League Setup: Scoring

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by David Gonos, Special Contributor

Published, 6/9/14


Setting up your league’s scoring system is an important aspect for a new league – or a league looking to refresh its previous setup. Primarily, you want a scoring system that your entire league of owners will get behind and appreciate.


You certainly don’t want a scoring system that’s so basic it’s boring. Yet you want to keep it easy enough to figure out, so your owners can create specific strategies around it.


It’s that fine balance between watching Fast and Furious movies and Game of Thrones.


Scoring Systems: From Basic to Challenging


For the most part, we’re just going to be referring to offensive scoring systems, with team defense/special teams. We’ll save IDP talk for an entire column on its own.


Basic TD-only Scoring


This one is self-explanatory. It means that the only way a non-kicker scores would be if he scored a touchdown. It doesn’t matter if a player rushed for 165 yards or caught 12 passes for 140 yards – he wouldn’t get any points unless he crossed the goal line.


Originally, back in the pre-Internet ‘80s and early ‘90s, this was the preferred scoring system in fantasy football. The reason for this was it was easy to tally scores from newspapers the next day, and it was easier to know how your fantasy matchup was going when you watched games on Sunday. Us long-term fantasy vets would ride our dinosaurs to the bar, and then pray for replays from other games to see scores.


·         Passing touchdowns: Three or Four points

·         Rushing/Receiving touchdowns: Six points

·         Defense/Special teams returns for touchdowns: Six points


At this point, this scoring system is best for players new to fantasy football, or new to the NFL in general. Most likely, you’ll use a scoring system like this for a year or two before graduation to standard scoring systems. There’s nothing wrong with that. More than anything else, you want your owners to enjoy your league, so ask what they’d prefer.


Standard Yardage Scoring


This has become the most widely accepted type of scoring system in fantasy football, and you’ll generally see it as the default system on most fantasy league services.


Essentially, you are rewarding points for players who score touchdowns and/or rack up yards. Traditionally, these scoring systems are set up so that players will get:


·         One point for 10 rushing or receiving yards

·         One point for 20 or 25 passing yards


This scoring system is great because it rewards players who do a lot in a game, yet might not score a lot of touchdowns. It’s also good for larger leagues with three starting WRs or a flex position, since some players might be good for 60 yards or so, and can still be beneficial for fantasy teams.


The variation between one point for 20 or 25 passing yards just depends on how valuable you want quarterbacks to be in your league. If you are rewarding six points for passing touchdowns, you should make sure to go with one points for 25 passing yards – and (-2) pts for interceptions. But if you give four points for passing TDs, and (-2) for interceptions, then definitely give the quarterbacks one point for every 20 passing yards.


A lot of leagues also use decimal points in their scoring system, which allows tenths of points for every rushing or receiving yard gained. So a player who rushes for 29 yards and has 29 receiving yards will get 5.8 fantasy points as opposed to just 4.0. This means your league’s scoring will now have decimal points, which means ties will rarely happen, but it could look unnatural to have a final score of 110.3 to 98.9.


Some leagues increase or decrease the points per yardage – perhaps 5 rushing/receiving yards amounts to 1 point, or 10 passing yards amounts to 1 point. A system like this devalues TDs even further, perhaps a preferred setup if your league thinks TDs are fluky. On the flip side, some leagues may prefer to reward 1 point for 20 rushing/receiving yards and 40 passing yards. A league like this would still count yardage in scoring, but would place a greater emphasis on TDs. It’s all up to you.


PPR (Points-Per-Reception) Scoring


This is exactly what it sounds like – a player gets one point for every reception he makes in a game. This helps offset the greater fantasy value of running backs, and gives more value to wide receivers. It also rewards running backs who are involved in the passing game more, including a lot of third-down backs. If you want to get really technical, you can award half-points to running backs who make catches, and a full PPR for wide receivers and tight ends. This scoring system gets a few more wide receivers picked in the first few rounds than other systems.


The PPR scoring system is generally considered the standard for advanced fantasy football players. If your league is still new, consider it for Year 2 or 3, and let your owners know this is your intention.


Distance Scoring


One option commissioners can use to spice these leagues up a little bit is to use distance scoring, which doubles a scoring play if it’s over a certain distance. In other words, if a player scores a 10-yard touchdown, it’s just six points. But if he scores a 60-yard touchdown, then that’s a 12-point score.


This also works for defense/special teams, as 75-yard return would score you 12 points, rather than just the standard six.


You could also break the scoring down into an extra point per 10 yards, too, like awarding an extra 3 points for a 30-yard score, or 9 extra points for a 90-yard TD. Some leagues also reward double points for out-of-position TDs – for instance, if a WR scores a rushing TD, the score doubles, in addition to any yardage bonuses that score might entail.


Performance Bonus Scoring


Many leagues, in all sorts of different scoring systems, also add a form of Performance Bonus scoring. It essentially awards an extra 3 or so points to players who reach certain yardage marks. For instance:


·         100 rushing yards

·         100 receiving yards

·         200 total yards

·         300 passing yards

·         10 receptions


There’s also the option here to award even more points for amazing performances, like an extra couple points:


·         200 rushing yards

·         200 receiving yards

·         400 passing yards


Generally, you’re awarding an awful lot of points for a player who has a big game compared to a player who has a good game, which can really make a lot of separation between teams. Wait on the extra bonuses for a year or two, so you can see how just the regular bonuses affect your league.


Return-Yardage Scoring


To add even more players to the pool and even more game-day excitement, try out return-yardage scoring. If you want even more links between your league and the real NFL game, using return specialists to rack up points is worth considering. The only downside to this scoring system is it rewards players who do little outside of the return game.


Defense/Special Teams Scoring


Of all the positions, scoring for D/STs has the most variations. Different points are awarded for several different actions, but those points differ from league to league.


Scoring for DSTs could include:


·         Returns for touchdowns

·         Fumbles recovered

·         Forced fumbles

·         Interceptions

·         Sacks

·         Total yards allowed

·         Total points allowed


Consider the default scoring system on your league service, then think about tweaking it for Year 2 or 3.


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