Adventures in Scoring: Fixing Quarterbacks, Part Three

Jacob Feldman

Thanks for coming back for the third and final part of this series on how to potentially fix quarterback scoring in one quarterback leagues. If you missed the first two parts, you really should go back and look at them for this to make sense. If you are feeling a little less than ambitious or you just need a quick refresher before we go on, here it goes.

In part one of the series, I examined a claim that there is very little difference between quarterbacks in the traditional scoring system. This means quarterbacks are often an afterthought, seldom get traded as more than a throw-in, and are largely ignored during the draft in a start one quarterback league. To test this, I did some basic analysis of the quarterbacks and compared it to the other two primary positions, running backs and receivers. I found that the claim is true.

When you compare quarterbacks to other positions, the difference is much less at all points. This is especially true when you add in the fact that in a 12 team league there are 12 quarterbacks starting each week, but likely to be 30-plus running backs and 40-plus receivers. If you compare the scores of the players who are bench players to those who aren’t, there is a huge gap.

Once I established that there is, in fact, an issue, I moved on to trying to create a new scoring system in part two. The goals of this scoring system were to avoid overall inflation of quarterback scoring while creating more separation between all levels of the position. As a result, this would make the quarterback position matter a little bit more. You might actually see people trading for or drafting premium players at the position (much like running back and receiver) because the gap between the top end and the bottom is now noticeable. I feel I accomplished this from a season-long perspective by using the following scoring system:

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  • All Touchdowns = 6 points
  • Passing Yardage = 1 point for every 20 yards
  • Rushing Yardage = 1 point for every 10 yards
  • Completion Percentage = -5 up to 5, depending on percentage. 64% is 0. (See table below)
  • Interceptions = -5 points
  • Interceptions returned for a touchdown = Additional -5 points
  • Fumbles Lost = -5 points
  • Sacks = -1 point
  • Yardage lost via sack = -1 point for every 10 yards

Check back on part two for the details as well as how this impacted season-long scoring for the position.

Before I could fully endorse this type of scoring system, I wanted to make sure I spent some time looking at the impact on weekly scoring. After all, some things look great in the big picture, but the devil is in the details.

In order to aid my examination of the weekly scoring, I picked four quarterbacks for a more detailed look. I wanted to try to cover different types of quarterbacks to get a decent picture of what this would do. I picked one elite and consistent option in future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees. Then I picked a solid, though likely not an elite quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. For my third choice, I wanted a quarterback who is rather inconsistent – someone who can be the best in the NFL one week and absolutely terrible the next. Cam Newton came to mind immediately. For the final spot I wanted a quarterback who I think had a terrible year and had no business being an NFL starter let alone a fantasy starter; however, due to traditional scoring was actually a streaming option… Jacoby Brissett.

For each of these quarterbacks, I took their weekly production and recalculated it using the new scoring system. I then compared it with what they would have received in the traditional scoring to see the impact.

Detailed look at Brees – Model of Consistency

We all know Brees is a future Hall-of-Famer. He has more 5,000-yard seasons than every other quarterback ever… combined. Not to mention he’s one of the most accurate passers in the history of the league. And of course, he’s done all of this while being too short to play the position! Anyway, back to the topic. I wanted to see what kind of variability we would see for a player of Brees’ caliber. In other words, for those who owned an elite option at the position, what would they expect to see? Now, Brees didn’t have any 5-touchdown, 450-yard games this year, but he avoided turnovers and sacks, completed a lot of passes, and was very effective leading his team even if it was a “down year” by his standards.

Brees statline: 4,334 yards passing, 72.5% completion rate, 8 turnovers, 25 total touchdowns, 12 rushing yards, 20 sacks taken for a loss of 145 yards.

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Keep in mind from part two that Brees was one of the biggest gainers in this new scoring system. This is largely because he is one of the best in the league at not hurting his own team. He doesn’t turn the ball over, keeps the ball moving with short passes when nothing deeper is available, avoids sacks, and sustains drives. Most of these things weren’t a factor in the traditional scoring, but they do help in the new system.

