In this post, I calculate the expected fantasy points scored by players based on their position and position rank. This post is modeled after a post by Chase Stuart (see here and here), where he calculated players’ expected fantasy points as a function of historical performance for each position and position rank. For my fantasy football auction draft optimizer tool in Shiny, see here.
How the Expected Points were Calculated
I downloaded historical projected position ranks and actual fantasy points scored from 1999 to 2012. The historical data for average draft position (used for projected position rank) came from myfantasyleague.com. The historical data for actual fantasy points came from Pro-Football-Reference and FantasyPlaymakers. I calculated fantasy points based on standard fantasy football scoring settings from FantasyPros. Then I computed robust averages of actual fantasy points for each position rank by averaging the actual fantasy points scored for each position rank across years using the Hodges-Lehmann estimator, which is the median of all pairwise means, and is robust to outliers.
The R script for downloading the historical ADP data is located here (note that the data were first exported to .xml by going here):
The R script for downloading the historical fantasy points scored is located here:
The R script for calculating the best fitting line for each position and creating the plots is located here:
The plots below show the expected fantasy points for each position and position rank with the best-fitting line overlaid.
For a brief summary of the position scatterplots:
Running backs, wide receivers and tight ends have the greatest loss in value after the early picks. Also, variations in quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends were much more predictable (R-squared values around .80) than variations in kickers and defenses (R-squared values around .50).
- Variations in QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs are fairly predictable in terms of fantasy points
- Variations in Kickers and Defenses are fairly unpredictable in terms of fantasy points
- RBs, WRs, and TEs show steep early decreases in expected value after the first picks
- QBs show stable decreases in expected value
- Kickers and Defenses show flat levels of expected value
- Spend your first picks on RBs, WRs, and TEs (their variations in fantasy points are fairly predictable, and their values decrease exponentially after the best ones are off the board).
- After drafting RBs, WRs, and TEs, draft a QB. QBs’ variations in fantasy points are fairly predictable, and their values don’t decrease as fast as RBs, WRs, and TEs, so you can still get a fairly solid QB after the top QBs are off the board.
- Wait until drafting RBs, WRs, TEs, and QBs before drafting Kickers and Defenses because their variations in fantasy points are less predictable and lower ranked Ks and Ds only show small decreases in expected value.