In this draft strategy article, I’m going to get you looking at positional value. This was actually a topic that was the focus in one of the first articles I ever wrote- I found a copy of it on my hard-drive and it still stands up! (Although it needs updated for player names, the data is using 2019 season data, but fine for the concept).
Valuing the importance of a position in fantasy football is as with all things- very dependent on how your league is set up. There are words of wisdom though that you will hear a lot of in the offseason. Things like “never draft a QB early- the points are easily replaceable”, I wanted to find out if that was true and which position was the most important to think about in the lead up to the draft.
Things to note here are that I am using a 12-team standard scoring league, and the starting positions are;
- RB x 2
- WR x 2
I’m going to ignore a few positions for this analysis (specifically Flex positions, Kickers and DST). The reason being that accounting for Flex positions can be complicated in comparing the likelihood of opting for one position over another etc. and it has been proven several times that it is much harder to determine the consistency of the Kickers and DST positions across the weeks.
Draft Strategy Positional Value- Replacement Line
With the caveats out of the way, let’s move onto having a look at the stats for last year. In order to determine the value of a position we need to work out the points that they scored above the “replacement line” (The replacement line is the line at which a player is no longer a starter- for example in a 12 man league the line is drawn at the QB12). So, taking the 2019 season (using 0.5 PPR scoring, and excluding fumbles) we have the following:
Therefore, the RPV points for each position (in total) and the average per player can be shown below:
That indicates that the RB position is the most important (showing the largest drop off), followed by QB then WR and lastly TE.
Draft Strategy Positional Value- Relative Point Value
However, that doesn’t take into account the value of a point. QB’s tend to score more points, so while they have a high absolute RPV, that doesn’t tell the whole story. The way to truly determine the worth of a player is to look at the relative scoring.
To do this you simply take the players RPV value and divide that over the base line for the position. In the case of the Lamar Jackson example; (491.68 – 311.68) ÷ 311.68 = 58%. This shows that Lamar Jackson scored 58% more points that the RPV line (so worth around 1.6 times the worst viable starter)
Repeating the same exercise using that methodology gives;
What does this tell us?
This proves the conventional wisdom that it is better to wait for a QB in your draft, as it is the position that is the closest to the replacement value, so you don’t need to reach early in a draft in order to get value for the positions.
This seems to demonstrate that in standard scoring going zero RB may be a mistake (unless your league really forces you down that route) as that’s the position that can help you most win your league, as the value of the top RBs is the highest.
WR is the position that is the deepest, which given the way the NFL is going shouldn’t be a surprise. So, if you are trying to build you roster to go all the way this is the position that you can wait on (other than QB)
Interestingly it would seem that TE is an important position to target in your draft as this shows that the best players are “worth” more than players of other positions.
Does that make sense? If it doesn’t or you want a little bit more explanation, let us know on social and we can help! Don’t forget to check out our other content in our draft kit!
Image Credit: Scott R. Galvin – USA TODAY Sports