One of the great aspects of playing in the NFBC and TGFBI (The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational) is that they give us plenty of good data to analyze. The NFBC gives us great ADP information to help anticipate what's coming in our drafts, and now that the NFBC has made the information from last year's leagues available to us, we have lots of 2018 results from both contests to look at.
Setting targets for each category can be a helpful exercise, as long as you don't act too rigidly in pursuit of those targets. I like knowing what it took last year to hit the 80th and 70th percentiles in each category, to give you an idea of roughly what you need to cash in the overall and the individual leagues. The general rule of thumb is that you need to hit the 80th percentile to cash (top 14) in the overall, 70th percentile to cash (top 3) in your individual 15-team league. To win the whole damn thing you need to average around the 90th percentile across the board.
Last year John Pausma won the NFBC Main Event, scoring 4,588 points out of a possible 5,100, or 89.96th percentile across the board. The 14th place team overall scored 4,180 points, or 81.96th percentile - so the threshold was a little higher last year. It's a little harder to judge whether that 70th percentile goal works in the individual leagues, some were harder to cash than others. I snuck in a third place finish in my Main Event league, with 99.5 points out of a total 150, which meant I averaged the 66.33rd percentile per category. When Clay Link won the TGFBI overall, he tallied 1,754 points out of a possible 1,950 points - averaging the 89.95th percentile. There's only one overall prize in TGFBI, so it's a little more difficult to test our 80th and 70th percentile estimates. Finally in the 12-team RotoWire Online Championship, Chris Oliver scored 16,562 points out of a possible 17,640, good for a whopping 93.89% of the possible points. The final cashing overall team (24th place) finished with 14,088 points, which is good for 84.97% of the possible points.
So do we need to raise our target thresholds? The answer is, as it almost always seems to be, "it depends" - are you playing in the Main Event or in the RotoWire Online Championship? If so, then you probably do need to raise your target thresholds for the overall. But the general rule of thumb probably works in your individual leagues, and your home leagues. Your home league doesn't take a rake and more reliably pays out 3/12 and sometimes 4/12 spots, for instance.
Because I ran the numbers at 80/70/50/20 (to get an idea of what mountains you need to climb to reach your targets), let's press on with those numbers, knowing you might need a little more (and you should draft with the idea of getting a little more than your projection set, anyhow) for the overall contests. By the way, I didn't do this exercise for AL-only or NL-only leagues - I didn't have a good data set for those types of leagues, and the leagues I played in last year had quirks that disqualified them for a greater study.
It should come as no surprise that doing well in batting average correlates well with winning in the NFBC. Ten of the 14 overall winners, including the overall winner, finished in the top 20th percentile in average, and none of the bottom 20th percentile cashed, though the 15th place overall team finished in the bottom 20th percentile. You'll note that the batting averages for each percentile were higher in the 15-team TGFBI leagues than they were in the NFBC - as Rudy Gamble from Razzball pointed out, TGFBI used one-catcher and two UT players instead of vice versa last year. That changes this year, with the platform moving from Fantrax to NFBC's software.
I've never heard of anyone punting runs as a successful strategy - those players that score a lot of runs are typically good at, well, hitting. All of the Main Event overall cashing teams finished in the top 80th percentile in runs.
If you wanted to finish in the top 20th percentile in homers in the NFBC Main or the TGFBI, you needed to average 21 homers per hitter roster slot. Easier to do in the TGFBI, where we only had to roster one catcher, but still a daunting task. In the 12-team RotoWire Online Championship, that number jumps up to 22.4 homers per hitting roster slot.
Once again, an identical number at the top for the NFBC Main and the TGFBI. It drops off more at the bottom in the TGFBI.
With a gap of only 43 stolen bases between the 80th and 20th percentiles in the NFBC Main, it was easier to make up ground in the category if you were able to grab Adalberto Mondesi on waivers midway through the season. Was there anything to be gained by punting stolen bases, the most likely hitting category to punt? After all, many of the top speedsters (Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon, Delino DeShields Jr.) had bad seasons. The short answer is "not really" - 10/14 cashing teams finished in the top 20th percentile in bags, though I did see more teams that fell low in the overall standings among the stolen bases leaders.
The bottom falls out a little bit more in the TGFBI, but I think that's because there's an innings minimum that's left a few teams at the bottom of the category for those that didn't reach it, if I'm parsing the data properly on the league page.
The same phenomenon with ERA applies with the WHIP category in comparing the Main against the TGFBI.
I don't really know how to explain the difference between the NFBC and TGFBI here. Maybe the industry players don't push up high-strikeout pitchers as much as the NFBC - but that doesn't really make sense, as the roster requirements remain the same. Until I can figure out an explanation that makes sense - or someone brighter than me can explain it to me while speaking slowly and using small words - I'm going to write this difference off as a one-year fluke. I'm curious to see if this carries over from year 1 to year 2.
Whatever the difference between the two contests, it carried over to Wins as well. There's also a bigger spread between each target in the TGFBI.
The most likely category of all 10 to punt, hitting or pitching, saves are frustrating because only one player per game can get them and they are so manager-dependent. But punting didn't really work out in overall contests, once again - the lowest save total of a cashing team overall in the Main was 44 saves. It's a tautology - when you have an overall contest, of course you can't completely give away a category. If you want to try to win your individual league, yes, that's a viable strategy, and it follows that the smaller the league, the easier it is to get away with punting a category.
Use these targets as a loose guide and not gospel. By definition they are backwards-looking, and not a reflection of this year's run-scoring environment. Conditions change - the ball, the ballparks, the training methods used by players, etc... But hopefully this helps you in your draft-planning process.