Overall, Brees went up by over 5.5 points per game. His best game of the season was now a respectable 32.3 points. It was a three touchdown, zero turnover performance with a 76% completion rate and only one sack for seven yards. Under the traditional scoring this was 20.8 points, so a pretty significant gain. However, I would argue that he should be rewarded for being so effective in that game.

Detailed look at Roethlisberger – Solid QB1

In my mind, when I think of productive quarterbacks who aren’t quite at the elite level, I think of Roethlisberger. He has been undervalued by the community as a whole for years. He has consistently produced top ten numbers for the last few years, and leads one of the better offenses in the league. Roethlisberger makes a great choice for my solid QB1 case study. Someone who is going to be in the 5-8 range most years in terms of quarterback scoring.

Ben’s statline: 4,251 yards passing, 64% completion rate, 15 turnovers, 28 total touchdowns, 47 rushing yards, 21 sacks taken for a loss of 139 yards.

screen shot 2018 02 18 at 15.56.49

This is where things start to get a little bit interesting with the scoring system, and where some people are going to take issue with it. Keep in mind, this is change. Things are going to be different from the traditional scoring and some things will happen that didn’t happen before.

Big picture: since Ben was a better than average quarterback this year, by a fairly significant margin, his overall points did see a slight increase. In this case it was almost 1.5 points per game. His best game saw a significant increase of almost 8 points. In fact, Ben had three games in the new scoring system over 34 points. Two of these were four touchdown games and the third one was a 500+ yard day, all of them with better than average completion rates. In my eyes, these compare to the running back or receiver who has a pair of touchdowns and 200 yards. It might happen once or twice for the top options, and they should be rewarded with 30+ points on those days.

The place where I’m going to lose a few of you is Ben’s low score. Before I talk about the new scoring system, think about what had to happen for a quarterback to only post 2.58 points in the old system. This was his game against the Jaguars where he threw the ball a ton, but not very well. He had 312 yards, a 60 percent completion rate, and FIVE interceptions. He also gave up 2 sacks for 11 yards. This is a pretty terrible game.

How do I feel about it being a -14.4 in the new system? I’m honestly a little torn about it. We don’t ever see players go that far negative. Occasionally, you might get a running back who fumbles on their first carry and ends up with a negative score, but it is just a few points. Negative 14 and some change is more than a few. Then again, it was a historically bad game and probably the worst one of his career. If you take out rookies and backups, the list of quarterbacks to throw five interceptions and zero touchdowns in a game is pretty short. Until that game, Ben had never thrown more than three interceptions without at least one touchdown.

Overall, I think I’m okay with a historically bad game resulting in a score that negative. It adds to the variability of the position, and it makes for some added incentive to push for a top quarterback instead of just a solid one. Not only that, but if the good quarterbacks are going to push into the 30s and maybe even 40 or more points in a week a few times a season, there needs to be a bit more to balance them out.

Detailed look at Newton – Ticket for the rollercoaster, please!

Since he was drafted in 2011, I’ve been in awe of Newton. Not just his skill set, but in the way that he can play like an MVP and future hall of famer one year/week/drive and then look like someone who shouldn’t even be playing the position the very next. It is such a rollercoaster that I had to include him in my more detailed looks. When he is on, he is easily one of the best in the league. However, there is definitely the other side of the coin as Panther fans can tell you. How does someone with these kinds of extremes pan out in the new system?

Newton’s statline: 3,302 yards passing, 59% completion rate, 17 turnovers, 28 total touchdowns, 754 rushing yards, 35 sacks taken for a loss of 242 yards.

screen shot 2018 02 18 at 15.57.07

Newton had some very interesting games this year, and it was because of him that I implemented the cap on the completion percentage. He had multiple games under 42 percent completion, which just completely killed his score. It still hurts (as it should) with the cap, but it doesn’t overpower everything else that happened that game. On the flip side, Newton also had a nearly perfect game where he scored four times, passed for 254 yards and rushed for another 95 yards with absolutely nothing negative in that game aside from some minor accuracy issues. This was his high score of 44.2 points.

