The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 1: The Best Draft Slot

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With the release of my new books, I’ve decided to publish a small sample each day for the next 100 days. I’ll choose the most condensed, actionable content. Today’s blurb is from Section 1 of Fantasy Football for Smart People: What the Experts Don’t Want You to Know, and it deals with draft slots.

But just how good (or bad) is the general public? What’s the difference between the first draft position and the last, and what sort of return on investment might one expect with each? I wanted to answer those questions, so I spent some time tracking the relationship between fantasy draft slots and production. I included the top 20 picks from the past five seasons, analyzing fantasy points-per-game instead of overall points to correct for injuries that would throw off cumulative results.

A few points of interest:

  • No. 1 picks—all running backs—have provided 82.7 percent of the production of the top player at their position. The low was Chris Johnson in 2010, who scored 70.7 percent as many points as top-scorer Arian Foster. Amazingly, three of the top four backs from 2010—Foster, Peyton Hillis, and Jamaal Charles—weren’t drafted in the top 20.
  • No. 2 selections—again all running backs—have returned 80.3 percent of the production of the top-scoring back. The high was Foster in 2011, who led the league in fantasy points, and the low was Michael Turner in 2009 at 63.3 percent.
  • After the top two picks in fantasy drafts, there has been a significant drop in production. No. 3 picks have provided 71.4 percent of peak production, and No. 4 selections check in at just 65.0 percent.
  • Taking first-round selections in isolation, it appears superior to have a top two pick over any other. After No. 2, there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference between picks No. 3 and No. 12.
  • The true “cutoff” of talent over the years has been right around the 14/15 range. Since 2007, No. 14 overall picks have returned 72.4 percent of peak production. That number drops to 64.3 percent for No. 15 selections.

You can buy What the Experts Don’t Want You to Know on Kindle, as a PDF, or in paperback.

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