The Historian of Fantasy Football: Teams and Trends
Previously, in our Fantasy Historian series, we looked at the greats of the past; in this latest entry, we take a look at how entire NFL franchises have fared in the fantasy landscape.
Fantastic performance of the NFL franchise
A natural starting point is the simple question “Which NFL teams perform best in fantasy football?” To answer this question, we can aggregate the 2002 data to measure both the teams that scored the most and the teams that scored the most. permit the most fanciful points.
In these graphs, the blue bars represent the points of fantasy scored by a team: the more they reach to the right, the more the number of points scored. The red bars represent the total number of points allowed: the more they reach to the left, the more points a team has given up. The graph on the left is sorted by marked points, the graph on the right by authorized points. The black dots are the “net” score or the total of the points scored less total points allowed.
- It’s probably no surprise that the Saints, Patriots and Packers take the top scoring honors: their dynastic quarterbacks and, especially in the case of New Orleans, aggressive play calls dominate the league. for decades. On the other hand, the hapless Bears, Browns, and Jets struggle to score fantasy points, though they have some exciting talents to look to in the future.
- The Lions lead the league in allowed fantasy points, though – thanks to former QB Matthew Stafford – they finish honorably in terms of points scored. AFC North has earned their reputation as a tough defensive game, with the Ravens and Steelers representing by far the two strongest fantastic defenses. Of course, part of that is due to playing four games a year against the generally inane Browns and Bengals …
We can also sort the above chart by “clean” points, or by marked satin points minus the allowed satin points:
- Because this sort incorporates both offense and defense, it does a much better job of tracking teams that are successful in an NFL ability (not fancy). Unsurprisingly, my New England Patriots are at the top of the league, while the Browns, Raiders and Lions round out the bottom three. Perhaps surprisingly here, the 49ers, fourth from the bottom. Despite recent improvements and historic greatness (thank you Joe Montana), this team has only recorded five winning seasons since 2002; it’s certainly at odds with my overall impression of the franchise.
- The Atlanta Falcons are a really fun team for fantastic purposes. They score a lot (11th since 2002) and get scored at a lot (3rd since 2002). You can see it in the graph above: The two bars are wider than the teams around them, and the black point – the net points – is very close to zero. We will explore the relationship between the fancy points marked and allowed to come …
Long term trends
The graphics above are helpful generally, but they don’t give us a great idea of historical performance. We can break down the fantastic score by year below:
- First of all, there is an undeniable upward trend: we have already seen in this series how more fantasy points have been scored in recent years.
- Kurt Warner’s “Greatest Lawn Show” in St. Louis appears as the first “dynastic offense” in this painting. The Rams suffered a setback 15 years later, finishing bottom in 2015 and 2016 (they only managed 11 passing touchdowns under Nick Foles and Case Keenum in 2015).
- The New Orleans Saints, which we saw above are the highest ranked team at this time, can be seen throughout the standings. We’ll soon know if that dominance will continue into the post-Drew Brees era.
- Peyton Manning’s record year with Denver sits above other sterling offensive seasons: the Patriots 16-0, Patrick Mahomes’ campaign MVP and the Saints 2011. On the other end, the San Francisco 49ers of 2005 – starring Frank Gore, 22, and Alex Smith, 21 (yes, Frank Gore is a year older than Alex Smith) – is the worst team fantasy performance in this data set. . They only scored eight passing touchdowns and eight rushing touchdowns all season.
We can visualize the same graph, but for the authorized points:
- Poor Detroit! Toothless Lions are often found at the top of this heap and fair set a cap for the points allowed in 2020. The rushed figures are particularly putrid: according to PFR, they gave up 2,158 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns.
- The “Boom Legion” has left its mark on this chart, with the Seattle Seahawks ranking as the stingiest fantasy defense for three consecutive years. You can see the Denver Broncos approaching that same defensive tenacity in 2015, the year they thwarted Cam Newton to win the Super Bowl.
