How to Draft For a PPR League
Since the birth of fantasy football, leagues have found a way to improve the game. Some consider it opinion, but we don’t think it is: PPR is better than standard, auction is better than serpentine, keeper and dynasty leagues are better than redrafts…
While auction and keeper/dynasty leagues have struggled to really catch on (are too much work for the everyday player), PPR leagues have now become the norm. Even though most leagues are PPR, few owners truly understand the effect this one little scoring change has on the game.
Key Takeaways From This PPR Article
This article goes into depth about how to nail your PPR fantasy draft, but it’s a bit long-winded. Here is the cliff notes version of how we think you should approach your 2016 PPR fantasy draft.
- No QB’s before round 8. There is seriously no value in taking a QB before round 8. We want a 2- QB combination of: Palmer, Bortles, Manning, Rivers, Stafford, Tannehill, Carr, Taylor, or Cousins. We will play matchups and dramatically outproduced the production of someone that takes Newton, Luck, Rodgers, or Wilson early.
- Load up on receivers early. 26 of the top 35 non-QB PPR scorers last season were receivers. We want to try and draft 3-4 of those guys this season. That means going WR in 4 of your first 6 picks.
- Receptions are crucial for RB’s. Adrian Peterson easily led the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns last season, yet finished 49th in PPR scoring. Woodhead went late, late in drafts (and will again this year) yet finished just 18 points behind Peterson in scoring. Target backs that catch the ball in the middle of your draft. Names to remember: Duke Johnson, James White, Danny Woodhead, Theo Riddick, Chris Thompson, Shane Vereen, Charles Sims, Giovani Bernard.
- Tight ends are not to be trusted. The tight end position seems to turn on it’s head every season in fantasy football. We saw 5 new names in the top 10 last season, after seeing 6 new names the year before.
New guys break out, then disappoint, then are mediocre, then are great, then get hurt… Your best bet is to grab 2 in rounds 7-13, and, like quarterbacks, play matchups. Of the guys available in that area we like Barnidge, Ertz, Ebron, Allen, Cook, Green (if it’s not headaches) and Clay. All seem like candidates to outperform their draft value and make a push towards the top 10 this season.
Recapping 2015 PPR Results
To better understand how PPR effects scoring and should effect your 2016 fantasy draft, let’s take a look back at the 2015 fantasy draft and PPR scoring totals for the year.
The number one overall pick in last season’s fantasy draft was Adrian Peterson. He had a career year, led the league in rush attempts and yards, yet finished 49th in scoring in PPR format leagues.
In fact, of the top 30 scorers in PPR leagues last season, only 4 were running backs, 10 were wide receivers, and 16 were quarterbacks. There are several points we should take from this…
Avoid QB’s and TE’s, Load Up on Top End WR, RB Depth
The first thing we need to take from last season is that quarterbacks and tight ends have no place in the first two rounds. QBs are a dime a dozen, and tight ends don’t get enough targets to be worthy of a first round pick. In fact, outside of Gronk in the late second or early third (he won’t be there) I have no interest in drafting a QB/TE in the first 3.5+ rounds.
Cam Newton had a crazy year last season, and if you are 100% sold on him being able to repeat that success this year he’s a solid third round pick. However, if moves back to the top of the QB class and averages 21 PPG this season, you will see that the gap between the #1 QB in fantasy and the #16 QB in fantasy is less than 4 PPG.
So why were running backs down in last season’s PPR scoring? Of the running backs to finish last season in the top 30 in per game fantasy scoring, three were injured (Bell, Charles, and Foster). Mark Ingram was on a tear last season before he was injured, McCoy was injured, Lacy was injured early and dealt with a decimated offensive line, and other top drafted running backs found themselves either injured or stuck in time shares.
Despite the lack of top end talent, the running back position was just as important as ever. Three of the top six owned players on championship teams were running backs (Charcandrick West, David Johnson, Tim Hightower). The bottom line, however, is that owners were burned at the top of the draft and that memory is going to stick.
Fast-forward to this mock season and I am seeing a guy like Ezekiel Elliott who’s coaches have been quoted as saying could get 370!?! carries and be highly active in the passing game as they look to protect Tony Romo go as late as 14. The fantasy community has done what it’s always done and swung the complete opposite direction.
So how do we take advantage of this overreaction, and what approach would we take to a 2016 PPR fantasy football draft? Let’s take a look at a mock draft to give you a better idea of what we would do round-by-round.
Round-By-Round PPR Analysis
If you draft at the top of the first round, your job is easy. Set up your top 5 picks if you are 5 and then stick to it on draft day. Take the best player available. For those at the top that are interested, our top 10 is: Brown, OBJ, Jones, Hopkins, Johnson, Gurley, Green, Elliott, Miller, Miller, Bryant. We just made the case for why Peterson isn’t a first round pick. Even at his best he’s barely a top 50 PPR player, because he gives you close to nothing in the pass game.
