News & Analysis

A proposal to repair fantasy top-heaviness

November 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) celebrates his touchdown scored against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor’s note: Every Sunday, we’ll wrap up the week on PFF Fantasy with some topic one of our writers has been thinking about of late, and recap the features and columns you could find on the site that week.)

The first fantasy football league (or at least, one of the first) was a TD-only league. Score a touchdown? Get points. Run the ball from the 1 to the opposing 1 and get tackles? Get no points. Over time, that changed. Yards mattered. Turnovers. Fractional scoring. PPR. Half-point PPR. Points for first downs. Points for field goals and more points for longer ones.

The fantasy game is always evolving. Sometimes it’s a small evolution, like adding a flex. Sometimes it’s a big one, like adding a superflex. But the game is never complete.

So with that in mind, there’s the next evolution in fantasy football scoring that I’ve been considering for about a year now: Tiered scoring. Different scoring systems for a team’s RB1 versus RB2, and WR1 versus WR2. That sort of thing.

Fantasy football is great. I obviously think so. But at the same time, it can be frustrating. Take my primary league of 2017. I loved my roster. The last three weeks of the regular season and my first playoff matchup (after a bye), I put up four of the six highest weekly scores across the league all year. Things were going great.

And then in the finals, I faced a sixth-place, squeaked-into-the-playoffs team who had … Todd Gurley. You can probably guess how that turned out.

That’s not unfair, not by any means. But the finals came down to (if I do say so myself) the best fantasy team in our league against the best single player. It went that way all around fantasy. Per NFL.com, Gurley was on 47.1 percent of championship teams. And that’s fine, but that isn’t building a roster. That’s a lottery ticket. If you had Gurley, maybe Alvin Kamara last year, odds are you won. It was that way with David Johnson in 2016, Cam Newton the year before that. Great. That’s winning a scratch-off ticket. I prefer games that (I think) take a bit more skill.

So I’m not sure how it would break down exactly. Maybe you select two running backs and two receivers, and the top scorer that week gets 0.05 points per yard, and the No. 2 scorer gets 0.1. Maybe you declare them ahead of time. Maybe … I don’t know. But I’d like to see a fantasy game that rewards the most well-built rosters, and not one that rewards “Oh, your roster is fine, I guess, but look at THAT GUY.”

It’s an incomplete idea, and I don’t know, maybe ultimately a stupid one. But in a game that is ever-volatile, ever-changing, it’s the next evolutionary step I’d like to see.

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