Not all Fantasy Points are Created Equal
Why is Travis Kelce ranked so high? We’ve been pounding the table on this concept for years, way back to when we wrote the case for Rob Gronkowski as your number one pick. It seems the fantasy football markets have finally caught up to us, but let’s dive into why he deserves to be ranked so high.
If you get to choose between a QB who is projected to score 300 points and an RB who is projected to score 300 points, who do you pick?
Well, it depends on what the other players at the position are projected to score. That’s the idea behind value-based drafting. It gives you a way to fairly compare players at different positions.
So, in the above case, if the QB is projected to score 50 points higher than other QBs but the RB is only expected to score 40 points higher than other RBs, then the QB is actually more valuable to you, even though they’re both projected to score 300 points.
Traditional value-based drafting uses the value-over-replacement concept, meaning it compares a player’s projected fantasy points to the projected fantasy points of the first player not being drafted as a starter. That’s a good (and arbitrary) way to rank players at a certain position, but it doesn’t really help your fantasy football draft strategy.
Do you really care what that replacement player is projected to do?
It doesn’t matter whether Aaron Rodgers is projected to score 300 points more than the replacement player or whether he’s projected to score 50 points more than the replacement player because you are not playing against a team full of replacement players!
Over the course of the season, you are playing against a team full of the average starters at each position. We only care how Aaron Rodgers is expected to perform against the average starting QB! If each of your players outscores the average starter more often than not you’re going to come out ahead of your opponent and will find yourself in the fantasy playoffs.
Let’s return to Travis Kelce…
If you have the top WR and that WR scores 20 points per week, but receivers 2 through 12 also score 20 points per week, you’ve gained no advantage! The 12th WR is just as valuable as the 1st WR.
But if you have the top TE and that TE scores 20 points per week, and tight ends 2 through 12 only score 15 points per week, every week you’re going to have a 5-point advantage over your opponent’s TE.
In these two scenarios, that makes the number one TE far more valuable than the number one WR.
Our matrix cheat sheet applies this logic so you can see who you should really be targeting. You already know to select high-end RBs and WRs, but top-tier QBs and TEs give you just as much advantage… and you don’t have to use a top pick on them!
Spoiler alert: this is also true for top kickers and defenses!