Trends That Changed the Game in 2016 Are About to Change It Again

Did you know that for four consecutive years, NFL teams have averaged the fewest rush attempts in league history? How about that for four consecutive years, the league-wide completion percentage has been higher than ever before? Or that NFL teams run plays out of the shotgun formation over 50 percent more than five years ago? The league is changing. If you’re not incorporating those changes into your fantasy football preparation, you’re missing a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself.

A Passing League

“In this way, [predictive analytics] is a completely different animal from forecasting. Forecasting makes aggregate predictions on a macroscopic level. How will the economy fare? Which presidential candidate will win more votes in Ohio? Whereas forecasting estimates the total number of ice cream cones to be purchased next month in Nebraska, [predictive analytics] tells you which individual Nebraskans are most likely to be seen with cone in hand.”

– Predictive Analytics, by Eric Siegel

We’ve reached the time of year when the discourse centers around player-specific analysis. Whether you’re a fan of the continued advancement of predictive analytics in fantasy football or still rely solely on tape, the distinction between analyzing the micro (player) level and macro (league) level is an important one to make.

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By Ben Gretch | @YardsPerGretch | Archive

Comments   Add comment

  1. Mychal says:

    This was a fascinating read, @BenGretch, thanks!

    The NFL does seem to be moving towards spreading the fantasy-relevant opportunities among more and more players (specialized RB roles, 3/4 WR sets, etc.).

    What can we do in fantasy about this trend though? I don't have data to support these, but some theories off the top of my head after reading your piece:

    1. If you can somehow pull a trade for the DJs and Le'veons of the world, do it. You can replace your 2nd-tier producers later, but having a 3-down back is a rare and unfair advantage.

    2. The late-round QB is not the advantage it once was. We need to value elite QBs more than before because it's the position that's unaffected by this spread-the-wealth trend.

    3. TD scorers become even more important. The yards (and receptions, for PPR leagues) will be spread among more and more players in every drive, but only one can score the touchdown. Perhaps it's always been the case, but even more so now, who scores the touchdowns will separate the top fantasy RBs and WRs from the rest of the flattening field.

    So maybe this tips the balance back towards RBs (especially those relied upon to finish drives) over WRs?
    And among WRs, we need to focus (even more) on end zone targets like Dez over the likes of TY Hilton?


  2. Sorry for completely missing this, but I'm going back through my notifications and found this very insightful. I really like your application of the concepts for 1. and 3., but I'm not sure I follow for 2. QBs will definitely be impacted by a shift in the depth of the other positions, but the LRQB thing is still pretty logical for other reasons. But anyway, we're long past draft season now. Sorry for not getting back to you until now. Appreciate your thoughtful response!

  3. Mychal says:

    No worries at all. The response was more for myself really. Wanted to put what thoughts I had at the time to writing.

    Perhaps I could have worded point #2 better. Drafting QB late certainly remains logical given the depth in the position. But I guess my point was more of the value of elite QBs. Winning the QB position in your fantasy matchup is more valuable than it was before, if we accept that RB and WR has flattened a bit.

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