2018 Fanball Running Back Heatmap

2018 Fanball Running Back Heatmap

What is a Heatmap? And why do I do them

One of our enemies is our own mind. What we remember and what we think we remember. The reason that I do these Heatmaps is because they are great snapshots of what actually happened. How often each player hit certain key point criteria.  The first year I did these it was just the Heatmap and the ADP of the player the year before. This has evolved into a true tool that can help us not only understand the players better but how types of performance affect results. In this year’s Heatmaps, I have added some key information. The biggest of which in my mind is the player’s win percentage. We also have both ADP of the player last year as well as current ADP of the player. And, of course, the heart of the Heatmap is how often players hit key points criteria. From it, we can gain an edge in our understanding of what players truly brought to their bestball teams.

It is important to note that these Heatmaps are not perfect. They are based on points per game and the players are sorted from highest to lowest in points per game. With injuries, not every player played every game or full games every game. But I try to make sure I account for key injuries and when they happen in these Heatmaps. We also have total points and as mentioned points per game. Here is the Heatmap for RB on Fanball last year.


Some of the key things I look for on the Heatmap

  • How often each player hits certain criteria. I want both the floor and ceiling on as many players as I can possibly get. However, sometimes when we are on the clock we can’t get both. While last year’s performance isn’t guaranteed, it is nice to see what a players floor and ceiling were last year.
  • I compare ADP now to ADP last year.
  • I look at the winning percentage that the players had last year. Winning percentage takes into account a few different factors. Obviously when a player was drafted is important but also spike weeks are very important in best ball as well. I try to understand differences in outcomes and figure out what accounted for players win percentages as well as how where players are drafted affect winning percentage.
  • Often, there are a lot of surprises in reviewing players. A big one often is just how high or low certain players actually scored last year. We have a view in our mind of a player and the Heatmaps either confirm recalibrate our thoughts.
  • Once I have absorbed all the information, I go back and look at players ADP last year and what that led to in winning percentage. I then look at their current ADP. A perfect example of this is a player I haven’t been drafting much in Nyheim Hines. Last year Hines was slightly ahead of the average win percentage of 8.5% notching 9.1%. He was drafted at an ADP of 152 last year. This year he is going at a much higher ADP of 104. He also played in 15 games many of which when Marlon Mack was out so there isn’t any easy way to see a better performance coming for Hines. This reaffirms to me that my fade of Hines is correct. He is not giving me a great floor nor is there a solid reason to expect a ceiling from him at his current ADP.

Key Running Back Takeaways

  • While there are a few top studs last year, Todd Gurley had an unreal 50 percent of his weeks above 30 points. The nearest player was 27%. It is a shame his knee might not allow him to continue this magnificent performance
  • Once again RB had the top couple win percentage performances, led by Christian McCaffery’s 27.3 percent
  • For the third year in a row, the top win percentage was supercharged by his ability to be drafted with another top performer. McCaffery’s ADP of 16.8 put him often in range of Saquon Barkley’s ADP of just under 8. This led Barkley to an 18 win rate.
  • James Conner’s emergence led him to a win percentage of 21.8 percent. It is always worth taking shots on players on good teams who have a possible path to a heavy workload. We all knew about Bell possibly holding out those who took the risk got paid off in spades.
  • I have noticed that strong performance by third down backs tends to drive their price up into the 6th round the following year. Again this year many more of these third round backs disappointed and only Tarik Cohen paid off his owners. Meanwhile Austin Ekeler and his ADP of 173 netted owners a 12.4 percent win rate. Looking for those late round 3rd down backs who might have upside with injury is always something to look for in full PPR drafts. One player this year who had a good performance and has not seen a meteoric rise is Jalen Richard who I have been targeting often this year in drafts.


This is one of my favorite tools for understanding and finding hidden value and over priced players. Note winning percentage and how the different criteria affect or do not affect winning percentage. We will have a follow up podcast on this Heatmap and we will go deeper into values and pitfalls.