Using FireFactor to Dominate Your Fantasy Football League: Quarterback Edition

The NFL is passing more and more, but what does the math say that means for your fantasy football league?

There's a new sheriff in fantasy football, and thine sheriff's name is "Wide Receiver."

Because these pass-catchers are all the rage, it's more likely than not that Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham will be the first three picks off the board in your draft.


Well, receivers are pretty safe, and they're scoring a lot of points lately. But if we want to talk fantasy points, then we must address the elephant in the room. We all know that quarterbacks always flood the top of the leaderboard at the end of the year, so why not take Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, and Drew Brees one-two-three?

Because position scarcity matters, and it's something that you need to account for (significantly) when making fantasy football decisions.

To eliminate the "feel" work involved in terms of when it's the "right" time to take a running back or quarterback over a receiver, you can just use our FireFactor rankings, which are available on our customizable cheat sheet and in our brand new draft kit app.

Here's how you can use FireFactor to value your quarterbacks this season.

FireFactor Explained

So, to be clear, FireFactor is a Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) formula that relies on your specific league settings to identify how valuable a player is in your given league.

Who would you rather have on your fantasy team? Eric Decker or Rob Gronkowski? Gronk, right? That's the correct choice -- if you're in a typical league. But what if you're in a league that offers three or four flex spots rather than a tight end requirement? Is Gronk's dominance still the same as in standard leagues?

If you punch in the criteria (so let's say a 1-quarterback, 1-running back, 1-receiver, 3-running back/wide receiver/tight end PPR setup), FireFactor tells us that Decker is actually more valuable.

Your league doesn't have to be that wacky to rely on FireFactor. The point is that you need to be drafting optimally for your league setting rather using default rankings that don't help you build a winning team.

FireFactor and Quarterbacks

Quarterbacks score a ton of points. We all know it.

To put things into perspective, the top five quarterbacks since 2010 have averaged more than 300 fantasy points per season. The top running back has averaged 296 points, the RB2 has averaged 263.3 points, and nobody else is above 250. That's a big gap.

So let's dig into the mana pool and see what our magic math has to say about the matter.

Let's assume we're in a 12-team, 1-quarterback, 1-tight end, 2-running back, 2-receiver, 1-running back/receiver/tight end flex league that rewards no points for receptions and 4 points for passing touchdowns while subtracting 2 points for an interception. Pretty standard.

Here's the top 12 projected passers, per our rankings.

Overall Rank Player Position RankProjected Fantasy Points FireFactor
16 Aaron Rodgers 1 351.65 103.63
24 Cam Newton 2 336.66 88.64
36 Andrew Luck 3 324.52 76.50
41 Drew Brees 4 322.48 74.46
44 Carson Palmer 5 321.79 73.77
61 Russell Wilson 6 310.53 62.51
65 Ben Roethlisberger 7 305.25 57.23
99 Blake Bortles 8 274.96 26.94
101 Tyrod Taylor 9 272.36 24.34
105 Andy Dalton 10 270.77 22.75
107 Philip Rivers 11 270.12 22.10
109 Tony Romo 12 269.43 21.41

So, our top 12 passers are our top-12 projected scorers overall. Here's the caveat: our top 23 passers are our top 23 projected scorers.

As you can see on the far left, only three of these passers are worth a pick in the first three rounds of our hypothetical 12-team league (i.e. top 36). You need to fill your squad with players at positions that are harder to replace.

And if you adjust it for six points per passing touchdown, all you really do is shift up the entire group of passers. So yes, the top-end passers are worth a little more, but so are the lower-end guys, making the difference moot in the end.

So What's a Quarterback Worth?

This is really what matters to us here. How do we value the highest-scoring position if you can only use one each week?

This isn't a knock on anybody's projections by any means, but projections don't really matter when we're trying to figure out how to value positions within a given league. Yes, if you're projecting Alex Smith to be the QB1 at year's end and pegging him for 950 points, you're going to have to run the numbers yourself.

However, if you assume that the end-of-year point totals for each position are going to look pretty similar to what they normally do (and why wouldn't they?), then there's merit in seeing what a position is worth relative to other positions.

Here are the closest comparisons for the top-12 quarterbacks in terms of FireFactor to their counterparts based on our projected outputs.

FireFactor EquivalentsRBWRTE

Considering taking a quarterback before the top dozen running backs and half dozen receivers are gone is pretty silly if you're in a standard league.

Put another way, the player we think will score the 12th-most points in the league (the QB12) is worth a bench-worthy running back or a fringe TE1.

More and more quarterbacks are scoring points, and relying on waiver-wire quarterbacks isn't just a hindsight game.

Implementing FireFactor During the Season

Let's say it's the start of the eighth round in your draft, and you're getting antsy because you don't have a quarterback. Based on average draft positions (ADP) from Fantasy Football Calculator, you could opt for Blake Bortles (the QB9 via ADP) or another running back in Danny Woodhead (the RB35). Based on our chart above, you know that Woodhead, if he finishes as the RB35, is going to be more useful than Bortles, if he finishes as the QB9.

Yes, you have to get a good sense of where the players will finish, but we project Bortles (QB9) to outscore Eli Manning (our QB15) by fewer than 10 points over the full season.

FireFactor doesn't just help with drafting. You can also use it to get a general idea of how to value players from different positions, as we saw in the table above. Of course, if you think the QB1 is actually going to be Alex Smith, then you're going to get poor results more than likely, but using FireFactor helps you know which positions really matter in your league.

And that's a crucial difference between drafting good players and drafting a good fantasy roster.