Stats Central


This week’s PPGAR rankings is just a list of everyone in the Houston Texans offense. Well, not quite. But after that game in Seattle it seems possible, right? In all seriousness, Houston’s offense is nastttyyyy which makes the fact that they started the season with Tom Savage at the helm and a gameplan built rely exclusively on their defense to get them into a playoff spot all the more absurd. Props to Deshaun Watson and Co. for such a prolific half-season.

Sadly, Deshaun and gun-slinging Texans will be holstered for the remainder of the season with Tom Savage once again in command of the offense, now that Deshaun is now tragically done for the year after he tore his ACL in practice.1

Meanwhile, as Kareem Hunt continues his downward trajectory one guy who has maintained his strong play is Melvin Gordon. He’s flown under the radar this year with the rookie class of RBs playing so well, but his consistent performance in 2017 is a testament to the growth he’s shown since his rookie year. It also goes to show that sometimes buying low2 can really pay off in fantasy football.

One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Can Kareem Hunt keep this up?”

Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs
2017 : 3 GP | 401 yds | 9 rec | 137 yds | 6 Total TDs

Alex Schillinger: Kareem Hunt didn’t exactly have the best start to his professional career: he fumbled his very first NFL carry. After that, though, he’s been pretty much flawless with 392 yards (on 46 carries) and four rushing TDs to go with a pair of receiving TDs. The Toledo alum has worked his way onto 100% of the rosters in ESPN leagues and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. But the question remains, is it even possible for the rookie to keep up this pace?

Mike Bergsman: You mean, a pace of 2,138 yards rushing, 731 yards receiving, 32 touchdowns, and 48 receptions? A pace that equates to an average of 32.3 PPG and 516 total fantasy points, shattering every record ever, and probably inserting himself into the Hall of Fame based on one year alone? Absolutely not.

I guarantee Alex Smith, Tarik Cohen, and Sam Bradford were not the sleeper picks you had in mind this year.

Week one of the 2017 fantasy football season was….odd. Only one of the top ten players in terms of total points from 2016 are in the top ten of PPGAR in week one.1

Here are your week one PPGAR leaders.

One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Is Tom Brady worth it?”

Tom Brady – New England Patriots
2016: 12 GP | 67.4 Comp % | 3,554 yds | 28 TDs

Alex Schillinger: We get it Tom. You’ve proven that you’re the best quarterback in the game…again. You currently rank in the top four all-time in wins, passing yards, passing touchdowns and a bunch of other stuff. Oh, and to top it all off, you’re married to one of the most beautiful women in the world, and you’ve got your next career all lined up: Hollywood, here comes your next leading man.

But none of that matters now. Not on the gridiron.1 No, what matters here is whether or not Tom Brady is worth the cost he’s going to demand in this year’s fantasy drafts. Right now, his ADP among QBs is 2nd and he’s the 3rd overall player off the board. In auction leagues, he’s going for $22 on average. No way is he, or any other QB for that matter, worth that much.2

Mike Bergsman: The thing is, Brady has so much cache that people are actually going to pay that much for him or draft him in the third or fourth round. People are dumb. Now, while I do think Brady is legitimately the best QB ever, I absolutely would not draft him for that much or that early. That’s not a knock on him as much as it is me just not being a moron.

While we can both agree Brady isn’t that valuable,3 he’s still going to be one of the best fantasy QBs in the league, right? Homeboy just added Brandin Cooks as a deep threat to join the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman,4 James White, Dion Lewis, Dwayne Allen, and Danny Amendola. Also, he made this. Yeah, that’s a $200 cookbook. George Foreman ain’t got nothin’ on TB12.

Alex: Seriously, $200 for a cookbook gives me just enough cause to not draft this guy regardless of how well he performs on the field. That said, I still wouldn’t draft him, even if he is the world’s greatest QB5 and sold his cookbook for a more reasonable $29.99.

That might sound like crazy talk, but hear me out. Brady nearly always finishes in the top five in fantasy scoring, but he’s only finished in the top 3 in scoring four times in his entire career. Granted, that’s still pretty good, but it’s not $22 good, it’s not even $10 good. And there’s no way he’s going for anything less than that. What about you, would you spend more than $10 on your GOAT?

Mike: To answer your question, no. I would not spend $10 or more on a goat man.

As seen in the groundbreaking – neigh, revolutionary! – statistic introduced here, very seldomly do quarterbacks provide the kind of value that other positions do. I can’t justify spending a large amount of precious draft capital on someone who will only get me a couple of more points per game than a low-tier QB.

I’d rather spend an early pick or a high percentage of my draft dollars on guys who far outperform their peers.

Alex: We’re in complete agreement here. I hate it when that happens. But it’s instructive: no matter how good a QB is, he’s just not worth more than $4, which is exactly where I have Mr. Gisele Bundchen. If I’m snake drafting, I’m taking him well after I’ve found my starting WRs and RBs and maybe even my TE.

Mike: So basically, what both of us are saying is, “Fuck Tom Brady and his four minute 40 time.” Also, Tom Brady is the man and I want his life. Both can be true. However, don’t go overboard spending a significant amount of draft dollars or an early draft pick on any QB, ever. You can get a serviceable QB in later rounds, whereas you will not find a value-producing RB or WR in later rounds. At least, not without a healthy dose of luck.

Alex: I feel like we can’t go out on that note…so here’s more of Tom doing what he does second best.

If you score more points than your opponent, you win. That’s how fantasy football works.1 The simplicity of that binary outcome hasn’t exactly made assembling your fantasy team a simple process – for the love of God, look at all these draft strategy guides – but it has obscured what you’re really trying to do when you build your team. Yes, you want to score a lot of points but not all points are created equally. Because of positional roster restrictions,2 it doesn’t make sense to draft the top point producer available with each of your picks. If you did, you’d end up with a roster filled with 12 quarterbacks and therein lies the problem. Points matter, obviously, but where they come from matters almost as much. The truth about fantasy football is that you’re looking not just for points, but the points that offer the greatest value.

Most draft strategies try to address this complication by creating rules about when to draft which position – someone somewhere is pounding their table and screaming “Two running backs with your first two picks!” right this very moment – but those solutions are imprecise at best and, at worst, broad to the point of being counterproductive. What would actually be helpful is a way to compare the point production of players across various positions on an apples to apples basis. “But there is no such method,” you say. “The positions were separated at the Beginning and never shall they meet!” First off, calm down. And secondly, The Read Option is here to help: introducing PPGAR,3 your new favorite fantasy stat.

One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Is this guy any good?”

Alshon Jeffery – Philadelphia Eagles
2016: 12 GP | 52 rec | 821 yds | 2 TDs

Alex Schillinger: Sure, there are some red flags. Jeffery is on a new team, in a new system. He’s scored more than seven touchdowns in a season a grand total of one time. He’s had some injury issues in the past, and then there’s that whole illegal performance enhancing drugs suspension thing. There’s reason for concern, is what I’m saying. But he’s got some definite upside too. If you extrapolate out his yardage over a full season, Jeffery would have had over 1,000 yards receiving in each of the last four years.1 He’s on a one-year “prove it” contract, and he’s got something to, you know, prove. Despite those initial red flags, it looks to me like Jeffery’s poised for a strong year. What do your stats say, Mikey?

One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Is this guy any good?”

Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
2016: 15 GP | 92 rec | 1,137 yds | 9 TDs

Alex Schillinger: As a Brandin Cooks owner last year in a PPR league, there wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t say, “who the fuck is this Michael Thomas guy?”1 By Week 8 it felt like he’d stolen all of Cooks’ points,2 so I started doing some research. Sure Thomas had the measurables. He’s 6’3” and 212 lbs with monster 10.5” hands and a family pedigree at wide receiver that includes former number one overall pick Keyshawn Johnson.3 But could a moderately fast, mid to deep threat, outside option really keep up this pace? Turns out…yes.

Consistency, consistency, consistency.

My strategy for Fantasy Football as I’ve grown into a wannabe-Guru has led me to the realization that consistency, rather than high risk, high ceiling, is the key attribute to shoot for when drafting or targeting players for waivers or trades.

Yards per catch can signify trouble ahead if it’s too high. For example, as of week three in 2016, Marvin Jones , was on pace for 2,176 receiving yards and an average YPC of 23. Without looking into anything further I can already make an assumption that he will revert to the mean YPC across the league of 11. Jones was brought into to fill the void Calvin Johnson left, not shatter NFL records.

YPC is a nice thing to look as more of an ancillary statistic, but if you really want to understand consistency, you have to understand distributions of YPC. The reason for this is twofold:

Today we’re going to look at points per touch (PPT) which is a particularly relevant metric for RBs in PPR leagues, since PPR rules allow RBs to be extremely valuable even with a limited amount of touches per game. For reference, I’m defining points per touch as a player’s total number of points divided by their total touches (rushes and receptions). By reviewing PPT, we should be able to compare both receiving backs and bell-cow, run-between-the-tackles backs on the same scale.

Additionally, this PPT data should help us to identify some potential 2017 breakout candidates. With running back platoons in vogue, there were a number of backs that handled less than 50% of the carries for their team but were far more effective on a per touch basis than their backfield colleagues. Some of these players may have earned an increased workload in 2017 or may even be given the opportunity to take over as a lead back. Alternatively, PPT should help us to isolate the more inefficient RBs from 2016. Finding these players allows us to find not only players to avoid in 2017 but also players who may benefit from an off season of roster turnover: if a player was inefficient in 2016 and their team bolstered its offensive line, a more efficient season may be on the way.

With all that said, let’s take a look at the data.

Week in and week out, managers struggle with which RB2 to start, what their waiver wire pick up will be, and whether or not their backup TE has a better matchup than their starter. There are entire TV shows, podcasts, and radio segments dedicated to which third string WR you should start any given week at your FLEX position. But when it comes to D/ST, the thought process usually goes something like this:

Who is Cleveland playing this week?

D/ST is unlike any other position on your roster and even on your strongest weeks can lose you games. But why? Because the defensive scoring system sucks. And as a result you’re left tearing out your hair and screaming at your computer. Okay, let’s be honest, you’re probably doing that anyway, but we still need to change the way we score defenses.