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Better Than Average (BTA) Rankings
David Dorey
June 25, 2008
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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 all others 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 allow 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 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 teams x top 4 allowed). This also includes those games which were the "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
Tom Brady 7 13 15 35 Eli Manning 1 3 8 12 Jeff Garcia 0 1 4 5
Tony Romo 3 9 13 25 Jon Kitna 2 3 7 12 Kyle Boller 0 1 4 5
Peyton Manning 0 10 13 23 Philip Rivers 0 4 8 12 Damon Huard 0 0 4 4
Drew Brees 4 6 11 21 David Garrard 0 3 8 11 Gus Frerotte 0 2 2 4
Brett Favre 1 8 11 20 Jason Campbell 0 4 5 9 Luke McCown 0 2 2 4
Matt Hasselbeck 1 6 12 19 Sage Rosenfels 2 3 4 9 Quinn Gray 1 1 2 4
Derek Anderson 1 6 11 18 Vince Young 0 4 5 9 A.J. Feeley 0 1 2 3
Ben Roethlisberger 2 6 9 17 Brian Griese 1 1 5 7 Cleo Lemon 0 1 2 3
Carson Palmer 1 7 9 17 Chad Pennington 0 1 5 6 Jake Delhomme 0 1 2 3
Donovan McNabb 2 3 9 14 Matt Schaub 0 0 6 6 Joey Harrington 0 1 2 3
Jay Cutler 1 3 10 14 Chris Redman 1 1 3 5 Marc Bulger 0 1 2 3
Kurt Warner 1 5 8 14 Daunte Culpepper 0 1 4 5 Tarvaris Jackson 0 1 2 3

Brady naturally grabbed the top spot with his record setting performances in 2007 but more of a surprise was Drew Brees who made up for a slow start to come on strong and finish fourth. Derek Anderson also ranked very high in this measurement.

RUNNING BACKS

Name  1   4   8  BTA NAME  1   4   8  BTA NAME  1   4   8  BTA
Brian Westbrook 4 8 12 24 Maurice Jones-Drew 1 3 6 10 Ron Dayne 0 2 4 6
LaDainian Tomlinson 4 7 12 23 Edgerrin James 0 4 5 9 Shaun Alexander 0 2 4 6
Adrian Peterson (MIN) 2 6 10 18 Marshawn Lynch 0 2 6 8 Thomas Jones 0 1 5 6
Joseph Addai 4 6 7 17 Ronnie Brown 1 3 4 8 Willie Parker 0 2 4 6
Clinton Portis 1 5 9 15 Ryan Grant 0 2 6 8 Aaron Stecker 1 2 2 5
Jamal Lewis 2 4 9 15 Larry Johnson 0 3 4 7 DeShaun Foster 1 1 3 5
Marion Barber 0 6 8 14 LenDale White 0 1 6 7 Kenny Watson 0 2 3 5
Earnest Graham 0 5 8 13 Reggie Bush 1 2 4 7 LaMont Jordan 1 1 3 5
Willis McGahee 0 2 10 12 Chester Taylor 1 2 3 6 DeAngelo Williams 0 2 2 4
Frank Gore 1 3 7 11 Fred Taylor 1 2 3 6 Kenton Keith 1 1 2 4
Steven Jackson 1 4 6 11 Kevin Jones 0 2 4 6 Rudi Johnson 0 1 3 4
Brandon Jacobs 1 4 5 10 Laurence Maroney 0 1 5 6 Warrick Dunn 0 1 3 4
Justin Fargas 1 4 5 10 Najeh Davenport 1 2 3 6 Travis Henry 0 1 2 3

Brian Westbrook once again shows why he is perpetually underrated each year. Adrian Peterson may not have always started but he made up for sharing with Chester Taylor with an outstanding showing. Another surprise was Jamal Lewis doing well in his first season with the Browns though almost half of his score came from two monster games.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Name  1   4   8  BTA NAME  1   4   8  BTA NAME  1   4   8  BTA
Randy Moss 5 9 11 25 Steve Smith 1 3 4 8 Bobby Wade 1 1 2 4
Terrell Owens 3 7 10 20 Joey Galloway 1 2 4 7 Calvin Johnson 0 1 3 4
Andre Johnson 2 6 7 15 Kevin Curtis 1 3 3 7 D.J. Hackett 0 2 2 4
Marques Colston 1 6 8 15 Shaun McDonald 0 1 6 7 Jerricho Cotchery 0 1 3 4
Braylon Edwards 1 4 9 14 Torry Holt 0 2 5 7 Sidney Rice 0 1 3 4
Reggie Wayne 1 6 7 14 Kevin Walter 0 2 4 6 Andre Davis 0 0 3 3
T.J. Houshmandzadeh 2 5 6 13 Reggie Williams 0 1 5 6 Deion Branch 0 0 3 3
Greg Jennings 1 4 7 12 Roy Williams 1 2 3 6 Dennis Northcutt 0 0 3 3
Plaxico Burress 1 4 7 12 Bernard Berrian 0 2 3 5 Donte' Stallworth 0 1 2 3
Chad Johnson 3 3 5 11 Derrick Mason 0 2 3 5 Greg Lewis 1 1 1 3
Larry Fitzgerald 1 3 7 11 Donald Driver 0 1 4 5 Hines Ward 0 0 3 3
Brandon Marshall 1 3 6 10 Dwayne Bowe 0 1 4 5 Jabar Gaffney 0 1 2 3
Wes Welker 0 3 7 10 Isaac Bruce 0 2 3 5 Justin Gage 0 0 3 3
Santonio Holmes 1 2 6 9 Laveranues Coles 0 2 3 5 Michael Jenkins 0 1 2 3
Anquan Boldin 2 3 3 8 Lee Evans 0 2 3 5 Nate Washington 0 1 2 3
Patrick Crayton 1 3 4 8 Roydell Williams 0 2 3 5 Ronald Curry 0 1 2 3
Roddy White 0 3 5 8 Anthony Gonzalez 0 2 2 4 Vincent Jackson 0 1 2 3

