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FANTASY FORECAST: Best Damn Draft Theory 2018

When should you draft different positions? Should Antonio Brown be taken ahead of Le’Veon Bell? Should Bobby Wagner be grabbed ahead of Zach Ertz? Heck, where should any position be drafted as compared to any other position?

To answer that question, I’ll draw on one of the industry innovations I implemented over 15 years ago: Consistency Rankings. Let’s take a look at how consistent every position player is (excluding kickers, since many studies have proven that kickers should be drafted last, period), the range of their scoring and their relative value. In order to gauge the relative value of positions, for this data sample we’ve chosen to look only at players who would have qualified at the position (so we’re essentially looking at players who would likely be chosen in the early-to-middle rounds of most fantasy drafts). This is a departure from my previous CR methodology, which only looked at players who started more than eight games.

Table 1: Consistency Ratings (“CR”) by Year and Position

Note: The lower the CR, the more consistent the position

A couple of things to note:

  • While I don’t have the formula listed here, this is a statistically derived definition of consistency. Unlike some other hack fantasy football writer who defines “consistency” as scoring a minimum number of points in a game or as having “good” games, I use math, folks.
  • The two most “stable” positions in 2017 were QB (offense) and LB (defense) while the least stable were RB and DL.

OK, so what’s next? Well, the next reasonable step would seem to be calculating the relative value of each position, incorporating the stability of each. That is, RB might be the most volatile position but it might have the highest payoff (in terms of fantasy points produced). Let’s take a look:

Table 2: Average Fantasy Scoring by Year and Position

Note: Values assume standard Point-per-Reception scoring.

Hmmm. So QB, on average in this sample, produces the most fantasy points. Interesting. Now let’s look at one more factor: population size. That is to say, what is the number of “draftable” players (across all the positions in this study) belonging to each position? Is there one position whose value is driven up due to the scarcity of quality at that position? Let’s take a look:

Table 3: “Draftable” Players by Year and Position

Now this is confusing… TEs were the scarcest “draftable” position in 2017. But were TEs really the scarcest position? To really find out, we need to look at the quirk known as roster requirements or starting lineup requirements.

Starting lineup requirements vary from league to league, but most are a takeoff of the 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 DL, 3 LB, 3 DB, 1 PK model. How does a lineup requirement affect our analysis? Let’s keep looking…

Further assuming a 12-team league, the minimum percentage of draftable players that will be required to be taken, by position, would be:

Table 4: Minimum Percentage of “Draftable” Players

So RB becomes the position that requires the highest percentage of “draftable” players (by far), as defined as in Table 3. Does that mean RBs should demand our priority on Draft Day? What about those top-producing QBs? It is obvious that we need some way to weight the results of the first four tables in order to account for the information we’ve just uncovered, in order to place the proper value on each position.

To recap, we’ve tried to determine the relative value of each position in order to craft a draft strategy applicable to any situation. We’ve tried to focus on three factors:

  • Consistency (how volatile is each position?)
  • Relative value (how much in demand is each position?).
  • Inherent value (how well does the position perform?)

About John Georgopoulos

John T. Georgopoulos is a 24-year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. John’s Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on nine occasions. You can also listen to and watch all his various shows at The Riot.