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 another season, ready to knock it out of the park once again in 2017.
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 DUAL-FLEX RULE
Under the microscope this time around is the Dual-Flex rule. According the rules of the Footballguys Players Championship, the rosters are as follows:
Roster/Scoring: The FPC starting lineup allows for two (2) flex positions, also known as the Dual-Flex.
With the added clarification on the starting roster:
- 1 QB
- 2 RBs
- 2 WRs
- 1 TE
- 1 K
- 1 D/ST
- 2 flex players (RB/WR/TE)
So how do you analyze the impact of this "Dual-Flex" rule, and what would the ideal lineup look like? We need to dig into some numbers.
First, let's take a look at the starting lineups and what it takes to be a fantasy RB1, RB2, WR1, WR2 and TE1 in FPC scoring. There are many ways to determine what it takes to be at a certain fantasy performance level, but for me a look at the previous season's statistics is an excellent start. To help weed out some of the injury concerns for players who missed time last year, I will look at the players' points per game rather than their annual total. Even if the player missed several games due to injury, his contributions as a potential fantasy starter when healthy should not be overlooked.
Table 1 shows the fantasy points per game needed to achieve a particular fantasy level for the last six seasons (with at least four appearances):
|Position||2016 PPG||2015 PPG||2014 PPG||2013 PPG||2012 PPG||2011 PPG||2010 PPG||2009 PPG|
Table 1: 2009-2016 FPC Fantasy Points Per Game Across Several Positions
Several key facts can be pulled from Table 1 about FPC scoring:
- The running back and wide receiver positions are equally weighted throughout the different fantasy levels. RB12 is roughly equivalent to WR12, RB24 to WR24, and RB36 to WR36 - although it should be noted that WRs outpaces RBs by 1-2 points the last two years.
- Even with the bonus of an extra 50% value for receptions, Top 12 tight ends are still roughly equivalent to a second tier running back or wide receiver.
- Collecting the top tiers at either RB or WR is the best approach for overall value.
- Grabbing a Top 12 TE is key given that they trail off quickly.
- Dual flex spots will tend to favor additional RB or WR starters.
The key points from the above observation are most applicable to the Dual Flex rule. Given that the two flex spots can be filled by a running back, wide receiver or a tight end, grabbing the best available at each position is the correct approach once you are certain that your core starters are covered. If you are unsure about your draft at any given time, just consider that you are most likely going to be starting two RBs, two WRs or one of each at your two flex spots most of the time. Tight ends lose value quickly unless your team is blessed with two Top 12 players, which is a great bonus for roster flexibility in case of byes or injuries.
Roster considerations should only come into play if either your team (A) does not have the starters covered yet (2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE) or (B) if you are starting to get too many of one type of player (such as 5 WRs before grabbing a third RB). Once you understand that most weeks your roster will be 2-4 RB and 2-4 WRs, that extra knowledge will reassure your selection of a third player at one position instead of possibly a second starter at RB or WR – so long as you understand that the position must be addressed soon. If WR2 candidates are plentiful but RBs are going off the board fast, there is no issue at all with grabbing your RB3 and waiting one more round to grab that second wideout. Just as your lineup can be, you should also find ways to remain flexible.
Now, looking beyond the Top 36 fantasy players at each spot, there is some value in determining where a "last line of valuable contributor" exists at each position. Considering that TE12, RB24 and WR24 all are roughly equivalent (about 12-13 points per game), it stands to reason that a player capable of averaging about 75-80% of that score would be a "worst case starter", or a bye week fill-in candidate. Putting that score at roughly 10 points per game, we can take another pass at last year's performances at all three positions and see how deep each position goes with this new criteria:
|Position||10+ PPG (2016)||10+ PPG (2015)||10+ PPG (2014)||10+ PPG (2013)||10+ PPG (2012)||10+ PPG (2011)||10+ PPG (2010)||10+ PPG (2009)|
Table 2: 2009-2016 FPC Fantasy Players Averaging 10+ Points Per Game
Note: Players with fewer than three games played were not considered.
Based on Table 2, roughly 100 players achieved an average of 10 or more points per game in the last seven years. The last two years saw a peak with 115 players, mostly because of the sharp increase at running back in 2016. That was due to a number of factors, such as positional / starter turnover and injuries. Players that came on late in the year like David Johnson and Blial Powell combined with a Tim Hightower who seemly came out of nowhere really increased the total in 2015, while wide receivers and tight ends were nearly at peak performance last season (23 tight ends was the most so far). Remember, this is a list of players that played in just three games but averaged over 10+ fantasy points, so Eric Decker who was worthless after September still counts.
Comparing Tables 1 and 2 shows that each position dries up quickly – only one running back, four wide receivers and seven tight ends were viable fill-in players beyond RB3, WR3 or TE1 levels in 2009. The numbers are actually worse at RB in 2010 (down five) but WRs did produce slightly better (up 10), with similar numbers in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In 2014, running backs showed a decrease while wide receivers went up to their highest levels, while tight ends matched 2012 for the peak at 20 10+ point per game performers. As I mentioned earlier, running backs were at an all-time high with 43 in 2016, but wide receivers and tight ends were closer to the norm (although tight end did set a new record with 21, one more than both 2014 and 2012). Last year, tight ends hit their highest mark with 23, with very little dropoff at wide receiver (56 in 2016, near the peak of 58 in 2014). No matter how you slice it, once you get past RB3, WR3 and TE1 levels there are only 12-24 players that are capable of good production on draft day, and maybe a few more that pop up on the waiver wire during the season. That is roughly one roster spot per fantasy team, possibly two, so that depth should only be starting in case of a rash of injuries, bad bye weeks or if the majority of a roster is underperforming. What it does highlight is that, given the 1.5 PPR for tight ends, TE2s achieve a higher value as a possible flex contributor.
Every fantasy league and its rulebook are a little different. Learning how special rules like the Dual-Flex Rule in the FPC can impact both Draft Day and weekly lineup decisions are important concepts to grasp. Figuring out the benefits of having four starting feature running backs or 3-4 Top 20 wide receivers on your roster can dramatically impact your success. Take the lessons learned from above and try to acquire as many Top 24 WRs and Top 24 RBs and at least one Top 12 tight end regardless of how your fantasy draft has gone so far. For example, if you believe that all the good wide receivers will be gone after your next pick, go ahead and take another one even if you already have 2-3 WRs and just one running back. The FPC rules clearly favor drafting the best player available regardless of their position, so cornering the market on stud RBs or stud WRs can both make for a successful team.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.