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FPC and the Action Scoring Rule - Footballguys

The Footballguys Players Championship Analysis - Looking at the Action Scoring Rule

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.

ACTION SCORING

Under the microscope this time around is the special Action Scoring Rule for position players. According to the rules of the Footballguys Players Championship, the scoring rules for Action Scoring are implemented as follows:

Roster/Scoring:

  • Action scoring is implemented for all touchdowns: any touchdown scored by a player is scored as 6 points to that individual player, in addition to any team defense scoring that may apply.

So how do you analyze the impact of this additional scoring rule to the current crop of potential fantasy players? We need to dig into some numbers.

First, let's take a look at the 2018 production for kick returners (kickoffs and punts). Listed in Table 1 are all the NFL players who had at least seven kick returns of either type last year (with a special thanks to Doug Drinen's Pro-Football-Reference.com for the data):

Player
Team
Age
Pos
GP
GS
Punt Returns
Kick Returns
Total
Returns
Returns
Yards
TDs
Returns
Yards
TDs
Tyler Lockett
SEA
25
WR
16
8
36
237
0
37
949
1
73
Alex Erickson
CIN
25
16
0
39
278
0
32
663
0
71
Pharoh Cooper
LAR
22
WR
16
1
32
399
0
34
932
1
66
Andre Roberts
ATL
29
16
0
27
201
0
38
860
0
65
Adoree' Jackson
TEN
22
CB
16
16
34
290
0
25
578
0
59
Tarik Cohen
CHI
22
RB
16
4
29
272
1
26
583
0
55
Trevor Davis
GNB
24
16
0
24
289
0
31
707
0
55
Ryan Switzer
DAL
23
16
0
29
256
1
24
600
0
53
Marcus Sherels
MIN
30
16
0
39
372
0
11
271
0
50
Brandon Tate
BUF
30
WR
13
1
20
193
0
28
548
0
48
Jakeem Grant
MIA
25
16
0
25
190
0
21
479
0
46
Jabrill Peppers
CLE
22
S
13
13
30
180
0
14
318
0
44
Jamal Agnew
DET
22
13
0
29
447
2
11
196
0
40
Kenjon Barner
PHI
27
RB
13
1
27
240
0
10
194
0
37
Kerwynn Williams
ARI
26
RB
16
6
21
137
0
16
326
0
37
Quan Bray
IND
24
9
0
17
90
0
18
430
0
35
Jalen Richard
OAK
24
RB
16
1
26
155
0
8
90
0
34
Michael Campanaro
BAL
26
13
0
27
291
1
6
159
0
33
Jojo Natson
NYJ
23
7
0
16
38
0
16
325
0
32
Kalif Raymond
2TM
23
8
0
18
99
0
14
271
0
32
Trent Taylor
SFO
23
WR
15
1
30
281
0
1
8
0
31
Jaydon Mickens
JAX
23
10
0
27
287
1
2
20
0
29
Danny Amendola
NWE
32
WR
15
8
27
231
0
1
16
0
28
Travis Benjamin
LAC
28
WR
16
3
27
257
1
27
Jamison Crowder
WAS
24
WR
15
6
27
171
0
27
Tommylee Lewis
NOR
25
15
0
14
115
0
13
307
0
27
Tyreek Hill
KAN
23
WR
15
13
25
204
1
25
Akeem Hunt
KAN
24
15
0
25
611
0
25
Christian McCaffrey
CAR
21
RB
16
10
22
162
0
3
58
0
25
Bernard Reedy
2TM
26
11
0
18
175
0
7
145
0
25
Ted Ginn
NOR
32
WR
15
10
19
103
0
5
56
0
24
Isaiah McKenzie
DEN
22
11
0
21
183
0
3
50
0
24
Dion Lewis
NWE
27
RB
16
8
23
570
1
23
Victor Bolden
SFO
22
9
0
4
23
0
19
396
0
23
Chris Thompson
HOU
23
13
0
6
39
0
17
369
0
23
Kaelin Clay
2TM
25
13
2
19
149
1
3
52
0
22
De\'Anthony Thomas
KAN
24
WR
16
2
8
16
0
13
305
0
21
Corey Grant
JAX
26
16
0
0
6
0
19
473
0
19
Cordarrelle Patterson
OAK
26
WR
16
2
19
538
0
19
Eli Rogers
PIT
25
WR
14
4
19
146
0
19
Matthew Dayes
CLE
23
16
0
18
437
0
18
Desmond King
LAC
23
CB
16
4
1
2
0
17
353
0
18
Dwayne Harris
NYG
30
DT
5
1
7
48
0
9
188
0
16
Jeremy Kerley
NYJ
29
WR
8
2
16
85
0
16
Devontae Booker
DEN
25
13
0
14
276
0
14
Bobby Rainey
BAL
30
4
0
2
22
0
11
338
1
13
Tavon Austin
LAR
27
WR
16
9
12
53
0
1
13
0
13
Tyler Ervin
HOU
24
4
0
8
60
0
5
93
0
13
Chris Moore
BAL
24
WR
13
4
13
346
0
13
Patrick Peterson
ARI
27
CB
16
16
13
88
0
13
Jarvis Landry
MIA
25
WR
16
16
12
81
0
0
-5
0
12
Jerick McKinnon
MIN
25
RB
16
1
12
312
0
12
Alvin Kamara
NOR
22
RB
16
3
11
347
1
11
Antonio Brown
PIT
29
WR
14
14
11
61
0
11
Brittan Golden
ARI
29
13
0
7
63
0
4
81
0
11
T.J. Jones
DET
25
WR
14
6
6
47
0
5
105
0
11
Jacquizz Rodgers
TAM
27
RB
16
4
11
255
0
11
Chester Rogers
IND
23
WR
11
4
10
80
0
1
5
0
11
Jordan Taylor
DEN
25
WR
10
2
11
103
0
11
Deonte Thompson
2TM
28
16
10
11
229
0
11
Bashaud Breeland
WAS
25
CB
15
15
10
208
0
10
Senorise Perry
MIA
26
16
0
10
202
0
10
Curtis Samuel
CAR
21
WR
9
4
10
221
0
10
JuJu Smith-Schuster
PIT
21
WR
14
7
9
240
1
9
Martavis Bryant
PIT
26
WR
15
8
9
151
0
9
Will Fuller
HOU
23
WR
10
10
9
135
0
9
Hunter Sharp
2TM
23
3
1
8
74
0
1
19
0
9
ArDarius Stewart
NYJ
24
WR
15
2
9
173
0
9
Shane Vereen
NYG
28
16
0
9
196
0
9
Damiere Byrd
CAR
24
WR
8
3
1
9
0
7
229
1
8
Ameer Abdullah
DET
24
RB
14
11
8
179
0
8
D.J. Foster
ARI
24
7
0
8
184
0
8
Cody Latimer
DEN
25
WR
11
1
8
190
0
8
Chris Thompson
WAS
27
RB
10
1
8
165
0
8
Benny Cunningham
CHI
27
14
0
7
147
0
7
Kenyan Drake
MIA
23
RB
16
6
7
147
0
7
Brendan Langley
DEN
23
11
0
1
6
0
6
183
0
7
Terrell Watson
PIT
24
10
0
7
140
0
7