Much like Brees and Roethlisberger, Newton’s best game of the year gained 8-10 points in the new system. He actually had a total of four games on the year which were 35 points or more. I didn’t pull the game logs of all of the quarterbacks, but from what I did look at I’m comfortable saying that is going to be very near or at the top for the position. When he is on, he is definitely on. He can not only carry the Panthers but also your fantasy team.

However, when you start Newton, you are definitely playing with fire as his low score suggests. It wasn’t just that one game either. In the new system, Newton posted three games with negative scores and an additional four games under 10 points – meaning almost half the time he did very little for your fantasy team if not outright hurting it.

Overall, someone with the inconsistency of Newton is a double-edged sword. This year it almost broke down into even fourths. One fourth he hurt your team with a slightly negative score, one fourth he didn’t do much with a single digit score, one fourth he was roughly average, and the other fourth he reached heights that almost no one else can reach. If you are a gambler, this new system definitely adds a lot more intrigue to the equation.

Detailed look at Brissett – One of these things is not like the others…

It still floors me a little bit that Brissett was actually a viable streaming option in leagues last year. In fact, I used him as a starter in one of my leagues after Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer both went down with injuries. I wasn’t exactly happy about it, but he was surprisingly serviceable. However, should that have been the case? If you look at his stats and you watched him play, I think you would be very hard pressed to say he was a quality quarterback. Lets take a look at what the new scoring system does for someone who really shouldn’t be a starting quarterback in fantasy leagues.

Brissett’s statline: 3,098 yards passing, 59% completion rate, 10 turnovers, 17 total touchdowns, 260 rushing yards, 52 sacks taken for a loss of 305 yards.

screen shot 2018 02 18 at 15.57.53

Brissett’s stats are far from impressive, yet in the traditional system he was a middle level QB2. In the new system, where his league-high 52 sacks now impact his points scored, his score is much lower. It wasn’t just his sacks that dropped his score though. His high number of turnovers when compared to his touchdowns, low number of passing yards, and low completion rate all hurt him as well.

It wasn’t all bad news though. Much like the other quarterbacks, Brissett’s high score did improve. His week three game was his only game over 20 points in the traditional system, and the 31.17 points in the new system was his only game over 22 points.

On the low end, Brissett had four negative outings and an additional four games with single digit scores. The lowest of these was their first game against Jacksonville. In this game Brissett didn’t score at all, but he did give up a massive TEN sacks for 64 yards in that game. That is half a season for some quarterbacks! If a quarterback takes that many sacks, I think they deserve to have a negative score. In his other three negative scores, he had at least four sacks and a turnover. Not very impressive at all.


I was pretty happy with the results on a season long scale. The gaps between the elite and non-elite, QB1s and backups, and others all increased. This not only encourages owners to seek out these top-end signal callers, but will also increase their trade value and draft stock in 1QB leagues. While quarterbacks definitely won’t be quite a the level of 2QB leagues, I think this new scoring system provides a nice compromise.

In addition to the improved differences over the entire season, the weekly scoring seems to provide a much greater range based on the quality of the performance. The best performances all seem to get a little bit of a boost, allowing quarterbacks to reach the same heights that the running back and receiver positions have been reaching for years. To balance it out, the quarterbacks, especially the lower quality ones, have an increased likelihood of single digit or even negative scoring on a given week. I know some won’t like this idea, but it definitely serves the purpose of making elite quarterbacks more of a priority.

If you are looking for a way to put a bit more focus on quarterbacks in your 1QB league, I think this new scoring system (or one similar to it) could definitely do that. It will definitely change the way we look at quarterbacks as a lock to get 12 points and a max of about 30 points. With the new system, a terrible game could end up costing you points, while a great game could net 40 or more. As I said earlier, I’ve never tried the new system, but I definitely want to!


jacob feldman