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Fantasy Football Scoring & Points System Guide

Updated 8/22/2017 by Brad Perniciaro
Standard Fantasy Football Scoring

One of the major decisions all commissioners must contemplate when configuring their fantasy leagues is which of the three primary fantasy football scoring systems to implement. This is an important decision as the chosen scoring system will dictate how owners create their fantasy football cheat sheets and how players accumulate points throughout the season.  There are three primary fantasy football scoring systems in use today and most leagues implement some variance of these systems:

  1. Standard Scoring System
  2. Points Per Reception System (PPR)
  3. Individual Defensive Player (IDP)

The Standard Scoring System is the best system for new fantasy leagues or existing fantasy leagues which want to keep things simple.  Points Per Reception enhances standard scoring by introducing another statistical category to increase overall scoring. Finally, Individual Defensive Player is a complement to either Standard Scoring or PPR and is best-suited for hard-core owners who invest considerable time in their leagues.

Choosing a Best Scoring System

Scoring systems are generally chosen based on the experience-level and personality of the league owners.  When considering which system to implement, consider the following questions:

  1. Is this your league's first year?
  2. Is your league comprised mostly of novices or fantasy veterans?
  3. How much of time do you expect your owners to commit to the league?
  4. Are your owners the types who would enjoy complex scoring systems with high-scoring games, or would they prefer a simple and straight-forward system?

The answers to these questions will provide the guidance necessary to choose between these scoring systems.

Standard Fantasy Football Scoring System

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Standard fantasy football scoring point chart.

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The standard fantasy football scoring system comprises a well-respected baseline of statistic/point-value pairs for which players accumulate points. The points system which forms this framework is designed to promote balance across the various fantasy positions.

The standard scoring system is the typical model chosen by first time fantasy football commissioners because it is a very basic points system which is intuitive for fantasy notices.

The points system defined in the standard scoring system was formulated with the goal of ensuring that each fantasy position has roughly the same value respective to the other positions for similar on-field production.  Thus, it aims to calibrate the weight of each fantasy statistic so that each fantasy position has comparable value to your team.

Next, we'll outline the basic point guidelines in standard fantasy football scoring for all offensive and defensive fantasy positions.

Offensive Scoring

The offensive fantasy football scoring rules are well-established, especially when you compare them to their Defense/ST counterparts.

Basic Point Values

  • Touchdown: 6 points

    In the standard fantasy football scoring system, touchdowns are universally worth 6 points, just like in the NFL. It does not matter if the touchdown was scored by a quarterback, receiver, running back, or even a kicker; all touchdowns are worth 6 points.

  • Rushing Yards: 1 point per 10 yards

    Each rushing yard is worth .1 point (if your league awards fractional points, which it should), or 1 point for every 10 yards.

  • Receiving Yards: 1 point per 10 yards

    Similar to rushing yards, each receiving yard in fantasy football is worth .1 point, or 1 point for every 10 yards.

  • Passing Yards: 1 point per 25 yards

    Because passing yards are much easier to come by than rushing or receiving yards, they are not worth quite as much. Passing yards in the standard scoring system are worth .04 point per yard, or 1 point for every 25 yards.

Achieving Balanced Scoring

The four statistic/point-value pairs listed above form the basis of the standard fantasy football scoring system. To get an idea of how this point system aims to be balanced, imagine that during a football game the following statistics were compiled for the five offensive fantasy positions:

  • Quarterback: 250 yards passing, 1 touchdown
  • Running Back: 40 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns
  • Wide Receiver: 100 yards receiving, 1 touchdown
  • Tight End: 100 yards receiving, 1 touchdown
  • Kicker: 2 40-yard FGs, 1 50 yard FG, & 3 extra points

If you were to ask several different people which of these players had the best game, you'd probably hear several different answers. This is because each player had roughly the same level of production considering the position that they play. Likewise, in terms of fantasy point output, each of these players would have compiled the exact same fantasy point total: 16 points. 

As mentioned earlier, the idea behind the standard scoring system is to weigh statistic/point-values such that players with the same relative output are awarded approximately the same fantasy points, regardless of their position.

Note: The tool I designed to create custom fantasy football cheat sheets using drag and drop is completely free (try it out now). Inside your sheet you can reference stats, player news, other rankings, and even add your own player notes. Then simply generate a printable sheet for your draft.

Additional Offensive Scoring Categories

While the aforementioned statistic/point-value pairs form the basis of the standard scoring system, the following statistics must also be factored into your scoring rules.  However, they may vary slightly from league to league.

Passing Interceptions: -2 Points
NFL Pass Interception

For the average NFL quarterback, the ratio of TDs to INTs is generally about 3-1. For instance, in 2012 Joe Flacco had 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, Russell Wilson had 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and Ben Roethlisberger had 26 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

This 3-1 ratio forms the basis for an interception's negative point value in fantasy football. It will take 3 interceptions to negate a 1 touchdown, so each interception will subtract 2 points from your fantasy quarterback's point total.

