QBs in 6-pt/Passing TD Leagues

We’ve had a lot of requests for analysis on leagues in which QB gets 6 points per TD pass, so here’s a look at Mike Horn’s statistical breakdown of these types of leagues.

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QBs in 6-pt/Passing TD Leagues
by Mike Horn
Staff Writer, FantasyGuru.com

There have been several questions lately about the impact on player values of a scoring system that awards 6 points for passing TDs (instead of the 4 points common in many leagues). This is my attempt to answer that analytically.

Who benefits?

There are two parts to this question. First, which individual QBs are better in a 6 point passing TD format?  Second, how does this scoring affect the values of QBs compared to other positions when drafting?

For this article, I’ll use this yardage scoring: 10 yards rushing/receiving = 1 pt; 25 yards passing = 1 pt; rushing/receiving TD = 6 pts. No points for receptions or point penalties for turnovers, and of course I’ll be comparing 4 vs. 6 points for passing TDs.

Individual QBs

Over the last 10 years, how would the ranks of individual QBs vary from 4 point to a 6 point per passing TD scoring system?  Not much:

QB Fantasy Rank Change 1999-2009 In 4 vs. 6 point Pass TD Scoring
Change Total Pct
No change 170 56.7%
+/-1 99 33.0%
+/-2 24 8.0%
+/-3 5 1.7%
+/-4 2 0.7%

Over half of all QBs don’t have their relative ranking changed at all by adopting a 6 point scoring system. And 90% don’t change or move up or down only 1 spot in the final scoring rankings. Here’s the list of players whose rank varied by 3 or more places since 1999:

Brian Griese, 2001

Trent Green, 2001

Brett Favre, 2003

Michael Vick, 2005

Eli Manning, 2006

Vince Young, 2006

David Garrard, 2008

Obviously a couple of these players, Vick and Young, fall into the category of “running QBs.” Both saw their ranks decline by 3 when going from a 4 point to 6 point passing TD scoring system. This is not surprising and probably something every fantasy owner realizes:  increasing the value of passing TDs decreases the value of QBs who score a lot with their feet. Vick and Young had 6 and 7 rushing TDs respectively in those seasons. Garrard is something of a running QB, at least relative to the remaining 5 QBs in that list, but he had only 2 rushing TDs and 322 rushing yards vs. 6 or 7 and 500+ for Vick and Young in the seasons listed here.

But there’s something all these QBs had in common: relatively low TD/INT ratios. It’s not surprising that low TD numbers would make a difference. Obviously the more – or fewer – of a QB’s fantasy points that came from TDs would mean he would move up or down in the rankings if TDs were worth more. But it appears that QBs that also throw a relatively high percentage of INTs are more likely to be affected by this scoring system variation.

QB Rank Change Compared to TD/INT Ratio
Change TD/INT
No change 1.45
+/-1 1.45
+/-2 1.39
+/-3 1.08
+/-4 1.27
Average 1.44

QBs that were relatively unaffected when going from 4 to 6 points per passing TD had TD/INT ratios close to the average. Of course, this could partly be that there were so many of them that they really were the average. Also, while players who were more affected by the scoring change had below average TD/INT ratios, some of them were POSITIVELY affected. In leagues that charge a point or two for INTs, this effect is probably less noticeable.

Looking over the 10-year span, QBs that were most positively affected by 6 point passing TD scoring were, not surprisingly, the QBs who were already the elite fantasy QBs: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers. Two QBs that benefitted more than you might expect were Eli Manning and Matt Hasselbeck. Both tended to throw a lot of TDs relative to their passing yards, so boosting the relative value of TDs helped them. They also had strong running games, so they got a decent amount of red zone opportunities without having moved the team there via the air as much as QBs with higher passing yardage totals. Of course, Hasselbeck is a marginal fantasy player at best anymore, and last year Eli Manning had over 4000 yards, so this effect has probably worn off for them.

To summarize, and some of this is pretty obvious, in leagues that award 6 point per passing TD:

  • In general, running QBs are decreased in value.
  • QBs who have low TD/INT ratios will move up or down in value more than others.
  • QBs with relatively low passing yard/passing TD ratios will move up in value.
  • Those QBs who fit that description and come with strong running games consistently are worth more in this format than in 4 point scoring. Joe Flacco jumps out at me as a player who might be in this kind of situation in 2010.

