Yards From Scrimmage is the Stat for Fantasy, Not Touchdowns

(Photo by FoxSports.com)

During every analysis, fantasy football experts keep pushing for you to start this guy or that guy. Either the matchup or the scoring potential is good, and, if they are consistently correct, they might be worth listening to. One leaked secret behind their scoring projections is touchdowns. No one can blame them as rushing and receiving touchdowns give you an automatic 6.0 points and passing touchdowns give you an automatic 4.0.

Except, this is flawed analysis as touchdowns in one game sample sizes do not come at the rates they are listed at. For example, you see a player with 10 touchdowns in 100 targets, you might be expecting one touchdown at every tenth target but could come between the first to ninth, or not at all regardless of the target quantity.

Another leaked secret causing flawed analysis is that analysts conclude based on gut feeling. Case in point, Eddie Lacy versus Rashad Jennings. Last week, supposed Hall of Fame expert, NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano, wrote about how starting Lacy in fantasy was a good idea as his newly trimmed physique would help him dominate the way he did in 2014; even though he had not played in a regular season game in all of 2016. Conversely, “Fabs” told you to bench Rashad Jennings, and despite those two backs facing defenses that were known as perceptively and statistically flawed, he failed to use a single metric that actually made Jennings a better option than Lacy: yards from scrimmage.

Yards from scrimmage are total rushing and receiving yards, and Jennings had 1,159 (863 yards rushing and 296 yards receiving) while Lacy had 946 (758 rushing and 188 receiving). With many fantasy players having two to three running backs in standardized leagues and wide receivers used in trick rushing plays, using this as a guide makes sense.

You gain 1 fantasy point per 10 rushing or receiving yards, and, based on a list of 278 players that played running back, wide receiver, or tight end from 2015 (via Pro Football Reference), the odds say to go for the yards.

Out of all of the fantasy points scored by the 278, 72.7 percent were from rushing and receiving yards while only 27.9 percent of the points came from rushing or receiving touchdowns. This should be a surprise to no one as only two players averaged one touchdown per game (Jamaal Charles and Tyler Eifert) in 2015, and if you actually listened to “Fabs’” advice on not only benching Jennings for Lacy but drafting Lacy high, you would be stunned upon what you fell for.

Both had 78 yards from scrimmage in Week 1, an equivalent of 7.8 points in standardized leagues, and for Lacy to even be pushed on you before or after your draft is stupid on the part of the “expert.” There are better players that you could select either during the draft or for your lineup, and someone who could have scored more for you could have been at Lacy’s place while Jennings could have been added for nothing.

If you want better statistical advice instead of relying on yourself for the expert, I would suggest you check out FootballDB.com. There, you can get the majority of the ideal stats for your lineups, drafts, and selections. Sure, there are few to no quarterbacks to check out, but The skill position players are the biggest reason your league is one as they make up two-thirds of your lineup. However, be careful with the 2016 statistics as one game is already too difficult for anyone to judge a player and some could be benched as the true starters could be healthy.

Sometimes a new perspective is okay to discover, and if you have bad luck for so long, change is not a bad thing. You might as well look to change as a benefit because when the “experts” do not and you keep losing, you might as will ignore them as relevance is the only thing that keeps them around.