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Better Than Average (BTA) Ranks
David Dorey
July 12, 2006

The Better Than Average (BTA) rankings are a very interesting tool because it measures exactly how well a player produced fantasy points last year compared to all others in his position given the unique schedule that he faced. While Consistency Rankings measures how often players exceed certain thresholds, BTA measures how well a player did compared to anyone else in his position who faced a particular NFL defense. An easy schedule could result in a great Consistency Rankings and yet not as good a BTA ranking if other players did even better against those same defenses. More interestingly, BTA shows how well a player did even when he had a bad schedule because it is not looking for a threshold of fantasy points but instead just a comparison.

BTA is created by sorting the fantasy points allowed by each defense for each position. A standard performance scoring scenario was used awarding 1/10 points per yard rushed or received, 1/20 passing yards and six point touchdowns other than three point passing scores. It measures what defenses allowed - a more accurate picture of how well a player did.

There are four categories measured:

1 (Best that season) - For each NFL defense, which player scored the most fantasy points against them within their position for the entire season?. Each defense could only have one player with a "1" game and considering that each NFL team plays their three divisional rivals twice each year, the highest possible number for any player would be "13", meaning that a player had scored the most fantasy points allowed by each defense of all players in their position for the year. Any number higher than even just one is pretty impressive since it means that the player was the best at scoring fantasy points from all players facing more than one defense. There are, of course, only 32 "1" games to award each season per position.

4 (Top 4 game) - Like above, this considers how many times a player managed to record a game in which he scored in the top four allowed by a particular defense for the year. There are only 128 "4" games (32 x 4). This also includes those games which were "1" games.

8 (Top 8 game) - Truly the basis of this measurement, this displays the number of times that a player turned in a Top 8 game allowed by a defense considering all players in that position that they faced for the entire season. There are 256 "8" games scored by each position (32 x 8). This also includes those games which were "1" and "4' games. Considering that each defense faced a primary player in each position each week (QB, RB, WR and TE), these are the players scoring "better than average" since they were in the top 8 for fantasy points allowed by a defense over the course of a 16 game season.

BTA - This score represents the total of all three categories. In essence, it counts all "8" games once, counts "4" games twice and counts "1" games three times as hopefully is suggested by the above descriptions. It is therefore a weighted average that represents just how effective a player truly was against defenses compared to all other players in his position which faced the same defenses.

QUARTERBACKS

Name 1 4 8 BTA Name 1 4 8 BTA Name 1 4 8 BTA
Palmer, Carson 2 8 13 23 Brees, Drew 1 4 8 13 Frerotte, Gus 0 2 7 9
Brady, Tom 2 8 13 23 Plummer, Jake 1 3 8 12 McCown, Josh 1 3 4 8
Vick, Michael 3 6 10 19 Collins, Kerry 0 4 8 12 Garrard, David 1 3 4 8
Manning, Peyton 2 7 10 19 Brunell, Mark 0 5 7 12 Dilfer, Trent 1 2 4 7
McNabb, Donovan 4 5 8 17 McNair, Steve 0 3 8 11 Harrington, Joey 1 2 4 7
Favre, Brett 1 4 10 15 Warner, Kurt 0 4 6 10 Culpepper, Daunte 0 2 5 7
Manning, Eli 2 4 9 15 Green, Trent 0 2 8 10 McMahon, Mike 1 3 3 7
Delhomme, Jake 1 3 10 14 Johnson, Brad 1 4 5 10 Simms, Chris 1 3 3 7
Bledsoe, Drew 0 5 9 14 Roethlisberger, B. 1 2 7 10 Boller, Kyle 0 3 3 6
Hasselbeck, Matt 0 4 10 14 Bulger, Marc 1 3 6 10 Carr, David 1 2 3 6
Brooks, Aaron 0 5 8 13 Leftwich, Byron 1 2 6 9 Fitzpatrick, Ryan 1 1 3 5

Perhaps the biggest surprise here is how well Michael Vick performed compared to all other quarterbacks that faced the same defenses that he played against. No doubt those rushing yard premiums were a big factor. Donovan McNabb was working on an excellent year until he was injured but without Terrell Owens this season there are major questions as to whether he will maintain his fantasy point production.

