Uncommon Scoring Rules: Points for Completions and Incompletions

Updated: June 7th 2020

The All About Reality Podcast league inspired me to examine a few fantasy scoring rules not used in most leagues but are becoming more popular to various degrees.  This article focuses on the effects of adding (subtracting) points for completions and incompletions utilizing data from the 2019 season.  The results may or may not surprise you but the reader might find details which could provide an advantage when entering into a league with one of these scoring settings.

Adding Points for Completions and Incompletions

The typical settings, when incorporated, involve adding (partial) points for completions and subtracting points for incompletions.  NFL starting quarterbacks almost always complete more than 50% per season with the median of the top-32 passers completing about 64% in 2019.  These completion percentages dictate that using these scoring settings adds fantasy points to the quarterback position.  Below the reader finds a chart of quarterback fantasy scoring for the top-32 passers comparing a standard fantasy scoring league with one which gives partial points for completions and incompletions.  ESPN refers to a 4 point per passing touchdown and 1 point per 25 passing yards league.  0.5COMP adds 0.5 points per completion while subtracting 0.5 points per incompletion and so forth for different weights.

QB Scoring with and without Completions

 

5COMP scoring added an average of 26% to the top-12 scorers and 28% to the top-24 quarterbacks.  While we generally see an increase for all quarterbacks, adding/subtracting points for completions/incompletions affects quarterbacks differently.   Derek Carr (43%), Drew Brees (41%), Phillip Rivers (40%), Matt Ryan (38%), and Jimmy Garoppolo (37%) saw some of the biggest gains in this scoring format.  Josh Allen (14%) and Lamar Jackson (16%) displayed some of the smallest increases among notable fantasy starters.  High volume, accurate quarterbacks receive the most help, relative to their peers, while quarterbacks who significantly rely on their legs for fantasy points are hurt the most.  The reader should also note that completion percentage generally decreases with depth of target.  We should not then be surprised that some of the quarterbacks showing the biggest increases in fantasy scoring when adding completion points were those with the lowest average intended air yards per attempt.

Maybe the more important question is how these scoring changes affect quarterback values.  As usual, the answer depends.  Notice from the above scoring chart how the slopes of the scoring curves look similar for both scoring formats presented.  This means the marginal points scored going from one quarterback to the next ranked one is similar in both formats.  Using VBD valuation, the total value of quarterbacks for 12-team, 1-QB leagues actually decreased slightly by adding completions/incompletions scoring in 2019.  NFL rules encouraging the passing game and many coaches moving to a lower depth-of-target approach have bunched mid-range quarterbacks into a somewhat similarly accurate group.  Combine with similar volume for many of these QBs and you get a very flat tier of quality options available in 1-QB leagues.

The calculation changes when you look at superflex and bigger leagues with the ability to use more quarterbacks in starting lineups.  Lower tier quarterbacks generally see less volume and throw for lower completion percentages.  This leads to bigger differentiation in scoring when using completion scoring formats when compared to standard formats as leagues start more and more quarterbacks.  Using our 0.5COMP scoring substantially increased the total value of quarterbacks in a 12-team superflex league when compared to the ESPN scoring, for example.  The table below details how total value (in points above replacement) at the quarterback position in 12 team leagues changed with different scoring settings and league formats.

Total QB Positional Values under Various Formats

 

Most notably, we see the value of quarterbacks for superflex leagues increasingly climb as more points are added (subtracted) to completions (incompletions).  Another big implication for superflex leagues is that quarterbacks become near must-starts in the superflex spot as completion scoring gets higher weights.  QB scoring attains such heights that other positional players available for use in a superflex spot simply can’t realistically contend with QB scoring.  For example, the QB20 scored 280 fantasy points in the 0.5COMP system which is more than the RB7 and WR2 in PPR leagues.  A team would have to be absolutely stacked at either the RB or WR position to competitively use one in the superflex position.

Key Implications

  1. We do not see much value added to the quarterback position due to completion scoring in smaller 1-QB leagues (at least in 2019). The deep middle class of NFL starters does not show the variation needed to create the differences in fantasy scoring for added value.
  2. Completion scoring adds significant value to quarterback position in deeper leagues like superflex formats, particularly where leagues weight completions higher. While the middle tier of NFL passers is relatively flat, the bottom tier demonstrates a considerable drop-off in volume and accuracy. This gives more separation from top and middle tier-starters in comparison to the lower-tier of quarterbacks.
  3. A superflex spot becomes a near must-start quarterback in completion scoring leagues. The increased quarterback scoring, notably at higher completion scoring weights, gives quarterbacks a big advantage over most non-quarterbacks.
  4. Completion scoring affects quarterbacks differently.  Accurate, high volume passers show the biggest increases in scoring while quarterbacks producing a big portion of their fantasy points through rushing see smaller increases.  Adjust your QB rankings accordingly.

Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller