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The Math Behind Winning in Fantasy Football
Aug 31, 2018
The 2018 football season is ready to kick off. That means fantasy football fans are preparing for their drafts and getting ready for a season full of free agent picks, bye week waiver replacements, and starters being lost to injuries.
If you’re a math fan … fantasy football is your game. If your fantasy football enthusiast … it’s a great activity to make math fun for kids.
Basic math is the core of fantasy football. Whether you’re using it to calculate a player’s points or formulate draft rankings, you probably use it without thinking about it.
Today, thanks to websites and apps all the calculations and math are done for you. You simply need to pull up your site and there’s your score. But it wasn’t always like that.
I was introduced to fantasy football before the days of the internet. We would grab the sports section each Monday to get the stats, do our math and then figure out who was winning. And if we had players involved in a Monday night game, due to the late hour the game ended, we had to wait for Wednesday’s paper to get the stats to determine who won the game.
Fast forward to today … we can watch our scores in real time. But, what if we put our apps aside and use mental math skills to determine scores. We don’t have to wait for the paper to get the stats, but we can still engage our number sense to calculate the results.
Quick … Jameis Winston just threw a 17-yard touchdown pass for your fantasy team – how many points is that worth?
Without checking your website’s live score update, do you know you picked up six fantasy points depending on your scoring system? We can calculate this with mental math.
Here’s a few simple mathematical tips to help prepare for your fantasy football season:
- Generally, running backs are more valuable in standard leagues. However, that value disappears in point per reception (PPR) leagues and RBs and WRs are equal.
- Speaking of running backs, using math can help you solve the dreaded "running back by committee" riddle. By determining the projected rank difference between a team’s RBs, you get a better sense of who’s likely to get more opportunities to score points. This may seem obvious, but is often overlooked. By identifying skill vs. scoring opportunities (which don't always go hand in hand), you can earn more points. And at the end of day, in Fantasy Football it’s all about points.
- Scrambling quarterbacks are more valuable in four-point passing touchdown systems. However, top tier quarterbacks make a difference in six-point leagues.
- How many players can you start at each position and how large is your bench? Smaller leagues have more players available through the season, while those with large benches lack options each week. Knowing your roster requirements and league size will help optimize your draft prep. For example, in a 12-team league that starts one quarterback, if each team drafts two quarterbacks there is likely going to be 24-26 players taken. That leaves six to eight quarterbacks on the waiver wire.
- Knowing the number of picks between your current and next pick is one thing. But you also need to pay attention to what your fellow team owners are drafting. If there’s a run on a position, waiting for a pick to “come back around” may be a bad idea.
- Winning your league’s championship requires you to win a series of one-week leagues. You don’t have to be the highest scoring team, you just need to outscore your opponent one week at a time.
At its core, Fantasy Football is all about numbers and statistics. Put it all together and your math will add up to a league title.
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