Impact on Position Value

A key point that I want to get across in this article is that just because QBs score more total points in 6 pt/passing TD systems DOES NOT MAKE THEM MORE VALUABLE.

I guess I shouldn’t shout; those new to the hobby may not understand this. But scoring more points alone does not affect a player’s fantasy value when comparing across position groups – obviously a QB who scores more is worth more than another QB who scores less.

Let’s look at last year’s players with 6 point passing TD scoring. Carson Palmer had 277 points in 16 games. Maurice Jones-Drew had 273 in the same number of games. Andre Johnson had 212 and Dallas Clark 172. Palmer out-scored all these players as the #17 QB in total points, while the others were all in the top 3 at their position. It’s pretty clear that just because Palmer scored more does not make him more valuable. We have to think about the relative value of various positions too. What creates relative positional value? (This discussion of relative values ignores “flex” players.)

The first is scarcity. If a 12-team league requires two starting RBs per team, that far exceeds the number of starting backs not in RBBC offenses. But the same league could start 4 WRs and there would be starting NFL WRs available for bench spots. So WRs as a whole would not be as scarce as RBs and therefore not as valuable. If the league started four kickers, there’d be a scramble early in the draft to pick kickers. The concept of scarcity is very basic to setting positional value in a fantasy league. Using 6 pt/passing TD scoring does not affect this at all.

The second factor creating positional value is the drop-off in points from the best player at the position to the second, second to third, etc., and then from the pool of the top starters (RB1, WR1, etc.) to the next pool (RB2, WR2…) down to the drop-off between the last starters and the bench players and so on to waiver wire candidates. The concept of drop-offs is the basic principle underlying value-based drafting (VBD).

This can be illustrated by a simple example. Say the NFL had a new rule this year that only kickers on teams from Louisiana can attempt placekicks. Garrett Hartley would have a projected 130-point advantage on all other kickers. Because of this extreme drop-off, Hartley would have to be the first player chosen in fantasy drafts – no one else would give you a 8 point advantage every week guaranteed (you could also argue that this is essentially scarcity in such an extreme case). All the other owners would draft a kicker with their very last pick and would scramble to figure out who would replace Hartley if he got hurt. This is why stud RBs always go first and are handcuffed to their backup.

It’s primarily the drop-offs that establish relative positional value between positions of equal scarcity, for example, QB and PK in most leagues. Usually there is a huge drop-off between the top QBs and the 12th rated one (100 plus points), while the disparity from #1 to #12 at kicker is closer to 30 points. Starting QBs always get drafted by fantasy owners before they go get a kicker. It’s not until the drop-offs within pools of players at other positions (RB4, WR5, QB2, etc.) start approaching the kicker level that kickers get drafted.

One impact of 6 point scoring is that it makes the elite QBs more valuable by making the drop-offs from the best starter to a middle-of-the-road starter, and from that guy to a low-end starter. This is one reason why it can make elite QBs more valuable in 6 point passing TD systems. Here’s what the drop-offs look like the last 12 years:

Drop-off from #1 to #6 QB in Different Scoring Systems
Year 4FP 6FP
2000 83 93
2001 47 65
2002 58 46
2003 38 38
2004 110 133
2005 39 55
2006 55 69
2007 127 164
2008 62 76
2009 59 65
Average 68 80

Drop-off from #6 to #12 QB in Different Scoring Systems
Year 4FP 6FP
2000 59 73
2001 61 76
2002 47 60
2003 18 27
2004 30 62
2005 16 29
2006 45 55
2007 45 66
2008 39 52
2009 44 47
Average 40 55
Drop-off from #1 to #12 QB in Different Scoring Systems
Year 4FP 6FP
2000 142 166
2001 108 141
2002 105 106
2003 56 65
2004 141 195
2005 55 84
2006 100 124
2007 172 230
2008 101 128
2009 103 112
Average 108 135

Almost without exception, 6 point (6FP) scoring for pass TDs has bigger drop-offs. So, theoretically, the 6 point system should make QBs more valuable. But what about in real leagues?

