Using Value Based Drafting To Game Your League Format

Hello all,

My name is Michael. I am a fantasy football addict. My drug of choice is Dynasty Football with lots of interesting wrinkles. This has challenged me in recent years, as questions like “I know I love player A in a PPR league, but do I like player A as much in a PPR/PPC/TE Premium/PPfirstdown/Superflex/Salary cap/Contract/IDP/IDK/WTF/BBQ league?!”

Obviously the last bit is sensationalized, and some things will be hard to quantify, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to quantify the difference.

Pulling fantasy insight straight off our domes is probably something we are all accustomed to. This can work just fine if you play in roughly the same format every league, every year. But even slight differences in the league format, scoring, or roster requirements can really change how you SHOULD value players. This understanding can be the absolute best way to give yourself an edge over your competition, who may be new to the format of the league as well.

How do we do this? We employ an age-old fantasy strategy taught to us by Joe Bryant of FootballGuys: Value Based Drafting(VBD).

For those of you familiar with the concept, you know it is typically used in conjunction with redraft leagues. I agree that this is the best use, however, the only thing we are setting out to do here today is to see how VBD values change when you change your league/scoring format.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, here is a (reasonably) brief description:

We all know that in a common fantasy format, QBs score the most points, but are not valued as the top picks. Some have an imperfect understanding as to why this is. They are not valued the same as other positions because of their scarcity, or what I like to call “value over replacement”. I know what some of you may be saying. “Golly Michael I don’t have time for this gory statistical calculation. I play to have fun!” Here’s the secret:

*Whispers* It’s actually really easy to calculate.

Step 1a (If no projections are available yet by the time your draft starts):

Find a list of players, and their stats last year relevant to your scoring format. Import such a list to a spreadsheet. Sort this by position! VBD is 100% positional. Sometimes compiling this data can be a time-consuming step, but it’s absolutely crucial.

Step 1b (If you have made your own projections or have a set of reliable projections somebody else made to use):

Create a similar spreadsheet to Step 1a, but using projections of relevant stats to your scoring format for players.

Step 2:

Overlay your scoring system on the stats/stat projections. Here is how I generally do so:

I let a spreadsheet do the math for me(2018 final numbers):

For those who know excel/google sheets well enough to use formulas, feel free to scroll on by this next part.

In this particular scoring format, QBs score:

Passing Yards: 0.04 points for every yard

Passing TDs: 4 points

Intercepted pass: -2 points

Rushing yards: 0.1 points for every yard

Rushing TDs: 6 points

The formula listed is what is actually typed into the cell. C2 refers to the cell in column C and row 2. When you verify that your formula works and accurately depicts your scoring format, you can simply click the blue square at the bottom right corner of the selected cell, and drag it down as far as you want in that column. The spreadsheet will automatically adjust the formula to take the change in row values into account.

Those who knew how to make formulas prior, feel free to come back! We missed you in that paragraph.

Step 3:

Use your starting lineup requirements to determine what “replacement level” is.

Example:

The league is 10 teams, and each team starts one QB, two RB, two WR, and one TE.

Scoring is as such:

Passing Yards: 0.04 points for every yard

Passing TDs: 4 points

Intercepted pass: -2 points

Rushing yards: 0.1 points for every yard

Rushing TDs: 6 points

Receptions: 1 point

Receiving yards: 0.1 points for every yard

Receiving TDs: 6 points

Replacement level is sometimes defined by “Worst Starter”, “Top Backup”, or “Top Waiver Wire Option”. You can use QB10 for “Worst Starter” in this scenario,  or QB11 “Top Backup”, or try to guess your league mates tendencies to assume the position-rank of the first QB off the waiver wire (tougher to do). You can use any of these as replacement level, but just make sure you stay consistent with the rule within every position. For this exercise, we will use the “Top Backup” option. QB11 will then be replacement level.  For running backs, you have two starters every week. RB21 will then be replacement level. WR21/TE11 round out the replacement levels.

Take a mental, physical, or digital note of this point total for every relevant position, at the respective replacement level. In this example:

QB11 scored 290.22 points in 2018.

RB21 scored 178.1

WR21 scored 207.1

TE11 scored 133.2

Step 4:

Take each player’s points scored, or projected fantasy points, and compare that figure to replacement level at their position.

Player A fantasy pts- X. Replacement level points- R. Value over replacement= X-R. When you get to the end, it’s as simple as X-R.

Step 5:

Put all the players down on the same sheet, with their points, and VBD numbers. Sort all players by VBD, and you will gain important context about how to value players across all positions.

Example:

Here are the top 15 players for 2018 in this league/scoring format sorted by VBD.

“But, Mike! Wait! What if the league I’m in is not that exact league/scoring format?”

