fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    
HOME ARTICLES NEWS DRAFT GUIDE REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS NFL TEAMS MESSAGE BOARDS

FANTASY FOOTBALL ARTICLES

The Rookie Evaluation Formula
Tom Nadratowski
June 30, 2004
OVERALL REF RATINGS
Rnk Pos Tm Player REF
1 RB DET Kevin Jones 22.6
2 QB SD Philip Rivers 22.4
3 RB JAX Greg Jones 21.9
4 RB DEN Tatum Bell 21.8
5 DE MIN Kenichi Udeze 21.8
6 RB STL Steve Jackson 21.7
7 WR JAX Reggie Williams 21.5
8 QB PIT Ben Roethlisberger 21.5
9 WR DET Roy Williams 21.5
10 WLB DEN D.J. Williams 21.5
11 WR ARI Larry Fitzgerald 21.4
12 QB NYG Eli Manning 21.3
13 RB CIN Chris Perry 20.8
14 RB DAL Julius Jones 20.7
15 FS WAS Sean Taylor 20.6
16 WR BUF Lee Evans 20.3
17 TE TEN Ben Troupe 20.3
18 MLB NYJ Jonathan Vilma 20.2
19 WR ATL Michael Jenkins 20.1
20 SS SEA Michael Boulware 20.0
21 WR TB Michael Clayton 19.9
22 WLB MIN Dontarrious Thomas 19.8
23 QB BUF J.P. Losman 19.8
24 WLB ARI Karlos Dansby 19.7
25 OLB HOU Jason Babin 19.7
26 DE NO Will Smith 19.6
27 DT NE Vince Wilfork 19.4
28 WLB DET Ted Lehman 19.3
29 WR SF Rashaun Woods 19.2
30 TE CLE Kellen Winslow Jr. 19.2
31 WR CAR Keary Colbert 19.1
32 MLB NO Courtney Watson 19.1
33 RB MIN Mewelde Moore 19.0
34 MLB JAX Jorge Cordova 19.0
35 DT CHI Tommy Harris 19.0
36 DE TEN Travis LaBoy 18.9
37 DE MIN Darrion Scott 18.8
38 MLB SEA Niko Koutouvides 18.7
39 WLB ATL Demorrio Williams 18.7
40 WR NO Devery Henderson 18.6
41 WR BAL Devard Darling 18.4
42 RB NE Cedric Cobbs 18.4
43 WR SF Derrick Hamilton 18.2
44 DT TEN Randy Starks 18.2
45 WR CHI Bernard Berrian 18.1
46 TE IND Ben Hartsock 18.1
47 FS STL Jason Shivers 18.1
48 DE NE Marquise Hill 18.1
Rnk Pos Tm Player REF
49 TE NE Ben Watson 18.0
50 SS IND Bob Sanders 18.0
51 WLB CHI Leon Joe 17.9
52 WR JAX Ernest Wilford 17.8
53 WR OAK Johnnie Morant 17.7
54 QB ATL Matt Schaub 17.7
55 MLB MIN Rod Davis 17.6
56 WR NE P.K. Sam 17.6
57 RB SD Michael Turner 17.6
58 OLB KC Keyaron Fox 17.6
59 FS CIN Madieu Williams 17.6
60 CB GB Ahmad Carroll 17.6
61 ILB SF Richard Siegler 17.5
62 MLB CIN Caleb Miller 17.5
63 DT SEA Marcus Tubbs 17.5
64 DE TEN Antwan Odom 17.4
65 CB SF Shawntae Spencer 17.4
66 CB HOU Dunta Robinson 17.4
67 WR DEN Darius Watts 17.3
68 WLB TB Marquis Cooper 17.3
69 QB STL Jeff Smoker 17.3
70 DT CHI Terry Johnson 17.3
71 CB ATL DeAngelo Hall 17.2
72 SS OAK Stuart Schweigert 17.2
73 WLB IND Gilbert Gardner 17.1
74 CB MIA Will Poole 17.1
75 MLB STL Brandon Chillar 16.9
76 DT SD Igor Olshansky 16.9
77 DT BAL Dwan Edwards 16.9
78 WLB CIN Landon Johnson 16.7
79 SLB JAX Daryl Smith 16.6
80 DT KC Junior Siavii 16.6
81 CB PIT Ricardo Colclough 16.6
82 CB GB Joey Thomas 16.6
83 CB DET Keith Smith 16.6
84 CB CHI Nathan Vasher 16.6
85 CB CAR Chris Gamble 16.5
86 DE NYG Isaac Hilton 16.4
87 QB CHI Craig Krenzel 16.3
88 CB PHI Matt Ware 16.3
89 DT BUF Tim Anderson 15.8
90 RB TEN Jarret Payton 15.6
91 DT GB Donnell Washington 15.6
92 CB NYJ Derrick Strait 15.6
93 CB CIN Keiwan Ratliff 15.6
94 CB DEN Jeremy Lesueur 15.5
95 QB ARI John Navarre 14.7
96 DT STL Tony Hargrove 13.8
Rookies are valuable in fantasy drafts and auctions, and even more critical in dynasty leagues. But how can you compare the value of rookies against each other? And what about those defensive players?

