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Understanding player scarcity is key in dynasty IDP formats because:
It helps you to determine which positions to place a premium on in your startup drafts.
It helps you understand how to value trades in your leagues.
It helps you break ties on players to keep vs. players to cut.
COMPARING SCARCITY WITHIN THE SAME POSITION
The first step in determining how scarce a position may or may not be is to consider your scoring system and how many starters at each position you must field. You will also want to consider how many of each position you can hold on your bench.
Example: In a standard IDP, 12-team league in which you are required to start 3 LBs, and each team typically can bench an additional LB with the roster limits, you would use the following simple equation to figure out how many LBs you need to compare:
(Number of Required Starters+ Number of Typical Bench Spots for Position) x (# of Teams in the League)= Player Depth to Consider
In this case, LBs we need to consider would be 48 deep, because (3+1)=4, and 4x12= 48.
According to John Norton’s latest dynasty IDP rankings, LB1 is Luke Kuechly and LB48 is Von Miller. Using his projections for this year, you would find that John projects Kuechly to score 246.25 points to Miller’s 150.25 points. Simple subtraction shows a 96-point difference between the two for the year. Averaging each of their scores by dividing by 16 games, Kuechly is projected to score 15.4 points a game while Miller is projected to score 9.4 points per game, a difference of 6 points a game.
Considering dynasty startup ADP also gives you additional insight. Kuechly is being drafted in the late seventh round while Miller is going in the sixteenth round or undrafted.
While the difference per game is certainly apparent, the drop-off is not as bad as you might have anticipated, especially when you can get a player like Miller off the waiver wire. As you will see momentarily, the drop-off is more steep at the skill positions.
COMPARING SCARCITY AMONG SEVERAL DIFFERENT POSITIONS
Where things really get muddled for most people is comparing scarcity among multiple positions. Take a look at some data that may help make this a little less murky. The table below considers five years in a PPR league with the following settings:
Start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 LB, 2 DL, 2 DB
30 man rosters
4 points per pass TD
2 points per tackle
1 point per assist
2 points per sack, interception, fumble recovery
The table illustrates that the five-year historical difference in points per game (PPG) drop-off at each of the defensive categories is considerably less than the drop-off in value on the offensive side of the ball. Please note that this is based on just one particular scoring system. Changing any of the scoring settings will affect player scarcity, or at the very least, put a premium on the very elite at each position.
While this table alone is not enough to tell the story of all the factors that go into scarcity, you can make a few powerful observations and generalizations based on the data:
DB should be the very last priority in a start-up draft with these settings. The difference between the top DB vs the 60th DB is only 7.05 points per game. Compare that to the difference between the top WR and the 60th WR which is 14.24 PPG!
Notice the number of NFL starters at each position, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. We can see from this table that replacing an IDP on the waiver wire is much easier to do than replacing a WR, RB, or a QB. You can see that the drop-off between those positions is much steeper than that of the IDP positions.
By sheer quantity of starters, IDP is less scarce than any of the offensive positions. Once the elite one or two at the top of the IDP ranks are gone, all the rest are virtually the same.
Here are a few abbreviated examples that may help with application:
Example A: If the scoring system is big play-heavy and you are required to start 3 LBs, 3 DLs, and 3 DBs, greater value is placed on DE and LB. There are fewer consistently elite players in each category and these are the two positions that statistically generate more big-play points.
Example B: In an IDP scoring system that rewards 1.5 pts per tackle, .75 pts for assists, and 2 points for sacks, JJ Watt averaged 11.9 fantasy points per game. The number two DE Muhammad Wilkerson averaged 9.9 fantasy points per game in 2015. Because of name value, Watt was usually selected very early in startup drafts compared to picking up Wilkerson 10 rounds or more later.
Section II Takeaway: Understanding player scarcity is just another way to give yourself an advantage when drafting and making waiver decisions in dynasty formats. You can afford to wait and take your LBs, DLs, DBs, and even QBs later and instead stock up on RBs and WRs.