundred yard rushing game). There truly are countless different ways these leagues can be set up. The important thing to remember as a fantasy owner is to take the time to really scrutinize your scoring system and change your drafting style to reflect those rules.

Examples of different styles of performance scoring

  • League A
    • 1 point every 10 yards rushing
    • 1 point every 10 yards receiving
    • 1 point every 25 yards passing
    • 4 points for each touchdown pass
    • 6 points for each touchdown run
    • -1 point for each interception
    • 1 point for each extra point
    • 3 points for each field goal
  • League B
    • 1 point every 10 yards rushing/receiving
    • 1 point every 10 yards passing
    • 6 points for each touchdown pass
    • 6 points for each touchdown run
    • 1 point for each extra point
    • 3 points for each field goal
    • 5 bonus points for each 100-yard rushing/receiving game
    • 5 bonus points for each 300-yard passing game
    • 2 bonus points for each field goal over 50 yards
  • League C
    • 1 point every 10 yards rushing
    • 1 point every 10 yards receiving
    • 1 point for each reception
    • 1 point every 50 yards passing
    • 4 points for each passing touchdown
    • 6 points for each rushing touchdown
    • -2 points for each interception
    • 1 point for each extra point
    • 3 points for each field goal

Comparing the three leagues above

Each of these leagues should influence the way you go about your fantasy draft.

  • In League A, quarterbacks, running back and receivers are all giving pretty even billing. The scoring in that first league is about as standard as it comes and the value for each position should be easy to determine.
  • In League B, bonuses are rewarded to players who achieve certain objectives such as 100-yard rushing games and 300-yard passing games. That makes players such as QB Drew Brees, RB Adrian Peterson, and WR Calvin Johnson that much more attractive than in other leagues. In addition, quarterbacks in this league are huge point scorers with the 1 pt every 10 passing yards and 6 points per touchdown. It makes more sense in this type of system to target a quarterback like Drew Brees in round one whereas you may typically hold off until later in the draft to pick a quarterback.
  • In League C, running backs and receivers have much more value than the quarterbacks do. Not only are quarterbacks really devalued with the 1 point every 50 passing yards in addition to losing 2 points for each interception but the extra point per reception really places value on pass-catching running backs and receivers. In this kind of league, it would make sense to target both running backs and receivers early and pick up a serviceable quarterback much later in the draft.

Examples of scoring from all three leagues

  • QB Aaron Rodgers: 370 passing yards / 4 TD passes / 1 INT / 42 rushing yards
    • League A - 34.0 fantasy points
    • League B - 70.2 fantasy points
    • League C - 25.6 fantasy points
  • RB Arian Foster: 162 rushing yards / 6 receptions for 45 receiving yards / 2 touchdowns
    • League A - 32.7 fantasy points
    • League B - 37.7 fantasy points
    • League C - 38.7 fantasy points
  • WR Calvin Johnson: 11 receptions for 120 receiving yards and 1 touchdown
    • League A - 18 fantasy points
    • League B - 23 fantasy points
    • League C - 29 fantasy points

TD-Only Scoring

This is a very basic, easy to understand league. The only thing that counts for points to a fantasy owner is touchdowns, field goals and extra points. In a league such as this, a running back such as Michael Turner who ran for only 800 yards last year but scored 10 touchdowns is significantly more valuable then a player like Jamaal Charles who rushed for 1,509 yards but scored just 5 times.

In these kinds of leagues, it doesn't matter if a running back explodes for 250 yards rushing in one game. All that matters is if he can score touchdowns

"Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period." -- Lou Holtz

In Conclusion

With the countless different types of scoring available in fantasy football, what is important as a fantasy owner is to not only know your scoring rules but also to have a game plan heading into your draft. Knowing why Player A is a better option for your squad than Player B based on your scoring rules puts you ahead of many potential owners in your leagues.