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The Numbers Game

Top-150 Statistical Averages

by Ryan Knaus
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The 2016-17 season got off to a fun start on Tuesday with three archetypal games -- a blowout (Cavs vs. Knicks), a thriller (Blazers vs. Jazz), and an upset (Spurs vs. Warriors). For more on those contests, check out the Daily Dose!


I'll also post a reminder that you can view or download my top-250 projections and ranks by clicking here...there's even a bonus sheet with punting values. If you download them, it's simple to edit my projections (for games played, minutes, points, FG%, etc.) and watch the rankings update automatically. The vast majority of leagues have already drafted, of course, but it's always useful to analyze your squad's strengths and weaknesses.


You can follow me on Twitter @Knaus_RW.


We now arrive at this week's topic, which is simply an attempt to answer the question, "What is the expected production of an 'average' fantasy player or team?" To get there, I'll look at the mean statistics (projected) for the "top" 150 players drafted in Yahoo & ESPN leagues this year (I put the word "top" in quotes because the group is based on different things for each site...more on that below).


It shouldn't matter if you're not using one of these sites, since the sample sizes are large enough to iron out most differences. The same holds true for differing formats. If you're in an 8-cat league, just ignore the turnovers. If you're in a points league, take the 'average' stat line below and plug it into your league's settings to arrive at an 'average' points-per-roster figure. Compare that figure to your own team (based on projections, last year's stats or some combination) and you'll have a good idea of where you stand with the season just getting underway.


For the first data cut, I decided to look at the average stats of the top-150 players by % owned in Yahoo leagues. This ranged from guys like Steph Curry and James Harden (100% owned, of course) to guys like Mirza Teletovic (41% owned) and Matthew Dellavedova (45% owned). The stats being used are the site's projections (not my own), rather than last year's stats. Here is the result:


Average Stats (Yahoo top-150 by % owned, projected stats)

Points 3-pointers Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers FG% FGA FT% FTA
14.81 1.16 5.87 3.23 1.05 0.7 1.96 46.50% 11.79 76.20% 3.59


This is the average of all 150 players, and by extension it should be the average of any team if you assume that stats are distributed with perfect equity. Be mindful that your actual weekly averages will likely be higher than this, because your weakest players will be on the bench more often (during a busy Wednesday night, for example, or to save games-played in a roto league), while your best players will be active every night.


For comparison's sake, here are the averages from ESPN's top-150 players, based on site ranks and projections:


Average Stats (ESPN top-150 by site ranks, projected stats)

Points 3-pointers Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks FG% FT%
15.31 1.01 5.73 3.39 1.02 0.65 46.30% 75.10%


The biggest difference is scoring, as the ESPN group projects to average 0.5 more points per game. They also project fewer 3-pointers and rebounds, with more assists. Although the differences are noteworthy in such a big sample size, the averages for both top-150 groups are altogether very similar -- no matter which one you use, you'll get a good sense of what 'typical' production looks like.


(Side note: Keep in mind that percentages are tricky, since they depend entirely upon weighted averages...your team could have an 82% FT 'average' as a squad, but if Andre Drummond accounts for 1/3 of your FT attempts, that number drops massively. I considered eliminating percentages entirely for this analysis, but opted to keep them...they can still be helpful in a narrow sense.)


How you view these average stats will vary based on your league type and strategy. Roto owners with a balanced approach might aim to beat the averages across the board. Head-to-head owners may try to dominate 5-6 categories in the hopes of racking up weekly victories. Points-league owners can afford keep their eye on the bottom line...they might be well below the average in assists and steals, while making up the difference with copious scoring and rebounds. Here is one example of a 13-player team (drafted out of the 12-hole in a H2H, 9-cat league):


Paul George (12)

Damian Lillard (13)

Nikola Jokic (36)

Trevor Ariza (37)

Jae Crowder (60)

Ricky Rubio (61)

Zach LaVine (84)

Enes Kanter (85)

Robert Covington (108)

Gary Harris (109)

Andrew Bogut (132)

Josh Richardson (133)

John Henson (156)


And here is the 'average' line from that group:


Sample Team Avg. Stats (Yahoo projected stats)

Points 3-pointers Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers FG% FGA FT% FTA
13.91 1.48 5.34 3.11 1.15 0.61 1.86 47.00% 10.62 77.00% 3.17


Based on these results, this team should be above-average in 4-5 categories depending on what happens with percentages. Scoring could be an issue since the dynamic duo of PG/Lillard is diluted by low-FGA guys like Rubio, Ariza, Crowder, Covington, Bogut and Henson. There are plenty of 3-point shooters, and assists and steals will be competitive, but the late-round picks of Bogut and Henson were a belated acknowledgement that rebounds and blocks could be a problem. In such a case, I'd think about bolstering my big men...perhaps trading Ariza, Crowder or Covington for a strong boards & blocks player.


Again, this is simply an effort to quantify your lineup's potential strengths and weaknesses. Most fantasy sites will aggregate your player's stats for you, letting you choose between last year's production, this year's production (with various splits...two weeks, one month, etc.), or even projected stats. A quick comparison of your squad to the 'average' stats above can't hurt, and you might be pleasantly surprised.


If you have any insights or questions, you can find me on Twitter @Knaus_RW. Good luck this week!

Ryan Knaus
Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.