The Rookie Evaluation Formula (R.E.F.) is an attempt to solve this problem. It started out as a rookie cheat sheet. Needing a more methodological approach to a rookie draft list than just the good old standard – “the gut method”, I created a formula that would at be as objective as possible. As I developed it, the REF only increased in usefulness and it helped draft several productive young rookies in 2001, notably LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Chambers and Kendrell Bell. The year previous to that, it helped identify Jamal Lewis’ potential and draft him.

The first challenge was how to evaluate what was important for a rookie? Research eventually boiled it down to four categories that impacted a rookies' ability to contribute right away - their own talent, the talent surrounding them (the team rating), their starting status (the start number) and the worth of their fantasy position (the position modifier).  

Numerous sources concentrate on the NFL draft, so NFL scout and analyst opinion on player talent is readily available. The REF relies on many sources for information on rookies, some web- based and some published. Many of those use a 10 scale to grade the players. For convenience, that measurement was kept and any talent evaluations graded out differently were converted to a 10 point scale.

A rookie is no good on the bench right? A player’s starting opportunity is more difficult to develop than is immediately apparent. Obvious starters receive the most weight. But what to do about platoon players, like running backs and wide receivers, or rookies that are drafted by a team deep at their position and then who just sit there for a year, or maybe even two? The solution was to give players like that increasingly bigger slices of the starter pie, as they worked their way up the depth chart.  

The next modifier to quantify is the player position value. Running backs usually make the most immediate starting impact, so they warrant the highest rating. By reviewing each position and evaluating how often a player in that position makes a big fantasy impact, players are then graded accordingly. This is hardly perfect though. Rookie quarterbacks and wide receivers rarely make a big fantasy impact immediately. So for them, their position ranking is a more an indicator of future value than immediate worth.

The final consideration is rating each NFL team that the rookies would be joining. This is perhaps simple in theory but harder in practice to sort out. After the obvious offensive juggernaughts and weak sisters, it is more difficult to rate the middle tier teams. The ranking considers if a team had made itself better or worse in the offseason and then using many different statistical categories from the previous season, each team was ranked for both offense and defense.

The final result was a statistical model that, while not perfect, performs an objective and quantifiable measurement on those new players. It allows a comparison of rookies side by side, and to determine where the talent pools and standouts are. As with all statistical models, the formula is a work in project – just like all those rookies.

