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Fantasy Football 101: Scoring Systems

How can we make Devin Hester a #1 Receiver? Just change this setting here...
How can we make Devin Hester a #1 Receiver? Just change this setting here...

Hello everyone and welcome back for another session of "Fantasy Football 101". This week we are going to hit on two of the most important parts of fantasy football – the scoring system and the roster setup. Everything else hinges on these two things as you will see in the articles. Friday we will get into rosters, but for now, let’s find out what types of scoring systems exist and what that means to you as a Fantasy Team Owner. Follow past the jump, to get a little perspective on what scoring systems are, and how they impact the rest of your fantasy experience.

What System? Typically you will hear about two types of scoring systems, "Standard" and "Custom"…The two most popular Custom systems being IDP and PPR, and you may recall we briefly touched this stuff in Fantasy Football 101: What’s in a League? This simply means "I left the scoring system alone at the provider’s pre-determined settings" (Standard) or "I altered the scoring settings" (Custom). Remember that each provider’s standard system may be different, so you still have to read up on it before you can make decisions.

Common Acronyms: Touchdown (TD), Point(s) (pt(s)), individual defensive player (IDP), Point Per Reception (PPR), Quarterback (QB), Running Back (RB), Wide Receiver (WR), Tight End (TE), Defense/Special Teams (D/ST), Kicker (K)

Standard: A standard scoring system will typically look like this (or something very close to it):

Standard Fantasy Football Scoring System
Per 25 Yards Passing 1 QB/RB/WR/TE
Per 10 Yards Rushing 1 QB/RB/WR/TE
Per 10 Yards Receiving 1 QB/RB/WR/TE
Per Passing TD 4 QB/RB/WR/TE
Per Rushing TD 6 QB/RB/WR/TE
Per Receiving TD 6 QB/RB/WR/TE

Per 2 Pt Conversion


Per Int Thrown -2 QB/RB/WR/TE
Per Fumble Lost -2 QB/RB/WR/TE
Per Sack Taken -1 QB
Per Field Goal Made 3 K
Per Extra Point Made 1 K
Fumble Recovered 2 D/ST
Interception 2 D/ST
Sack 1 D/ST
Blocked Kick/Punt/FG/XP 2 D/ST
Safety 2 D/ST
Points Scored Against * D/ST
Yards Against * D/ST

*Points scored against and yards allowed are usually done on a sliding scale and vary more than any other point worthy stat league to league. An example might include:

0-6 Pts Against = 10 pts; 7-13 Pts Against = 7pts; 14-20 Pts Against = 4 pts; 21-26 Pts Against = 1 pt; 27+ Pts Against = 0 pts.

Custom: Above we outlined  a standard scoring system. If you change it, it becomes a custom scoring system, because you have "customized" it. Let’s take a look at some of the customizing options out there, and how it might actually impact your league.

Bonuses: These are like escalators in a contract. Reach a certain milestone, get more points. 1pt for reaching 100 yards rushing in a game. That point is in addition to the 10 he already gets at the 1pt per 10 yards rate, increasing the value of "big games". Ones I have typically seen include reaching the 100, 150, and 200 yard milestones in receiving and/or rushing and 300 yards passing games for QBs. These make big time players even more dangerous and create a larger gap between guys who hit 100 yard days regularly and those who hit 75-90 a week but rarely pull out the 100 yard game.

Penalties: You saw some of these above in standard scoring. -2pts for throwing an interception or losing a fumble, for example. If you don’t blame QBs for sack totals, getting rid of the -1pt per sack might help and you still reward the D/ST with the 1pt per sack rule. Some leagues hate the kicker, and add things like a -1 penalty for missed extra points or missed field goals of 39 yards or less.

Common Adjustments: There are some things that occur so often, they are even part of the standard scoring for some providers. Examples include: 6 pts per passing TD (instead of 4) and 1 pt per 20 passing yards (instead of 25).

Not quite as common but still frequent is "decimal scoring". What this benefits is it gives value to the "between yards". Because standard scoring only gives points by the 10 or 25 yard mark, this allows every yard to count. The rules would change like this: 0.1 pt per yard rushing or receiving; 0.2 pt per 5 yards passing. You still get 1 pt for 10 yards rushing or receiving and 1 for 25 yards passing, but if Forte get 89 yards rushing, you now score 8.9 instead of 8. Some like getting that value and some don’t, and others just can’t stand having decimal scores (and games decided by them…Ever lost by 0.1 pts? It burns.)

Game Changers: Sometimes the smallest change can blow up an entire scoring system. Above, we talked about things that typically help every player equally. When QBs get more points for throwing TD passes, all QBs benefit, and the gap between elite and non-elite fantasy players doesn’t actually widen that much. We talked about how bonuses can widen the gap, but they usually do not make it so large that you cannot win with solid, non-elite players. There are some changes you must be very careful with, not because they are not fun, but because they will radically change how players perform in your league, and what creates value.

PPR Leagues are a common example of this. Once you start giving out points for receptions (1pt per reception as a starting point), the scoring system gets shaken up. Guys like Wes Welker who catch 100 passes a year start finishing in the top 10 in scoring, instead of in the late 20’s-30’s. Running backs like Forte start to outperform guys like Adrian Peterson. This doesn’t ruin a league, but it does change expected player value.

While PPR shakes a league, points for return yards can rock one to the core. These leagues can be fun but you have to know the change is made and how it impacts value. For example, in a 1pt per 10 return yards league, Devin Hester would have gone from a 74 pt player for the season to a 190 pt player. That jump in the CBS WCG league last year would take Hester from unwanted free agent to #6 overall scoring WR. Huge impact.

In Closing: Making changes and customizing leagues can be a lot of fun, as long as everyone knows what's going into or coming out of the league. The impact a change can have on the value of players kept in Dynasty and Keeper leagues can cause some serious hurt feelings, and the change in value some of these scoring changes have on players can completely alter draft strategies. Please make sure you are checking your rules, and if you run the league, make sure everyone is aware of scoring system changes so they can adjust accordingly. With that in mind, I often make a number of changes to my leagues (PPR, decimal scoring, 6 pt passing TDs) so don't shy away from it. IDP scoring formats will get covered in that special report, never fear.

If you have any suggestions or comments, or if I missed anything, add it below. If you want to see some good examples of how these things impact scoring, please ask and I will generate the stats as needed and put them in the comments section. Thanks again!

Fantasy Football 101 Articles to come: Roster Setups, Types of Drafts, IDP Special Report, PPR Special Report, What to Expect from your Provider

Other things on the back burner: Pre-Draft Fantasy Watch, A Year in Review: 2010 (5 part series), Post-Draft Fantasy Update, Fantasy Football Team Reports (8 part series, by division)

Previous Articles:

Fantasy Football 101: Introduction

Fantasy Football 101: What’s in a league?