I poked around in the myfantasyleague.com archives for leagues that award 6 points for passing TDs but were consistent in other scoring rules and roster requirements. I found several long-standing 12-team leagues (back to 2002) – a total of 57 league seasons. They all awarded 6 point for all TDs, 1 point for 20 passing yards, and 1 point for rushing/receiving yards, with no points per reception and no penalties for turnovers. These leagues all had 18-man rosters with starting line-ups of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 D/ST, and 1 PK. Then I looked at their regular season wins and points for (PF) to see how drafting a QB in a particular round affected their results

1ST PICK QB RB WR Overall
Average Adjusted PF 0.99 1.00 1.01 1.00
Average wins 7.2 7.0 7.0 7.

The first chart shows the average wins and Adjusted PF for teams taking one of the three major positions with their 1st pick. Wins are self-explanatory; the leagues all played 14-game seasons so the overall average fir the league is 7 wins. Taking a QB with the first pick was slightly better than average, with 7.2 average wins.

Average Adjusted PF is more complicated. I could have used average PF, but the amount of points scored varied considerably from year-to-year: from an average of 1275 in 2003 to 1548 last year. Using a straight average over these very different seasons could skew the results. For example, if a lot more QBs than usual were drafted early in the lowest scoring season, it would make this strategy appear worse than it is. So I divided every team’s PF by the average PF in that season. Therefore, the overall average is 1.00. Anything greater than 1 is above average and any score less than it is below average. For these leagues, teams taking a QB with their first pick had an average adjusted PF of 0.99, which means they averaged 99% of overall average PF.

So taking a QB with the first pick was mixed – a little better than taking an RB or WR in terms of wins, a little worse in terms of PF.

2ND PICK QB RB WR Grand Total
Average Adjusted PF 1.03 0.99 1.01 1.00
Average wins 7.1 6.9 7.0 7.0

Teams that took a QB with their next pick did better. They had the best average wins of teams taking QB, RB, or WR by a narrow margin. And they had easily the best adjusted PF. Now, this is not to say that just taking a QB in Round 2 will automatically give you a 3% edge in PF in leagues that give 6 points per passing TD. It would be a bad strategy to reach for a loss-than-elite QB – but it does show that taking QB here has been a very viable strategy.

However, after several straight years where teams that took a QB with their 2nd pick had above average adjusted PF, in 2009 they did slightly below average with this draft strategy. It’s also worth noting that high PF didn’t always translate into above average wins:

Taking a QB with 2nd Pick
Year Average Wins Average Adjusted PF
2002 7.3 1.01
2003 6.3 0.98
2004 8.3 1.14
2005 7.3 1.03
2006 6.3 1.05
2007 6.5 1.07
2008 7.0 1.02
2009 7.0 0.99

2004 was an excellent year to take a QB early, as both Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper were the only QBs taken with teams’ first two picks, and both delivered tremendous seasons. But in years like last season when the top QBs taken (Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady) didn’t dominate like the 2004 top draft picks, there was no advantage to taking a QB in Round 2, even in this scoring format.

In these leagues, teams have drafted their first QBs with their 1st pick and as late as their 11th pick.

Results of Taking a QB with Various Picks
Pick Average Wins Average Adjusted PF
1 7.3 0.99
2 7.2 1.03
3 6.8 1.00
4 7.2 1.01
5 6.6 0.99
6 7.2 1.00
7 6.6 0.99
8 7.1 1.01
9 7.4 1.02
10 6.7 0.98
11 7.0 1.00

It would appear that the best strategies have been to either grab a highly-rated QB early, in Round 2, or to hold off and take an upside QB somewhere around the 9th round. The low average wins in Rounds 5 and 7 may be a fluke or may be the result of owners reaching for mediocre QBs when they started going off the boards.

After looking over all these leagues, over several years, I believe that there is no magic solution to the question of when to take a QB. Certainly, the 6 point scoring for passing TDs doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to take a QB early. It can be a good strategy, but so can waiting on a QB. Reaching for a QB – or any position – is counter-productive.

Category: Fantasy Football

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8 Responses

  1. t says:

    So how does adding pts per completion skew this analysis? for guys like brees, peyton, rodgers with high attempts I think grabbing early is better than anything other than top tier) or WR and I mean TOP tier.

  2. TCA says:

    How about a 12 team league where 2 QBs start? Even though 6 pts by itself doesn’t make QBs more valuable vs. the rest of the positions, I would think adding the scarcity element of having to start 2 QBs would increase the value of the QB position substantially.

