Fantasy Football Definition of "PA"

PA - Points Against - Points Allowed

"PA" stands for "points against" or "points allowed", which is usually listed in the league standings on most fantasy football league sites. While PA doesn't sound like it's a stat worth keeping track of, since it has nothing to do with the strength of your team, points against is arguably the most important single factor in whether a team makes their fantasy football playoffs or not. Every year in just about every league using standard scoring, there is some fluke of scheduling that gives one team either a really high PA or a really low PA. In the former case, the high fantasy PA means one of the strongest teams misses the playoffs; while in the latter case, one of the weaker teams in the league gets an easy pass into the playoffs. Here's how.

Fantasy Football PA

Unlike the NFL, a fantasy football team has no control over their "points allowed" stat. An NFL team has a defense to take care of points allowed, so when you read how many points they give up in the year, it's an indication of how strong that team is. In fantasy football, PA is simply the amount of points all of your combined opponents scored the week they played against you. You want to have the lowest points against total in the league and dreading having the highest points against total, but there's nothing you can do to stop it either way. PA is simply a quirk of the fantasy football schedule.

Every player on every team will have a bye week during a fantasy season and these bye weeks will be spread out unevenly on the fantasy schedule. For instance, one team might be playing three teams on their schedule who have their 1st round draft pick out of the lineup due to a bye week, while several other teams never have that happen on their schedule. In this case, the team playing opponents with their best players on byes gets a big advantage - they are playing teams that aren't as good for that one week as they are "on paper". There are other ways the PA might be skewed from one week to the next.

PA and Fantasy Match-Ups

A lot of times, your given fantasy football player's stats are going to be heavily affected by their weekly opponent. You can expect a running back to have a much higher box score when they play the Detroit Lions than the Minnesota Vikings, who are perennially one of the best teams in the league against the run. If your star receiver is going against the Baltimore Ravens, he's simply less likely to score big points than if he were playing against the Cincinnati Bengals or Cleveland Browns. So beyond bye weeks, your fantasy opponents will field a team some weeks with really good match-ups, and other weeks with really bad match-ups.

These are supposed to even out in the end, and most fantasy football starting lineups are going to be a mixed bag of great match-ups, bad match-ups and average match-ups. But almost every week, one team is going to get lucky and field a team with a bunch of great match-ups all at once. Just as likely, a team might have their best players against brutal match-ups, facing the Ravens, Steelers, Vikings and Jets (or whichever defense are best at the time you read this article). When either of those happen, that fantasy team is likely to deviate dramatically from their average score. When that happens, your fantasy team might itself have a really tough opponent or a walk-over one week, simply by your opponent's match-ups. When that happens, it affects your PA.

PA and Injuries

Injuries can also affect your points allowed in much the same way. If your opponent has several of his starters out due to injury, his team might not put up nearly the amount of points it normally would. Or your opponent might field a team with pretty good match-ups, then have one or two players go out of the game in the first quarter due to injury - the bane of all fantasy football owners.

Points Against Is All About Luck

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts in the points against stat. Due to bye weeks, match-ups and injuries, any one opponent could post a much better score or a much worse score than they would other weeks of the season. As mentioned before, this evens out over the course of the season for most teams. But usually, one team in your league gets lucky and catches a huge break from the schedule, or has a brutal schedule. When that happens, the difference in the PA for one team might be several hundred points - I've seen 300-350 point differences in the PA in leagues where the average total points against for the season is 1,500. That's a huge difference, something like a 20% deviation from one team to the next. And it's all luck.

With that being said, here's one or two things you can do about PA and making the points against total less of a factor in who wins the Fantasy Super Bowl.

Points Against and Division Alignment

Because division opponents often play one another twice and non-division opponents only once, if you get into a division with three lousy opponents, you're PA might be significantly lower than rivals in other divisions. You get three extra games against lower-than-average competition. I've seen some leagues with a static league membership go from a traditional set division alignment (where all teams remain in the same division year-in, year-out) to a set-up where you redraw divisions every year. This is because certain fantasy football players in any given league are going to be more dedicated, more informed or just "better" at fantasy football. If one team consistently gets in the playoffs because they are in the division with the lesser league teams, resentments can form when people start looking at final PA every year.

Total PA - Final Wild Card Spot

In a couple of my leagues, we determine the final wild card playoff spot not by overall record, but by total points scored. That's because team record is as much of a reflection of your PA as your team's strength. I have literally seen the team with the most overall points have a 6-7 or 7-6 record, or worse, simply because they had the much-highest point against all year. They had brutal luck, so their record wasn't very good. In these leagues where total points is a wild card determiner, that team who has had the strongest squad gets in, instead of the next luckiest team. The idea is the playoffs are supposed to pit the strongest teams against one another - not the luckiest. So you might have the three division winners get into the playoffs, then have two wildcard spots: one for the next-best record and one for the most points scored from the remaining teams.

This has the added advantage of giving teams multiple ways to make the playoffs, so there are more teams with a shot late in the season to contend - and therefore less chance of collusion and buddy trades.

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