Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points and Streaming Tight Ends

By TJ Hernandez (Associate Editor), last updated May 5, 2014

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TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.

Follow TJ on Twitter: @TJHernandez.

Getting consistent production out of the tight end position is often a frustrating and difficult task for fantasy owners, year in and year out.

With only a handful of plug and play tight end options available in most seasons, fantasy owners are forced to stream the position, often with poor results.

Most owners simply turn to raw fantasy points allowed matchup stats to pick their tight end streamer, but those numbers can be misleading. In 2013, the Falcons ranked in the bottom 10 in raw fantasy points allowed to tight ends, but that ranking doesn't account for the fact that they faced Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen twice, as well as Vernon Davis late in the season – a regular murderer’s row of fantasy tight ends.

By using 4for4's Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA), owners are able to target and avoid tight end matchups that might not be so obvious with raw data. After four games, aFPA is especially useful, as the sample size becomes large enough to give us meaningful insights.

Here's a look at how well aFPA predicted the best and worst tight end match ups from Weeks 5 through 16, based on TE1 and elite games allowed. We'll assume a 12-team league, so a TE1 is a top-12 fantasy game, while an elite game is a top-6 weekly performance.

 

Good TE Matchups in 2013

Team

TE1 Games Allowed

Elite Games Allowed

aFPA vs TEs

Cardinals

9

4

11.7

Jaguars

6

4

10.4

Vikings

5

4

10.1

Patriots

6

5

9.6

Steelers

5

4

9.4

Texans

8

5

9.1

Broncos

8

2

8.6

Since there are so few tight ends in the league that get consistent looks from their quarterback, fantasy owners can't always blindly target a bottom-3 defense against tight ends, like they often can when using the Quarterback By Waiver Wire (QBBWW) method. Because of this shortage of reliable tight ends, owners have to look a little further down the rankings, so I showed the 7 worst teams against tight ends, rather than just the bottom-5.

The three worst teams against tight ends in 2013 -- the Cardinals, Jaguars, and Vikings -- were fairly obvious to most fantasy owners. All three teams also ranked in the bottom-3 in raw fantasy points allowed, and the Jags and Vikings were targets in every aspect of the passing game all season.

Of the other four teams, the Broncos might have been the only apparent target to the casual owner, as they were the only team on the list, besides the bottom-3, to rank outside the top-20 in raw fantasy points allowed.

Owners privy to aFPA not only had a 56 percent chance at starting a TE1 over the last three quarters of the season, but more often than not, those TE1 games also yielded elite production.

 

 

Bad TE Matchups in 2013

Team

TE1 Games Allowed

Elite Games Allowed

aFPA vs TEs

Lions

2

1

4.5

Rams

2

1

4.8

Ravens

4

0

5.4

Giants

4

2

5.7

Bengals

4

1

6.1

Of the top-5 defenses against tight ends, only the Lions and Rams seem overwhelmingly dominant if you consider TE1 games allowed, but what really separated the top teams against tight ends from the rest of the field was their ability to prevent elite output.

The difference between an elite game and a TE1 game should not be understated when it comes to tight ends. Last season, the average elite tight end scored 14.08 standard points per game, while tight ends finishing the week ranked 7-12 generated just 8.47 points.

In terms of comparing aFPA to raw points, the Giants were the best example of a team that 4for4 highlighted as a surprise team to avoid. New York ranked 16th in raw points allowed, but they conceded just a pair of elite games in the last 12 weeks, and, incredibly, only one after Week 5.

 

Bottom Line

aFPA gives owners a clear picture of defenses to target and avoid by removing schedule bias, something that casual fantasy players often overlook. Being able to discern actionable data from noisy raw stats, by adjusting for strength of schedule, gives 4for4 members an advantage that is recognized almost immediately. Adjusting for schedule makes streaming positions a far more viable approach.

This season I will be writing a weekly column here at 4for4 Fantasy Football geared towards helping you pick favorable weekly TE options off the waiver wire for spot starts in a TEBWW strategy. We'll be looking at aFPA, ownership numbers and usage trends to identify favorable weekly TE plays and generate top-10 TE production without spending a mid-round pick in August.

This strategy is not for everyone, and shouldn't be pursued with reckless abandon. (If great TE value presents itself on draft day, don't ignore it.) But if you come out of your fantasy draft with the TE position as an afterthought, we'll be here every week to help you get the most out of the position off of the waiver wire.

 

Filed Under: Preseason, 2014

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