There are some fairly easy adjustments to use if that is the case. Let’s say, for example, you play in a 20 team, single-player-copy league, and need to know how to properly calculate VBD for the league with the same starting lineup rules. Here’s a pretty simple example of how to adjust for various league/scoring format differences.

Replacement level = Points scored by position rank equal to (# of teams in the league) * (# of starters at the respective position) + 1.

10 teams = QB11((10 teams)*(1 starter)+1)

20 teams = QB21((20 teams)*(1 starter)+1)

Let’s say you start two QB each week-

10 teams(1QB) = QB11((10 teams)*(1 starter)+1)

10 teams(2QB) = QB21((10 teams)*(2 starters)+1)

If the scoring format is different, adjust your points column formula to account for the differences. You may have to add a column if you are adding in a previously unused statistic, like receptions, when looking at the difference between standard and PPR.

Lots of times on Twitter, or in league chats, I see an imperfect assumption when it comes to “Beefing up QB scoring” compared to starting more QBs in a given week. I’ll see anything from adjusting passing touchdowns to six points or higher to adding in points for being accurate as a passer, to making passing yards score more points. Let’s compare a 10 team, two QB league with a single QB league with the following “beefed up” scoring format for QBs, designed to increase the difference between top QBs and replacement level.

Passing Yards: 0.1 points for every yard

Completed Pass: 1 point

Incomplete Pass: -1 point(Have to throw for 50% to gain additional points)

Passing TDs: 6 points

Intercepted pass: -4 points

Rushing yards: 0.1 points for every yard

Rushing TDs: 6 points

The 2QB league will follow the previously listed scoring format

Passing Yards: 0.04 points for every yard

Passing TDs: 4 points

Intercepted pass: -2 points

Rushing yards: 0.1 points for every yard

Rushing TDs: 6 points

Here are the results of last year’s QBs with VBD under the 1QB scenario:

Green= more than 200 VBD

Light green= 100-199

Yellow= 50-99

Orange=0-49

Here’s how this group would fit in with other normally scored positions:

As you can see here, this bumps up overall QB scoring by a ton. It puts six QBs in the top 30 players, and three in the top 15 players. This is a notable increase, but I’ve seen many assert that in a scoring format such as this, “The whole first round should be QB”.

Now here are the results of last year’s QBs with VBD under the 2QB scenario:

Green= more than 200 VBD

Light green= 100-199

Yellow= 50-99

Orange=0-49

Let’s again compare that to the other normally scored positions:

As you can see, increasing the number of QBs you start each week has a greater effect on the value of the position as a whole, when comparing to the “beefed up” QB scoring scenario. In this, there are four QBs in the top 15 players, and 10 QBs in the top 30 players.

I’ll give all of you awesome readers FULL PERMISSION to dunk on anyone who says adjusting QB scoring can make QBs matter as much as just simply starting more of them does.

“But, Mike! You forgot to talk about flex spots!”

In the past, how to compute VBD for flex spots had flummoxed me. I would simply just guess what % of RB/WR/TE would be used in the flex spot. This didn’t really make sense to me at the time so I nixed that idea, and only looked at using VBD to fill out my starters at each position. This methodology does not hold up when in leagues with flex-heavy lineups. For one of my leagues, we start one QB, one RB, two WR,  one TE, one QB/RB/WR/TE, and four RB/WR/TEs.

It’s not a tough assumption to make that a superflex spot is your second QB, unless in a very extreme draft scenario. But with 40% of your starting lineup being flex spots, you really can’t neglect them in VBD. For these scenarios, I treat the superflex spot as QB2 and the RB/WR/TE spots as their own “position” for VBD.

Example: The flex “position” includes all players, and replacement level is determined by:

10 Teams(four “Flex”) = “Flex”81((10 teams)*(eight total RB/WR/TE eligible starters)+1)

The 81st ranked “Flex” scored 143.9 points in 2018. Here are the top 81 non-QBs for this format, by VBDFlex:

You can see that the top options have higher VBDFlex numbers. Take that with a grain of salt, as you won’t get to use those options as your flex under the majority of draft scenarios. Looking at this gives you a rough indicator of which positions make good flex plays for where you draft them. This also allows you to prepare for a more fluid allocation of draft capital mentally.  

I won’t take up more of your time with different adjustments. But the beauty of reading this far into a nerdy article like this is that I’ve now given you the tools to build your assumptions about player value across league/scoring formats!

Thank you all for taking the time to read my work. Hit me up on Twitter @DFF_Mike2 and let’s talk about why I’m probably wrong!

mholder

Father, Husband, Bear fan, Dynasty & Analytics Writer for @DFF_Dynasty. #DFFArmy #DynastyFootball. You can find me on Twitter @DFF_Mike2.

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