Matt Hasselbeck's numbers were a little disappointing given that he played many teams that did not face a lot of great quarterbacks and he never once had the best game allowed by a defense for the year. By this analysis, Palmer Brady, Vick and Peyton Manning were a definite step up from all other quarterbacks last year in performing better than average.

RUNNING BACKS

Name 1 4 8 BTA Name 1 4 8 BTA Name 1 4 8 BTA
Alexander, Shaun 4 8 13 25 Parker, Willie 1 2 6 9 Jones, Kevin 0 1 3 4
Johnson, Larry 4 9 11 24 Williams, Carnell 0 3 6 9 Jones, Greg 0 1 3 4
Barber, Tiki 3 8 12 23 Jones, Julius 1 3 4 8 Taylor, Fred 0 0 4 4
Tomlinson, Lad. 4 7 10 21 Bell, Tatum 0 4 4 8 Williams, Ricky 0 1 3 4
Portis, Clinton 2 4 12 18 McGahee, Willis 0 1 6 7 Moore, Mewelde 0 1 3 4
Johnson, Rudi 3 7 7 17 Holmes, Priest 0 2 5 7 Bennett, Michael 0 1 2 3
James, Edgerrin 0 7 10 17 Brown, Chris 0 2 5 7 McAllister, Deuce 0 1 2 3
Jackson, Steven 3 4 8 15 Gado, Samkon 0 3 4 7 Gore, Frank 0 0 3 3
Jordan, Lamont 2 4 8 14 Droughns, Reuben 0 2 4 6 Pittman, Michael 0 1 2 3
Anderson, Mike 0 5 8 13 Wells, Jonathan 0 2 4 6 Dayne, Ron 0 1 1 2
Jones, Thomas 1 2 9 12 Brown, Ronnie 0 2 4 6 Davenport, Najeh 0 1 1 2
Davis, Domanick 0 3 8 11 Bettis, Jerome 1 2 3 6 Pass, Patrick 0 1 1 2
Dillon, Corey 0 3 7 10 Lewis, Jamal 0 2 3 5 Smith, Antowain 0 0 2 2
Dunn, Warrick 0 3 6 9 Foster, De'shaun 1 2 2 5 Moats, Ryan 0 1 1 2
Davis, Stephen 1 3 5 9 Martin, Curtis 0 2 3 5 Turner, Michael 0 1 1 2
Westbrook, Brian 1 3 5 9 Barber, Marion 0 1 3 4          

No major surprises in running backs last year though Rudi Johnson did better than his production may suggest. Interesting was how well Jonathan Wells did with two top 4 games and four top 8 games. Throw those over to Domanick Davis and he'd have ended as the #8 running back for BTA. Then again, his durability has always been an issue. The same sort of phenomena is seen with Ronnie Brown who only ranked with a BTA of 6, but Ricky Williams (4) obviously watered down what Brown could have done in 2005 and will be gone at least this season.

The most telling aspect of this analysis is how much better players were when they did not have to share the ball significantly. Those players in a one back offense all ruled the top slots here naturally, a grouping that seems to only get slimmer each season.

