Fantasy Football Finals week for most teams, unless you play in a league that goes into week 17 and risks even more starters being rested. I was curious which players were most commonly associated with a finals appearance, so I did a Twitter poll. I got well over 100 responses (146 to be exact) and went through and calculated it.
Now, every league is different, and I got a variety of responses. Reaching the finals is a combination of luck, skill, and matchups. Some leagues have larger playoffs than others. Still, this should give us a sense of which players are most involved as we head toward the final games.
The overall lesson is this. There is no one single way to skin the horse. No player appeared on more than 20% of the finals starting lineups that I reviewed. Julio Jones was the most frequent, at just under 20%. I have three teams in the finals. In one, I rode Drew Brees, Brandon Marshall, and a running back trio of Lynch, Bradshaw and Spiller. In another, I scraped things together at my second running back spot based on matchups, and had great receivers. In another, I played quarterback by committee and overcame drafting both LeSean McCoy and Larry Fitzgerald early, by hitting on most picks after that.
Here are the Top 25 (plus ties) Players appearing as starters from my finals appearance poll:
- Julio Jones, WR (19.2%)
- Randall Cobb, WR (17.8%)
- Doug Martin, RB (17.1%)
- Alfred Morris, RB (16.4%)
- Tom Brady, QB (16.4%)
- Calvin Johnson, WR (15.8%)
- Knowshon Moreno, RB (15.8%)
- Jimmy Graham, TE (15.1%)
- Jamaal Charles, RB (15.1%)
- SEATTLE DEF (14.7%)
- Aaron Hernandez, TE (14.4%)
- Brandon Marshall, WR (14.4%)
- Adrian Peterson, RB (14.4%)
- A.J. Green, WR (13.7%)
- Dez Bryant, WR (13.7%)
- Eric Decker, WR (13.7%)
- C.J. Spiller, RB (13.7%)
- Marshawn Lynch, RB (13.0%)
- Benjarvus Green-Ellis, RB (13.0%)
- Cam Newton, QB (12.3%)
- Ray Rice, RB (12.3%)
- Chris Johnson, RB (11.6%)
- Aaron Rodgers, QB (11.0%)
- Robert Griffin III, QB (11.0%)
- Vincent Jackson, WR (11.0%)
- Arian Foster, RB (11.0%)
Lots of interesting stuff, so let’s break it down.
FIRST ROUNDERS: The non-running backs fare pretty well here. According to the ADP’s here, there were four QB’s (Rodgers, Brady, Brees and Newton), one WR (Calvin Johnson) and one TE (Graham) going in the top 12. Those players appear 117 times on the 146 starting lineups. The six running backs (hurt by LeSean McCoy’s injury) appear 78 times.
You may also notice that adds up to 195 appearances by those players, which means that the average team in the finals has 1.33 first round caliber players from the preseason. We don’t know if teams drafting first round quarterbacks were more successful (almost half of them have Brady, Newton, Rodgers or Brees starting), because they could have been acquired by trade. What does seem evident is that successful teams either had more first rounders because of keepers, or because they were able to trade quantity for quality after the season began.
KICKERS, MAN: Repeat after me, don’t draft a kicker any time until you have to. The kickers are pretty evenly distributed and not even really related to the points list, with Shayne Graham appearing the most (12) but 24 different kickers showing up on rosters.
WIDE RECEIVER VOLATILITY MORE DECISIVE IN THE SEMIFINALS? Running backs like Doug Martin and Jamaal Charles who had bad weeks seemed to survive much better than top receivers with off weeks. Receivers ranked in the top 20 in the points list who had big weeks (Marshall, Decker, Calvin Johnson and Julio) survived at rates almost double those of other receivers ranked highly on the year but who did not have big games (Thomas, Andre Johnson, Wayne)
ANOMALIES? I’m going to go into more detail on some data that CBS Sports has provided on win percentages by player, but there are several curious results in our limited results of the polling. Peyton Manning had almost as many points as many of the quarterbacks drafted several rounds earlier. He appears less (9) than all of them, and also less than Colin Kaepernick (who was often a RGIII replacement). Matt Stafford is also in about the same range in total points, but appears only three times. Adrian Peterson is near the top, but maybe it’s just because of our little sample, but I would have expected him at #1. He had a big game again last week and is the top scorer at running back.
Here are shots of each position and the number appearing in each, feel free to click on them to enlarge and see how often your players appeared. A couple of notes: at quarterback, there were a few that were noted as 2 QB league teams, and some that listed platoons or injuries. For example, teams that had RGIII often noted who else they would start instead. Thus, the number of quarterbacks is greater than the teams submitted. At kicker and defense, some entries did not list. Others noted that they played matchups there and did not identify a specific starter. Rather than kick them out, I included the entries as long as they had QB, RB, WR listed. Some leagues also do not require a separate TE which is why the tight end totals do not equal 146.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]