Table 1: 2017 NFL Kick Returners (Minimum Seven Returns)

Note - normally, this table is limited to 10 returns, but given that JuJu Smith-Schuster (nine returns) and Damiere Byrd (eight returns) both ran kicks back for touchdowns, the cutoff was lowerd to to include those numbers. This is the second year in a row the cutoff was reduced from 10, which just shows how little of an impact kick returns are having in fantasy production. Additionally, one other touchdown (a gimmick return by the Bears in Week 17 against Minnesota where Bryce Callahan scored on his only kick return of the year when every Viking was focused on Tarik Cohen) Now, a few things can be observed from this list. First, there are plenty of return men that are being utilized across the NFL. Just like in the past four seasons, at least 63 players had 10 or more returns (65 in 2014 and 2015, 70 in 2016 and 63 last season) and 37 had 20 or more (that number is actually higher than last year with just 30, but closer to the prior two seasons, with 42 in 2015 and 43 in 2014). Another important fact is that several of these specialists are not only non-starters for several teams, but they are also non-offensive players. That really will not help fantasy teams.

The other item to pick up on here is that roughly 20 of these players are draftable fantasy players (highlighted in Table 1). That's the good news here - these are the players that might benefit from Action Scoring this season. Unfortunately, there is also a bit of bad news.

The first downside to this list is that several of these players are moving up the depth charts of their teams this year. Why is that a bad thing? Well, take Smith-Schuster or Tyler Lockett for example. Few franchises will ever want to risk a high upside starting wide receiver (or running back) as a kick returner. The added workload and the increased risk of injury are both too great a price to pay for potential yardage gains. Teams take a more conservative approach over 90% of the time and put a lesser talent back there, especially for kickoffs.

The other piece of bad news is that yardage does not matter in Action Scoring - only touchdowns make any impact to the fantasy scores. Table 2 shows that only 17 total returns (10 punt returns, seven kickoffs) were taken all the way for the score last year – or barely one per NFL week. That number was the lowest since I started tracking this total back in 2009, but not too far off of the last four seasons (17 in 2016, 20 in both 2013 and 2015, and 18 in 2014). That speaks to the continued trend in the NFL to minimize the return game, especially on kickoffs. The NFL moved the kickoff line to the 35-yard line prior to the 2011 season, and since that season only 61 touchdowns have been scored on a kickoff return - or about 8-9 a year. That is more than a 50% cut of the numbers in the prior two seasons (2009 had 18, 2010 had 23) before the rule change.