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 wideouts (or more) each game and there could be well over 50 chances for different players to secure that #1 spot in points allowed by a defense. Even recording a top 8 game against a defense is quite an accomplishment.

Randy Moss and Terrell Owens easily lead the pack but Andre Johnson came in third despite only playing in nine games! He only had three games that were not in the top four allowed by a defense. Chad Johnson seemed to do reasonably well with a score of 11 but the reality is that he had three huge games that accounted for nine of those 11 points. Otherwise he fell off the map in this measurement. The same wasscneario true for Anquan Boldin.

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
Jason Witten 4 8 12 24 Jeremy Shockey 1 4 5 10 David Martin 0 1 4 5
Antonio Gates 4 8 11 23 Alge Crumpler 1 3 5 9 Eric Johnson 0 2 3 5
Tony Gonzalez 3 8 12 23 Desmond Clark 0 2 6 8 Jeff King 1 2 2 5
Chris Cooley 1 8 13 22 Randy McMichael 0 2 6 8 Jerramy Stevens 1 1 3 5
Kellen Winslow 0 10 12 22 Chris Baker 0 1 6 7 L.J. Smith 1 1 3 5
Dallas Clark 3 7 9 19 Leonard Pope 0 3 4 7 Marcedes Lewis 0 1 4 5
Donald Lee 2 5 8 15 Alex Smith 1 2 3 6 Marcus Pollard 0 2 3 5
Heath Miller 0 5 10 15 Billy Miller 0 1 5 6 Robert Royal 1 2 2 5
Owen Daniels 0 2 11 13 Daniel Graham 1 2 3 6 Visanthe Shiancoe 0 2 3 5
Vernon Davis 2 4 7 13 Greg Olsen 0 2 4 6 Kevin Boss 0 2 2 4
Tony Scheffler 2 4 6 12 Zach Miller 0 0 6 6 Michael Gaines 0 2 2 4
Benjamin Watson 1 3 6 10 Bo Scaife 0 1 4 5 Todd Heap 1 1 2 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.

Jason Witten's career year shows up as the best of any tight end considering the defenses that he faced. Surprisingly Kellen Winslow never once had the best game by a tight end allowed by a defense and yet had 10 games where he turned in a top four effort against that particular defense.

The top 4 and top 1 games are of big importance since they indicate who the superstar tight ends truly are to their offense.

TOP BTA PLAYERS REGARDLESS OF POSITION

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.

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

POS Name BTA POS Name BTA POS Name BTA
QB Tom Brady 35 QB Drew Brees 21 RB Jamal Lewis 15
QB Tony Romo 25 QB Brett Favre 20 TE Donald Lee 15
WR Randy Moss 25 WR Terrell Owens 20 TE Heath Miller 15
RB Brian Westbrook 24 QB Matt Hasselbeck 19 WR Andre Johnson 15
TE Jason Witten 24 TE Dallas Clark 19 WR Marques Colston 15
QB Peyton Manning 23 QB Derek Anderson 18 QB Donovan McNabb 14
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 23 RB Adrian Peterson (MIN) 18 QB Jay Cutler 14
TE Antonio Gates 23 QB Ben Roethlisberger 17 QB Kurt Warner 14
TE Tony Gonzalez 23 QB Carson Palmer 17 RB Marion Barber 14
TE Chris Cooley 22 RB Joseph Addai 17 WR Braylon Edwards 14
TE Kellen Winslow 22 RB Clinton Portis 15 WR Reggie Wayne 14

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

POS Name   1   POS Name   1   POS Name   1  
QB Tom Brady 7 TE Tony Gonzalez 3 RB Jamal Lewis 2
WR Randy Moss 5 TE Dallas Clark 3 TE Donald Lee 2
QB Drew Brees 4 WR Terrell Owens 3 TE Vernon Davis 2
RB Brian Westbrook 4 WR Chad Johnson 3 TE Tony Scheffler 2
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 4 QB Ben Roethlisberger 2 WR Andre Johnson 2
RB Joseph Addai 4 QB Donovan McNabb 2 WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh 2
TE Jason Witten 4 QB Jon Kitna 2 WR Anquan Boldin 2
TE Antonio Gates 4 QB Sage Rosenfels 2      
QB Tony Romo 3 RB Adrian Peterson (MIN) 2      

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

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