An SFB11 Strategy Guide—How League Settings Impact Scoring

Jun 03, 2021
An SFB11 Strategy Guide—How League Settings Impact Scoring

For most people summer is synonymous with pool parties, popsicles, music festivals and slip-n-slides. However, in the fantasy football community, it signifies the start of the Scott Fish Bowl, a massive charity-based tournament that usually kicks off around July 4th.

This year’s version, SFB11, will feature 1,980 fantasy football enthusiasts comprised of industry professionals, fanalysts and folks who just love to play fantasy football. There are even some celebrities in the form of actors, musicians and professional athletes. The tournament has grown from its humble beginnings over the past decade, but the charity component, masterful scoring configuration created by Fish and healthy competition are all still a massive part of this cherished community event.

SFB11 is set up in a way for so many different approaches to be successful, but thanks to data run by TJ Hernandez I will provide some insight into this macro-tournament based on sticky correlations from previous seasons, along with the scoring structure for 2021’s version.

The League Settings

Getting familiar with a league’s format and scoring system is imperative when starting any fantasy football draft, and SFB11 is certainly no exception. Rolling in with your normal cheat sheets will not serve you well here.

Managers will be drafting 22 total players, with 11 starting each week. Weekly lineups will consist of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE and 4 flex spots. Those flex spots can be QB, RB, WR, TE or K, with only one QB maximum in a flex spot.

There are no defenses, no trading and weekly waivers are done via blind bid with a $100 budget for the season. One note of significance in this year’s draft is that there’s a third-round reversal, meaning the direction of the snake draft reverses at the end of the second round, so the team in the 12th spot selects again to begin Round 3.

SFB11 Scoring

If you played in last year’s tournament you’ll see that the scoring remains mostly the same, with the addition of kicker points in the flex, along with a player’s ability to score points for a return touchdown or a recovery in the end zone for a touchdown.

We still have half-point scoring for first downs and receptions for running backs and wide receivers, with a full point granted for tight ends in both of those categories.

Quarterbacks also get a half of a point for a rushing first down, plus another for a completion, but lose a full point for both a sack and an incomplete pass. They receive six points for a passing touchdown but lose four points per interception (with an additional two points lost for a pick-six).

To get an overview of how SFB11 scoring may look like by position this season, check out this chart plotting 2020 fantasy points based on this year's scoring.

Now let’s get into some of TJ’s findings and explore what we can tease out to help us in our quest to take down the SFB11 tournament. Later in the article, I will use the chart above to explain how positions relate to each other, especially the newly added kickers.

First Down Data

Considering all positions except for the optional kicker get varying points per first down, looking at the year-to-year correlations for both rushing and receiving first downs to see what’s sticky may be beneficial when deciding just who to draft.

TJ ran the numbers before last year’s SFB based on a five-year span of data.

As we can see, receiving first downs are generally quite sticky, especially for wide receivers and tight ends. Intuitively this makes sense—there is generally less turnover at those positions than at running back and first downs are a function of volume. We already know that volume for pass-catchers is one of the stickiest year-to-year stats around.

4for4 conveniently has projections for rushing first downs for all positions besides kicker, of course, receiving first downs for RB, WR and TEs, and passing first down projections for QBs.

How SFB11 Settings Impact Stats that Matter

By comparing how in-game stats correlate to half-PPR points and how those stats then correlate to SFB scoring, we can get an idea of how SFB scoring emphasizes specific stats or player types. First down data was left out since it is not factored into traditional half-PPR scoring systems.

What we found is that when it comes to WR and RB, SFB scoring has very little to no impact on which stats correlate strongly with fantasy scoring when compared to traditional scoring formats.

However, where SFB changes things is at the quarterback position, giving a decent bump to accurate passers, in particular ones who don’t throw many picks.

Correlation of In-Game QB FPs to In-Game Stats, Half-PPR vs SFB11 (2020)
Stat Correlation to .5 PPR FPs Corelation to SFB11 FPs Difference
Comp % 0.45 0.68 +0.23
YPA 0.53 0.59 +0.06
TD % 0.63 0.69 +0.06
Pass TD 0.75 0.76 +0.01
Pass Completions 0.52 0.51 +0.01
Rush Att 0.28 0.22 -0.06
Pass Yds 0.67 0.61 -0.06
Rush Yds 0.31 0.21 -0.10
Rush TD 0.42 0.30 -0.12
Pass Att 0.37 0.24 -0.14
Pass Int -0.29 -0.43 -0.14
Air Yards 0.33 0.15 -0.18
Pass Inc -0.01 -0.28 -0.27

Data shows that the completion efficiency correlates to SFB points at almost the same rate as touchdown percentage—which is intuitive due to points for completion and negative points for interceptions and incompletions (see the negative correlation above)—but this research quantifies that insight.

