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A Historical Perspective On SFB9 Scoring

We are less than a week from the kickoff of the 2019 Scott Fish Bowl (#SFB9). The scoring format is largely unchanged from last year and it still includes a points-per-first-down scoring component and a points-per-reception component. Given the video games theme for #SFB9, Scott Fish has incorporated a bonus scoring component.

The added five points for every 50 yards threshold a player crosses will lead to some eye-popping final weekly scores. Playing around with the terrific #SFB9 app Blair Andrews has put together, we can see that Le’Veon Bell holds the record for the most points scored in a single game (83.3 #SFB9 points). Bell set the record back in Week 14 of 2016, after mauling the hapless Buffalo Bills for a 38-236-3 rushing line coupled with a 4-62-0 receiving line. Bell was credited with four rushing bonus achievements and one receiving game achievement, which added an extra 25 points to his final weekly total.

Julio Jones’ 76 point outburst in Week 4 of 2016 underscores how the scoring bonus can help supercharge receiver scoring. The 50-yard achievement bonus meant that an additional 30 points were tacked onto the gaudy 46 points Jones scored given his 12-300-1 receiving line. Considering that the team with the most points in their division is granted a Week 13 bye,1 these single game outbursts give you more than just a week-winning advantage.

To test if the #SFB9 scoring format adversely altered end-of-season rankings on an annual basis, I calculated the final #SFB9 finishes for non-quarterback positions over the past five seasons, using the current scoring. Let’s take a deeper dive into the #SFB9 scoring format and figure out the best way to attack our drafts.

Top-36 Historical Finishes Under #SFB9 Scoring

The rise of the uber-back is reflected in the results from the last three seasons.

In 2018, Christian McCaffrey and Todd Gurley were two of three players2 to crack the 500 #SFB9 points threshold. Both Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley were close behind, scoring 480.6 and 459.6 #SFB9 points respectively. RBs who see usage in the rushing and receiving game have a significant edge over their counterparts who are stuck in RBBC’s. The outsized volume that bellcow RBs receive in the rushing and receiving games makes them the likeliest candidates to rack up the bonus points from the 50-yard achievement.

Despite the premium for tight end scoring, Travis Kelce’s 445.4 #SFB9 points were the first time in the last five seasons a tight end cracked 400 points in this format. Rob Gronkowski came dangerously close to crossing the 400-point rubicon back in 2014 and 2015, but ultimately fell a few points short of the arbitrary 400 points threshold.

Interestingly, only a handful of WRs consistently finish in the 390-410 points range over the last five season. Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, and Julio Jones are the only active WRs to have several seasons finishing in the top-10.3 Although the ceiling for elite WRs isn’t as great as that of elite RBs, there’s precious few mid-round WRs who are capable of coming close to the elite WRs who should go in the first few rounds of the draft.

Looking at the historical finishes from 2014-2018, 2015 appears to be the largest outlier. Only two RBs (Devonta Freeman and Adrian Peterson) cracked the top-10, whereas six WRs and two TEs accounted for the other eight positions. Additionally, it was the only season over the last five where WRs finished first, second, and third under #SFB9 scoring.

A Note on QB Scoring

One of the more interesting wrinkles in #SFB9 is that QBs who pass for over 300 yards receive a five-point milestone bonus. Interceptions still cost you negative four points.4 The bonus threshold is lower for the skill-position players, and it’s not uncommon for elite RBs or WRs to outscore QBs. Mahomes and Cam Newton are the only two QBs to finish as the top #SFB9 scorer over the last five years. A five-year sample indicates that at least 12 QBs have finished in the top-36, and as many as 16 QBs have done so.

As seen below, most QB’s don’t offer a similar ceiling to elite players at other positions. Take a look at how much higher Mahomes finished than the other QBs last season.

Here’s what the scoring across all positions looked like in 2017, before the human cheat-code Mahomes was allowed to nuke the NFL.

Note that in 2017, Gurley scored 539.2 #SFB9 points. Bell came in a close second with 467.4 #SFB9 points, whereas Russell Wilson came in a distant third with 422.7 #SFB9 points.

So What Do I Do With This Info?

For starters, it’s important to note that first downs are simply a function of raw volume. The more volume a player sees, the more likely they are to rack up first downs. On that note, the achievement bonuses for skill players functions similarly. Targets and touches are the lifeblood of fantasy scoring, and it should come as no surprise that the skill players who lead all #SFB9 scorers in bonus points accrued also handle a significant chunk of their team’s volume. I’ve found that QB, WR, and TE appear to be the “stickiest” positions, as established veteran players continuously finish in the top-36. Meanwhile, RB sees a bit more turnover and is the shallowest of the three positions.

Running Back

It should come as no surprise that the elite bell-cow RBs clock in as the best options for those drafting with the first few picks. Much like PPR or half-PPR scoring formats, elite RBs who are able to stay fully healthy put up gaudy point-per-game numbers and end-of-season totals. RBs carry outsized injury risk for the position, but you’d still be wise to pick an elite RB in the early rounds of your draft.

Looking at how elite RBs scored their points over the last five years, we can see that all names listed in the chart above carry a league winning floor/ceiling combo.

