#### Topic: What Is The Magic Formula?

So I've been around on these forums for about a year now, and one thing that I've noticed that is a lot of people here give advice based on **The Magic Formula**. Awesome, right? That means that Kevin and Lyle are succeeding in their goal to get as many of us as possible to drink the Kool-Aid and hopefully donate monies to keeping the forums and podcast afloat. To that end, I wish the guys all the success in the world, because this Kool-Aid drinker is a zealot for **The Magic Formula**. Unfortunately, there are a few heretics around here that **think** they are spreading the Word of Kevin and Lyle, but are, in truth, spreading a perversion of their holy doctrine!

***gasps, hushed whispers of disbelief, and violent statements of angry dissention***

It is true! And, furthermore, I can prove it is true! For those that would prefer to remain blissfully ignorant or are too weak to have their fantasy football faith shaken, you may stop reading now. In an effort to compensate you for your time, I present to you this picture of a frolicking kitten; however, for those of you yearning for truth and self-betterment, keep reading.

Alright, thanks for hearing me out, but bear with me, kiddies, because its going to be a bumpy ride. I am now going to say something that may be sacrilegious to some sensitive patrons of this forum. Pregnant women and those with heart conditions should not attempt to board this ride. Viewer discretion is advised.

***ahem***

**The Magic Formula** is ** *not*** "always draft three RBs in the first five rounds".

**insert the sound of millions of voices suddenly crying out in terror and becoming suddenly silenced**

I *warned* you! I will pause momentarily for those that need to be revived by their friends and loved ones, or didn't heed the above warning. I know, it *is* a bit shocking, but hear me out. For those of us not passed out at our keyboards from shock at my heretical ramblings and want to see where this is going, I will continue.

**The Magic Formula** is a *formula*, not a *method*. As such, it isn't a simple rule of thumb, which is how a lot of readers here seem to treat it. Also, as its name implies, it is a *formula*, which implies that there are some mathematics involved in its application. Guess what? There *are* some mathematics involved! Well, more than just counting to three before you count to five, anyway. Allow me to elaborate.

The reason that **The Magic Formula** can't be boiled down to a basic rule of thumb is because the standard understanding of **The Magic Formula**, namely, the aforementioned "draft three RBs in the first five rounds", doesn't hold true for the scoring system of every league. A prime example of this might be a league where you can play two QBs.

So, if **The Magic Formula** **isn't** "always draft three RBs in the first five rounds", what **is** it? Well, my friend, I'm glad you asked.

**deep breath**

**The Magic Formula** is a way to analyze the scoring method of your fantasy football league in a way to calculate which positions have the steepest drop-off over the maximum number of players possible in those positions that can be fielded each week in order to determine which positions should receive precedence during the draft. I'll give you a few moments to read that last bit again and digest it...gawd knows it took a few moments to compose it. Maybe if we dissect that idea a little bit it won't sound like someone trying to describe the Pythagorean Theorem. Keep reading...I promise this will make sense eventually.

"

The Magic Formulais a way to analyze the scoring method of your fantasy football league..."

Okay, lets start with this first bit. Its an integral part to understanding **The Magic Formula**, but one that gets completely ignored by most people that believe they understand it. The important bit that they're missing is: "...the scoring method of your league...". That part is very important, because it means the scoring method of one league may lead to different results than a scoring method of a different league when applying **The Magic Formula**. *"But, Joos,"* you're thinking, *"If that is true, then it means The Magic Formula isn't as simple as 'always draft three RBs in the first five round', right?"* Exactly, hoss, now you're thinking! Here's a cookie, lets continue.

"...in a way to calculate which positions have the steepest drop-off..."

This is pretty straight forward, but if we're dissecting the sentence, this is the next logical stop. In a nutshell, this statement means that we will be determining the *difference* between players point productions. That's right, b*tches...simple subtraction!!! Guess what? That's pretty much all the math there is to **The Magic Formula**. If you can count and perform basic arithmetic functions you've got it made in the shade with a glass of Kevin and Lyle's Kool-Aid! Keep reading, it gets better.

...over the maximum number of players possible in those positions that can be fielded each week...

Okay, this part is a bit wordy, but, I promise, is necessary, too. What we learn here is that the maximum number of players you can play in each position plays an important role in **The Magic Formula**. Is your league a two QB or two D/ST league? Do you have a FLEX position in your league, and, if so, what players can be played in that FLEX? RB/WR? RB/WR/TE? What about an IDP league?!? It all matters, and will make a difference when you apply **The Magic Formula** correctly. Hang in there, we're on the home stretch, bro.

...in order to determine which positions should receive precedence during the draft.

Ahhhh! Ah-ha!!! There *is* a method to the madness! A light at the end of the tunnel! A reason for all this *thinking* and *math* and *reading*! *"Joos,"* you're now saying to your computer screen, much to the chagrin of the coworker in the next cube who is furtively watching you from the corner of her eye and wondering if she should finally call security about you, *"I think I get it! You're saying The Magic Formula will tell me which players to take in every round of my draft, right?"* Well, almost. What The Magic Formula tells you, when correctly applied, is nothing so specific as 'draft RBs first, then draft WRs, and don't even think about taking a QB until the seventh round'. However, it *does* quantify which positions are the most volatile, which, in turn, will tell you which positions you should draft early and often.

**whew**

Right about now some of you are saying to your computer screens, *"Joos, this is bogus! I don't want to do math! Isn't this forum all about trash talk, trade and lineup advice, and the softcore porn in the questions threads?!?"*. Well, my friends, you're probably half right, but if you want to actually understand **The Magic Formula** and stop sounding like a complete numpty every time you spout the 'draft three RBs in the first three rounds' axiom you will want to keep reading. Besides, you've followed along this far, don't you want to see how it ends?

So, we've established what **The Magic Formula** **isn't**, and have a working definition of what it **is**...now what? Words cannot express how happy I am you asked; however, the following comes close:

***ahem***

So, our working definition of **The Magic Formula** is:

The Magic Formula-Noun- /T?H? majik fôrmy?l?/

1. A way to analyze the scoring method of your fantasy football league in a way to calculate which positions have the steepest drop-off over the maximum number of players possible in those positions that can be fielded each week in order to determine which positions should receive precedence during the draft.

Another way to say this is:

**The Magic Formula** is used to quantify the difference between the top player at a given position and the *nth* player at the same position, where *n* is the maximum number of players of that position possible to field in all team rosters for your fantasy football league.

***sound of heads banging on keyboards***

*"Dammit, Joos!"* you're probably thinking by now, *"You said it would get *better*, not worse!*" Yes, I did...and it has, because now we're getting into the formula part of **The Magic Formula**. Really, its not difficult at all. Remember what I said about counting and simple subtraction? Well, here we go, but there are a couple of things you need to know first before we start throwing numbers around willy-nilly.

First, you need to know what positions you can field according to your league's roster rules and the number of teams in your league. This goes back to the part we discussed before about FLEX positions, or two QB leagues. Lets look a the following example together, shall we?

Example 1

Consider the following roster for a 10 team league:

QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, RB/WR, TE, K, D/STHow many players of each position maximum can be used on this team? Well, lets do a little counting, shall we? It is possible to play 1 QB, up to 3 RBs, up to 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 D/ST. These possibilities are the same for all teams in this example league. In order to find the sample size for this league for each position we simply multiply the maximum number of players for each position times the number of teams in the league, and we get the following:

10 QBs

30 RBs

30 WRs

10 TEs

10 Ks

10 D/STs

This represents the maximum number of players at each position possible for every team in the league each week...our sample size. Now all we need to do is find the difference between the best and worst possible player for each position in order to see which position has the largest variance between the top and bottom players. In order to do this, we will need a list of players from the previous year ranked by fantasy football points scored according to the league's scoring rules. Luckily I have one, right here:

QuarterbacksToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. Peyton Manning - 440.8

...

10. Carson Palmer - 355.5

Difference: 85.3

RunningbacksToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. Arian Foster - 347.0

...

30. Brandon Jackson - 130.5

Difference: 216.5

Wide ReceiversToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. Brandon Lloyd - 225.0

...

30. Wes Welker - 131.6

Difference: 93.4

Tight EndsToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. Jason Witten - 156.2

...

10. Dustin Keller - 100.7

Difference: 55.5

KickersToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. Sebastian Janikowski - 144.0

...

10. Rob Bironas - 112.0

Difference: 32.0

Defense/Special TeamsToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. New England Patriots - 188.0

...

10. San Diego Chargers - 138.0

Difference: 50.0

*the top players for each position may be different for every league based on that leagues scoring system.By utilizing some simple subtraction we get difference between the top player and the

nthplayer for each position. For this league's scoring system the positions are ranked as follows:

216.5 - Runningbacks

93.4 - Wide Receivers

85.3 - Quarterbacks

55.5 - Tight Ends

50.0 - Defense/Special Teams

32.0 - KickersOkay...words and numbers, but what do they mean? Well, the numbers represent the difference between the fantasy football points production of the top and "bottom"/

nthplayers in each position according to the example league's scoring system. This shows us how steep the drop-off in fantasy production is for each position for the example league. Another way to say that would be that it shows us how important it is to draft which positions early compared to other positions, because the difference between drafting a higher vs. lower ranked player in one position that you must field every week is drastically different from a different position. Yetanotherway to say it is the difference between drafting the #1 RB vs. the #30 RB is far greater than drafting the #1 QB or #1 WR vs. the #10 QB or #30 WR.

What does it mean? Well, in the scoring system used in the above example league, it means it would be smart to draft RBs early and often. Probably something along he lines of three in the first five rounds...give or take.

***collective swearing that would make Richard Pryor and Chris Rock blush***

*"@#$%&#^%#$, Joosbawx! I thought you said that The Magic Formula *wasn't* 'always draft three RBs in the first five rounds'!!??!!"* Yes, I did say that; however, I also just said '...in the scoring system used in the above example league...', which is an important distinction. What if the scoring system or rosters were different? Lets look at one final example to illustrate my point.

Example 2

Consider the following roster for a 10 team league:

QB, QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, K, D/STThis isn't so different from the first example. The scoring system is exactly the same, but the roster requirements are slightly different. This is a two QB league. So, counting up the positions we can figure out how many of each position can be fielded for the entire league each week, we get the following:

20 QBs

20 RBs

30 WRs

10 TEs

10 Ks

10 D/STs

This is the same as the roster tally for the first example, except that the number of QBs has doubled, and the number of RBs has diminished by one-third. Luckily I also happen to have the rankings for the additional QBs needed to run the comparisons for this league's roster requirements:

QuarterbacksToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. Peyton Manning - 440.8

...

20. Donovan McNabb - 259.0

Difference: 181.8

RunningbacksToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. Arian Foster - 347.0

...

20. LaDanian Timlinson - 166.2

Difference: 180.8

Wide ReceiversToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. Brandon Lloyd - 225.0

...

30. Wes Welker - 131.6

Difference: 93.4

Tight EndsToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. Jason Witten - 156.2

...

10. Dustin Keller - 100.7

Difference: 55.5

KickersToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. Sebastian Janikowski - 144.0

...

10. Rob Bironas - 112.0

Difference: 32.0

Defense/Special TeamsToggle SpoilerSpoiler

1. New England Patriots - 188.0

...

10. San Diego Chargers - 138.0

Difference: 50.0Once again, by utilizing some simple subtraction we get difference between the top player and the

nthplayer for each position. For this league's scoring system the positions are ranked as follows:

181.8 - Quarterbacks

180.8 - Runningbacks

93.4 - Wide Receivers

55.5 - Tight Ends

50.0 - Defense/Special Teams

32.0 - Kickers

Thisis the point that I've been trying to make...and it took me quite awhile to see it myself.The Magic Formula, as most people understand it, doesn't apply in this instance, because the example league's roster requirements are different. When looking at the results in this example we can see that the difference between drafting #1 QB versus the #20 QB is heavily weighted, and actually out weighs the difference, albeit slightly, between drafting the #1 RB versus the #20 RB.

*"Joosbawx,"* You're probably muttering through gritted teeth while catching glares over the cubicle walls on all sides by now, *"You had damn well better get to the point, and get there quick!*" Fair enough, buddy. Here it is:

**The Magic Formula** is ** *not*** "always draft three RBs in the first five rounds". It is a way to analyze the scoring method of your fantasy football league in a way to calculate which positions have the steepest drop-off over the maximum number of players possible in those positions that can be fielded each week in order to determine which positions should receive precedence during the draft.

Not only does it say which positions are most important, but it can also be used to see which positions deserve the most depth on your bench, which positions are worth taking late round fliers, which positions can be delayed until later rounds and still provide solid numbers, and when to reach for a particular position and when to sit back and take the player another guy passed over by reaching too far for a different player.

In short, **The Magic Formula** is invaluable, and for more useful than 'always draft three RBs in the first five rounds'. By not understanding its full potential you are, in my humble opinion, truly missing out on a lot of what Kevin and Lyle have to share with this community.

What You Need to Know to Use The Magic Formula

Number of teams in your league

Your league's roster requirements

The scoring system for your league, in detail

A list of players ranked by fantasy points scored according to your league's scoring system

Basic arithmetic and counting skills

Optional: MS Excel Worksheet

Thank you for reading this far and entertaining my ramblings. I hope you find this helpful in some manner. Good luck, and kick some fantasy football arse!

*~ Joosbawx*

**EDIT:** I've created a pretty basic MS Excel spreadsheet (TMF_Worksheet.xlsx) that will walk you through **The Magic Formula** if you need a little help with the math, or just want a handy tool. Entering your league settings in the green text areas will automatically update the rest of the spreadsheet and spit out your answers...all you need is a ranked list of players per your scoring system. Screenshot in the spoiler below. Enjoy!

**Toggle SpoilerSpoiler**

**EDIT:** I've also thrown together a quick and dirty webpages where you can run **The Magic Formula** numbers without having to download anything: TMF Calculator - Online. In order to save space I did not include more than basic instructions; however, the pages does link back to this forum thread and thefantasyfootballguys.com. Screenshot in the spoiler below. Enjoy!

**Toggle SpoilerSpoiler**

*Last edited by Joosbawx (2012-08-16 20:11:20)*