- The 2019 Patriots, who started the season as an indispensable fantastic asset to D / ST, were the toughest fantasy defense of the 2010s. Of course we know how the second half of the season has been for the past year. by Tom Brady in New England.
- The Steelers and Ravens appear a lot at the bottom of this table, especially in the 2000s. Specifically, the Baltimore defense in 2000 – which led them to a Super Bowl title – is the strongest unit here. They shut out four regular season opponents that year and allowed a total 23 points in four playoff games in their championship race.
- In 2015, the Saints were a really fun team: they topped the league in fantastic scoring and points allowed! That’s no recipe for real NFL success, and they missed the playoffs with a 7-9 record.
If you listen to The Fantasy Footballers Podcast, you’re probably used to hearing Jason targeting players on NFL teams with poor defenses (as well as – and don’t hear what I’m not saying – players who were drafted for being excellent). This is not a myth: there is a positive relationship (correlation = 0.25) between allowing and scoring fantasy points:
- You can really see the impact of the weather in the graph above: most of the teams at the top right (score a lot + give up a lot) are relatively new, while the teams at the bottom left (score a little + allow a little). are mostly from the early 2000s.
- This is another glimpse at how good the 2007 Patriots were: Despite scoring a ton of fantastic points, they were also surprisingly stingy on defense. Now I think again of the capture of David Tyree. Sigh…
We see a similar pattern when we consider team points scored by running backs (representing rushing offense) versus quarterbacks (representing passing offense). The good news is, you don’t have to choose one or the other – historically, there has been a positive relationship (correlation = 0.28) between rush and pass performance.
- We can see the temporal impact again: the teams on the top right are generally recent teams, on the bottom left are older teams. The 2000 Rams, the biggest show on turf, is a notable outlier in that sense at the top right.
- The largest outliers in both directions – Ravens 2019 and Chargers 2006 – are a product of LaDainian Tomlinson and Lamar Jackson. Both players have won the MVP in those respective seasons.
- The Saints are fairly well balanced, offering impressive passes and restless seasons. the Packers 2011 have been very one-dimensional, throwing 51 pass touchdowns (6 from “Matt Flynn’s game”) and running just 12 (of which four were from Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn, and four from John Kuhn).
- the 2006 Raiders were, to say the least, anemic on attack. They threw for 7 touchdowns against 24 INT that year, adding 5 scores on the floor. Their defense was actually decent, but they – as you might expect – finished worst in the league 2-14. This season’s vibes spilled over to their top pick JaMarcus Russell in 2007.
Let’s use a few passing charts to visualize the difference between some of the best and worst teams in the NFL over the past year. These coordinate data are thanks to Ethan douglas and Sarah Mallepall et al. (you can find the data here), while the base code for graphics is Thomas Model.
First, let’s compare the Chiefs’ 2020 passing offense (specifically, completions) against Adam ‘# 2′ Gase and the Jets. As expected, the Chiefs are much more successful pushing the ball deeper into the field, as well as reaching both sidelines. The “hot spots” for Patrick Mahomes’ offense are also much larger.
On the other hand, we can consider the completions against the Lions (one of the worst defenses in the league) and the Ravens (one of the best). The teams moved through Detroit, with sections even deeper than the Chiefs offense. In contrast, the Ravens allow completions in (usually) a much smaller area. Plus, the Ravens’ chart isn’t symmetrical: Quarterbacks resort to favoring their right-hander, likely because they’re under more pressure and face better coverage. This is not the case with Lions: flaggers easily throw it from both sides of the court.
Speaking of the Lions (sorry, Detroit fans!), We can close this article by looking at their allowed points. by mail over time (all other teams in light red). the 2008 season without a win stands out in terms of authorized rushing points: 2754 yards and 31 TDs, according to the PFR. As we discussed, 2020 set a new points allowed record: we can clearly see that the air and rush attacks were the best against the Lions last year.
The good news? Detroit was average against Tight Ends!
Am I missing something? Do you see something wrong? Curious about the other statistics of the team? Send me a message on Twitter.