New Fantasy Football Scoring

In our fantasy football league, we want the good real-life players to be good fantasy players. Help us get the scoring settings right.​

by Reed W. Solomon on July 28th, 2016, 4:56 pm PDT. This Ivia has been viewed 6,861 times. Last improved on August 5th, 2016, 4:17 pm PDT.

Yahoo's scoring system is limited, but it is the best free fantasy service we have found

We will use the Yahoo fantasy football service, continuing the league we competed in last season. Our suggested settings, and areas that can be changed, are outlined here.


Our roster contains the following lineup spots. There are eight players in the starting lineup, with five bench spots and one Injured Reserve spot. Bold denotes starters.


A starting lineup has 1 Quarterback and 5 skill position players. Our roster settings allow for the three main personel groupings that NFL offenses use: 

1 Running Back, 1 Tight End, 3 Wide Receivers

SOURCE: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/13/Ace_green.PNG

2 Running Backs, 1 Tight End, 2 Wide Receivers

SOURCE: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/77/Split_green.PNG

1 Running Back, 2 Tight Ends, 2 Wide Receivers

SOURCE: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/bb/Ace_redskin_green.PNG


We included all the Yahoo scoring categories below. There are columns for our settings last season and for Yahoo's default settings. We also did a rundown of the settings we used last year, and what we propose this year, with a written rationale.


last year's offensive scoring settings


Quarterbacks are given credit for their simplest job, to complete passes. To reward accurate passers, we award points for completions while also docking them for incompletions. In our system last year, QB's earned a half-point for each completion, and lost a half-point for each incompletion. This means that a 100% passer would earn a point for every two pass attempts, and 75% passer would earn a point for each four pass attempts, a 66% passer would earn a point for each six pass attemps, and a 50% passer would earn no points for his accuracy.

Last year's setting: +0.5 per completion, -0.5 per incompletion

Our recommendation: Keep this setting the same

Passing Yards/Rushing Yards/Receiving Yards:

The three types of offensive yardage are earned in different ways, and therefore do not necessarily have to count the same. In most fantasy leagues, passing yardage is discounted in value compared with rushing and receiving yardage, due to the fact that a typical fantasy QB produces around 250 passing yards per game, while a typical fantasy running back or receiver produces closer to 85 rushing or receiving yards per game. 

With the scarcity of yards being earned by rushers, and receivers we would like to normalize the more abundant passing yards earned by QB's to about two-thirds of the value of rushing and receiving yards. This would also allow us to prevent QB's from racking up ridiculous point totals from passing yards, while keeping the most valuble position in football in its rightful place as a centerpeice of our fantasy teams. 

Because of the similarity in rushing and receiving production, it seems reasonable to keep the settings for these categories the same.

Last year's setting: 15 yards per point for passing yards; 10 yards per point for both rushing yards and receiving yards

Our recommendation: Keep this setting the same, but we are open to debate for the specific passing yardage value


The most simple rule of football is this: A touchdown is worth six points. Not four, not three. Six. We see no need to artificially change the value of a player recording a touchdowns, so last year's scoring settings made passing, rushing, receiving, and return touchdowns all worth six points.

Last year's setting: All touchdowns are worth 6 points

Our recommendation: Keep this setting the same


Turnovers are the biggest negative action that an offensive player can do, and they have a huge impact on games. We think it is ridiculous that standard scoring systems only dock quarterbacks 1 point per interception, when avoiding turnovers is perhaps the passer's most important job. Failure to protect the football should lead to as poor a fantasy performance as the passer (or fumbling back or receiver) suffered in the real game. 

The outcome of this high negative score for turnovers is that a great, turnover-free passing performance can rack up 50+ points, while a disastrous 4+ interception game earns a negative score.

Last year's setting: All turnovers are worth -6 points

Our recommendation: Keep this setting the same

Sacks/Rush Attempts

Standard leagues, perhaps for simplicity, do not count the other major negative quarterback play, the sack. Because sacks are an important part of the pass-heavy football game, we assigned them a negative value equal to the average yards lost (-0.6), plus a rushing attempt (-0.2). 