WIDE RECIEVERS

Name 1 4 8 BTA Name 1 4 8 BTA Name 1 4 8 BTA
Smith, Steve 4 10 11 25 Moulds, Eric 1 2 4 7 Brown, Reggie 0 1 3 4
Galloway, Joey 2 6 9 17 Bryant, Antonio 1 3 3 7 Jurevicius, Joe 0 2 2 4
Johnson, Chad 1 6 9 16 Moss, Randy 0 2 5 7 Lloyd, Brandon 0 2 2 4
Houshmandzadeh 2 4 7 13 Curtis, Kevin 0 2 5 7 Bennett, Drew 0 1 3 4
Harrison, Marvin 2 4 7 13 Robinson, Marcus 1 2 3 6 Jenkins, Michael 0 1 2 3
Chambers, Chris 2 3 8 13 Porter, Jerry 1 2 3 6 Mason, Derrick 0 0 3 3
Ward, Hines 2 5 6 13 Evans, Lee 0 2 3 5 Muhammad, M. 0 0 3 3
Boldin, Anquan 1 3 8 12 Smith, Rod 0 1 4 5 Henry, Chris 0 0 3 3
Fitzgerald, Larry 0 5 7 12 Wilford, Ernest 0 2 3 5 Crayton, Patrick 0 1 2 3
Holt, Torry 0 5 6 11 Givens, David 1 2 2 5 Wayne, Reggie 0 1 2 3
Moss, Santana 3 3 5 11 Jackson, Darrell 0 1 4 5 Finneran, Brian 0 1 1 2
Burress, Plaxico 2 3 5 10 Clayton, Mark 0 1 3 4 Proehl, Ricky 0 0 2 2
Owens, Terrell 2 4 4 10 Edwards, Braylon 0 2 2 4 Jackson, Frisman 0 1 1 2
Glenn, Terry 2 3 4 9 Ferguson, Robert 0 1 3 4 Johnson, Keyshawn 0 1 1 2
Smith, Jimmy 1 3 5 9 Johnson, Andre 0 2 2 4 Bradford, Corey 0 0 2 2
Stallworth, Donte' 0 4 5 9 Booker, Marty 0 2 2 4 Jones, Matt 0 1 1 2
McCardell, Keenan 0 3 6 9 Taylor, Travis 0 1 3 4 Robinson, Koren 0 1 1 2
Williams, Roy 1 2 5 8 Branch, Deion 0 1 3 4 Hakim, Az-zahir 0 0 2 2
Driver, Donald 0 2 6 8 Toomer, Amani 0 0 4 4 Bruce, Isaac 0 0 2 2
Kennison, Eddie 0 3 5 8 Coles, Laveranues 0 1 3 4 Roby, Courtney 0 1 1 2

Turning in any games that were either #1 or in the top 4 or 8 allowed by a defense is truly impressive given the large numbers of wideouts that play against every defense each season. Figure that the average offense employs three players (or more) each game and there could be well over 50 chances for different wideouts to secure that #1 spot in points allowed by a defense. Even recording a top 8 game against a defense is quite an accomplishment.

Joey Galloway and his magic season was truly a shock last year and it shows up as the second best BTA score for any wideout. Even Chris Chambers turned in his best season yet with a productive second half of the season with numerous late season touchdowns to make a big difference. Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Arizona were all well represented in this ranking.

Any wideout that had two or more games in the top 4 allowed by a defense signals just how talented the player was. After the top 20 players, the "1" and "4" games quickly decrease.

TIGHT ENDS

Name 1 4 8 BTA Name 1 4 8 BTA Name 1 4 8 BTA
Gates, Antonio 6 9 12 27 Troupe, Ben 2 4 7 13 Graham, Daniel 1 2 3 6
Crumpler, Alge 4 6 12 22 Pollard, Marcus 0 4 7 11 Anderson, Courtney 0 2 4 6
Heap, Todd 4 5 13 22 Wiggins, Jermaine 0 3 7 10 Scaife, Bo 0 2 4 6
Shockey, Jeremy 1 8 11 20 Watson, Ben 0 4 6 10 Gaines, Michael 0 2 3 5
Cooley, Chris 2 6 11 19 Martin, David 1 3 5 9 Heiden, Steve 0 1 4 5
Witten, Jason 1 7 10 18 Clark, Dallas 0 4 5 9 Utecht, Ben 1 2 2 5
Gonzalez, Tony 1 5 12 18 Hilton, Zack 0 3 6 9 Baker, Chris 0 1 4 5
McMichael, Randy 2 6 9 17 Smith, Alex 1 2 6 9 Bergen, Adam 0 1 3 4
Stevens, Jerramy 2 4 10 16 Kinney, Erron 0 3 6 9 Putzier, Jeb 0 1 3 4
Smith, L.J. 1 4 9 14 Lee, Donald 0 3 4 7 Franks, Bubba 0 1 3 4
Miller, Heath 1 6 7 14 Fletcher, Bryan 0 2 5 7 Jolley, Doug 0 1 3 4

The tight end position is not used equally by all teams and getting a top 8 performance just means that you were better than half the tight ends from other teams and possibly not as good as seven other tight ends that faced a defense. There are barely a dozen tight ends that have much fantasy significance, so the top 8 really does not carry all that much significance.

