Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Evaluating Value Based Drafting

Chet Gresham@Chet_GFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2012

Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Arian Foster, Houston TexansAndy Lyons/Getty Images

While researching draft strategies for the upcoming season you may have come upon the acronym VBD. The good news is, it's not a disease! It stands for Value Based Drafting.

This concept is intuitive at its core: you compare the roster you need to fill with the pool of players and talent for each position and decide which positions/players have more value—or in other words, where talent is more rare.

Another way of looking at it is that a player's value isn't determined by the number of fantasy points they have, but the difference in points between him and other players at his position. If you could put quarterbacks in every slot, you'd draft a ton of quarterbacks because they score the most points. Unfortunately you can only start one quarterback, and you need each one of your positions to outscore your opponent's positions. Clear? Sure.

When you draft your fake football team you are drafting a team that will give you the most possible points. VBD tries to assign a value for each player based on a projection of fantasy points minus a baseline number set for each position. So the two things you'll need is to figure out how many points you think each player will score for 2012 and then figure out the most effective baseline number to use.

But that's what I'm going to do for you right now if you are so inclined!

I have seen a few calculations for baseline numbers, but Frank DuPont put together what I believe is a well-thought-out and accurate baseline here.

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Let me paraphrase his hard work. DuPont figured the number of games a 12-team league would need from each position with the standard lineup of one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end and one running back/wide receiver flex. He then looked at the past three seasons and figured out how many players at each position it took to get to the required number of games.

He found that it took 15 quarterbacks, 44 running backs, 44 wide receivers, and 15 tight ends to fill the total number of games needed for this particular league's set up. Those numbers are our baseline. We then go to our projections and find the 15th ranked quarterback, take his total fantasy points, and then subtract that number from every quarterback's total to find the quarterback's VBD. Repeat the process at the other positions.

And now for the fun part!

Take a look at my projections for this season here, perform some VBD magic on them, see what happens and then compare them to Average Draft Position.

On the left are my rankings run through VBD and on the right is the ADP. If you look at just the colors showing the different positions you'll see that running backs rule the roost. If you pick the right running back, you are getting more value than if you picked the right player at any other position early in the draft.

VBD vs. ADP 1-50
VBD vs. ADP 1-50

VBD vs. ADP 51-100
VBD vs. ADP 51-100

Value Based Drafting is dependent on your projections. If you think Rob Gronkowski will have 18 touchdowns again this season, of course he moves way up in both VBD and real rankings. If three quarterbacks have over 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns again, they will be hard to pass on. But it is hard to count on those huge years. Often those players' numbers regress and as a whole, running backs are where the value is.

So take a look at these and run your own projections to see how they come out. Good luck!