I can’t recall where I first heard it, but my favorite fantasy draft quote is “you can’t win your league with your first pick, but you can lose it.” Drafting a stud in the 1st round does not guarantee a championship. In most cases, the league champ hit on a sleeper in the later rounds and picked up important pieces on the waiver wire. On the other hand, when your 1st round pick is a complete bust, it can be a crippling blow. This is why I have always prioritized safe, conservative picks in the 1st round over players who might carry more risk. In the article below, I examine the fantasy football value and risk between quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers using preseason rankings from ESPN.com and season-long scoring totals from pro-football-reference.com.
Fantasy Points Above Expectation (FPAE) is a metric we created to better capture how much fantasy production each team is giving up. FPAE measures how many fantasy points a team gives up to a certain position, relative to what they were expected to give up. For example, Miami’s FPAE against QBs in 2016 was 6.1, meaning that they gave up an average of 6.1 points more than expected to QBs. In this context, “expected” is referring to their opponents’ average fantasy points. As a further example, let’s say Sam Bradford is averaging 15 fantasy points going into a Week 6 game against Detroit, and he scores 22 points in that game. Detroit would get a +7 FPAE vs. QBs for Week 6, since Bradford scored 7 points more than his average. Detroit’s +7 FPAE for Week 6 would be combined with their QB FPAE values from Weeks 1-5 to get their average QB FPAE. This process is repeated for each team against each position to calculate our FPAE values. Negative FPAE values indicate that a team is holding players they face below their average production.
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