So what do you do in the event that you can’t draft one of the elite RBs? The trick is to target players who are tasked with carrying the rock instead of chasing pass-catching RBs. Players such as Chris Carson, Gus Edwards, Phillip Lindsay, and Mark Ingram saw marked improvements in their final season and points-per-game finishes under #SFB9 rules when compared to their PPR scoring finishes.

On the other hand, pass-catching RBs such as Tarik Cohen, James White, and Jalen Richard were more valuable in PPR formats than #SFB9. White and Cohen finished the season as the RB8 and RB12 respectively, whereas Richard finished as the RB28. Under #SFB9 scoring rules, White finished as the RB12, Cohen finished as the RB16, and Richard finished as the RB34. Although all three RBs I’ve listed received at least an extra 30 points from bonus scoring, it’s wise to not overpay for the pass-catching RB archetype in this scoring format.

Wide Receiver

Elite WRs may not carry the same raw scoring upside as their RB counterparts do, but they do offer the quickest path to hit the receiving bonus several times in a season.

I expect that all players listed in the chart above will go in the first two rounds. Note that last year was an outlier year in terms of WR scoring, as most top receivers flirted with 400 #SFB9 points. Looking back at WR scoring in 2017 via the app indicates that only Hopkins and Brown cracked the 400 point threshold whereas Keenan Allen, the 2017 #SFB9-scoring WR3, scored a measly 332.4 points. If you’re able to roster two or three of the elite WRs coupled with a handful of breakout candidates, you should have a strong edge over the rest of your division at the WR position.

Tight End

2018 was an outlier year for TE scoring over the last five years, and it’s hard to imagine that history repeats itself in 2019. That said, it’s hard to argue against Travis Kelce as a potential first-round draft pick. Given that most TEs fail to receive the 50-yard achievement bonus, they fall well behind their RB and WR counterparts in terms of #SFB9 scoring. The TE premium doesn’t give the TEs as large of a scoring boost as it once did and ideally you can structure your roster around punting the TE spot. Ideally drafting a potential breakout TE like Mark Andrews or Mike Gesicki could help you in capturing late-round TE production.

Quarterback

Given the difficulty it takes to hit the 300-yard passing threshold5 in order to unlock the bonus achievement coupled with how difficult it is for QBs to accumulate 50-rushing yards, QB scoring is fairly flat. It is important to note that mobile QBs do rack up half a point per first down when they pick up first downs with their legs. Over the last five seasons, Newton has picked up anywhere from 27 first downs6 to 52 first downs.7 Wilson, another elite mobile QB, has picked up anywhere from 16 first downs8 to 45 first downs9 with his legs. Both Newton and Wilson should be solid selections for those looking to lock up an elite QB.

Last season, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen picked up 39 and 35 rushing first downs respectively, which helped raise their fantasy scoring floor. Both Jackson and Allen also posted dipped into the rushing bonus multiple times last season, and join Newton, Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick as the only QBs to have five or more 50-yard rushing milestones in a season. It’s possible that Jackon and Allen are undervalued in your draft, and should make for reasonable later round selections.

Although statuesque signal callers don’t offer a similar ceiling as their elite mobile counterparts, they do offer reasonable upside. Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Jared Goff all posted 370 or more #SFB9 points. Although none of these QBs held a candle to Mahomes last season, their gaudy passing output10 coupled with their 28+ passing touchdowns meant that they were able to come close to (or surpass) the 400-point threshold.

I looked at how our top-five redraft QBs fared last season and the results are quite impressive.

DeShaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, and Andrew Luck all posted 390+ #SFB9 points last season. No one matched Mahomes’ ludicrous scoring output, but it’s impressive that Luck posted 25 or more #SFB9 points in 11 games last season.

Ideally, you’d want to roster a signal caller with a chance at hitting the passing yardage bonus, given that the bonus from rushing production is a rarer feat for a QB to achieve. However, there are a few QBs who offer a solid combination of passing and rushing production you could consider targeting in lieu of reaching for an elite QB. Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, and Kirk Cousins have all posted one season with at least 350 or more #SFB9 points. Of the three QBs listed, I like Wentz the most to cross the 400-point threshold. Wentz averaged 28.8 #SFB9 points per game back in 2017 and was on pace for a 432 point season. Had Wentz not suffered a torn ACL, he would’ve edged out Wilson for the honor of being the third highest scoring player back in 2017.

Another player I’m hoping who goes overlooked is Kyler Murray. Although Murray has yet to play a down in the NFL, his prospect profile indicates that his ceiling as a rookie is sky high. Given the optimism surrounding the Cardinals this offseason, don’t be surprised to see Murray get drafted an early in some divisions. I’ll definitely be looking to draft Murray, provided the price is right.

Good luck everyone and don’t forget to donate to FantasyCares!

Image Credit: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Christian McCaffrey.

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  1. along with the team with the best win-loss record  (back)
  2. Patrick Mahomes was the highest scoring player last season  (back)
  3. Excluding quarterbacks.  (back)
  4. negative six if it’s a pick-six  (back)
  5. relative to the 50-yards required for the other skill players  (back)
  6. 2016 season  (back)
  7. 2015 season  (back)
  8. 2016  (back)
  9. 2014  (back)
  10. Brees was the only QB who failed to throw for more than 4,450 yards  (back)

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