  3. Austin says:

    I’ve been saying this for the past few years and never understood why so many expert sites say to grab a quarterback in the first 2 rounds when you get 6 points per touchdown instead of 4. To give you guys credit though you have usually been on board for waiting to draft a quarterback and one of the few sites to see the light on this. Great article!

  4. Former Army Person says:

    t – pts per completion could further spread out the drop-offs which would tend to reward the elite QBs. However, a quick glance at last year’s completion stats show the #1 QB in this category was Matt Schaub (Peyton would have been #1 if he’d played all of the last 2 games), who would have almost a 3 pts per game edge on Aaron Rodgers (6th in # of completions). Two names at the bottom of the top 12 were Kyle Orton and Jason Campbell, both ahead of Philip Rivers. So it’s not obvious who benefits most from this scoring system. And it still doesn’t affect the scarcity of QBs.

    TCA – John has asked me to study this. I’m trying to gather enough league data to do more than a theoretical analysis. But starting 2 QBs radically affects the scarcity factor and should make QBs much more valuable.

    Austin – thanks

  5. jr says:

    how ever you look at the mathmatics here is the facts. these were the top scores in our league last year. 6pts for a thrown TD, caught TD or Ran TD.

    Qb’s on average ruled the league.

    Rodgers, Aaron QB GB 388
    Johnson, Chris RB TEN 378
    Brees, Drew QB NO 351
    Manning, Peyton QB IND 340
    Schaub, Matt QB HOU 326
    Brady, Tom QB NE 314
    Rivers, Philip QB SD 313
    Rice, Ray RB BAL 308
    Jones-Drew, Maurice RB JAC 307
    Johnson, Andre WR HOU 306
    Peterson, Adrian RB MIN 305
    Moss, Randy WR NE 280
    Wayne, Reggie WR IND 277
    Welker, Wes WR NE 275
    Austin, Miles WR DAL 271
    Gore, Frank RB SF 264
    Clark, Dallas TE IND 263
    Smith, Steve WR NYG 263
    White, Roddy WR ATL 259
    Davis, Vernon TE SF 245
    Campbell, Jason QB OAK 243
    Flacco, Joe QB BAL 237
    Ward, Hines WR PIT 237
    Palmer, Carson QB CIN 236
    Addai, Joseph RB IND 235
    Gates, Antonio TE SD 235
    Jackson, Steven RB STL 228
    Jones, Thomas RB KC 228
    Holmes, Santonio WR NYJ 224
    Colston, Marques WR NO 220
    Ochocinco, Chad WR CIN 220
    Grant, Ryan RB GB 218
    Ryan, Matt QB ATL 218
    Celek, Brent TE PHI 213
    Charles, Jamaal RB KC 210
    Mason, Derrick WR BAL 210
    Jennings, Greg WR GB 202
    Gonzalez, Tony TE ATL 198

  6. M says:

    “How about a 12 team league where 2 QBs start? Even though 6 pts by itself doesn’t make QBs more valuable vs. the rest of the positions, I would think adding the scarcity element of having to start 2 QBs would increase the value of the QB position substantially.”

    Last season I joined a competitive league that was 1 QB start with a flex option to start a 2nd QB. It also had 6 pt td’s. After doing some research, I figured the best method was to go with 2 QB’s my first 2 picks and take my chances from there. I had the #1 overall pick and selected Brees and then sweated it out until the snake draft came around to me again at the end of the 2nd round. Luckily, there were still some top level QB’s available and I picked up Rivers. No one else went with 2 QB’s with their first 2 picks. This strategy definitely paid off and I ended up winning it all. With those settings and QB’s had the highest point totals for 9 of the top 10 players. Chris Johnson was #1 overall. So, I would say absolutely go with 2 top QB’s with that scoring system.

  7. outofmymind says:

    Incredibly flawed thinking full of illogical, ridiculous conclusions.

    You showed the point differential is increased. By definition, the value is increased. If you want to argue that people overreact, fine, but arguing that there is no impact, after showing that, is embarrassing.

  8. [...] valuable over all other players. Instead, it increases the spread between elite and non-elite QBs, making the elite passers (Manning, Brady, Brees, etc.) worth 1st round picks and much more valuable … especially those who throw more yards and less touchdowns. Thankfully, I doubt this change would [...]

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