  Defensive Tackles Team 40 Tal # Tm # Start Pos Mod REF Score     Quarterbacks Team 40 Tal # Tm # Start Pos Mod REF Score
1 Vince Wilfork NE 5.03 9.5 3.9 5.0 1.0 19.4   1 Philip Rivers SD 5.05 9.5 3.9 4.5 4.5 22.4
2 Tommy Harris CHI 4.88 9.5 3.5 5.0 1.0 19.0   2 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 4.87 9.5 3.5 4.0 4.5 21.5
3 Randy Starks TEN 4.91 9.1 3.1 5.0 1.0 18.2   3 Eli Manning NYG 4.87 9.5 3.3 4.0 4.5 21.3
4 Marcus Tubbs SEA 5.05 8.8 3.7 4.0 1.0 17.5   4 J.P. Losman BUF 4.69 9.4 2.9 3.0 4.5 19.8
5 Terry Johnson CHI 4.71 8.8 3.5 4.0 1.0 17.3   5 Matt Schaub ATL 5.00 8.1 3.1 2.0 4.5 17.7
6 Dwan Edwards BAL 5.10 8.8 4.1 3.0 1.0 16.9   6 Jeff Smoker STL 4.83 7.5 3.3 2.0 4.5 17.3
7 Igor Olshansky SD 4.95 8.8 3.1 4.0 1.0 16.9   7 Craig Krenzel CHI 4.83 7.1 2.7 2.0 4.5 16.3
8 Junior Siavii KC 5.10 8.1 3.5 4.0 1.0 16.6   8 John Navarre ARI 5.10 6.9 3.3 0.0 4.5 14.7
9 Tim Anderson BUF 5.04 8.1 3.7 3.0 1.0 15.8     Running Backs Team 40 Tal # Tm # Start Pos Mod REF Score
10 Donnell Washington GB 5.02 8.1 3.5 3.0 1.0 15.6   1 Kevin Jones DET 4.55 9.1 3.5 5.0 5.0 22.6
11 Tony Hargrove STL 4.68 8.1 2.7 2.0 1.0 13.8   2 Greg Jones JAX 4.54 8.5 3.9 4.5 5.0 21.9
12 Darnell Dockett ARI 4.97 8.8 3.1 0.0 1.0 12.9   3 Tatum Bell DEN 4.39 8.6 3.7 4.5 5.0 21.8
  Defensive Ends Team 40 Tal # Tm # Start Pos Mod REF Score   4 Steve Jackson STL 4.48 9.4 3.3 4.0 5.0 21.7
1 Kenichi Udeze MIN 4.70 9.6 3.5 5.0 3.7 21.8   5 Chris Perry CIN 4.56 8.7 3.1 4.0 5.0 20.8
2 Will Smith NO 4.60 9.5 2.9 3.5 3.7 19.6   6 Julius Jones DAL 4.50 7.6 3.1 5.0 5.0 20.7
3 Travis LaBoy TEN 4.60 8.1 3.1 4.0 3.7 18.9   7 Mewelde Moore MIN 4.50 7.1 4.9 2.0 5.0 19
4 Darrion Scott MIN 4.70 8.1 3.5 3.5 3.7 18.8   8 Cedric Cobbs NE 4.56 7.7 3.7 2.0 5.0 18.4
5 Marquise Hill NE 4.90 8.5 3.9 2.0 3.7 18.1   9 Michael Turner SD 4.41 7.7 3.9 1.0 5.0 17.6
6 Antwan Odom TEN 4.68 8.6 3.1 2.0 3.7 17.4   10 Jarret Payton TEN 4.61 6.5 3.1 1.0 5.0 15.6
7 Isaac Hilton NYG 4.44 7.6 3.1 2.0 3.7 16.4     Tight Ends Team 40 Tal # Tm # Start Pos Mod REF Score
  Linebackers Team 40 Tal # Tm # Start Pos Mod REF Score   1 Ben Troupe TEN 4.56 9.3 4.0 5.0 2.0 20.3
1 D.J. Williams DEN 4.62 9.1 3.9 5.0 3.5 21.5   2 Kellen Winslow Jr. CLE 4.60 8.9 3.3 5.0 2.0 19.2
2 Jonathan Vilma NYJ 4.60 9.6 3.5 3.0 4.1 20.2   3 Ben Hartsock IND 4.75 8.5 4.1 3.5 2.0 18.1
2 Dontarrious Thomas MIN 4.60 7.8 3.5 5.0 3.5 19.8   4 Ben Watson NE 4.49 8.8 3.7 3.5 2.0 18
9 Jason Babin HOU 4.64 9.1 3.1 4.0 3.5 19.7     Wide Receivers Team 40 Tal # Tm # Start Pos Mod REF Score
3 Karlos Dansby ARI 4.61 9.1 3.1 4.0 3.5 19.7   1 Reggie Williams JAX 4.55 9.3 3.9 4.0 4.3 21.5
4 Ted Lehman DET 4.50 8.8 3.5 3.5 3.5 19.3   2 Roy Williams DET 4.45 9.7 3.5 4.0 4.3 21.5
3 Courtney Watson NO 4.55 8.5 4.1 3.0 3.5 19.1   3 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 4.55 9.8 3.3 4.0 4.3 21.4
