On average a Home Team in the NFL wins approximately 58% of the time. Teams such as the Packers and the Steelers have as high as a 72% winning percentage at Home. Because Home Field advantage is highly correlated with a team’s normal winning percentage, the more informative statistic is the % differential between Home & Away winning percentages. Below are the % differentials (meaning % advantage at home for a team) since 2002. (Data from Fox Sports)
So how does this translate to fantasy football?
Well first, winning in general does not necessarily correlate to fantasy success, so it is important to look at how well individual players perform at home vs. away rather than just the team. Also, In Week 5’s preview I warned that you do not want to double count factors that may already be accounted for within a player’s projection. Home Field Advantage may be one of these, but when choosing between players to start or trying to obtain a player with an advantageous remaining schedule, then Home Field Advantage is certainly an important statistic to look at. Below I took a sample of 84 players from 2015 (Top 12 QBs, Top 30 RBs, Top 30 WRs, and Top 12 TEs). I calculated their fantasy points in Home Games and fantasy points in Away Games. If any player missed games resulting in an unbalance of Home vs. Away games, I used his average in other games for the replacement observation of the missed game. For the entire sample, 730 more points were scored at Home vs. Away (in Standard ESPN scoring leagues). Another way to look at this is a 5% differential between Home and Away. From this statistic we can conclude that when a player is at Home, his expected score should be 5% better than when he plays away. Below is a breakdown position by position:
QB 8.7% differential
RB 3.5% differential
WR 2.7% differential
TE 8.3% differential
These numbers appear to be small, but nonetheless represent an advantage and every fantasy point does count. When looking at specific players’ performances the differentials can vary extremely. This analysis needs a larger sample size by going back in future years in order run a hypothesis test, confidence intervals, and to determine outliers. For now, here are the largest absolute player differentials.
QB Drew Brees +28.7% differential
QB Kirk Cousins +17.3% differential
RB Ronnie Hillman +38% differential
RB James Starks +43.6% differential
RB Frank Gore -26.5% differential
RB Adrian Peterson -16% differential
WR Antonio Brown +29.2 % differential
WR Emmanuel Sanders -38.6% differential
WR Allen Hurns -29% differential
TE Delaine Walker +26.5% differential
Most people actively engaged in fantasy football may have heard of this differential for Drew Brees before… but there is certainty other players too and a full list dating back a few years can be found at this spot soon.
My Favorite Value Plays this week are:
QB Kirk Cousins (WAS) (vs. Lions)
The Lions have allowed at least 2 TD’s and 16 fantasy points a game, every game this season. Cousins is likely to be without his favorite target TE Jordan Reed, yet Cousins is still highly ranked by many websites coming in with the 6th highest projected QB total on fantasyfootballanalaytics.net.
RB Jaquizz Rodgers (TB) (vs. 49ers)
Last time we saw Rodgers play in the absence of Doug Martin he received 30 carries for over a 100 yards (Week 6 vs. Carolina). This game should be tight with two quick paced offenses and the volume alone warrants a start for Rodgers in any daily or regular fantasy league.
RB Spencer Ware (KC) (vs. Saints)
Ware is the 7th highest projected RB this week. There are at least 3 things working in Ware’s favor this week. First, the Saints have the 32nd rank rush defense. Next, the Saints offense has struggled on the road as of late and as a result their road games tend not to be passing shootouts. Finally, it was announced earlier this week that Ware would continue to receive the bulk of the carriers with an ailing Jamaal Charles.
WR Breshad Perriman (BAL) (vs. Jets)
This is a stretch of a play, but the Jets have allowed a league most 9 receptions over 40+ yards. With Steve Smith Out for Baltimore, Perriman should see a larger role and could be in for a breakout game.