An Introduction to Scoring in Daily Fantasy Football

An in-depth knowledge of scoring rules is vital for daily fantasy football success. This article breaks down scoring and how it should affect your decision-making.

No matter what your experience is with fantasy football, you're aware of the object behind the game: score more points than your opponent. Feel free to sit down if that was too startling of a proclamation.

But, in order to score more points, it might help first to know how in the world you score said points. This is just a minor point that I (being an idiot) overlooked when I first started playing daily fantasy sports. Not ideal.

So, let's make sure this doesn't happen again in the future. I want to go through the various scoring rules for daily fantasy now as every discussion we have from this point onward will be dependent on a thorough understanding of these concepts. Once you know how scoring works, you can get a lot more in depth with your various strategies.

All of the scoring we discuss from here on will focus on FanDuel's scoring rules. The concepts we discuss can be translated over to all other sites, but the individual rules will be specific to FanDuel. The overarching point here: know the scoring rules inside and out before you dive in. Now, let's start things off with the all-important quarterback position.

Passing Scoring Rules

As you've all gleaned if you've played season-long leagues, passing scoring rules are a strange animal. Your quarterback can rack up 400 yards passing, but if he doesn't find the end zone, it's not going to do a whole lot for you. It's not any different on FanDuel.

Here, quarterbacks receive 0.04 points for each passing yard. This means they get 1 point for every 25 yards and 4 points for every 100 yards. A 300-yard day equates to exactly 12 points, which is going to be a disappointing output. You need those touchdowns, baby.

As with most places, a passing touchdown will net you four points. One touchdown is as important to your scoring as 100 yards passing. Again -- and this can't be over-emphasized -- touchdowns are kind of important for quarterbacks.

Then we get to the dark side. Interceptions. Still, even if your quarterback is a fan of partaking in the occasional pick, it's not going to cost you terribly. They'll only lose one point per interception for doing so. If a quarterback throws two touchdowns and two interceptions, you're still netting six points there. The ramifications of throwing a pick are larger than that as it's one less possession on which he can get a touchdown, but they're really not going to ruin your day unless your signal caller is over-indulgent.

Another nice little boost for a quarterback is a two-point conversion. If they throw one of these, they'll net a tidy two additional points. If there's a team that has a tendency to go for two more often than others, that's certainly a factor to consider when filling out your rosters.

Rushing Scoring Rules

Thankfully, this is less of a one-way street. You can still have yourself a nice game on the ground without getting in the end zone -- though that certainly doesn't hurt.

Players on FanDuel receive 0.1 points per rushing yard, or 1 point for every 10 yards. You're not going to take down a big tournament without rushing touchdowns, but you're also not guaranteed failure if your guys can't find the end zone.

That said, touchdowns do still provide a sweet little boost. They are worth six points each time your player hits paydirt on the ground. If they can do so multiple times, you are well on your way to a nice little day.

These two factors should show the importance of rushing quarterbacks. If a quarterback can bust off a 10-yard rush, that's the equivalent of a 25-yard pass. When you're heaping rushing yards and touchdowns onto any passing points they accumulate, things can rack up fast. You shouldn't be rostering guys only because they are good runners, but it is most certainly a factor you need to weigh.

As with passing, turnovers are bad for rushers, as well. A fumble lost will lose you two points. That's one less 20-yard rush for your back, a significant difference when you're hoping to differentiate yourself from the pack. If there's a back who has a propensity for putting the ball on the ground, you may want to think twice because of this, though it probably shouldn't be enough to deter you from a juicy matchup.

Finally, consistent with passing, you receive two points for a successful two-point conversion attempt. That's also equivalent to 20 yards rushing and another factor to consider when making your decisions.

Receiving Scoring Rules

Basically, all of the above is applicable to receiving stats. You get 1 point for every 10 yards, 6 points for every touchdown and 2 points for a two-point conversion. The only major difference is that you get 0.5 points per reception on FanDuel.

