Defense Wins Championships… So Do Kickers
If there’s one constant in fantasy football, it’s advice. Fantasy is chock-full of advice, much of it contradictory.
One pearl of fantasy wisdom upon which all the talking heads seem to agree, however, is that respectable owners wait until the last two to three rounds for defenses and kickers.
Now, who am I to argue with the fantasy Illuminati? I’m me, that’s who. And what would fantasy be without a few knock-down, drag-out arguments?
So, let’s kick things off like any worthwhile heated exchange… by hedging. I will admit the concept of waiting on a D/ST or K until the last few rounds is semi-reasonable. As most pundits will note, identifying a defense or a kicker that will be markedly better than the field is tough. Combine that unpredictability with the notion that the spread between the best and worst point-getters in each category, especially kickers, is tight.
Remember the one to ten Position Points Differentials (PPDs) from earlier? Let’s revisit them for kickers.
In 2015 the best kicker in the game was Stephen Gostkowski, with 151 points. Shocking, I know. He’s only topped the list since 2012.
The tenth kicker last year? Brandon McManus. In ’15, he was good for 125 points, or a PPD of 26. Definitely tighter than the other positions.
The one-to-10 PPD on 2015 defenses are no more stirring, with the points between the No. 1 Denver Broncos (116) and the No. 10 Washington Redskins (91) totaling 25.
So far, I’m not doing a banner job proving my point, am I? OK, here it comes.
Acknowledging only the most callow fantasy owners will draft either a defense or a kicker before round 10, let’s look at some of the other position splits at that stage of the draft.
The 10th round corresponds to picks 91-100. As a rule, this round includes quarterbacks with position ranks in the mid-teens, running backs in the mid-thirties, wide receivers in the mid-forties and tight ends Nos. 6 through 10.
Here are the 2015 tenth-round Position Points Differentials on these positions:
Clearly by the 10th round, defenses and kickers have better PPDs than running backs and receivers. Quarterbacks and tight ends still have the advantage, but let’s take a look at the 11th or 12th rounds.
Now we’re talking. Kickers and defenses in the eleventh and twelfth round have the same PPD as all other players, and as you move further down the board the phenomena only improves.
Finally, let’s look at 2015 aggregate points for these same 11th- and 12th-round players:
OK, here’s the conclusion (insert collective sigh of relief here).
By the 11th or 12th round — apart from quarterbacks — kickers and defenses have as good or better aggregate position points and Position Points Differentials, i.e. the difference between the highest and lowest scorers in a given position rank range, versus all other positions.
So, if you have a kicker or a defense that you like above others, go ahead and grab them a round or two early. Last year, I was the total points champion in my primary fantasy league. My defense: Denver Broncos (Round 12). My kicker: Brandon McManus (Round 14).
Next: Running Backs Over Wide Receivers in the Middle Rounds