Fantasy Football for the Saber Set

If FanGraphs has a football-oriented kindred spirit around this great and wild series of tubes called the internet, it’s almost definitely Brian Burke’s Advanced NFL Stats. Just as we strive to do here, Burke makes it his bidness to ask the smartest questions he can think of and (generally) uses quantitative analysis to answer them. Also, as we do here, Burke carries a number of stats that you’re not gonna find elsewhere.

Finally, as with FanGraphs, green is integral to his site’s color palette. So, yeah.

So it was that, when FanGraphs’ own Zach Sanders assembled a cast of sabermetric types via a simple Twitter message (pictured below) I wrote to Mr. Burke and asked what might be a way to construct a league so’s to remove — as much as is possible — the effects of team context and randomness (i.e. practices common in the quantitative analysis of baseball).

Because he’s a kind person and sympathetic those less fortunate than him, Burke responded quickly. You can read the entirety of his reply (and more!) over at his site, but if you’re the sort to look for the bottom line, here’s a fair summary: turnovers, special teams, and touchdowns are the most random things in the NFL; stick with yardage as much as possible.

In any case, I assume at least some of our readers participate in fantasy football, and that some of those people have as yet to participate in the last of their NFL fantasy drafts.

That being the case, I’ve reproduced below the scoring system we’ll be using in what Sanders has subbed the This Ain’t Baseball League. Essentially, it’s a hybrid of the more traditional fantasy scoring with which you’re already likely familiar and then the yard-heavy approach endorsed by Burke.

The positions we’re using are as follows: QB, WR, WR, WR, RB, RB, TE, W/R/T, W/R/T, DEF, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN.

The draft was last Thursday, and I believe you’ll be able to view the results of said draft — plus other league information — by clicking here. [Update: Nevermind. Apparently, that doesn’t work. Yeesh.]

Now, for the scoring (including the Yahoo default settings for the sake of comparison):

Those are the offensive ones. Here are the defensive:

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I’d really like to see the rosters, but, alas, not in your league (that’s what she said?). Cool idea, Carson/Zach, was excited when your question popped up on Advanced NFL Stats.

Jeff Reese

My team, for what it’s worth:

An Uncreative Name:
QB: Matt Schaub, Vince Young
RB: Maurice Jones-Drew, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Laurence Maroney, Mike Bell
WR: Terrell Owens, Devin Aromashodu, Jerricho Cotchery, Anthony Gonzalez, Joshua Cribbs, Danny Amendola
TE: Vernon Davis, Anthony Fasano
DEF: Chicago

I was under prepared, but I suppose I could be in worse shape. I’m very weak at WR. but hoping to land a couple pop-up guys that will assuredly arise during the year.


probably went to early on VD, given how deep the TE position is.

Jeff Reese

I probably did. I like Zach’s team more than mine as well. I’m just hoping mine is good enough to have a decent showing in the league.

Zach Sanders

My (Title Winning) Team:

QB: Romo, Hasselbeck
RB: Chris Johnson, Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Leon Washington
WR: Jennings, Maclin, Garcon, Houshmanzadeh, Gaffney, Dexter McCluster (RB eligible)
TE: Boss, Jermaine Gresham


decent squad given how deep the league is, I like it better than jar75.