On to the rushing attempts. Running backs touch the ball more than all skill players other than quarterbacks, and therefore have many chances to gain yards and score touchdowns. However, RB's are prone to extremely ineffective games that yield average yardage totals (~85 yards rushing) but require 30+ touches and fail to help the offense in any meaningful way. Last season, we attempted to remedy that by penalizing runners -.2 points for each rush. In the example above, the running back would lose 6 points for his rush attemps, and would therefore earn just 2.5 points for his ground attack.

This was not a popular change last season, as it pushed traditional running backs like Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, and Todd Gurley out of the top tier of runners, while also causing running backs to be significantly less productive in general. 

We do believe that running backs are excessively important in traditional fantasy leagues. We propose changing the penalty to -.1 points per carry, which would cause a solid 20 carry, 100 yard, 1 TD game to be worth 14 points.

Last year's settings: -0.8 points per sack, -0.2 points per rush attempt

Our recommendation: -0.7 points per sack, -0.1 points per rush attempt


Point Per Reception leagues are widely popular, becuase they allow receivers and running backs to make an impact in games where they fail to score, and they reward pass catchers for the difficult act of getting open and securing a catch. Also, in the era before the 3-receiver set was the base offense, awarding PPR allowed receivers to keep pace with top fantasy running backs.

Our league awarded 1 point per reception last season, and that, combined with the yardage penalty and a more pass-happy league, led to the top 25 scoring skill players consisting of 18 wide receivers, 5 tight ends, and just 2 running backs, the two of whom (Devonta Freeman and Danny Woodhead) were 3rd and 1st, respectively, in receiving yards among running backs, but just 7th and 56th in rushing yards.

We do want to reward pass-catching, within reason. Therefore we propose awarding a half-point for each reception.

Last year's settings: 1 point per reception

Our recommendation: 0.5 points per reception

Two Point Conversions

We think it is reasonable to award 2 points for a successful 2 point conversion.

Last year's setting: 2 points for successful conversion

Our recommendation: Keep this setting the same

Pick Six

Our league penalizes a quarterback an additional 6 points for an interception that is returned for a touchdown. Interceptions returned for touchdowns are extremely damaging plays, and we believe they should be scored accordingly.

Last year's setting: -6 points for interception returned for a touchdown

Our recommendation: Keep this setting the same

Return Yardage

Certain NFL players produce fantasy-worthy value on offense, and also contribute return yardage and touchdowns on special teams. We see no reason why returners should not get credit for their individual production. Last year, we counted return touchdowns toward the individual player's stats; and since return yardage is gained in open-field space, we award players 1 point for every 20 return yards.

Last year's setting: 1 point for every 20 return yards

Our recommendation: Keep this setting the same


Field Goals and Point-After Attempts

Not too much analysis is required for the kicking game, basially kickers are rewarded for attempting difficult long field goals, and penalized harshly for missing chip shots. A big day from a kicker can impact your team, but otherwise kicker is still the least important position.

Last year's settings:  Shown above: longer field goals are worth more, shorter misses are more damaging

Our recommendation: Keep these settings the same

Defense/Special Teams

Defense Wins Championships

Our defensive scoring rules allow for defenses to make a greater impact on fantasy matches. Under our settings last season, a typical fantasy defense (one of the league's top-15 or so, as our league had 12 teams) scored around 20 points per game, making defense the second-highest scoring position after quarterback

We find it difficult to understand why the value of defenses is artificially reduced in fantasy football, so we made changes to make it a more valuable position. Under our scoring settings, defenses have to be drafted, traded, started and benched, and swapped on the waiver wire in the same way that quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends do. 

We break down the individual scoring categories below.

Sacks/Tackles for Loss

Defenses record sacks and tackles for loss throughout games. They are plays of relatively small impact, but we award 1 point each for these plays because it allows the fantasy team manager to be involved when his defense makes a play in the real game.

Last year's settings: 1 point for each sack or tackle for loss

Our recommendation: Keep these settings the same

Interceptions/Fumble Recoveries/Blocked Kicks

Defensive turnovers are impactful plays, and last year we debated making them worth 6 points each, the same as an offensive player loses for each turnover. We settled on 3 points each, in part to prevent defensive scoring totals from rising too high.

