Period-Adjusted Fantasy Football Rankings: An Introduction to the Scoring System

This month celebrates the 60th anniversary of the birth of fantasy footballso now is the perfect time to look back and find out who the greatest players in fantasy football history are.

This analysis could be looking at players since 1962, when Bill Winkenbach and his company developed the first set of fantasy football rules, but why leave out most careers of players like Jim Brown or Johnny Unitas, or exclude players? dominant? of the first half century of NFL history? Why not go all the way back to the beginning of the NFL and give everyone a shot at making this list?

It’s an ambitious mindset that’s well worth the effort, but it requires putting in place a fair system that can standardize fantasy score performance and measure players against their era. This era-adjusted scoring setup is the only way that fantasy candidates who have played fewer games and done so in less offensive eras can have a reasonable chance of competing against contemporary players in the open era. of today.

Career points

Because we’re measuring fantasy performance, the system needs to have a really fantasy-centric approach, so players are rewarded with a career point if their season point total made them a fantasy starter (adjusted for period, see below). They also receive bonus career points for being a quality starter (one of the best players in their respective position), an impact starter (think QB1 caliber, WR1 caliber, etc.) or an impact starter. elite (one of the all-time great seasons).

Players get one career point for posting a rookie-caliber season. They get another career point for a quality season. An Impact Starter Campaign awards 1.5 Career Points, while an Elite Season awards an additional two Career Points. Players are measured in both the non-PPR and full-PPR scoring systems and thus get two chances for career points.

Career points also stack, so a player who posts an elite season will get one career point for being a starter, one career point for having a quality starter campaign, 1.5 career points for being an impact starter and two career points for an elite season, or 5.5 career points total for that point performance (or 11 if doing so in both non-PPR and PPR in a single year).

These career point totals will be illustrated in each of the greatest player reviews, as shown below with Jerry Rice’s career point totals in each category.

Player Entrance Quality Impact Elite PPR Street PPR qual PRP impact PPR Elite Career points
Jerry Rice 16 11 13.5 4 17 11 10.5 ten 93

(Note: Pro Football Reference deserves a big thank you for this, as their Stathead tool was instrumental in making this analysis happen).

Fantastic starter and positioning guidelines over the years

Another factor in historical fantasy rating assessment is that the number of NFL teams has changed significantly over the years. Lower squad volume would also result in smaller starting squads in fantasy football. So here’s a quick guide to how the system assessed the number of Fantasy starters in previous eras.

Time Positions # of teams Fantasy teams Fantastic starters
1920-45 All players are flexible varied 6 five flex
1946-49 Backs, ends and QBs 18 ten QB, 2 RB, 2 END, flexible
1950-59 Backs, ends and QBs 12 8 QB, 2 RB, 2 END, flexible
1960-61 Backs, ends and QBs 21, 22 12 QB, 2 RB, 2 END, flexible
1962-2021 QB, RB, WR, TE 22+ 12 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, flexible

From 1920 to 1949, the NFL was largely a two-platoon setup, meaning players started on both offense and defense. Even when the league started to move, there was very little positional consistency with how players were listed in box scores. If fantasy football had existed at that time, every player would probably have been listed as a flex candidate and fantasy teams would probably have had around five players per team, so this system rates fantasy performance using that structure.

The combination of the addition of the All-America Football Conference as a rival league to the NFL in 1946-49 and some positional variation in box scores would have allowed fantasy football managers at the time to field a 10-team league with one QB, two RBs, two ends, and position flex, although team volume dropped to eight from 1950 to 1959.

This general starting lineup holds in this system from 1962 (to present), when there were enough players listed as tight ends to consider adding this position. At this point, a standard fantasy team would contain one QB, two RBs, two WRs, one TE, and one flex, with the end position eliminated after the positional split between wide receivers and tight ends.

The start of the AFL in 1960 increased the number of fantasy teams in a standard league to 12.

No kickers or D/ST

With all due respect to kickers, this review will take a Jake Ciely-like approach and not include them, as kickers are afterthoughts. D/ST were excluded for similar reasons.


Release schedule of the best fantasy players for each team

AFC West

Denver Broncos (3/29)
Kansas City Chiefs (3/30)
Las Vegas Raiders (3/31)
Los Angeles Chargers (4/1)

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys (4/5)
New York Giants (4/6)
Philadelphia Eagles (4/7)
Washington Commanders (4/8)

AFC South

Houston Texans (4/12)
Indianapolis Colts (4/13)
Jacksonville Jaguars (4/14)
Tennessee Titans (4/15)

NFC North

Chicago Bears (4/19)
Detroit Lions (4/20)
Green Bay Packers (4/21)
Minnesota Vikings (4/22)

AFC East

Buffalo Tickets (4/26)
Miami Dolphins (4/27)
New England Patriots (4/28)
New York Jets (4/29)

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals (5/3)
Los Angeles Rams (5/4)
San Francisco 49ers (5/5)
Seattle Seahawks (5/6)

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens (5/10)
Cincinnati Bengals (5/11)
Cleveland Browns (5/12)
Pittsburgh Steelers (5/13)

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons (5/17)
Carolina Panthers (5/18)
New Orleans Saints (5/19)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5/20)

(Top photo: Sports Focus via Getty Images)

Comments are closed.