Numbers Game: Creating A Better Ranking System
Numbers Game: Creating A Better Ranking System

Derrick Henry was not the 13th best fantasy football running back last season. 

But that's where he finished according to traditional rankings. 

That highlights a pervasive problem with traditional rankings. And since the previous season's traditional rankings are often the starting point for the upcoming season's projections, we would do well to have a better method for ranking fantasy producers.

Examining Henry

Henry kicked off the season with a six-game snoozefest. He averaged just 4.3 points per week (5.0 in PPR). He failed to reach six points in any game. In fantasy leagues, he was frequently dropped or traded for scraps. Some held on due to his lofty draft cost and his 12 carries per game, but no one trusted him. 

Henry scored a TD in each of the next three games – in fact, he scored two in Week 10 – though few started him for those performances. In two of those games, the TDs barely salvaged otherwise disastrous 33- and 27-yard outings. At the end of Week 10, Henry still had not rushed for 60 yards in a game. His touches per game had decreased slightly through the season.

It was not until Week 14, the first week of the fantasy playoffs, that Henry finally topped 60 yards in a game. He ran for 238 yards and four TDs. That one game accounted for 26 percent of his fantasy points for the entire season, and he played 16 games. Because he had been so bad until that point,

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Rikleen
Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball and was a nominee for the 2016 FSWA Newcomer of the Year Award. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living outside Boston.
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