by James Sinclair
In September I wrote an overview of a fantasy football league some friends and I started this year where the goal is to compile the worst team possible. Here's the long-awaited follow-up—a bit later than intended, but at least I got it in before the end of the season. Barely.
First, a few observations:
1. The draft was considerably less important than in conventional fantasy football, because in the Anti-League it's actually possible for a player to be too "good" (and with that, I'll stop using quotation marks to indicate ironic reversals of good and bad, because it would definitely get out of hand). Case in point: my first round pick, Jacksonville's Luke McCown. He put up a decent score in week 1, and then an outstanding score against the Jets in week two (the fifth-highest single-game point total of the year, as you'll see below). And even as I was watching that game I was thinking "oh crap, he's going to be benched", which is exactly what happened. Fortunately I was able to pick up Blaine Gabbert off waivers, and even more fortunately the Jaguars have stuck with Gabbert all season (presumably because their backup is Luke McCown).
Other first round picks included two rookie quarterbacks widely expected to be awful—Andy Dalton and Cam Newton. Dalton has been kind of middle-of-the-road (several higher-scoring quarterbacks went undrafted), while the Newton pick, beginning with his -10.7 point effort in week 1, was a disaster.
2. There might've been some concerns that it would be too difficult to keep scores in the black, and thus tempting to leave roster spots empty or start inactive players, but for the most part that didn't happen. Although I did win my first game with a score of -8.8 to -18.5 (no comment on whether the team I was facing was full of superstars like Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson because its owner had auto-drafted, and then couldn't change his roster in time, and was somehow on track to beat me anyway until Brady put up a -26.5 in the Monday night game).
3. It's hard to conceive of a scenario where a player could excel under both Anti-League and conventional fantasy scoring in the same game, but it hasn't been uncommon for a player to wind up with modest, but positive point totals in both. A running back who gets 50 yards on 15 carries, for example, would earn 5 points in each scoring system.
The point system (which is detailed at the bottom of the September post) was never intended to scientifically determine the worst (or least effective) players, of course, but our hope was that it would at least be somewhere in the vicinity. There are plenty of areas where some tweaking may be in order—QB scores are probably higher than they should be relative to other positions, WR scores are a little screwy and maybe too QB-dependent, etc.—but overall I'm pretty happy with the results.
Here are the ten highest-scoring quarterbacks who've started at least eight games (averages reflect points scored in starts only):
As you can see, it's been a banner year for the Big 12. Also, honorable mention to Caleb Hanie, who has averaged an incredible 19.0 in his four starts.
Here are the leaders at the other positions (for reasons explained in the September post, we don't have a roster spot for tight ends):
*I'm including McCluster on just the RB list, but in many fantasy leagues he's also eligible at WR.
Some big names at the top of the running back list, but Peyton Hillis and Chris Johnson have both had rather mediocre seasons—127 carries for 445 yards (3.5 yds/carry) and 3 TDs for Hillis; 232 carries for 930 yards (4.0 yds/carry) and 4 TDs for Johnson.
Drifting further into the realm of morbid curiosity, here are the best single-game point totals. First, the quarterbacks, whose scores were generally higher than the other positions:
And everyone else:
Note that three of the top five defensive performances came against the Saints. And with that 24-point game the Giants achieved the highest score a defense can possibly get under our system (46+ points allowed, 550+ yards allowed, and no sacks, turnovers, blocked kicks, safeties, or TDs). The Colts would've pulled off a perfect score too, had they restrained themselves from sacking Brees a couple times.
Scores for kickers tended to be pretty low for the simple reason that kickers rarely miss—the most common single-game score was zero—but Neil Rackers (week 10) and Graham Gano (week 12) each had a 15-point day, which in both cases consisted of a missed field goal of less than 40 yards and the extremely rare 10-point missed PAT bonanza.
Finally, since I'm sure you were wondering, here are the worst single-game scores through week 15:
I was surprised to see Julio Jones at the top, but it makes a certain amount of sense. The point system is designed to reward players who are heavily involved, but ineffective, and against the Colts Julio was just the opposite. He was barely involved (only four targets for three receptions, and he ran the ball twice), and he was extremely effective (164 total yards, including 50- and 80-yard catches for touchdowns). It was everything the Anti-League doesn't stand for.