Nease’s Insights—Fantasy Football: It’s All in the Numbers

Fantasy football is a game that seems so simple at first. The longer we play, the better we become at chipping away some of the shell enclosing it. Sometimes we have to step back and look at the proverbial forest through the trees. What we find by doing this may very well surprise us.

Many of us go into each and every season holding beliefs about facts, that in actuality are more mythical than factual.

  • The NFL has become a passing league and fans love the wide-open offenses.
  • RBs are losing value, while WRs and TEs are becoming more and more valuable every season.
  • The stud RB is dead.
  • The new strategy is to draft two “elite WRs” to start off your drafts.
  • RBBCs have become so dominant that individual RB value is plummeting.
  • QBs have become more valuable than ever and you need to grab a good one early

Later I will go through and throw stones at all of these points. Read on as the numbers tell us what is really happening now, as well as how what we thought was real, no longer totally is. For starters, having played the game since 1985 I have seen cycles repeat themselves in our game over and over again. Like history, our game evolves and changes, but the basics remain pretty much the same. As in life, within our game, history repeats itself.

Let’s take a look at some of the raw numbers for the last five seasons, by position—QB, RB, WR and TE. I have taken the Top 15 points per game averages for each position for every year and then we calculate an annual average. By analyzing the top players in my sample, I am drawing a conclusion that the sampling represents the entire player pool. That might not be 100% valid, but it is close enough for our purposes.

Here are the points per game averages by position, by year.


  • 2017 - 22.14
  • 2016 - 22.72
  • 2015 - 23.54
  • 2014 - 22.47
  • 2013 - 22.25

Running Backs:

  • 2017 - 17.94
  • 2016 - 18.10
  • 2015 - 16.90
  • 2014 - 17.35
  • 2013 - 17.68

Wide Receivers:

  • 2017 - 16.58
  • 2016 - 17.05
  • 2015 - 19.48
  • 2014 - 19.00
  • 2013 - 19.12

Tight Ends:

  • 2017 - 10.98
  • 2016 - 12.18
  • 2015 - 13.18
  • 2014 - 12.01
  • 2013 - 13.25

Ok, what do we have here? We have a lot of numbers going up one year and sown the next. There looks like things are happening, but we cannot really tell. QBs seem to be holding steady. RBs are showing what looks to be a slight uptick. Conversely, WRs and TEs seem like they are scoring less than they were in recent years. There has to be a better way to display what is really going on with scoring.

Well, you know me by now. Of course, we can clarify all this. All we need to do is to break the information above into three-year averages. Take a look at what happens when we do that.


  • 2015-2017 - 22.80
  • 2014-2016 - 22.91
  • 2013-2015 - 22.75

Running Backs:  

  • 2015-2017 - 17.65
  • 2014-2016 - 17.45
  • 2013-2015 - 17.31

Wide Receivers:

  • 2015-2017 - 17.70
  • 2014-2016 - 18.51
  • 2013-2015 - 19.20

Tight Ends:

  • 2015-2017 - 12.11
  • 2014-2016 - 12.48
  • 2013-2015 - 12.81

Now we can clearly see trends. When we look at the fluctuations in broader samplings, such as the three-year averages, we are able to see what has really been happening.  The funny thing about this is that the common perception is pretty much the opposite of what we are discovering here.  

Above, I spoke about throwing stones to dispel those assumptions I listed at the beginning of the article.

  • One common assumption that I listed that is true, is that The NFL has become a passing league and fans love the wide-open offenses.
  • Rather than losing value, RBs are gaining value, while WRs and TEs are actually losing a bit of value.
  • The Stud RB is not dead. On the contrary, it is roaring back to life.
  • The strategy of drafting two “elite WRs’ to start off a draft is flawed and decreases your likelihood of being the champion. Going RB-RB, or RB-WR is a much wiser strategy. Of course, whom you actually take is dependent on who is available when you pick.
  • Even with a plethora of RBBC usage, with PPR scoring, there are more pass catching RBs in the league than I have ever seen. This broadens the base of fantasy-relevant RBs,
  • QBs have been and will continue to be an important cog of the offense, just as they consistently have been over the last five seasons, with only minimal fluctuation. There is a large supply of QB1s and drafting one earlier than the sixth round, or so only serves to weaken your overall team prospects.

Remember this as you start draft preparation. Raw numbers can raise questions in your mind, but to get answers you have to go a step further and do some serious analysis. It’s all in the numbers. All you have to do is look for what you are seeking. The answers are there somewhere.

Now we are down to just a few weeks left until training camps open. Buckle up for the journey. My colleagues and I at Big Guy Fantasy Sports are intent on helping you become the champion you want to be. With our poignant articles and being the home base for the consistency theory, a sound mathematically-based alternative to ADP, we will be with you for the 2018 season in its entirety. What happens then? That my friends, is easy. We start over and do it all again in 2019!

Over the years many readers have contacted me personally for fantasy football questions throughout the year. I look forward to helping you in your quest to win championships this year. You can contact me by email with any questions you may have on fantasy football generally, or on consistency specifically, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., follow me on Twitter @mikeinsights, or join me as a member of Couch Tomatoes, my fantasy football discussion group on Facebook.

Good luck! Have fun!



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