Value Rushing Attempts

Recognize this guy…?

That’s Jamaal Charles, the top running back in fantasy football last season. Under our scoring system, he averaged 191 fantasy points per game. That’s not bad, but it wasn’t enough to outscore Tom Brady, who was the 12th best quarterback.

Or take this fellow…

Shady McCoy was the #2 running back but he was outscored by quarterbacks Alex Smith (#15), Ryan Tannehill (#16), and Carson Palmer (#17). The problem?Running backs are undervalued.

But the solution is also pretty simple:

I propose we value rushing attempts.

Rewarding rushing attempts is nothing more than valuing a player’s usage rate. We already reward receptions, which measures the same thing, so it only makes sense that we would also value rushing attempts.

Ultimately, it is a more accurate measure of the number of touches a player receives.

It also makes sense though, because so many teams have migrated to the dreaded “Running Back by Committee” approach, which further depresses the value of individual running backs. I realize, of course, that running backs still average more attempts than receivers do receptions, plus running backs also have the opportunity to make receptions, while the reverse is rarely true. So I propose we value rushing attempts half as much as receptions. We currently award 5 points per reception, and so, I propose that we award 2.5 points per rushing attempt. What affect would that have, you ask..?

2013 NFL Running Backs by Rushing Attempts/Game

Jamaal Charles averaged 17.3 rushing attempts per game and therefore would have scored an extra 43.3 points per game. That would have given him 257.7 fantasy points per game, which would have put him ahead of all quarterbacks except Peyton Manning (357.5 pts/gm) and Drew Brees (311.1 pts/gm). And he would have only bee slightly ahead of Philip Rivers (256 pts/gm). Doesn’t that seem more appropriate?

Shady averaged 19.6 rushing attempts per game, which would have been good for an extra 49 points per game, giving him a total of 240 points per game. That would have sandwiched him between Andy Dalton (245.1 pts/gm) and Cam Newton (236 pts/gm).

It also makes the running back pool deeper, by giving a few extra points to secondary backs that consistently get 10 to 15 carries but aren’t party of the passing game. And since each team can theoretically start four running backs, it’s better for the league to make the running back pool as deep as possible. Anyone who was desperate for running backs to start during bye weeks knows exactly what I am talking about.

Because this change would affect the value of players, it couldn’t take effect until the 2015 season. So we are stuck with another season of undervalued running backs. But I encourage you to think this over carefully, because I am sure that next summer we will wish we had acted early to correct this.

Benefit of the 10x Scoring System

I was recently asked if there was any benefit to the scoring change. The only tangible benefit, to use NFL-speak, is the change in quarterback scoring. Previously we had valued passing yards at 0.5 pts per every 10 passing yards. The problem with that is illustrated by something that happened to a friend of mine in another league this week…

My friend had defeated his opponent by 0.9 pts. Now, because of a scoring adjustment, Andrew Luck’s passing yards were downgraded by 3 yards. Now, under identical scoring to ours, yards doesn’t get you shit. But the points are scored in tiers, and so the 3 yards dropped Luck into the lower tier, costing him 0.5 points! Now, the same thing happened in the opposite direction to his opponent’s QB, Tony Romo. And so ended up losing – this morning – by 0.1 points. By valuing passing at 0.5 pts per yard, he would have been up by 9 points and the two 3 yard adjustments (6 yards total) would have only netted 3 points total. He would have won by 6 points.

So, although rare, it can make a difference, and would have in this other league (which is prompting my friend to suggest a similar scoring adjustment). We couldn’t do it another way because we can only value points to a tenth, not the hundredth, due to limitations in the espn system.

So this actually a more accurate scoring system. Something to keep in mind when you are deciding whether you want to vote to keep it.

Increase Scoring 10x

Fantasy football players are like real football players in maybe only one way: they both fear change. To their credit, however, the Bad News Barristers have never shied away from creative and new ways to increase fun in the League. In that spirit, I propose one, small, superficial change…

I propose we increase all scoring by a factor of 10. That’s it. So instead of getting a tenth of a point per rushing or receiving yard, you’d get 1. Yes, that would mean that you will also get 60 points per rushing or receiving touchdown and that means that teams will be scoring over 1000 points a week, but strategically nothing would change. Psychologically, though, I think it would be more fun to watch your score jump 100 points or more when someone connects for a long touchdown.

I realize that it would make it a little harder to cross-compare your team in this League with other leagues. But, given differences in scoring, and especially now that we have the offensive player position, is there even really a good comparison anyway? And you can always divide by 10 in your head if you’re curious what your ‘old’ score would have been.

So, since there is no functional change to this tweak, this will be instituted in Week Five as a test run. After Week Five, if six of you email me and say you want to go back to the old system, then it shall be so. Otherwise, the new scoring system will remain in place. I mean, come on, fractional points are stoopid anyway, you can’t win by half a point in real football, why should half points count in fantasy football?