Fantasy football season is just around the corner. Position rankings are being released, training camps are close to being underway, and the anticipation for fantasy drafts is getting higher. Speaking of drafts, every draft has those few stereotypical owners. The person who is always gloating over when they last won their league. The person who is always talking about how they have the best strategy this year to win the league. Of course, let’s not forget the person who is there just to make the league an even number. This article was written though to focus on another stereotype people encounter in their fantasy drafts: the homer.
This is the person that no matter what anyone else says, will always stick to his guns and end up with multiple picks from his favorite team. They will end up picking Dak Prescott two rounds early because they heard on their local sports radio station that this is the year Jason Garrett will really open the playbook for him. This is the same type of person who will go on and on about how they think that the Minnesota Vikings are going to win it all this year, so they end up drafting Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs.
While it’s nice to get local intel on your favorite teams, it’s also good to be aware that all teams have different fantasy value and it’s best to have widespread talent when it comes to your fantasy team. Nonetheless, this was a perfect opportunity to see if it really pays to be a homer. The chart below breaks down how all 32 NFL teams fared when it came to fantasy scoring.
Fantasy Football 101 – The Homer Theory
Few things to note when it came to how these numbers were calculated:
- These numbers were calculated using the ESPN PPR default scoring rules
- Positions were tabulated by the following criteria:
- Any quarterback that scored points for their team were counted for scoring for quarterbacks
- The top two running backs were counted for scoring for running backs
- The top three wide receivers were counted for scoring for wide receivers
- The top two tight ends were counted for scoring for tight ends
- Combining the highest scoring positions in fantasy and using the method calculated for all 32 teams, the highest scoring combination of players led to a point total of 2,257.
Looking at this data, the New Orleans Saints are the leaders when it comes to leading the league in fantasy scoring followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Chargers. It’s no secret that the Saints led the league in scoring as they had the two of the best fantasy performers in Mark Ingram and 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Alvin Kamara.
Also, a simple correlation that the Cleveland Browns ended up with a winless record and they also were dead last in fantasy scoring. The interesting thing to see here is that even though the Chargers and the Detroit Lions failed to make the playoffs, they were both in the top 10 when it came to best fantasy teams overall. Here are some more takeaways gathered from this chart:
- Teams that led the league in rushing did not have the best fantasy running backs. Look at the top three teams that led the league in rushing: the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Philadelphia Eagles (first, second, and third respectively). Now if you compare that with their fantasy running back production, you will see that the Jaguars ended up at 14th, the Cowboys ended up at 17th, and the Eagles ended up at 29th. Now looking at the best fantasy running backs for teams, you can see that the top three teams were as follows: the Saints, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Chargers (first, second, and third respectively). Looking at all the teams that led the league in rushing, you can derive one thing that separated them from the teams that had the best running backs in fantasy: versatility.
- The Jaguars running game was very one-dimensional in that they rarely passed the ball to the running back. This limits points for the team. Although Leonard Fournette was sensational in his freshman campaign, his rare offensive touches in the passing game restricted his fantasy production. The same thing applies to Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon.
- The Cowboys had a versatile running back in Ezekiel Elliott, but he served a six-game suspension and was not able to get back to his form that made him such an offensive dynamo in his rookie year. Alfred Morris and Rod Smart filled in well, but not enough for fantasy owners to depend on them for rushing and receiving points.
- The Eagles employed lots of backs for multiple purposes. Like the New England Patriots, they often rode the hot hand each week and it was hard to get a gauge as to which was the best running back to own in the Philadelphia backfield. Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and LeGarrette Blount were all solid producers, but not enough for a fantasy owner to depend on week in and week out.
- The Saints, Rams, and Chargers each had a running back that went for at least 1,500 scrimmage yards and at least 12 touchdowns. In the case of the Saints, they had two with both Ingram and Kamara turning in that level of production. This, of course, led them to have the best fantasy running back production in the league last season.
- Teams with a top-five fantasy quarterback were not necessarily the team that also led the league in fantasy scoring. Of the top five scoring NFL fantasy teams, only one team had a top-five fantasy quarterback and that was the New England Patriots with Tom Brady. On the flipside, if your NFL team had one of the worst-five scoring quarterbacks, then your team did poorly as all five of the lowest scoring teams fantasy-wise had the lowest scoring quarterback as well.
- Teams that led the season in fantasy scoring for a position were not always the teams that were top five in fantasy scoring overall. The Seattle Seahawks had the highest scoring quarterback in Russell Wilson, but as a team, they finished 11th overall. On the other hand, if your team was the worst in any positional category, then you were for sure at the bottom five for overall scoring. The Oakland Raiders would be the exception as they had the worst scoring defense but finished eighth worst (25th overall) in total scoring.
- There is a correlation between being a playoff team and being one of the highest scoring teams in fantasy. Eight out of the top 10 scoring fantasy teams made the playoffs. Expand that further, 10 of the top 15, and 11 of the top 20. The only outlier here is the Buffalo Bills who scored at 27th in overall scoring.
- Tight ends are an interesting position to look at when it comes to fantasy football. On one hand, the best scoring team in fantasy football (the Saints), had the worst production from their tight ends. On the other hand, the Patriots and the Eagles were first and third in fantasy production from tight ends and they had the fifth and seventh best scoring team in fantasy, respectively. Not to mention both teams were playing for a Lombardi trophy this past season as well. To take it a little further, the Giants had the 31st fantasy team this past year and they had the fifth best production from their tight ends in fantasy.
So, what does all this mean? If you were a fan of the Saints, you knew what you were doing and ended up with a pretty solid roster. Drew Brees may not have had an as stellar season as year’s past, but Kamara and Ingram really made up for that. Besides that, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster proved all Pittsburgh Steelers fans right to draft them. Also, the trio of Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and Keenan Allen made Chargers fans glad they drafted them, even if they failed to make the playoffs in real life.
This is all well and good but even with the Saints getting a total team production of 1,732.1 points, it is not enough to beat out the total of 2,257 or the total of the best players in each positional category. The biggest take away from this article is that we can see that having a team of players from your favorite team may not be the best strategy. It may keep you competitive, but a wiser move is to make sure to get the best players available for each position on your roster.
This way you are closer to reaching that highest possible score as opposed to being limited by one positional flaw (for example the Rams having one of the worst fantasy productions from their tight ends in the league). So when you see someone taking all the players from the Broncos in your fantasy draft, just smile and let them work their “homer” strategy, but you will have the upper hand in the long run by diversifying and getting players from a multitude of teams.