With the uptick in value for high-completion passers, however, we see a downtick in how valuable the rushing QBs are—all rushing stats saw a drop in correlation to SFB points for QBs compared to traditional scoring. This doesn’t include rushing first downs so the elite rushing QBs are still to be coveted, like Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen who all lead John Paulsen’s projections for QB rushing first downs with 63.7, 43.7, 42.6 and 27.8 respectively. It’s the signal-callers who’ll run 15-20 yards per game that fall back to the same tier with the efficient QBs who aren’t mobile.

While we’re on the subject of QBs, those with stronger offensive lines and the ability to avoid sacks could be at more of an advantage than QBs who find themselves with dirtier uniforms, considering you lose a full point per sack. When looking at sack data from the past five seasons, there was a strong correlation in pressure rate—sacks can be subject to variance while pressure is usually consistent—so try to avoid those with low-pressure rates when choosing your QBs.

Year-to-Year Sack and Pressure Correlations, 2015–2020
Stat Year-to-Year Correlation
Pressure Rate 0.54
Pressures 0.34
Sack Rate 0.33
Sacks 0.23

Data set includes all QBs with at least 150 dropbacks in consecutive seasons (SportsInfoSolutions)

According to SportsInfoSolutions, SFB-relevant QBs with the lowest pressure rates last season were Ben Roethlisberger (21.2%), Tom Brady (24.9%), Aaron Rodgers (25.8%), Kyler Murray (27.5%) and Matthew Stafford (27.8%). Meanwhile Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold and Kirk Cousins all saw pressure rates above 40%.

SFB scoring also proved to be favorable for tight ends across the various in-game stat categories.

Correlation of In-Game TE FPs to In-Game Stats, Half-PPR vs SFB11 (2020)
Stat Correlation vs. .5 PPR Correlation vs SFB Difference
Receptions 0.74 0.83 +0.09
Targets 0.63 0.71 +0.08
Rec Yards 0.81 0.87 +0.06
Air Yards 0.58 0.62 +0.04
Air Yards Share 0.50 0.54 +0.04
aDOT 0.18 0.15 -0.03
Rec TDs 0.78 0.68 -0.10

Almost every stat correlated higher for SFB, with receptions, targets and receiving yards sticking the most. With TE-premium scoring, volume becomes even more important for TEs than WRs when compared to half-PPR scoring while slightly de-emphasizing touchdowns for TEs, but not by much.

Besides the top-tier, high-volume TEs (Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle), this data supports guys like T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts, Noah Fant, Dallas Goedert, Irv Smith Jr. and Cole Kmet who are projected as TE4-TE10 in total receptions for 2021.

The Kicker Factor

Those of you who follow my work know I am one of the very few kicker proponents among a sea of analysts who campaign every season to ban them from fantasy football. Scott Fish’s decision to add the ability to start a kicker in one of the flex spots is a welcome change and one that you should embrace.

For more info on why I like to use kicker scoring and how to go about choosing them, check out my article on Debunking the Randomness of Kickers in Fantasy Football.

When it comes to SFB scoring, if we calculate where kickers fell based on last year’s output, we see that many of them produced similar points in this format to their fellow positional players.

Top 14 Kicker Placement in SFB Points
Player Pos Team SFB Points
James Conner RB PIT 164.40
Jonnu Smith TE TEN 164.40
Chase Edmonds RB ARI 159.50
Jason Sanders K MIA 159.00
Michael Gallup WR DAL 158.90
Younghoe Koo K ATL 157.70
Jamison Crowder WR NYJ 156.42
Giovani Bernard RB CIN 154.90
Marquise Brown WR BAL 152.90
J.K. Dobbins RB BAL 152.50
Chris Godwin WR TB 152.20
Myles Gaskin RB MIA 151.50
Russell Gage WR ATL 151.36
Devin Singletary RB BUF 148.80
Dak Prescott QB DAL 148.14
Austin Ekeler RB LAC 147.20
Tyler Higbee TE LAR 147.10
T.Y. Hilton WR IND 147.00
Latavius Murray RB NO 146.70
Tim Patrick WR DEN 146.60
Mitch Trubisky QB CHI 146.42
Darrell Henderson RB LAR 146.30
D.J. Chark WR JAX 145.60
Dallas Goedert TE PHI 144.40
George Kittle TE SF 144.30
Gus Edwards RB BAL 142.70
DeVante Parker WR MIA 142.20
Jared Cook TE NO 142.10
Keelan Cole WR JAX 141.10
Wayne Gallman RB NYG 140.10
Julio Jones WR ATL 138.60
Christian Kirk WR ARI 137.90
Jeff Wilson RB SF 137.00
Jason Myers K SEA 135.80
Daniel Carlson K LVR 135.50
Emmanuel Sanders WR NO 134.50
Darius Slayton WR NYG 133.80
Rodrigo Blankenship K IND 133.20
Tyler Bass K BUF 132.60
Graham Gano K NYG 132.40
Justin Tucker K BAL 130.00
Jamaal Williams RB GB 129.00
Jerry Jeudy WR DEN 128.60
Mike Williams WR LAC 127.40
Austin Hooper TE CLE 126.80
Laviska Shenault WR JAX 126.00
Cairo Santos K CHI 125.40
Leonard Fournette RB TB 125.30
Adrian Peterson RB DET 125.20
Darnell Mooney WR CHI 123.80
Zach Pascal WR IND 123.30
Jerick McKinnon RB SF 122.60
Harrison Butker K KC 121.60
Jakobi Meyers WR NE 120.76
Marquez Valdes-Scantling WR GB 120.70
Mecole Hardman WR KC 120.60
Greg Zuerlein K DAL 119.90
Andy Dalton QB DAL 119.84
Sterling Shepard WR NYG 119.40
Ryan Succop K TB 119.10
Brandon McManus K DEN 118.60

Using decimal scoring for field goals (37 yarders = 3.7 points) and one point per extra point, along with negative three points per missed field goal and one negative point for a missed extra pointer, we see that Jason Sanders and Younghoe Koo, who tied for the most fantasy points in 2020, were within the range of RB3, WR3 and TE2.

The next batch of kickers, and there were seven of them, were still within TE2 and RB3 numbers, but fell to WR4 with the likes of Julio Jones, Christian Kirk, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerry Jeudy. Expanding to the top 14 kickers in SFB points, they all still landed in the same points bracket as a TE2, RB4 and WR5.

I know people’s first inclination is to ignore kickers, but a large percentage of them, not only those on high-scoring offenses, are showing comparable SFB point output to players who will most certainly be drafted in this 22-round tournament. Skipping a team’s WR3/4 in the hopes they hit, or a third backfield option banking on an injury in favor of a kicker may prove beneficial to your squad over the course of the season.

Should We Care About Return Points?

If SFB counted return yards in weekly scoring, adding this research to the mix would make sense when choosing players. However, since only the touchdowns scored are factored in, there’s no real advantage based on past data.

Nyheim Hines and Jamal Agnew are the only players to find the endzone more than once per season on either a punt or kick return in the last two years, and both only had two in 2019 (Hines on two punt returns and Agnew with one of each).

Here’s a list of some notable returners and their touchdown output in 2019-2020.

Return TDs, 2019-2020
Player Punt Kick Year
Nyheim Hines 2 0 2019
Diontae Johnson 1 2019
Deonte Harris 1 2019
Jamal Agnew 2 1 2019/2020
Steven Sims 1 2019
Cordarrelle Patterson 2 2019/2020
Mecole Hardman 1 1 2019/2020
Jakeem Grant 1 1 2019/2020
Jalen Reagor 1 2020
Keelan Cole 1 2020
Byron Pringle 1 2020
CeeDee Lamb 1 2020
A.J. Brown 1 2020

Bottom Line

  • SFB11 will consist of 22 rounds with a third-round reversal component new this season. Drafters also have the option to use a kicker in the flex in 2021.
  • First down data has proven to be very sticky from year to year for pass-catchers, with WRs seeing over 40 targets and TEs with over 30 balls showing the highest correlations.
  • SFB settings have little impact on which stats are relevant to RB and WR scoring when compared to traditional formats, while QB and TE proved otherwise.
  • Choosing highly accurate passers and the most mobile of QBs should provide an advantage over the middle-of-the-road rushing QBs, who show the same potential productivity as efficient, non-mobile QBs.
  • Don’t blow off kickers based on preconceived ideas, as they have the potential to put up as many SFB points as some of the mid-to-later round positional players.
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