Dr. Z's Fantasy Football Rule #1

Editor's note: This is the first part of a series of recommendations for your Fantasy Football 2010 draft.    The series will run until the NFL kicks off on September 9th. Disclaimer: Dr. Z claims in no way to be a medical, dental, or any other type of physician in any way. He has also never received a doctorate. He is only considered a “doctor” in the sense that he writes to remedy your fantasy football qualms, afflictions, and maladies.

Every January, as the fantasy football season wraps up, my friends and foes always ask me, “Dr. Z, what’s your secret? How do you do it? Tell me what you know.” Ok. Maybe not. But perhaps they should. As much as I love baseball, it’s never been my forte, although I have to say I’m quite proud of my fantasy team, “Ron’s Rehab Center” which currently sits 2nd out of 12 teams. But I’m glad that football season is finally here! And lucky for you, I’ve decided to let you in on my strategies that have consistently kept me in striking range of my league trophy year after year. I’m hoping that “Albert’s Fitness Center” can follow in the footsteps of “Donte’s Driving School” and lead me to the championship for the second straight year in my annual “Bye Bye Brett” league.

Rule #1: Know your league. If you don’t know the scoring and roster setup, then most of what I, or anyone else, tell you is practically worthless. It is extremely important to know if your roster needs 3 Wide Receivers, a second Quarterback, and possibly even a Defensive player or a flex, etc. Does your team credit receptions and rushing attempts? Or just yards and touchdowns? Do you get bonus points for touchdowns scored from longer yardage plays?

Before two-back systems became the norm, rushers dominated fantasy leagues, racking up yards and touchdowns. In 2002, ten RBs scored 10 or more TDs, with eight of the ten scoring more than 10. In the same year, eight receivers accomplished this feet. But only three of these receivers exceeded 10 TDs. The league high in rushing TDs was 27 (Kansas City Chiefs RB Priest Holmes) while the league high in receiving TDs was 17 (WR Randy Moss, playing for the Minnesota Vikings at the time). You get the point. Running backs dominated the league.

The Points Per Reception (PPR) league scoring format was created to try to keep the value of the positions balanced by adding extra value to receivers and tight ends. The scoring was exactly the same as a standard league except that each reception would be worth a certain number of points, hence the name, “Points Per Reception.” In some leagues, the added value can be as low as 0.1 ppr, but it is usually posted at 1 ppr. Now, with rushers coming out of the backfield to make catches more frequently, the added value is extended not just to the receivers and tight ends, but to the running backs as well. Running backs such as Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears, who was third in the league last season with 57 receptions for 471, is currently being drafted in standard Yahoo! Leagues at 81.8, which is roughly in the beginning of the 9th round. But in Yahoo! PPR leagues, his average draft position (ADP) is 42.8, roughly three-and-a-half-rounds (4.8) higher!

But it’s not as if Forte is the only RB to catch the ball out of the backfield. Why is his value that much higher in PPR leagues? Let’s compare him to Carolina Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (64.2 ADP) and Denver Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno (70.6 ADP). Stewart rushed for 1133 yards and 10 TDs, and caught 18 passes for 139 yards and 1 score for an estimated 198 fantasy points, FP, in standard leagues. Moreno rushed for 947 yards and 7 scores, and had 28 catches for 213 yards and 2 TDs for an estimated 169 FP in standard leagues. Forte ran for 929 yards and 4 end zone appearances, while catching 57 passes for 471 yards and no touchdowns for an estimated 163 FP in standard leagues. As we can see, Forte has the lowest fantasy numbers of the three. But in PPR leagues that award 1 point per reception, Forte gains 57 points, Stewart an additional 18, and Moreno 28 points, giving Forte the edge with 220 FP to Stewart’s 210 and Moreno’s 197. Need I say more?

It takes only a few minutes but just looking into what positions you need to draft to fill out your roster, how the points are scored, and even how many other teams are in the league, can make the difference between drafting Matt Forte in the 4th round and wondering why he did not fall to you in the 8th round like you were expecting.

Contact: If you have a fantasy football question, comment, insult, or compliment for Dr. Z, send it to Nightcapkspc@gmail.com or call in to The Nightcap on KSPC Mondays 8-10 PM at (909) 626-KSPC. No inquiry is too big or small. It might even be featured in Dr. Z’s next column! Please include your first name and from which city you are writing.

Editor’s Note: This sports column is a regular feature from “The Nightcap” crew, a group of 5Cers who air a weekly radio sports talk show on KSPC. You can listen in online at KSPCstream.com or KSPC.org (click “Hear us Online via Live365”) every Monday from 8-10 PM. Want to join the radio show this year? We are looking for new people! Email us at nightcapKSPC@gmail.com!