Unit One: Getting Started
Chapter Three – Scoring Calculus
As we continue to explore the intricacies of setting up your league, we have stressed a couple key points, I feel it is important as we talk about your scoring system that we reiterate these points. These are the three base principles that are needed for a successful league:
1) Fantasy football, at its core, is about resource (players) management. The owners that best manages their resources do very well.
2) Communicate all rules, so that all owners understand the landscape of the league. This includes rosters, scoring, and transactions.
3) Your league needs to have active, competitive owners no matter the success of their teams.
These are the three basic principles that each owner (Principle One) and commissioner (Principles Two and Three) that will lead to an enjoyable experience for all parties. As we talk about roster rules (Unit Two) and scoring systems (Unit Three), keep this in mind – there are no bad rules or systems. Some rules or systems may lead to certain classes of resources (QB, RB, WR, etc…) being more valuable than others; but as long as everyone knows the rules, no scoring system is better than another.
So, since we all understand that a commissioner can’t institute a bad scoring system, let’s explore the basic options available to you. Keep in mind; if you choose to run your league using a league management website or software, you need to make sure that any scoring options you want to institute are supported by the website. It is a good idea to use your league’s software as a guide for choosing how you want to apply scoring rules. Explore the options available, write down any that you like; and go back to complete the scoring system software options.
We’re not going to explore all options available, there are a lot of options available, and if you follow the simple process above; you’ll find many options you like.
First off, we need to talk about the basic guideline used in the vast majority of scoring systems – performance based scoring. Now, all fantasy scoring is really performance based; if your player performs well in a game, he’ll most likely generate more points than a player who doesn’t perform well…Unless you’re playing in some Bizarro-World fantasy league, where mouthiness and poor performance are rewarded. If so, then pick Freddie Mitchell first.
So, performance based scoring, at its core is basically an additive point system in which a player gets more points the more yards that player amasses in a game. Pretty simple, and you probably know this already. If a player rushes for 100 yards in a game, and your system rewards rushing yards with one point every 20 yards, then that player earns you team five points. 100/20=5 The same holds true for receiving, passing, or kick return yards. If you choose 10 yards as you demarcation point, then a player would get 10 points. 100/10= 10. At the base of most fantasy leagues is this very basic idea.
Touchdowns are another basic fantasy staple. In fact, not too long ago a good deal of leagues were ‘TD Only’ leagues. This means that the only scoring in this type of league was accumulated by scoring touchdowns, and kicking field goals and extra points. One reason these leagues were popular in the past was easier scoring for the commissioner. Depending on the source of information on game stats, there could be discrepancies. One newspaper or service may report a player’s yardage differently than another; as you can imagine this led to disputes. Touchdowns were much harder to screw up. With the advent of league management software, any scoring dispute is handled by the league management software.
The basic idea is that for each touchdown scored, a player gets a certain amount of points. Usually, the number of points rewarded is 6. You can decide to make the touchdown points rewarded to be whatever you want, though. Most leagues reward QBs with fewer points per TD than all other positions. This is because QBs normally score many more TDs than every other position, on average. Many leagues will reward QBs with 3 or 4 points for a TD pass, instead of 6 points. The fact that QBs are rewarded with fewer points for a touchdown; and in many leagues, less points per yard is a very, very important concept, it’s a concept we’ll return to later.
Kicker points. I’ll keep this short, like a Gramatica brother. Hopefully this paragraph will be a little more graceful than one of the Brothers Gramatica, though. 1 point per extra point converted, and three points for any field goals converted is pretty standard. Many leagues will give more points for longer field goals converted (i.e. 4 pts for FGs 41-50 yards; 5 pts. For FGs 51 yards or longer).
Bonus points for touchdown length. This is a concept many leagues use. The idea is pretty simple, if a player scores a TD on a very long play, they get rewarded a little more. If a RB scores a TD on a 50 yard run, he gets rewarded with the 6 points for a rushing TD, plus 1 bonus point for a TD run of 50-59 yards. Like the field goal length rule outlined above, you can choose any demarcation points for bonus points (i.e. 1 point for 50-59 yards, 2 points for 60-69 yards, etc…). These same bonus rules can be applied to any position that can score a touchdown.
Points per attempt – Leagues will give another type of bonus point based on how many time a player passes, catches or rushes the football. Very often, if a player is a workhorse for his NFL team, these points will make a great difference in that player’s performance week in and week out.
Defense/Special Team scoring is one part of scoring systems that vary a lot from one league to another. Leagues will reward entire defensive or special team units for their performance. Sacks, interceptions, fumbles recovered and touchdowns scored on returns are all given point values. Leagues often reward defensive units with graduated points based on how well they stop their opponent for scoring. A league may decide that if a NFL team holds another team to zero points (a very rare occurrence); the team will earn that owner a bonus for a shutout. Similarly, a lesser point bonus may be applied if a defense holds their opponent to very few points.
IDP points – If your league starts individual defensive players, these players are rewarded too for stats such as tackles, interceptions, safeties, sacks, fumbles forced, fumbles recovered, etc…
Negative points – You may also decide to punish players who perform poorly, or make costly mistakes by applying negative points. If a player fumbles, throws an interception or misses a kick; you may deduct points. Similarly, if you start team defenses and that team gives up many points, (over 30 or 40) many leagues take points away. Indeed, if a player has a truly awful game, his net contribution to an owner may be negative.
What I listed above is a good basis for looking at scoring systems. There are so many options out there, explore and decide what you like. Again, any website worth its salt will have concise descriptions of all scoring options. Some software supports very intricate systems, have fun putting your system together.
I do have a couple of last points to note before we move onto the next unit.
1) If this is a new league, give your owners a chance to review and challenge your scoring system.
2) While there is no such thing as a bad scoring system, there are very unpopular scoring systems. For one reason or another, some owners will not like the system you applied to the league. Most likely, these owners have losing records. It is OK to change scoring systems, as long as these changes don’t happen during your season (this means after your auction/draft and before your Championship game). Don’t take these complaints personally, and use your league’s rules to filter all scoring suggestions.
3) Scoring systems (in conjunction with roster rules) may favor certain position(s) more than others. More likely than not, the position favored is QB or RB. I noted above how many leagues reward QBs less than other positions for TDs (thrown) and less for yards passing. This scoring system is a very basic way of lessening a position’s scoring potential, thus making the position less valuable. This is perfectly legitimate. Many leagues reward different stats/positions differently based on a positions perceived or real value. Per point two above, it’s OK if owners want to change a scoring system to lessen a position’s value. These system changes don’t always have the results desired, but it’s OK to change any scoring rule out of season.
To summarize, the most important thing you can do with a scoring system is to communicate it properly. The system could favor a position or type of player, or the system could result in very high or very low point totals; the one thing your scoring system can not do is – be ‘bad’. If all owners understand the rules, and are savvy enough, they will succeed with any set of rules or scoring system.
Up next, we’ll cover the basics for successful commissioners. We’ll include a real life league charter as a basis for governing fantasy football leagues.