Editor's intro: At FFToolbox.com, we offer many tools which provide our users with interesting and unique points of analysis. In this multiple part series, we want to take a closer look at why these tools are useful and what kind of information each tool offered over the years. Through this exercise, we will re-examine the past to find hidden truths today. To check out the QUALITY GAMES tool over at FFToolbox, click here.
Your fantasy football philosophy and your draft strategy are your own. Maybe your strategy has you taking a handcuff for your receivers, maybe you always take a defense before anyone else, or perhaps you will simply never want Doug Martin on your team again. All of that is what makes fantasy football great. Pitting your strategy against your competitors. But to find your strategy and feel perfectly comfortable on draft day, you need the research to back it up. Having a clearly defined strategy or point of view allows you to quickly adjust to your opponents. It allows you to not get too upset when someone takes “your guy” just ahead of you, because he represents just one of the many players that fit into the potential mosaic that is your team.
Like most weapons in your arsenal, “Quality Games” or QG research shouldn’t be taken alone. Match it with ADP or at least check it against your own personal biases to see if the numbers match your intuition.
While knowing the consistency of any player is helpful, the QG tool typically only confirms what we know about the top-50 players. Outside of that realm, quality games are too few and far between to provide much information. QG can help you make a coin flip decision in the final seconds of a draft, the same way strength of schedule, as an example, is only one piece of a larger analysis. Barring injury or an unexpected drop-off not seen in past seasons, the best players score a lot and often. That's why they rank so high in QG. The measure of quality helps us look deeper into the early rounds and breaks down a player’s value.
Obviously some tools address draft strategy (ADP, rankings) while others address philosophy (when to draft a QB or the breakout potential of third-year receivers). Ranking QG addresses both. Looking at the QG-metric allows you to see how consistent a player has been.
FFToolbox defines quality games thusly: A "quality game" for a quarterback is defined by as scoring 17 or more fantasy points in a performance scoring system. Players are ranked based on who had the highest percentage of quality games over the past two seasons (minimum 5 games). The same concept goes for the other skill positions, however they require less points for a quality game and have a PPR and non-PPR categories. Focusing on PPR only; running backs, wide receivers and tight ends require 15, 11, 9 points respectively to be considered a quality game. For non-PPR leagues use the same formulae but subtract 2 points to qualify for a quality game.
If you know a player's point total from the previous year and marry that information with the FFToolbox's Quality Games tool, you find out the consistency of a player.
Consistency represents the backbone of many fantasy football owners' philosophy. As you enter later rounds of any draft, the best drafters know which players on the board give them the best chance to have a QG on any given Sunday. Sometimes we forego these players in favor of a high upside player or a boom-or-bust player, but you need to understand the landscape of who is on the board and who best would fill out your roster.
The Quality Games tool is invaluable for reconciling our “perception” of a player with the “reality” of said player.
Say you’re looking at running backs. It’s not surprising to see that the number one ranked RB last year was Jamaal Charles, scoring an 80-percent. This means that Charles notched a QG four out of every five games played. High scoring and consistent. Pretty obvious, however when it comes to mid-round talent you might be surprised at who had a higher percentage of QG’s than whom.
While we knew Joique Bell had a solid season in Detroit last year, I was surprised that he was exactly as consistent as Giovani Bernard. Both had similar point totals in 2013; 167.7 for Bell and 168.9 for Bernard. They both also scored 37.5 percent on the QG meter. Are they the same player worthy of the same draft consideration? No. There are big plans for Bernard in Cincinnati this year, and there is no reason to believe that Bell will be much more than Reggie Bush’s compliment in the Lions backfield. But given Bernard’s 19.81 ADP and Bell’s 75.04 ADP, you now have a reason to further investigate Bell and consider him in your own draft. It’s about having this type of knowledge at your fingertips on draft day.
Outside of the top-24 running backs, this tool loses some of its usefulness. It’s very difficult to get a good reading using QG’s for up-and-coming running backs or former backups about to get their shot (Toby Gerhart & Rashad Jennings). Every year running backs are the one skill position were rookies consistently make a splash. Obviously you need to look to other metrics for those players.
If you want to get the most out of this tool look to the receiving options. 48 receivers last year had a QG rating of over 30 percent, compared to 22 for running backs. There are simply many more starting receivers to choose from and the opportunity is greater to find the late round consistent threat from the receiving options.
You can optimize this tool when you find a player with a gap between his ADP (perception) and QG rankings (reality). Take T.Y. Hilton ADP of 52.82 (WR22) but a QG percentage of 31.3 (the 44th-ranked receiver). Hilton had a solid year with 138.9 points or 8.68 points per game in standard scoring leagues. However, he was limited to just five quality games last year. A quick glance at the QG tool hints at what greater research bears out. Hilton had five outstanding games and eleven games where he belonged on your bench. This type of inconsistency can and will cost you games, and in many ways is much worse for your team than a straight up bust. At least with a bust you know not to have the player in your starting line-up. With a boom-bust, you can be tempted into starting them during a streak of mediocrity (or worse) based on the performance of one or two weeks of greatness.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton
This isn’t to disparage Hilton. He may have a breakout year, but being armed with his numbers from last year you may pass on him at his current ADP, or grab him and trade high after his first big game.
The predictable names populate the top of the ADP charts at quarterback again this year. Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning can also be found at or near the top of the list. There are surprise names in the top-10 as well. Considering again a quarterback needs 17 points plus to qualify for a QG, seeing Alex Smith and Sam Bradford come in at six and seven on the list was a surprise. While both quarterbacks are largely ignored on draft day Smith had an impressive nine games with more than 17 points in 15 starts and Bradford had four quality starts in seven games.
Neither of these guys will be your opening day starter unless you are in a 16-team league, but you need to strongly consider these guys as your back up. Simply put, if your quarterback goes down, they will not lose you the game. And that, of course, is why you play the game.
The Quality Games tool is a great jumping off point where it can set you off in a new direction of research and analysis. Consistency is important, but it alone will not win you a championship. Head over to FFToolbox now and view the full results of the Quality Games tool.