Positional Disparity & The Impact on Fantasy Football Strategy (2022) – FantasyPros


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Fantasy football drafts probably don’t make much sense to non-fantasy football-playing NFL fans. In real-life football, RBs are the least valued skill position. They are paid the least. They aren’t prioritized in the NFL Draft. They often play in committees, and most are out of their prime once their rookie contracts expire.
So why are RBs usually the first five players selected in fantasy drafts? Why are 20 WRs and 21 RBs ranked ahead of superstar QB Patrick Mahomes in the FantasyPros expert consensus ranking (ECR)? Why is Baltimore Ravens WR Rashod Bateman (515 career receiving yards) drafted on average before Tom Brady (the “GOAT”)? Seriously, why?
The reason we as fantasy managers draft how we draft is the production disparity between and within fantasy football positions. Some positions have a greater depth of players who produce mid to high-end numbers, while other positions don’t. Therefore, when supply is low, demand is high, and vice versa.
Fantasy football-tiered rankings factor in and account for this positional disparity. However, as helpful as tiered rankings are, they don’t indicate how significant of a drop-off there is between tiers. For example, what’s the true difference between the RB1 and a tier-3 RB in rankings? No one knows for certain how players will perform in the future, so the best we can do is look at historical positional finishes and use those as guidelines for setting our expectations for future performances.
In 2021, the RB1 scored 373.1 points, and the RB10 scored 229.1 points in PPR formats. This means that the RB10 only matched 61.4% of the production of the RB1. That’s significant. The RB1 was close to twice as valuable as the RB10 last season, yet both players are labeled as RB1s, which is misleading for fantasy managers. Understanding the production disparity between and within positions is critical for making informed draft-day decisions that will maximize the overall value of the roster you construct.
It needs to be noted that pre-draft fantasy rankings don’t perfectly predict future outcomes. For example, the player drafted as the 10th RB may finish as the RB1, but with so much information available these days, fantasy analysts continue to be more and more accurate with their player rankings. So as fantasy rankings become more accurate, it becomes more important to have a deeper understanding of positional disparities to maintain an edge over the fantasy managers in your league who don’t prepare but print off the FantasyPros ECR to reference on draft day.
The following table was developed to help make sense of the positional production disparity in fantasy football. The table lists the average total points scored for the top 30 players at each position from 2019 through 2021 (e.g., the QB5 finishes during the last three seasons were 346.8, 376.4 and 332.5 points, so it’s a 351.9 point average for the QB5). The percentage assigned to each position rank indicates how closely that player matched the top overall player at their position’s fantasy production. For instance, the QB5 matched 84.7% of the QB1’s point total on average during the last three seasons. These percentages paint a clear picture of the production disparity within our game.


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