Dynasty Strategy: Supply and Demand (Fantasy Football)

May 4, 2018

Does taking the top tight end have more value than taking an elite WR2?

I think we all understand supply and demand on a fundamental level. When anything of value is in short supply (parking spots, good jobs, housing, etc.) that value can increase exponentially. The desire and effort to secure those assets also intensifies so let’s take a look at fantasy positions we should prioritize in our rankings.

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Based on FantasyPros draft rankings (half-point PPR), I crunched some numbers to try and quantify the supply/demand equation. My numbers are arbitrary, and you should plug in the ratios you feel are most accurate. I looked at the top 50 players as I consider them to be difference makers.

Within that range were three QBs, 21 RBs, 23 WRs and three TEs. Your league set up may be different of course, but I will base this on a 12 team league, starting one QB, two RBs, three WRs, and one TE. I will discuss kickers and defenses briefly later, but will focus on these positions for this article.

For argument’s sake, I will consider these 50 players “elite,” and assume they were evenly distributed as the first 50 picks for the 12 teams. Again, you should be comfortable with whatever rankings you use, or better yet, do your own. Based on this data, only 25% of owners would have an elite QB or TE, 88% would have two elite RBs, and 64% would have three elite WRs. While noteworthy, this calculation alone won’t prompt me to take a QB and TE with my first two picks this year, but I may move those positions up slightly in my rankings.

Another calculation was a bit more revealing. Using the stats from my league last year, I looked at the gap between the first and 12th players at each position (and also 13th to 24th for RBs and WRs and 25th to 36th for WRs). I want to know how many points I gave up last year if I snagged a bottom end RB2 (24th in points) versus the top RB2 (13th in points), and what the gap was for each metric (and position).

Here are the numbers (weekly point differential):

  • QB: #1 vs. #12 – 5.7 per week
  • RB1: #1 vs. #12 – 9.9 per week / RB2: #13 vs. #24 – 2.0 per week
  • WR1: #1 vs. #12 – 6.5 per week / WR2: #13 vs. #24 – 1.9 per week / WR3:  #25 vs. #36 – 1.2 per week
  • TE: #1 vs. #12 – 5.2 per week

This data suggests you should prioritize your drafting needs as follows: stud #1 RB (#asexpected), stud #1 WR, stud QB or TE, fill your roster as needed. I think it’s been ingrained in our heads to fill up on running backs and wide receivers and make do with what you get at the other positions, but I feel the recent influx of excellent RBs the last couple of years has toned down the supply/demand value at that position. There’s no denying the value of a superstar running back, but wouldn’t you rather have a 5.2 point advantage each week by taking the best TE versus the best #2 WR (1.9 point advantage)? QB is a bit trickier as it tends to fluctuate from year to year (a la Jared Goff), but having a Rodgers, Wilson, Newton, Wentz, or Watson on your team for the next several years will help you sleep at night.

Another factor to consider is the length of career since we are looking at dynasty league strategies. Personally, I hope to get 12 elite years out of QBs, 10 years out of TEs, eight years out of WRs and six years out of RBs. For me, this pushes up the value of young, stud running backs even higher whereas I may be able to latch onto a quality QB or TE later in their career and still squeeze a few great seasons from them.

Whether you are starting up a dynasty league and prepping for the inaugural draft, or establishing the trade value of the players in your league (and incoming rookies), this may be food for thought. I find kickers too hard to predict, and they have a smaller range (2.6 points per week from #1 to #12). Defenses can be equally unpredictable, but their point range can be higher (4.0 points per week from #1 to #12), so if you feel strongly about a couple of units, or think there’s a select group, then you may find that to be more important than your WR3.

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Sheldon Curtis is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Sheldon, check out his archive.

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