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Are Quarterbacks More Valuable Than We Think?

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Check out any smart Fantasy Football analyst and they will tell you, “Quarterbacks are very deep and there is no need to draft one early in 1 quarterback leagues.” While I fully support this mantra and often stream the quarterback position myself in leagues depending on the availability of the wide receivers and running backs, a recent statistical study might show us that quarterbacks are more valuable than we think.

What Do You Want from Your Starters

If you do not learn anything else from me here on FakePigSkin.com you will become a believer in the number one commandment of Fantasy Football…”Fantasy Football is a weekly game!” What do we really want from our fantasy starters? Some players will say “Upside” while others will say “Consistency” but why can’t we have “Consistent Upside?” While we would all love 20 points or more from every starter every week the cold hard statistics show us what we should demand from our fantasy starters every week.

The 60% Solution

Whether you are forecasting fantasy sports, weather, or horse racing if you can arrive at a 60% probability for any single statistic your chances for success in your forecast will rise considerably. When it comes to Fantasy Football how many points will the average player earn for you is important data to know. Based on the complete games played by every viable fantasy football player on a current NFL roster here is what the data tells us by position.

Quarterbacks played a total of 746 compete games which are defined as games that the player was on the field for 40 or more snaps. This eliminates games where a player got hurt and was unable to play more than half of his team’s snaps. 60.6% of the time quarterbacks scored 15 or more points in a standard scoring format that gives 4 points for a passing touchdown. Only 17.4% of the games ended up with less than 10 points scored.

Running backs played a total of 1085 complete games which are defined as games that the player was on the field for 20 or more snaps. This eliminates games where a player got hurt and was unable to play more than one third of his team’s snaps. 67.3% of the time running backs scored 10 or more points in a standard point per reception scoring format. Only 16.9% of the games ended with less than 7 points scored.

Wide receivers played a total of 1891 complete games which are defined as games that the player was on the field for 30 or more snaps. This eliminates games where a player got hurt and was unable to play more than 40% of his team’s snaps. 54.9% of the time wide receivers scored 10 or more points in a standard point per reception scoring format. Only 29.7% of the games ended with less than 7 points scored.

Tight ends played a total of 601 complete games which are defined as games that the player was on the field for 30 or more snaps. This eliminates games where a player got hurt and was unable to play more than 40% of his team’s snaps. 66.6% of the time tight ends scored 7 or more points in a standard point per reception scoring format.

Breakdown by Position

In order to understand how valuable a particular player on your fantasy football roster is on a weekly basis you need to understand how often he scores at or above the 60% solution level of fantasy points. The higher his percentage of games over the league average the more valuable he is to your fantasy football roster. Combine this consistency score with a player’s “Best Ten” score and you have a complete understanding of that player’s weekly value. In order to eliminate small sample sizes for this data we will only look at players who have 10 or more complete games over the last two seasons. Looking at only the last two seasons keeps the data fresh and accounts for the ever evolving world that is the National Football League.

Two quarterbacks with 10 or more games played over the last two seasons have scored 15 or more points over 90% of the time. Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes are the only two reaching this level of excellence. Only seven quarterbacks in the entire league scored 15 or more points in 75% or more of their complete games. Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers join the list to go with Rodgers and Mahomes.

Seven running backs with 10 or more games played over the last two seasons have scored 10 or more points over 90% of the time. Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, LeVeon Bell, Todd Gurley, James Conner, Ezekial Elliott and Nick Chubb made this impressive list. Ten more running backs for a total of 17 have scored 10 or more points in 75% or more of their complete games. In addition to the names listed above Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt, David Johnson, Matt Breida, Jalen Richard and Chris Carson make this list.

Three wide receivers with 10 or more games played over the last two seasons have scored 10 or more points over 90% of the time. DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones and Julian Edelman are the only three wide receivers on this list. Only 10 more wide receivers for a total of 13 have scored 10 or more points in 75% or more of their complete games. In addition to the names listed above Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr, Keenan Allen, Devante Adams, AJ Green, Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, Stefon Diggs, Robert Woods, Tyreek Hill, and Ju Ju SmithSchuster make this list.

Value Over Average

Two tight ends with 10 or more games played over the last two seasons have scored 7 or more points over 90% of the time. Eric Ebron and Travis Kelce are the only two reaching this level. Only 5 more for a total of 7 have scored 7 or more points in 75% of more of their complete games. In addition to the two names above Zach Ertz, Evan Engram, Jordan Reed, George Kittle, and Delanie Walker make this list.

Since the percentages of acceptable production targets are not all equal at 60% the only way to accurately show the value of each position is to equalize the data by showing a player’s percentage in relationship to the position average. This is a player’s “Value Over Average” (VA) which will show the relative value of players at different positions.

The top quarterback has a VA of 34 with the 6th best quarterback at 14 and the 12th best quarterback at 6. This shows the value of the top, middle and last starter at this position.

The top running back has a VA of 29 with the 6th best running back at 25 with the 12th best running back at 18 with the 18th best running back at 7 and the 24th best running back at 1. This shows the value of the top, middle and last starter at this position.

The top wide receiver has a VA of 42 with the 6th best wide receiver at 32 with the 12th best wide receiver at 24 with the 18th best wide receiver at 17 with the 24th best wide receiver at 9. This shows the value of the top, middle and last starter at this position.

The top tight end has a VA of 29 with the 6th best tight end at 11 and the 12th best tight end at -2. This shows the value of the top, middle and last starter at this position.

Conclusion

Since there are fewer quarterbacks able to perform well over the average for the position relative to running backs investing in one of the elite quarterbacks makes more sense when you are looking to score consistent points over the course of the entire season. The elite wide receivers show the most value relative to other positions when you compare their “Value Over Average.” The best tight ends have a value equal to the 8th best wide receiver and a top running back. It is quite possible by the numbers to show why wide receivers have the most value overall but that the elite quarterbacks are more valuable than we often think.

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