2018 was a different kind of year for fantasy.
A lot of trends were broken and this article is going to address what happened and attempt to explain why it happened.
The First Section is going to explain what the changes happened statistically this year based on two metrics POR and PPG based on averages between 2012 and 2017 and the 2018 fantasy season and finding the differences. POR means Points Over Replacement at any position with a defined Value and how much they contributed. POR levels the playing field for when you draft a certain position by comparing it to the replacement level player at that position.
The Second Section is going to look at some of the changes in the NFL that could have created the statistical changes for this year
(Pre-Note to find out what POR click this to find another article on what POR is exactly)
This year was a crazy year for the QB position, and everyone could see it. Scoring has been at a record pace and it has been hard to stop opposing offenses all year. QB scoring this year has raised the median QB scoring from 2012-17 1.5 points over the top 36 points ranked in PPG. Mahomes finished a whole 2 points above the average number 1 QB and has the highest PPG value ever recorded in fantasy football. In some cases in the past what would be considered replacement level players which I define as 20 or below which was Baker Mayfield at 17.1 PPG would be considered top 12 in other years That's how much better the floor was at QB this year. When we look at what Mahomes did this year he set the record for PPG at the QB position. But when looking at Points over replacement (POR) he kept around the 8.1 average for the QB 1 with 8.9. But two things separated Mahomes. The next closest POR at QB 2 was 5 POR and to go along with that his draft cost was cheap. So you got the best QB who’s POR was way better than any other QB at a steal in the draft. In relation to POR, QBs lost .32 points but because they scored so many points overall people don't realize that. If you took the late round QB approach because you would have been within 4 ppg of the number 2 QB. Meaning that late round QB was best for this year because you would not have lost much in POR compared to most years and the best QB by far was also a late round QB draft pick.
At the RB position it experiences a .95 average bump in PPG across the position from RB1 - RB63 But that is not the important part. What happened this year really emphasized the idea of RB early strategy because if you had a top 20 RB it gave you 2 points over the average top 20 points in the PPG between 2012-17 The top 8 RBs could have been the number 1 running back in other years. The crazy part is the top 8 RB's all averaged over 20 PPG. Now when we look at RBs in POR it is still clear that having a top 8 RB was clearly the biggest advantage over your competitors. Usually, it is clear that the TOP RBs are the first ones to draft but if you guessed right on the top RBs then you gained an average bonus of 2.5 POR onto of the average POR which already is favorable for the RBs. It is also very clear that outside of the top 8 there is a steep drop off and yes they still can produce a POR of 8+ from RB 8 with an almost 12 POR to RB 8 with an 8.3 POR it really shows the advantage. Which proves why the RBs have so much more value than the other positions in fantasy football.
The WR position was widely unchanged from the years before. There were more points scored among 25 than normal, but that seems to just be variance more than an actual changed. The position did gain .11 points in POR for the top 63 WR. This is kind of strange considering that QBs gained 1.5 points on average. This year the difference in drop off from the number one was not as drastic as in the past. This year it was a 6.2 ppg gap from 1st to 20th where normally it has been a drop by 8.35 PPG. This year showed almost linear throughout the whole WR position. So there was no set apart WR 1 and during drafts, you did not lose that much value when waiting for that extra round. Usually, a wide receiver sets himself apart with a 13.2 average POR ut this year it was very close at the top of the position and the leader has an 11.64 Value. Since there wasn't much separation from the top to bottom in WR scoring those who went later on WRs tended to do better.
The TE position changed a lot, the top 3 guys separated themselves and that was clear (Kelce, Kittle, Ertz. They all averaged 16 points or more and then there was a 2.5 point drop off from top 3 to the next closest. Most of the other TEs scored worse than the average finish for that rank at the TE position. TEs combines scored .62 points less than the average of the prior 6 seasons. A lot of injuries and lapses from top TEs like Gronk made this position very vulnerable throughout the season. This year at the TE position the POR values showed how much of an advantage is to have a top TE. after TE 4 POR values were negative showing that the TE position was down this year. Having that elite TE Proved to be huge especially for Kittle owners who got him in the later rounds.
(Click on this to see the differences in PPG and POR)
Section 2: Year in Review
The positions explain what the statistical changes that occur in each position among the most fantasy relevant players for the 2018 season. These are just a few ideas of what caused the changes.
Rules Changes - There were a few changes to the NFL rule book that I think added to the offensive attacks in the NFL. Like in all sports, the goal is to entertain people and create a safer work space for them as well. With the new NFL rules like the kickoff, it started offenses at a better part of the field than and with better field position it points per drive and things like that. Also with the increased protection of the QB, it increased penalties which kept drives alive, and also defensive players can't be as aggressive which could possibly lead to more missed tackles. Therefore, making drives last longer and increasing points scored.
Creative Play Calling - The new style of football has come and its on the shoulders of young and creative minds like McVay, and Nagy have changed the way that NFL is played on offense with motions and using all the time allotted in the helmet communication to give them tells on the defense and give the offense the big advantage. Who knows what the value of having McVay in Jared Goff's ear is pre-snap.
Also, the new RBs in the league has taken over as they have made a more impactful role on the game of foot. When talent influxes at certain positions it makes it clear that talent is the driving factor behind the NFL. 3 years ago it was all WRs who were young and very productive, and with the running back classes that have taken place over the last 3 years, it gave the NFL more talent at the RB position and time to develop that talent leading to more productive running attacks.
If you can think of any other reasons why scoring changes you can reach out on twitter to @ConorButts5 on Twitter because I would love to see other explanations for why it changed for 2018.
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