The back half of the first round is somewhat muddled with mystery. I think the volume for Romo and Dez is going to be way down this season (3,500 yards for Romo… 25%+ reduction), how good will Jordy be, how far do Robinson’s touchdown numbers fall, is Alshon still the Bears #1 with White healthy…
The top of round 2 is where I start to consider drafting Bell, however if you draft him, prepare to draft DeAngelo Williams a round or two early to ensure you don’t go 0-4. I’m not taking a running back that doesn’t play 3 downs or is in a timeshare in the second round. So no Doug Martin, DeVonta Freeman, or Thomas Rawls.
Before taking one of these backs that may end up being this year’s draft flop, I would take any of the receivers in this round, and would also consider Mark Ingram, Demaryius Thomas, Jarvis Landry, Brandon Marshall, and even Sammy Watkins. Bottom line, we want to exit the first two rounds with two players that are going to catch at least 45 passes, with no concerns over role or volume.
This round is full of great value and reaches that flat out will burn owners. Rawls is a two down back on a team with a bad offensive line, Matt Forte is in a timeshare, Doug Baldwin is a lock to regress this season, Kelvin Benjamin won’t see the targets he saw as a rookie, and Carolina’s schedule is a lot tougher than last season’s.
Guys we are targeting in addition to Ingram, Marshall, McCoy, Thomas, Landry, Watkins, and Hilton in the third round are players in improving systems: CJ Anderson, Randall Cobb, Carlos Hyde. Golden Tate is a lock to catch 100+ balls and will score 6-8 touchdowns this season, so he is a safe pick if you are struggling here.
We are still looking to add RB and WR depth in round 4. Tight ends and QBs are going to start dropping like flies, but that just allows value to drop to you here. At RB, you may hit a home run with Matt Jones, Dion Lewis, or Ryan Matthews if they can stay healthy. It’s worth a shot in this round if you went WR/WR/WR. If you went RB/RB/WR or WR/WR/RB, I would look to add another top receiver: Tate, Decker, Maclin, Floyd, Sanders, or even Donte Moncrief.
Rounds 5 and 6
If Jordan Reed is still available at the top of this round, I would consider him, otherwise you are adding a 5th RB or WR. Again, you are going to see quarterbacks flying off the board, and it’s going to be tempting to get one before they are gone, but we implore you to stick to the plan.
If you pull the string on Brees here, you are locked into starting him every week, vs taking Manning in the 8th and Stafford in the 10th and being able to play matchups all season. Matchups vs Brees: playing matchups will outscore Brees by 4+ points per week, and you are going to add another top 20 RB or top 40 WR.
Keep value in mind, but get someone you like. At WR, we are targeting Michael Floyd, Jordan Matthews, DaVante Parker, DeSean Jackson, Kevin White, and Marvin Jones in the 5th and 6th rounds. At RB we like Frand Gore, Rashad Jennings, Ameer Abdullah, and Jeremy Hill. You should be able to get 2 players from this group in these two rounds.
Rounds 7 and 8
If you can get Delanie Walker in round 7, it’s huge value. We have him ranked as the number 3 tight end in PPR format leagues, and you are getting him in the 7th round. This is why you wait to draft tight ends. We would also consider Fleener, Barnidge, and Ladarius Green here.
If those 4 tight ends are gone, we are waiting until round 9 and targeting Eric Ebron or Dwayne Allen. Add depth in the 7th at RB or WR. Stick to your board and draft a player you like. Danny Woodhead was a top 10 back last season, and be top 20 again this season. Charles Sims is going to push Martin for carries this season, and is the 3rd down and passing game back for the Bucs. He has a guaranteed role, and more upside than players like Yeldon, Williams, Forsett, and Gordon.
In our opinion, a fairly significant gap exists between Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, and Blake Bortles and our next tier (Carr, Cousins, Taylor). We recommend you snag one of these four QBs in the 8th, and try to get another in the 10th or 11th.
Rounds 9 and 10
Please, please, please do not draft a kicker or defense before the last two rounds of your draft. We are talking little to no PPG difference between the top drafted defense and the 12th. By the end of round 10 you should have your QB1, TE1, RB1, RB2, RB3, and WR1, WR2, WR3, WR4, and WR5. The only exception would be if you add a solid QB2 in round 10, or draft 4 running backs and 4 wide receivers.
Following this draft strategy will give you the absolute best chance to win your PPR fantasy league. You should finish with 3 RBs in your top 20 and 4-5 receivers in your top 40. When in doubt, always revert back to last season’s targets. Don’t try to predict a player’s role in a new system when you don’t have to, don’t try to predict an expanding role, go with a proven player in the first 10 rounds of your draft, and you will give yourself a solid chance to win your league.
One last note, don’t slack on the waiver wire. There is a reason David Johnson, Tim Hightower, or Charcandrick West were on most league winning teams, they were top 10 players down the stretch and were picked up off waivers.