We award the same 3 points for blocked kicks as for turnovers because they are similar plays, in that they lead to both a change of possession and a chance for a return.

Last year's settings: 3 points for each interception, fumble recovery, or blocked kick

Our recommendation: Keep these settings the same


Touchdowns are worth 6 points, and safeties are worth 2. It's worth noting that these plays, in practice, generate 9 and 3 points respectively, because a defensive touchdown is accompanied by a turnover, while a safety is caused by a sack or a tackle-for-loss.

Last year's settings: 6 points for a defensive touchdown, 2 points for a safety

Our recommendation: Keep these settings the same

3-and-Outs/4th Down Stops

We also award points to defenses for forcing a change of possession through the normal method:  the offense running out of downs. Each 3-and-out or 4th down stop is worth 2 points, becuase the defense is successful in stopping the other team, but it does not create the return opportunity or (usually) major field position change of a turnover.

Last year's settings: 2 points for a 3-and-out or 4th down stop

Our recommendation: Keep these settings the same

Yardage and Points Allowed

Though these categories aren't used in standard leagues, the Yahoo fantasy scoring allows for points to be awarded based on the total yardage and points a defense allows. Fantasy points are not tallied per-yard or per-point allowed, but are awarded or deducted for crossing certain thresholds. 

Last year, we set up our league to deduct 5 points for each 100 yards a defense allowed (starting with 15 points for a yardage total under 100), and to deduct 2.5 for every 7 real-life points allowed (also starting with 15 points for a shutout). It is worth noting that last year we failed to implement even intervals for points and yardage. For example, there was a -5 fantasy point cliff when a defense allows its 21st point, dropping them from 2.5 to -2.5 points, as well as a 10-point cliff (from 5 to -5 points) when a defense allows its 300th yard. However, there was only a -2.5 point drop when a defense allowed its 35th point, going from -7.5 fantasy points to -10. We will fix that this season. We also awarded defenses an extra 5 points for a shutout, with 0 points allowed being worth 15 points while 1-6 points allowed was worth 10.

This season, in addition to fixing the intervals to prevent sudden points and yardage cliffs, we propose making the points and yardage intervals similar, deducting 2.5 points for each 7 points and for each 100 yards. This will remove some of the variance from a defensive scoring system that last year that allowed defenses to score over 50 points or fewer than -15.

Last year's settings: 15 fantasy points for a shutout, -2.5 fantasy points for each 7 points allowed; 

  15 fantasy points for under 100 yards allowed, -5 fantasy points for each 100 yards allowed; some intervals irregular

Our recommendation: 14 fantasy points for a shutout, 10 fantasy points for 1-6 points allowed, -4 fantasy points for each 7 points allowed

12 fantasy points for under 100 yards allowed, -4 fantasy points for each 100 yards allowed

The Final Score

The purpose of fantasy football is the competition, the friends, the barbeques and beers, but it is also the money, and what you get for winning. This season, we are proposing a $100 dollar buy-in, so everyone who has any chance of winning the prize will want to keep up with his team.

We are planning to include either 12 or 14 players in our league. We will divide the prize money accordingly:

12-Team League:

1st Place: $700

2nd Place: $150

Points Leader (Regular Season): $300

Consolation Bowl Winner: $50

14-Team League:

1st Place: $875

2nd Place: $175

Points Leader (Regular Season): $400

Consolation Bowl Winner: $50

These are our proposals. We encourage comment below, and we will make our final rules in a democratic manner.

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About the Author

Reed W. Solomon
Petaluma, California, United States
Sonoma State University

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Reed W. Solomon 7 years ago

We also are considering including points for 1st downs gained by passing, rushing, and receiving. Most notably, this will give short-yardage runners credit for an important job (3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 conversions) that was previously worth 0 points or less. 

Because quarterbacks gain a huge number of passing 1st downs, we accompany this change with a decrease in the value per passing yard from 1 point per 15 yards, to 1 point per 20 yards.


Zachary Adam Zell 7 years ago

We suggest that the point gained per 1st down for passing, rushing, and receiving to be .25.


Zachary Adam Zell 7 years ago

Devonta Freeman was more than a third down running back he was an every down back.

Edited 7 years ago


Reed W. Solomon 7 years ago