The top 4 and top 1 games are of big importance since they indicate who the superstar tight ends truly are to their offense. While Tony Gonzalez had a healthy dozen top 8 performances last year, he only managed five games in the top 4 and only once did better than any other tight end that faced a particular defense. Even Jerramy Stevens, Randy McMichael and Ben Troupe had more #1 games than Gonzalez. Both L.J. Smith and Heath Miller has very nice showings considering that Smith lost McNabb during the year and Miller was only a rookie on a team that never used to throw to tight ends.

TOP BTA PLAYERS REGARDLESS OF POSITION

POS Name BTA POS Name BTA POS Name BTA
TE Gates, Antonio 27 QB Vick, Michael 19 TE Stevens, Jerramy 16
RB Alexander, Shaun 25 QB Manning, Peyton 19 WR Johnson, Chad 16
WR Smith, Steve 25 TE Cooley, Chris 19 QB Favre, Brett 15
RB Johnson, Larry 24 RB Portis, Clinton 18 QB Manning, Eli 15
QB Palmer, Carson 23 TE Witten, Jason 18 RB Jackson, Steven 15
QB Brady, Tom 23 TE Gonzalez, Tony 18 QB Delhomme, Jake 14
RB Barber, Tiki 23 QB McNabb, Donovan 17 QB Bledsoe, Drew 14
TE Crumpler, Alge 22 RB Johnson, Rudi 17 QB Hasselbeck, Matt 14
TE Heap, Todd 22 RB James, Edgerrin 17 RB Jordan, Lamont 14
RB Tomlinson, Lad. 21 TE McMichael, Randy 17 TE Smith, L.J. 14
TE Shockey, Jeremy 20 WR Galloway, Joey 17 TE Miller, Heath 14

These are the players that are not only the top at their position, they are the ones that are significantly better compared to others in their position. A surprising amount of tight ends show up but as noted, there were not many offenses using the position anyway. Antonio Gates landed as the one player that was best compared to all others in his position and surprisingly Peyton Manning shows up tied for 12th best BTA score. His season started slowly though and 2006 appears likely to have less rushing and more passing than last year in Indianapolis.

Considering the defenses that they and others in their position faced last year, these were the best players.

BEST PLAYERS AT SCORING THE MOST FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY A DEFENSE FOR THE YEAR

POS Name 1 POS Name 1 POS Name 1
TE Gates, Antonio 6 RB Jackson, Steven 3 TE Troupe, Ben 2
QB McNabb, Donovan 4 WR Moss, Santana 3 WR Galloway, Joey 2
RB Alexander, Shaun 4 QB Palmer, Carson 2 WR Houshmandzadeh, T.J. 2
RB Johnson, Larry 4 QB Brady, Tom 2 WR Harrison, Marvin 2
RB Tomlinson, Ladainian 4 QB Manning, Peyton 2 WR Chambers, Chris 2
TE Crumpler, Alge 4 QB Manning, Eli 2 WR Ward, Hines 2
TE Heap, Todd 4 RB Portis, Clinton 2 WR Burress, Plaxico 2
WR Smith, Steve 4 RB Jordan, Lamont 2 WR Owens, Terrell 2
QB Vick, Michael 3 TE Cooley, Chris 2 WR Glenn, Terry 2
RB Barber, Tiki 3 TE McMichael, Randy 2      
RB Johnson, Rudi 3 TE Stevens, Jerramy 2      

An interesting view is how all positions combined with the number of times a player did better in a game than any other in his position. Gates still remains on top with an amazing six games that were the most a defense allowed a tight end that year. McNabb seems surely to miss Terrell Owens if only by the lower chance he repeats as the best quarterback with #1 games.

Whether or not the game resulted in some obscene fantasy score, these were the players that left defenses dreading Monday game film reviews.