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Over at Footballguys.com, I build upon Joe Bryant’s VBD and create the idea of Expected VBD. While VBD is a great way to understand the value of players, Expected VBD explains how we draft. This concept is why even though you may expect some kickers and fantasy defenses to perform well, you don’t take them early in the draft because they have low Expected VBDs. So what is Expected VBD?

Instead of drafting according to strict VBD, you should be drafting to something I’ll call Expected VBD, which is best defined by an example. Suppose Russell Wilson has three equally possible outcomes this year: he has a one-in-three chance of scoring 425 fantasy points, 325 fantasy points, and 225 fantasy points. Further, let’s assume that the baseline number of fantasy points at the quarterback position is 300 fantasy points.

We would project Wilson to score 325 points, which would be the weighted average of his possible outcomes. This means VBD would tell you that he is worth 25 points, because 325 is 25 points above the baseline. Expected VBD works like this: If Wilson scores 425 points, he’ll produce 125 points of VBD. If he scores only 325 points, he’ll be worth +25, and if he scores only 225 points, he’s going to have -125 points of VBD. In real life, players with negative VBD scores can be released or put on your bench. So if Wilson scores 225 points (probably due to injury), you’ll start another quarterback, roughly a quarterback who can give you baseline production.

So when Wilson scores 225 fantasy points, his VBD is 0, not -75. That means his Expected VBD would be (125+25+0)/3, or 50. Wilson’s VBD according to our projections may be only 25, but his Expected VBD is twice as large because Expected VBD does not provide an extra penalty for sub-baseline performances. Not surprisingly, different positions have different amounts of Expected VBD associated with them.

Below is the summary graph — it has quickly become one of my all-time favorite graphs — which shows the Expected VBD by each position according to Average Draft Position.

I go into much more detail in the full article.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Unfortunately for me, I’m not a subscriber so I cannot read the full article. Do you go into how you’re determining the possible outcomes? I’m curious about that projection method.

Ah, sorry, I hadn’t realized it was a subscriber-only piece. Going forward, they all will be, but I will still link to them. I know not everyone here is an FBG subscriber, but I hope many of my readers choose to become subscribers. I based the VBD off of the actual VBD produced by players according to their ADP.

If I wasn’t drafting online this year, I would wear that graph on a T-shirt to my draft.

Admittedly, it would be because I got into a ‘debate’ last year after last year’s draft with 3 other owners about the ‘necessity to pick a top QB in the first round’. They grabbed their QBs, I grabbed RG3 in the 6th round, followed my plan, and had my best season ever. Go VBD.

I’m in a new, startup 12-team, Footballguys staff dynasty league. Through 5 rounds, 10 teams had taken a QB. Through 7 rounds, 10 teams had taken a QB. I’m one of the two, of course, who passed on a QB. We’ll see how long me and the other owner will put it off, but I think it’s crazy to take a QB early this year.

Two things:

1) This is assuming you can determine when you get the “bad” version of a player. In the case of injury, it’s obviously easy, but in the case of poor performance it’s not.

2) In the case of injury, the 225-point Wilson isn’t a negative or a 0, he’s actually a plus. Simple example, say you have two players, both who score 160 points on the season, which is replacement level. Player A scores 10 points per game for 16 games, so he is a 0. But Player B scores 20 points for 8 games and then gets hurt. He’s not a 0, he’s a +80 (+10 for each of his 8 games).

Maybe the reason that the expected VBD for DTs is so low is because the scoring system is (wildly) out of step with the other positions. Take for example the shutout being worth 12 points in your study. This is way too low considering how rare a shutout is (2-3 times a year) and how important it is (guaranteed NFL victory). Yet we equate it to two touchdowns. It should be worth four touchdowns in my opinion. It continues from there, a DT that allows only 3 points is spectacular success but we only award 8 points. Nonsense!

What would happen if you incorporated Pasquino’s DT realism scoring system? What would happen if you incorporated his scoring system plus point ranges for points allowed (he doesn’t factor in points allowed in his system)?

My point is that DTs are poorly regarded because they are poorly scored in fantasy leagues, not because they are inconsistent year-to-year. If fantasy DTs were scored in a fashion that resulted in a high correlation to NFL DTs ranked on points-allowed then perhaps expected VBD would be different.

I’m having a bit of trouble understanding how you determined what two of the possible outcomes for Russell Wilson would be? The 325 projection is understandable, but why do you decide to go 100 pts up and then 100 pts down for the other two “possible outcomes?” 100 pts seems very arbitrary. How was this determined?

It was simply for demonstration. It’s definitely much more complicated and really a distribution, but he used the 3 points as simple examples.

I’m having trouble understanding how this is an argument against taking a QB early. The value of the top QB seems to be better than about the 7th RB and 5th WR arguing that you would then have the best value taking the first QB around 13th. The QB line is also steeper at that point (around 80) indicating that the dropoff is higher for QB relative to RB and WR further supporting the argument to grab the QB at that time. What am I missing here?

Thanks