Offensive Fumbles: -2 Points
Offensive Fumble

The negative point value attributed to a lost fumble is most commonly -2 points, although this can take different forms. For example, some fantasy football platforms allow you to assign point values to both fumbles lost AND fumbles that are not lost.

Under this configuration, it is not uncommon to see commissioners associate -1 point with a fumble that is recovered by the offense and -2 points with a fumble that is turned over to the defense.

Field Goals: 3+ Points
NFL Field Goal Kick

Field goal point values generally start at 3 points and increase in value as the distance (and thus the difficulty) of the field goal increases. There are no standard guidelines governing how a field goal's point value should be increased, but a common approach is to award an additional point (4 points total) for any kick between 40 and 50 yards, another point (5 points total) for a kick between 51 yards and 59 yards, and finally 6 points for any field goal 60 yards are longer.

If your league hosting service allows it, a further refinement of field goal point configuration is to award fractional points based on field goal distance.  Configuring points in this manner would be similar to how partial points are awarded for yardage to the quarterback, running back, and wide receiver positions.  Whether this option is available to you will depend on your league hosting service.   

Using the fractional approach, you could award 3 fantasy points for every field goal up to 39 yards, 4 fantasy points for a field goal of 40 yards, then award an additional .1 fantasy point per yard for field goals 40 yards or greater.  For instance, a 41 yard field goal would be worth 4.1 points, a 42 yard field goal would be worth 4.2 points, and so on. 

The fractional approach to scoring field goals adds an element of granularity and fairness that could be the difference in the outcome of a game or two during your fantasy season.


Defensive/Special Teams Scoring

Defense trying to block a field goal.

The following statistics are factored into the scoring rules for the Defense/Special Teams (DST) fantasy football position.  Under the standard scoring configuration, the special teams and defense of each team are combined to form one fantasy position, DST.

Of all the fantasy football positions, the statistic/point-value assigned to the Defense/ST position are the most varied. Every fantasy football league puts their own personal touch on these settings so any small deviation from the following point values is acceptable.

  • Blocked Kick: 2 points

    Blocking any type of kick, whether it be an extra point, field goal, or even a punt is generally worth two points.

  • Safety: 2 points

    Just like in the real world, a safety is worth 2 points to your DST position.

  • Forced Fumble: 1 points

    Fantasy leagues vary, but forcing a fumble is generally worth 1 point. Some leagues only award points (2) for a forced fumble that is actually recovered by the defense.  However, I personally like to split these points across two categories: forced fumble and fumble recovery.  Some league hosts provide this option while others do not.

  • Fumble Recovery: 1 point

    A fumble recovery is worth 1 point or, as previously mentioned, may be worth 2 points if no points are awarded for forced fumble by itself.

  • Interception: 2 points

    Interceptions are almost universally worth 2 fantasy points.  These points counter the -2 fantasy points which are taken from the fantasy quarterback who threw the interception.

  • Sack: 1 point

    Sacks are worth 1 fantasy point.

  • Points Allowed:

    In recent years fantasy defense production has gone through the roof, especially since it is packaged with special teams. Fantasy points awarded for ‘Points Allowed’ play a large part in this position's overall point total. Variations of this setting are common so remember these groupings are only a guideline:

    • 0 Points Allowed (Shutout): 10 points
    • 1 - 6 PA: 8 points
    • 7 - 13 PA: 6 points
    • 14 - 20 PA: 2 points
    • 21 - 27PA: 1 points
    • 28 - 34PA: 0 points
    • 35 - 41PA: -2 points
    • 42+ PA: -4 points

Standard Scoring Point Chart

The following chart details the common point values awarded to the primary position categories under the standard fantasy football scoring system.   You can also download an Excel file of this scoring system in spreadsheet format.

Passing Yards 1 point per 25 yards
Passing TDs 6 points
Rushing Yards 1 point per 10 yards
Rushing TDs 6 points
Interception -2 points
Fumble Lost -2 points
Running Backs
Rushing Yards 1 point per 10 yards
Rushing TDs 6 points
Receiving Yards 1 point per 10 yards
Receiving TDs 6 points
Fumble Lost -2 points
Wide Receivers
Rushing Yards 1 point per 10 yards
Rushing TDs 6 points
Receiving Yards 1 point per 10 yards
Receiving TDs 6 points
Fumble Lost -2 points
Tight Ends
Rushing Yards 1 point per 10 yards
Rushing TDs 6 points
Receiving Yards 1 point per 10 yards
Receiving TDs 6 points
Fumble Lost -2 points
Extra Point 1 point
Missed Extra Point -2 point
Field Goal 17-39 yards 3 points
Miss Field Goal 17-39 yards -2 points
Field Goal 40-49 yards 4 points
Miss Field Goal 40-49 yards -1 point
Field Goal 50-59 yards 5 points
Field Goal 60+ yards 6 points
Blocked Kick 2 points
Safety 2 points
Forced Fumble 1 point
Fumble Recovery 1 point
Interception 2 points
Sack 1 point
0 Points Allowed 10 points
1-6 Points Allowed 8 points
7-13 Points Allowed 6 points
14-20 Points Allowed 2 points
21-27 Points Allowed 1 point
28-34 Points Allowed 0 points
35-41 Points Allowed -2 points
42+ Points Allowed -4 points

The Best Conditions in Which to Implement Standard Scoring

The standard fantasy football scoring system works especially well in the following scenarios.