While this isn't a huge boost, it does certainly provide an incentive to roster high-volume receivers. For example, a receiver with 5 receptions for 35 yards will net you more points than one who has 1 reception for 55 yards. If a wide receiver isn't seeing a decent number of targets each game, he's risky enough when it comes to yardage; when you add in the 0.5 points per reception, that becomes even more clear.

This is likely a larger factor when it comes to running-back selection than with wide receivers. Some running backs aren't factors in their team's passing games at all. However, some guys will rank among the top pass-catchers on the team. Don't you think that should factor in your decision-making?

Take Matt Forte in 2014 for example. That year, he had a whopping 102 receptions. That equates to 51 points from receptions alone, or 3.2 points per game played. That's the equivalent to 32 additional rushing yards per game even before you add in the receiving yards and touchdowns. Now, he is an extreme example, and other running backs are also receiving the same bump from their receptions. But you should most definitely be factoring this into your process when selecting running backs and wide receivers alike.

Defensive Scoring Rules

Now we get to the more complicated portion. Defensive scores aren't quite as easy to tabulate as other positions, so it's important to go through this piece-by-piece, giving us a better understanding of how exactly this all works.

First, allow me to just present you with the full list of scoring rules as it may be more digestable in the form of a table. Then we'll dive in a bit to (hopefully!) clarify things a bit.

As a note, when the table says, "Points allowed," that refers to points allowed only by the defense and/or special teams. So if Colin Kaepernick throws a pick-six, that won't count against the 49ers' defense's fantasy totals.

Category Points
Sack 1 point
Fumble Recovery 2 points
Return Touchdown 6 points
Extra-Point Return 2 points
Safety 2 points
Blocked Punt/Kick 2 points
Interceptions 2 points
0 Points Allowed 10 points
1-6 Points Allowed 7 points
7-13 Points Allowed 4 points
14-20 Points Allowed 1 point
28-34 Points Allowed -1 point
35+ Points Allowed -4 points

Initial takeaway: don't pick defenses that are projected to allow 35 points. That's a bold strategy, Cotton, and I'm not so certain you'll come out smelling like daisies.

Second, you don't need to overemphasize things such as points. A good majority of games are going to result in you netting between positive one and negative one point for your defense out of that category. Most of the time, you're going to be looking to the other sections for your points.

Things such as safeties, blocked punts, and return touchdowns are more difficult to predict. If you figure out how to do so, great! Please share. I will make payment in the form of sending you dumb YouTube videos that I found amusing. This is definitely a worthwhile exchange.

In all likelihood, you haven't nailed down an algorithm to predict when a team is certain to get one of the big-point plays. Instead, we're going to make our living with sacks, fumble recoveries, and interceptions.

We'll go more in depth on defense selection in a different lesson, but it's pretty clear that you're going to need to find defenses that are playing with the lead. That forces the opponent to throw the football, and you aren't going to get many sacks or interceptions without a few drop backs. The translation here is to find a team that's favored -- preferably by a decent margin -- and work from there.

Kicker Scoring

Kicker scoring is really quite easy: get points, boi. If you can do that, you're sitting pretty.

Each extra-point conversion gets you one point. Any field goal less than 40 yards is worth three points. All field goals from 40 to 49 yards are worth 4 points on FanDuel, while those 50 and longer are worth 5 points.

The object here is to roster kickers on teams that figure to have as many scoring drives as possible. Then you'll either (in most instances) get the one point for the extra point or a field goal of any kind. You want offenses that are going to put their kicker in position to score points, regardless of that individual kicker's talent level.

You'll note that there is not a deduction of points for missed field goals or extra points. So, again, talent isn't a huge factor here. It helps when your kicker can nail a 50-yarder, but if he can't, it's at least not going to directly cost you points. You can't just go rostering anybody as a coach will eventually start electing to go for it if his kicker is too bad, but talent should not be near the top of your list.

As with defenses, you're going to want a team that's projected to win. Obviously, they're going to score more points than the other team, which is a plus. Additionally, a team that already has a lead is more likely to settle for a field goal on 4th and 2 than one that's trailing by two touchdowns. Field goals are the money makers in this scenario, and if you take them out of the equation, it could be a disappointing output.