I have gone back and forth on how I feel about PPR leagues, but I believe I am finally on board completely. My aversion to them was mainly because I was just so used to playing in non-PPR. But this season I am really moving toward league set ups that allow for a more balanced playing field and a somewhat truer to “life” fake football game. Auctions and 2 QB leagues are also high on my list this season. And I plan on campaigning for 2 TE leagues when my schedule allows. To me the closest to a perfect league is Auction draft, 12-14 teams, 2 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 2 TE, 1 R/W/T, K, D/ST (Yes, I know, IDP, Hey, I only have so much time in my day!), and then a somewhat basic scoring with 1 PPR.
PPR takes those versatile running backs and gives them a leg up on those plodding, run up the gut for half a foot and accumulate touchdowns specialists. It awards the players we are paying to see make spectacular catch and runs, but who are also able to get those tough yards. And it also spreads out the number or running backs that may hold value, so you have to expand your knowledge base a little more. (This is also true with return yardage leagues, but that is another story)
And besides running backs it gives receivers more value. Elite wide receivers don’t really come close to the elite running backs in non-PPR scoring, but in PPR it narrows that lead dramatically. It also gives a nice boost to all those scrappers that go over the middle scrappy-like and into the concussion scrap-zone.
So, with that said, how do you go about drafting in a Points Per Receptions league? First off, don’t go crazy. For the most part PPR and non-PPR follow many of the same guidelines. You still only need 1 QB and 1 TE so go for value, just as you would in non PPR. And a good player in non-ppr is still a good player in ppr, how much their ranking changes depends completely on how many receptions they have. Yes, that is a Joe Theisman statement if he knew anything about fantasy football, but remember that is the only difference. Receiving yards count for the same amount of points as before.
The biggest change in strategy is where you pick wide receivers. There are those elite few that you can count on grabbing 80+ receptions and you want them on your team. Running backs have higher ceilings than wide receivers even in PPR, but they are not nearly as reliable. When you are playing in a non-PPR league you can take the risk of grabbing a running back with a lot of upside because you know that the risk is not as bad as the reward. But in PPR the chance that you get this seasons Chris Johnson is slim because the odds of there even being a Chris Johnson: Dos Mil are low.
So you are going with wide receivers early. Good for you! But where do you draw the line? Last season the top 3 RBs won out over the wide receivers, but then it was a wide receiver orgy. Let’s take a look see at the top ten in ESPN PPR leagues last season.
1. Chris Johnson 379
2. Maurice Jones-Drew 308
3. Adrian Peterson 308
4. Andre Johnson 306
5. Ray Rice 306
6. Randy Moss 279
7. Wes Welker 278
8. Reggie Wayne 277
9. Larry Fitzgerald 277
10. Miles Austin 275
So that’s 6 of the top 10 players in PPR being wide receivers. And if you keep moving down the list you keep running into receivers. In 10-20 there are only 3 running backs. So in many ways this becomes a reverse situation to non ppr. The chances of getting a top 20 receiver later in the draft are pretty good. Two ways of thinking can crop up. The leading receivers are very stable and they score a whole bucket full of points. The top 10 running backs don’t score as many points and they aren’t all that stable, so I need to start my draft with 2 WRs, especially if I don’t have one of the top 3-4 slots. For the most part this is sound, but it also can turn around on you.
The drop off from the top running backs in PPR to the 10-12 running back is steeper than the drop off from the top WR and the 10-12 WR. So grabbing a top RB is a good idea, but when do you start getting diminishing returns? Well, usually when the running backs stop catching passes. Wide receivers just catch balls, that’s their thing. Running backs don’t have to, and as soon as we hit those RBs that don’t, it’s time to make sure you are grabbing receivers. 10 of the top 13 RBs had 40 receptions or more. The only backs who can buck the trend are ones who get into the endzone an inordinate amount of times, which you cannot always count on happening. But you can count on receptions.
So my plan going into a PPR draft is to take the top 4 RBs, AJ, then Frank Gore and SJax, then go wide receiver crazy, until the ADP’s of Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, and Jahvid Best come around. I do not want two running backs to start a PPR draft though. Receivers will be going off the board quickly and I very much want at least on of the top tier guys.
If I grab 2 elite receivers and then start my running backs with McCoy or Best, I am happy. Your PPR team should be lean and mean with hands of stickeem (or stickum). I am more than willing to draft Michael Turner, but I rather have Jamaal Charles. Receptions just happen for the guys that are good at catching the ball. Your player could have 50 yards rushing and 6 receptions for 45 yards and no TDs and you had a good day. If Michael Turner rushes for 110 yards and doesn’t get into the end zone, your day wasn’t as good.
As you get further into the draft you will want to stock up on receiving backs. You know the type. Chester Taylor, Darren Sproles, Darren McFadden, Reggie Bush, Kevin Faulk and so on. They are reliable enough receivers to assure you points when someone on your team is on a bye or is hurt.
PPR receivers are fairly easy to pick up off the waiver wire. If a slot receiver is starting to get a lot of targets, he’s someone to look out for. A player without a ton of skill, but who is willing to go into the soft under belly of the defense and take a beating after the catch is someone QBs love to sacrifice for first downs.
So there are a few hints and allegations. Make of them what you will. Here are our PPR Tiers if you need a little help drafting. And good luck!