The Magic Number To Win Your Fantasy League
The Magic Number is the most important strategy to step up your fantasy game this year. It's more important than Zero RB, Hero RB, Robust RB, whatever the headlining strategy du-jour is. The Magic Number is the key that unlocks you from being a .500 team or worse to hitting the playoffs every single year.
What is your league's magic number? The magic number is the average number of points per position scored by playoff teams. Based on your magic number, you can help jump-start your draft-day lists and build your roster construction strategies. The Magic Number can also help you determine a pick on the clock better than a coin flip. Drafting a team that can out-score the Magic Number at position is a simple concept to help build your team into a playoff contender early. This concept isn't new. The Talented Mr. Roto himself Matthew Berry talked about this idea of scoring in his annual Draft Day Manifesto in 2018. Let's focus on what matters.
The first step is to figure out these numbers. Let's set up some simple equations:
My team (4th place last season): Total Number of points scored during the regular season divided by the number of weeks in the season. 1729.42 / 14 = 123.53 rounded to 2 decimal places. Then divide it by your league's number of scored positions. 123.53 / 9 = 13.73
Now, take this equation and apply it to the 3 teams ahead of me. All 4 teams factored come to 125.61 total per game average. 125.61 divided across 9 starting positions (QB, WR, WR, RB, RB, TE, W/R, K, D/ST) is 13.96 points per position, per game. 13.96 is our magic number! Some starting slots are easy to cover plus the 13.96 points, and others are very tough. QB, WR1, and RB1 are all going to be locked to cover that 13.96-point Magic Number. Kickers and defenses will struggle, as will most TE players. Let's put a visual to the Magic Number with the top 4 teams:
To be accurate, I went week by week and tallied cumulative scores at each position for the top 4 teams. Regardless of where a player was rostered, I chose the top RB score, top WR score, and so on. These are regular 14-week season totals and benches were ignored. W/R Flex was the lowest score of WR/RB players rostered for a given week. The "Diff" is the differential from the Magic Number of 13.96.
Quarterbacks score the most!
Just like in high school, quarterbacks score the most in this type of system. Josh Allen was on team 1 (pick 38), Lamar Jackson on Team 2 (pick 46), Tom Brady on Team 3 (pick 49), and Jalen Hurts on Team 4 (pick 80). Should we be reaching for a QB earlier? Based on math, QB provides the greatest path to scoring above the mean to cover deficiencies at other positions, and the numbers show it can be a sound strategy. The top 3 teams certainly used early QB to hedge WR and RB deficiencies.
Running Backs are still king in fantasy football.
With such a large statistical drop between tiers of backs, hitting on two solid backs makes managing your Magic Number easier. Having both required backs score higher than the Magic Number paired with an elite QB boosts your chances at a deep playoff run. The Champ picked up Aaron Jones and Jonathan Taylor in rounds 1 and 2, giving them a 7.55 and 5.27 point jump on the 13.96 Magic Number. The RB2 was almost a full 5-point advantage over the next best RB2 top 4 scores. It's much easier to find a WR2 at almost any point in the draft that's close to the Magic Number versus finding ANY RB2 that can hit that Magic Number. Only 2 of the top 4 had RB2s that got close to the Magic Number.
Is there a tight-end positional points advantage?
I'll argue NO for most situations, and here's why. The first-place team rotated a platoon of TEs to a ship, averaging just 7.61 points per game. That team STILL managed an overall 14.56 points per position each week, 5.7% over the Magic Number. 2nd place took Darren Waller at pick 27 at the top of round 3. That pick (Waller's time missed not-withstanding) actually cost them across all positions AND the 2nd TE off the board didn't even make the 13.96 points per position/week Magic Number. I took Pitts in the 4th when I could have grabbed Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, even Brandin Cooks to really bolster my flex position. Even Pitts in round 4 ended up as another tight end Trap, only scoring 9.41 points per week. To quantify, grabbing a WR2 with WR1 upside in the 4-5 round to fill either a WR2/Flex is a much more prudent practice than taking any tight end before round 6. For those wondering about this format, Mark Andrews was the top TE with 18.75 points per game, and Travis Kelce was second with 16.36 points per game. Neither team with Kelce or Andrews made the final 4 teams. The only other TE to be close to the Magic Number was Dalton Schultz (undrafted) at 13.05. Every other tight end fell a full point or more below the 13.96 Magic Number.
What about Kickers and D/ST?
Let your league rules and platform projections be your guide here on draft day. In this particular league, 3 of the top 4 kickers were on 3 of the top 4 teams. The 3rd highest of the 4 kickers was still on waivers at the season's end (Chris Boswell, PIT). The best Kicker still fell short of the mean by 2.3 points. but the positional advantage meant only 2.3 points had to be made up elsewhere. Don't reach though, kickers have a long tier at the top 6 positions, with under 10 points total separating them at season's end. For team defenses, check for return yards, or other scoring anomalies. Your platform will pick up on the rules and project these in scoring. In this particular league, of the top 5 scoring D/STs, one was on a top 4 team, and 2 of them (NO and CHI) were on waivers at season's end. The highest-scoring defense was Dallas, with 15.32 points per week. There was a significant drop to 2nd (BUF, 3rd place team) at 14.17 points per week. No other defenses eclipsed the 13.76 Magic Number. Bottom line: draft a kicker on a good offense, draft a defense playing in a weak division, and never take either one before the last rounds of the draft.
What does all of this mean? Knowing your league's Magic Number is essential before formulating any kind of draft strategy. Leverage the most significant advantage that you can on your main positional pieces, especially RB2 if you are forced to start two backs. Be sure your Flex spot is a WR2/RB2 with some solid upside or a steady point-getter that is at or above your Magic Number. Kickers and Defenses can help, but don't sweat them on draft day.