  • New leagues which are just starting out and want to use a proven configuration
  • Leagues comprised of passive fantasy novices who don't invest a lot of time and would benefit from a basic system
  • Any league which wants to keep things simple and straight-forward

The standard scoring system hasn't changed much throughout the years and is a solid, balanced point configuration. You simply can't go wrong when utilizing standard scoring for your leagues.

Points Per Reception (PPR) Scoring System

NFL Pass Completion

As fantasy football increased in popularity over the years, some fantasy veterans began to get bored with the standard scoring system.  It wasn't that the standard system was flawed, it was simply that owners wanted their leagues to incorporate more scoring and strategy.  If more points on the scoreboard makes the NFL more exciting, the same should hold true for fantasy football, right?

It was out of this desire for more scoring that the Points Per Reception system was born.  The PPR system is identical to standard scoring with one important exception: players receive additional points for every reception (generally 1 point or a half point, varying by league).  This configuration directly affects only a few fantasy positions, namely wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs. 

While this minor adjustment to scoring may seem only slightly different than standard scoring leagues, the difference is great enough that it must be strongly considered as you configure your player rankings.  A player's ranking under the PPR scoring system could vary by as much as 10 positions when compared to standard leagues.

Best Leagues for using PPR Scoring

The following are examples of leagues which may benefit from implementing Points Per Reception scoring:

  • Leagues which have used the standard scoring system and want to add more scoring while preserving the balance that the standard scoring configuration provides
  • Leagues with active owners who appreciate pre-season player evaluations and invest considerable time into creating their cheat sheets

Independent Defensive Player (IDP) Scoring System

Individual Defensive Tackle by Player

In the years since the PPR scoring system became commonplace, fantasy owners have continued to push the envelope.  With the advent Independent Defensive Player leagues, a whole new dimension of scoring and strategy was created as fantasy positions were extended to the defensive side of the ball.  IDP isn't a replacement system for standard scoring or PPR leagues, rather it is a scoring system that you would implement along with your current scoring configuration.

IDP Position Groupings

  • Defensive Linemen
    • Defensive Tackle
    • Defensive End
  • Linebackers
    • Middle Linebacker
    • Outside Linebacker
  • Defensive Backs
    • Cornerback
    • Nickleback
    • Safety

Much like the standard offensive positions, defensive positions accumulate points when they amass positive statistics including sacks, tackles, forced fumbles, and interceptions. 

Best League Candidates for IDP Scoring

IDP is definitely not for every fantasy league because of complex scoring rules and draft preparation.  However, the following types of leagues may benefit from implementing IDP:

  • Leagues which have used various systems in the past and want to add another layer of strategy to their leagues
  • Leagues with expert owners who are willing to invest the time and effort necessary to evaluate defensive talent

If the extra work required to manage defensive players would alienate some of your league members, it's probably best to stick to a standard or PPR-based league (or maybe create a new fantasy league strictly for owners interested in IDP).

Scoring Systems and How they Relate to League Prizes

Most fantasy football prizes are awarded based on wins and losses, not necessarily point output.  But there are a couple of exceptions.

Prizes based on weekly high scores

For instance, I argue that having a weekly prize tied directly to point output is a great way to keep owners engaged throughout the fantasy season.  If you've been a fantasy commissioner for any amount of time, you know that toward the end of the season each year, the worst teams tend to peel-off and stop actively managing their teams.  Creating a small weekly prize (usually cash) to incentivize maximizing your lineup is a smart way to ensure your league stays competitive the entire year.

Prizes based on most points scored in a season

It's also a good idea to award some type of prize for the most points scored in a season (usually called the Scoring Champion).  It seems that every year one owner with a huge point output doesn't make the playoffs because of back luck with respect to match-ups.  Having some kind of prize for this owner ensures the best teams are compensated, even if the are unlucky and miss the playoffs.

For the scoring champion, you could award a cash prize (or high draft pick).  Other good ideas for awarding point output could be a scoring champion ring or a point champion belt.

The Right Scoring Systems for your League

Standard Scoring, Points Per Reception, and Individual Defensive Player are the three primary scoring systems that form the basis for almost every fantasy football league in existence.  When choosing between the three main fantasy football scoring systems, it's important to adopt a system that is supported by and complements your league owners. 

The newer your owners are to fantasy football, the more likely it is that the Standard Scoring system is right for you.  If your league is full of experienced owners who are willing to invest extra time into the league, then PPR or IDP systems may be worth a shot. 

It also never hurts to experiment.  Molding one of these scoring systems to your league's liking will surely require some tweaking but you can always switch back to a previous scoring system if necessary.

Which scoring system do you prefer for your league?


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