It is widely accepted that a player who takes penalty kicks is worth more than a player who does not (all things being equal). But how many fantasy points is being on penalty kicks worth on average?
To answer this question, one must understand the different ways a player can earn and lose fantasy points on a penalty kick attempt, the values of these different statistical categories, and their average frequency of occurrence in a game.
Three ways a player can either earn or lose points from taking a penalty kick:
1) Goals Scored (5 points per goal)
2) Shots (1 point per 4 attempts)
3) Penalty Missed (-2 points per miss)
Historical penalty kick statistics:
The average number of penalty kicks per game over the last 4 years in MLS is 0.35 penalty kicks per game or 0.175 per team, with little variance from year to year (this does vary significantly from the Premier League, which only averages 0.25 penalty kicks). On average, between 75% and 80% of penalties are converted in professional soccer leagues.
Per each game, the math works out as follows:
.175 Penalty Kick Attempts X .775 Successful Penalties X 5 points per Penalty Kick = 0.68 points
.175 Penalty Kick Attempts X .225 Missed Penalties X -2 points per Missed Penalty Kick = -0.08 points
.175 Penalty Kick Attempts X .125 points per Shot Attempt = 0.02 points
0.68 points for penalty kicks scored
0.02 points for shots per game
-0.08 points for penalty kicks missed
0.62 expected fantasy points per game per team
Another aspect to factor in is that penalty kick takers on more dominant teams will probably get more than 0.6 points per game, while being on penalty kicks would be slightly less valuable for players on bad teams.
Certainly you can see that the better teams tend to have more penalties, but it is not a perfect correlation either. In 2019, the league’s best team, LAFC, also had the most penalties. On the other hand, San Jose, a middle table team, was dead last in penalties. Vancouver, one of the worst teams in the league had just an average number of penalties.
In 2018, the league’s second best team, Atlanta United, had the most penalties. However, the supporter’s shield winning Red Bulls had a less than average amount of penalties.