4 Jorge Cordova JAX 4.69 7.3 4.1 3.5 4.1 19.0   4 Lee Evans BUF 4.39 9.1 2.9 4.0 4.3 20.3
5 Niko Koutouvides SEA 4.69 7.9 3.7 3.0 4.1 18.7   5 Michael Jenkins ATL 4.53 8.7 3.1 4.0 4.3 20.1
5 Demorrio Williams ATL 4.50 8.1 3.1 4.0 3.5 18.7   6 Michael Clayton TB 4.60 9.3 3.3 3.0 4.3 19.9
6 Leon Joe CHI 4.43 6.9 3.5 4.0 3.5 17.9   7 Rashaun Woods SF 4.51 8.5 2.9 3.5 4.3 19.2
6 Rod Davis MIN   6.5 3.5 3.5 4.1 17.6   8 Keary Colbert CAR 4.43 8.1 3.7 3.0 4.3 19.1
10 Keyaron Fox KC 4.50 7.6 3.5 3.5 3.0 17.6   9 Devery Henderson NO 4.42 8.4 3.9 2.0 4.3 18.6
1 Richard Siegler SF 4.70 7.9 4.1 2.0 3.5 17.5   10 Devard Darling BAL 4.50 7.9 2.7 3.5 4.3 18.4
7 Caleb Miller CIN 4.75 7.3 3.1 3.0 4.1 17.5   11 Derrick Hamilton SF 4.50 7.5 2.9 3.5 4.3 18.2
7 Marquis Cooper TB 4.52 7.9 3.9 2.0 3.5 17.3   12 Bernard Berrian CHI 4.53 8.1 2.7 3.0 4.3 18.1
8 Gilbert Gardner IND 4.62 8.5 3.1 2.0 3.5 17.1   13 Ernest Wilford JAX 4.67 7.6 3.9 2.0 4.3 17.8
8 Brandon Chillar STL 4.70 8.1 2.7 2.0 4.1 16.9   14 Johnnie Morant OAK 4.46 8.5 2.9 2.0 4.3 17.7
9 Landon Johnson CIN 4.65 8.1 3.1 2.0 3.5 16.7   15 P.K. Sam NE 4.51 8.6 3.7 1.0 4.3 17.6
1 Daryl Smith JAX 4.65 8.5 4.1 3.0 1.0 16.6   16 Darius Watts DEN 4.49 6.3 3.7 3.0 4.3 17.3
  Cornerbacks Team 40 Tal # Tm # Start Pos Mod REF Score                    
1 Ahmad Carroll GB 4.32 8.6 3.5 4.0 1.5 17.6     Legend:
40 – Timed 40 yard dash
Tal # – Player’s talent rating 1-10, 10 being best
Tm # -  Team fantasy rating offense or defense 1-5, 5 being best
Start – Rating for starting opportunity 1-5
      5 -  Undisputed starter, or go to guy
      4 - Committee starter/Rotation
      3 -  Conditional starter/Primary backup
      2 -  Deep on depth chart
      1 -  May never start a game
Pos Mod – Fantasy value of position
  QB = 4.5
  RB = 5
  WR = 4
  TE = 2
  DT = 1
  DE = 3
  MLB = 4
  WLB = 3
  SLB = 1
  SS = 2.8
  FS = 2.5
  CB = 2
2 Dunta Robinson HOU 4.33 9.3 3.1 3.5 1.5 17.4    
3 Shawntae Spencer SF 4.44 8.8 4.1 3.0 1.5 17.4    
4 DeAngelo Hall ATL 4.30 9.3 3.1 3.3 1.5 17.2    
5 Will Poole MIA 4.54 9.1 3.5 3.0 1.5 17.1    
6 Nathan Vasher CHI 4.57 8.1 3.5 3.5 1.5 16.6    
7 Keith Smith DET 4.49 8.6 3.5 3.0 1.5 16.6    
8 Joey Thomas GB 4.44 8.6 3.5 3.0 1.5 16.6    
9 Ricardo Colclough PIT 4.45 8.6 3.5 3.0 1.5 16.6    
10 Chris Gamble CAR 4.56 9.1 3.9 2.0 1.5 16.5    
11 Matt Ware PHI 4.54 9.1 3.7 2.0 1.5 16.3    
12 Keiwan Ratliff CIN 4.53 7.5 3.1 3.5 1.5 15.6    
13 Derrick Strait NYJ 4.50 8.6 3.5 2.0 1.5 15.6    
14 Jeremy Lesueur DEN 4.51 8.6 3.9 2.0 1.0 15.5    
  Safeties Team 40 Tal # Tm # Start Pos Mod REF Score    
1 Sean Taylor WAS 4.55 9.8 3.3 5.0 2.5 20.6    
2 Jason Shivers STL 4.53 8.9 2.7 4.0 2.5 18.1    
3 Madieu Williams CIN 4.56 8.5 3.1 3.5 2.5 17.6    
4 Michael Boulware SEA 4.56 8.5 3.7 5.0 2.8 20.0    
5 Bob Sanders IND 4.30 8.1 3.1 4.0 2.8 18.0    
6 Stuart Schweigert OAK 4.43 7.8 3.1 3.5 2.8 17.2