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Leakage

Posted by Doug on November 29, 2006

Back in the old days of fantasy football, people computed their teams' score by opening up the Monday morning paper and scouring the box scores. In those days, it made sense to have rules like "one point for every ten yards rushing" instead of the more sensible "one tenth of a point for every yard rushing." The norm back then was that 40 yards was worth the same as 46 yards or 49 yards: 4 points. That made it much quicker to compute scores.

Now everyone who plays fantasy football utilizes some web-based service that will automatically compute scores for you, subject to whatever rules you specify. So there's no need for the cludgy round-down rules.

But a lot of leagues --- inlcuding two of the three that I'm in --- have kept the old system anyway. As far as I know, no real thought was given to the scoring system when we transitioned to a web-based league management system. We just kept the rules the same. I'm sure a lot of leagues (most?) did likewise.

Take a look at poor Charlie Frye.


Charlie Frye
WK PASS RSH REC
==================
1 132 44 0
2 244 10 0
3 298 6 0
4 192 -2 0
5 173 12 0
7 149 1 0
8 141 19 0
9 236 27 0
10 165 28 0
11 224 27 0
12 186 5 0

Assuming a rule of "one point per 25 yards" passing and "one point per ten yards" rushing, Charlie has lost 12.5 points because of needless rounding rules. He is the most unfortunate player of 2006 in this regard. He's got a 98, a 49, and a 24 in the passing column, plus a handful of 7s, 8s, and 9s rushing. According to my calculations, more than 12% of the yardage-based points he should have gotten leaked away to nowhere.

There are several burning questions that need to be answered here: what are the all-time greatest leakage totals in a season? Are certain kinds of players more prone to leakage than others? Or is it just dumb luck? Do I have any personal leakage-related anecdotes to share?

According to my records, the biggest leakage total of the last ten or so years belongs to Shaun Alexander from 2002:


Shaun Alexander 2002
WK PASS RSH REC
==================
1 0 36 36
2 0 37 46
3 0 37 8
4 0 139 92
5 0 0 0
6 0 96 25
7 0 30 16
8 0 58 38
9 0 67 48
10 0 42 2
11 0 18 23
12 0 145 6
13 0 74 77
14 0 123 8
15 0 127 15
16 0 79 6
17 0 67 14

He lost 18.5 points that season.

Now, is it just dumb luck, or can leakage be predicted to some extent? Well, luck does play a role as it appears that, leaguewide, the digits 0 through 9 are all equally likely to be the last digit of a rushing yardage total. However, it's no coincidence that the wide receiver hit hardest by leakage in 2006 is Chris Chambers. Why? Take a look:


Chris Chambers
WK PASS RSH REC
==================
1 0 0 59
2 0 3 55
3 0 39 39
4 0 14 28
5 0 18 29
6 0 1 60
7 0 0 29
8 0 0 0
9 0 0 58
10 0 2 66
11 0 0 44
12 0 0 23

Chambers has been unlucky for sure. But since he runs the ball more than just about any wide out, he loses points due to rounding on both his rushing total and his receiving total whereas most receivers only lose it on the receiving side. Chambers has 77 rushing yards this year, but only 50 of them "count" in most fantasy leagues. Running quarterbacks (like Charlie Frye) suffer the same fate. If you want to avoid leakage, stick with one-dimensional players. Also, of course, stick with players that get the bulk of their points from touchdowns. Touchdowns don't leak.

My footballguys.com colleague Jeff Pasquino says that fantasy football teams are like vacations. Everyone is glad to hear that you had one, but nobody wants to hear about the details. Nonetheless, I can't help but share the story that prompted me to do this important work.

Before Monday Night Football, I had a 28-point lead on my opponent, who had Donald Driver and Ahman Green playing for him. I went to bed at halftime and woke up to a boxscore indicating that Driver and Green had combined for exactly 28 points. So it's a tie.

But then I got word that a 7-yard completion to Driver was incorrectly credited to Green. This is not terribly uncommon and the people in charge of these things generally issue a correction on Wednesday or so. If this change gets made (which it will), then the receving yardage will change from this:


Green 46
Driver 82

to this:


Green 39
Driver 89

Seven yards going from one player to another on the same fantasy team will cause a point to evaporate and thereby change a tie into a win for me. I must be living right.

So now let me tell you about this vacation my family and I just took....

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 29th, 2006 at 6:06 am and is filed under Totally Useless. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.