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The Numbers Game

Top-200 Stat Tracker

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

The statistics that matter most to fantasy owners are not evenly distributed -- points and turnovers, for instance, are concentrated in the early rounds, whereas blocks and rebounds are easier to find among low-end players. With that in mind, today's column explores the distribution of statistics across the top-200 fantasy players this season (as of Jan. 13). The focus is on 9-cat stats -- points, FG%, FT%, 3-pointers, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and turnovers.


By discovering where each stat is most heavily concentrated, owners can more effectively work the waiver wire or engineer productive trades. To determine the top-200 players, I first eliminated players who average fewer than 15 minutes or have appeared in fewer than 10 games. I then assigned z-scores to the remaining pool, tallied them up across the nine categories in question, and jettisoned everyone who fell below the top-200 threshold.


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Note that I've included trendlines for each of the charts below, to provide a rough idea of the strength and direction of association between the two variables. For instance, points and fantasy ranks display a relatively strong correlation -- points tend to increase as fantasy ranks increase, and vice versa. The predictable variance is displayed in the "r2" value in the top right corner of each chart -- the higher the number, the more predictable the relationship.


I'm also using z-score values rather than the actual stats, for two reasons: it enables simple comparisons between disparate categories, and allows me to easily weight FG% and FT% by volume of attempts.


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Here is a quick summary of the R-squared values for each chart, in descending order.


Points: 0.5709

Turnovers: 0.3064

Steals: 0.2339

Assists: 0.1734

3-pointers: 0.1336

Rebounds: 0.1169

FT%: 0.1095

Blocks: 0.0552

FG%: 0.0074


To risk oversimplification, the higher the number, the stronger the correlation between fantasy value and that statistic. Points are concentrated heavily among the most valuable fantasy players, so you'll have a harder time finding reliable sources of scoring on the waiver wire -- if you need help in that category, a trade is probably your best bet.


At the other end of the spectrum, blocks and both FG% and FT% show a negligible correlation to top-200 fantasy values -- you'll have an easier time scrounging up those categories via low-end players, some of whom are probably lurking on your waiver wire. Even such guidelines have caveats, of course, and a quick glance at the chart for FT% shows that by far the most beneficial group of players for FT% are clustered in the early rounds, among guys like James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant and Danilo Gallinari. You won't find that elite FT% production as you move toward the late rounds, but there are still values to be had. If you have any questions or insights, feel free to contact me on Twitter (@Knaus_RW)...Direct Messages are welcome. And if you would like to peek at the spreadsheet I used to create the charts above, click here to view it on Google Sheets.

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.