Speaking of rule changes, 2016 has another kickoff rule change, and it turned out to be significant. Kickoff touchbacks (not punts) are now brought out to the 25-yard line, not the 20-yard line. Those five yards may not sound like much, but it can be meaningful for some teams, especially late in close games or in the final minutes of the first half. Some teams may try and use a "mortar kick", where the kicker pops the ball up as high as he can and tries to pin the team near the goal line rather than trying to put it into the end zone. That trend is likely to continue again in 2018.

Table 2 summaries the numbers for the past seven years:

Year
Pass Return TDs
Kickoff Return TDs
Total Return TDs
2009
10
18
28
2010
13
23
36
2011**
20
9
29
2012
17
13
30
2013
13
7
20
2014
12
6
18
2015
13
7
20
2016
10
7
16
2017
10
7
16

Table 2: 2009-2017 Kick Return Touchdowns

**In 2011, the NFL moved the kickoff line from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line.

Table 3 summarizes the players that found the end zone via a kick or punt return last year:

Player
Team
Punt Returns
Kick Returns
Total
Returns
Returns
Yards
TDs
Returns
Yards
TDs
Jamal Agnew
DET
29
447
2
11
196
0
40
Tyler Lockett
SEA
36
237
0
37
949
1
73
Pharoh Cooper
LAR
32
399
0
34
932
1
66
Tarik Cohen
CHI
29
272
1
26
583
0
55
Ryan Switzer
DAL
29
256
1
24
600
0
53
Michael Campanaro
BAL
27
291
1
6
159
0
33
Jaydon Mickens
JAX
27
287
1
2
20
0
29
Travis Benjamin
LAC
27
257
1
27
Tyreek Hill
KAN
25
204
1
25
Dion Lewis
NWE
23
570
1
23
Kaelin Clay
BUF/CAR
19
149
1
3
52
0
22
Bobby Rainey
BAL
2
22
0
11
338
1
13
Alvin Kamara
NOR
11
347
1
11
JuJu Smith-Schuster
PIT
9
240
1
9
Damiere Byrd
CAR
1
9
0
7
229
1
8
Bryce Callahan
CHI
1
59
1
1

Table 3: 2016 NFL Kick/Punt Return Touchdowns

Based on the results, it becomes clear just how rare a kick return for a touchdown is these days. Further, three players dominated the return game as Tyreek Hill of Kansas City (three touchdowns) along with Andre Roberts of Detroit and Marcus Sherels of Minnesota (two scores each) are the only players who found the end zone more than once last year. In 2015 four players manage this feat, and three different players accomplished this milestone in 2012-2014. Many more players (nine in 2010, six in 2009) scored before the NFL's rule change. There is at least a little bit of good news - one of these players is worthy of a draft pick this season, Tyreek Hill of the Chiefs. He is already considered a Top 50 pick, but this does boost some of his value in kick return friendly leagues such as the FPC. While his ADP is high, some of that current value may not reflect this extra boost potential. A few other players may see more chances than others on this list, so be sure to check on kick and punt returner depth charts to possibly find that extra upside in a later round pick. Looking at the table overall, there is not much point in considering anyone else for a considerable Action Scoring boost - even if a player gets an extra touchdown on the season.

PARTING THOUGHTS

Every fantasy league and its rulebook is a little different. For the FPC and the FFPC, the addition of Action Scoring may seem at first to have very little impact on the scores overall, but in certain circumstances, it can impact several players' values. Key return men that are expected to be solid picks such as Tyreek Hill should get a little bit of a boost to their overall ADP thanks to this extra touchdown (or a few) per season. Even Antonio Brown, John Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. get minimal bumps here despite many expectations that they will not be returning kicks much longer. Rest assured that if it is just before halftime or towards the end of a close game, any of these players may find himself back there to field that key kickoff or punt return.

The tricky part of evaluating the rest of the kick returners comes after these first four or five guys are off the board. Marquise Lee and Darren Sproles are decent backups, but can they really be relied upon as spot starters? They are certainly worth drafting and if injuries or bye weeks hit, and their clutch performances may give lucky owners an advantage in just the right week thanks to the Action Scoring added value. While they are not worthy of big bumps up the draft board, their added value as return men with a history of touchdowns should be a nice tiebreaker if someone is deciding between Lee, Sproles or another running back or wide receiver.

The last comment is more of a warning - do not be surprised if a few of these players see fewer kick return chances as they develop into regular offensive starters. Antonio Brown and Tyreek Hill are both likely to be replaced by depth players to give them both a rest and less chance of getting hurt. Keep that in mind if you are factoring in kick return value to a particular player. Turnover at both kick return spots can be quite high.

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.