When you’re looking at fantasy football rankings, you might wonder which position is most important. In fantasy, since scoring and positions are different from the actual NFL as far as their importance and how they work.
So what is the most important fantasy football position?
We’ll talk below about scoring in fantasy football and how that makes one position especially important.
Fantasy Football Scoring
In a fantasy football team, teams get points for their players’ performance in games. They get points for certain players or for a group of players. Under the scoring system, a player is given points based on performance stats from real-life games.
A wide receiver, as such, might score points based on stats for yards, fumbles, or touchdowns.
The majority of fantasy leagues have a setup where players go against another opponent each week to see which person will score the most points with their starting lineup. The starting lineup settings can be changed by the league’s commissioner, but usually, in fantasy, the lineup includes:
- One QB (quarterback)
- Two WRs (wide receiver)
- Two RBs (running backs)
- One TE (tight end)
- One flex (can be RB, TE, or WR)
- One K (kicker)
- D/ST unit (defensive and special teams unit)
The standard scoring system includes four points for passing touchdowns, six points for rushing touchdowns, and one point for rushing yards, receiving yards, and passing yards. Defensive scoring includes six points for a defensive TD, two points for an interception, and two points for an extra point returned, just as examples.
There are variations in how scoring works, but the most popular scoring systems are standard, which includes the point system above. There are also points per reception or PPR and individual defensive player or IDP.
The standard scoring system is simple and uses generic systems with minor adjustments. There aren’t points for receptions in standard scoring.
The PPR system has completed counting as a point for a receiver.
In IDP scoring, there is no D/ST position. Instead of playing a team’s whole defense, you choose individual defensive players. This isn’t as popular as PPR leagues.
Fantasy scoring isn’t affected by the win-loss records of NFL teams. In fantasy, it’s the players who can run, pass and catch for yards that are the elite ones. Fantasy rewards players for good games even without scoring a lot of touchdowns. Fantasy will also give points to kickers with field goals and to defenses that create turnovers. While every league has its own rules, any stat in the NFL can turn into fantasy points. It’s up to a commissioner to change defaults.
Each week, your team’s final score is the sum of the fantasy points of all of your starting players.
The Importance of the Running Back
Now, with that overview of scoring in fantasy football, it brings back the question of which position is most important.
Most people will tell you in fantasy football, the running back is the most important position. A strong running back can outscore a mid-level running back often significantly. In drafts, running backs are often taken early, and it’s tough to get a good one after the first few rounds.
Running backs in fantasy are often called a workhorse. A workhorse in fantasy is a player who receives most of the carries for the team instead of splitting up the carries between two or more of the backs.
There aren’t many good running backs, so during the draft, if you get the chance to snag one of the best, you should. There are usually two spots for running backs in the starting lineups, so drafting multiples is a good approach too.
Other Important Positions
Beyond the running back, the following are things to know about the other positions specific to fantasy football:
- The quarterback is the offensive focus in football. Quarterbacks run the offense and hand the ball to running backs. They’re also responsible for throwing the ball to receivers. Quarterbacks can score a lot of points in fantasy, but there are a lot of good ones available, so you don’t necessarily have to focus your draft strategy so much on this position as you do with running backs.
- The wide receiver primarily catches passes from the quarterback. They block players on rushing players, and there are a relatively good amount of strong wide receivers, but still, the best are very coveted in fantasy. A wide receiver can be among the most valuable players in leagues with a point-per-reception scoring. Wide receivers usually make most of the receptions, and there are two spots in most leagues for a wide receiver, so drafting more than one is likely to be beneficial.
- A tight end catches the quarterback’s passes and may block on the offensive line. In fantasy, a tight end isn’t as important as a running back or wide receiver, but having an elite one on your team can be an asset. A tight end may especially have value in a PPR league because behind wide receivers, they usually make the most receptions.
- A kicker will kick the ball during kickoffs and field goals, and the kicker position in fantasy might include the punter. Kickers help with scoring, so they’re valuable in fantasy.
In fantasy football, defense and special teams have a less significant role than they do in the NFL, but they can still be relevant.
With D/ST, these are players that try to stop the opposing offense, and then the special teams have rules like punting. In teams with D/ST, you can only draft a team’s whole defense—you can’t acquire individual players.
In IDP leagues, individual defensive players can be used, so the performance of these players is important.
Finally, in fantasy, there are some analysts and players who feel if you’re going to consider the least important player, it might be the kicker. Kickers in fantasy drafts are usually taken last and sometimes not at all. They score the least amount of points, and unless you get a kicker with multiple field goals in a game, there’s not going to make or break your chances of a championship.