The FPC and the Tight End PPR Bonus Rule
By Jeff Pasquino
June 29th, 2011

Footballguys continues to advance the world of fantasy football. With several additions to their offerings last year, the much heralded Best Online Content Site for 2009 joined the world of High Stakes Fantasy contests and made an instant splash. Joe Bryant and David Dodds teamed with David Gerczak and Alex Kaganovsky of the Fantasy Football Players Championship (myffpc.com) to create the first annual Footballguys Players Championship contest in 2010 and by all measures it was a huge success. Now the FPC and FFPC are back again, better than ever for 2011.

By studying the rules of both the FFPC and the FPC along with some of the history and previous performances by FPC players, insights can be found that will help many players to not only compete well in both contests but also to be in a position to win their league and be in the running for a top prize in the championship round.

As the summer rolls on, I will continue analyzing many aspects of the Footballguys Players Championship and the Fantasy Football Players Championship. Through these articles I hope to provide extra help with fully understanding how to best build a top notch fantasy team within the contest. As someone who has competed against the best players in the world and in several contests much like the FPC and the FFPC, I fully understand how every possible advantage and extra edge can make all the difference in the world.

The TE PPR Bonus Rule

Under the microscope this time around is the special PPR rule for tight ends. According the rules of the Footballguys Players Championship, the tight end PPR rule is as follows:

Roster/Scoring:

  • The scoring system gives 1 point per reception for RBs & WRs but also gives 1.5 points per reception for TEs, putting extra weight to the TE position.

So how do you analyze the impact of this 50% bonus for PPR rule for tight ends? Is it of huge importance or not? We need to dig into some numbers.

Let's start by taking a look at how many tight ends really rack up a big total of catches each season. Looking back at the past two years, I broke the tight ends down by the number of players with 40 or more catches, tiering them all the way to 80 or more receptions. The results are shown below in Table 1:

Rec
2010
2009
2008
"Bonus"
80+
1
3
3
40+
70+
3
8
5
35+
60+
8
10
6
30+
50+
13
14
11
25+
40+
24
20
19
20+

Table 1: Tight End Receptions in 2008, 2009, and 2010

Several key facts can be pulled from Table 1:

  • Top tight ends are really top heavy. Only three tight ends were able to break the 80-catch level in 2008 and 2009, with only one in 2010.
  • 2009 topped both 2008 and 2010 for tight ends that were "very good" performers, especially in PPR. Two seasons ago ten TEs were able to collect 60 or more receptions, nearly twice as many as the previous season (six). Last year fell right in the middle between the two extremes as eight tight ends had 60 or more catches.
  • In all three seasons, a plateau hits at both 50 and 40 catches. Somewhere in the 50-ish catch range marks the end of TE1s and 40+ receptions define very good fantasy TE2 options.

One of the key questions for 2011 is whether or not there will be so many "very good" tight ends to fill up that 60+ tier again this coming season. Certainly if a dozen or more tight ends wind up reaching that level it would be of great value to teams with two top performers on their roster (and likely both in the lineup due to the Dual-Flex rule).

Let's take a different angle on the above chart. Notice the "Bonus" column in Table 1. What that reflects are the extra fantasy points that a team receives over a normal PPR scoring format (one point per reception for tight ends). To get a better understanding of the impact of this bonus I was able to use two additional tools - the Footballguys Draft Dominator and also some FPC ADP information.

The Draft Dominator is a nice tool to use to run some mock drafts and get a feel for not only how to draft but also to see about when typical players should be drafted (if everyone used VBD drafting). What I did was I set up a typical 12 team, 20 round draft (with FPC starting lineups) and I let the Draft Dominator calculate both VBD and also perform a complete mock draft. I ran this twice, once with FPC scoring and once with typical PPR scoring (1 point for TEs). Below in Table 2 is a summary of the fantasy point differences and VBD differences in the two formats:

Rk
Tight End
1 PPR
1.5 PPR
VBD Bump
FPs
VBD
FPs
VBD
1
Jason Witten
210.1
44
251.6
63
19
2
Antonio Gates
203.5
38
237.5
49
11
3
Dallas Clark
190.6
25
227.6
39
14
4
Vernon Davis
187.0
21
218.1
30
9
5
Jermichael Finley
179.4
14
210.8
22
8
6
Chris Cooley
164.8
-1
198.1
10
11
7
Zach Miller
158.9
-7
188.7
0
7
8
Kellen Winslow
157.9
-8
188.4
0
8
9
Marcedes Lewis
156.4
-9
182.5
-6
3
10
Tony Gonzalez
155.2
-10
185.3
-3
7
11
Jimmy Graham
154.4
-11
180.1
-8
3
12
Dustin Keller
153.7
-12
182.3
-6
6
13
Rob Gronkowski
145.9
-20
168.4
-20
0
14
Brandon Pettigrew
143.8
-22
172.4
-16
6
15
Owen Daniels
142.8
-23
169.1
-19
4
16
Jared Cook
141.1
-25
167.3
-21
4
17
Jermaine Gresham
132.0
-34
158.3
-30
4
18
Heath Miller
129.5
-36
154.4
-34
2
19
Tony Moeaki
127.9
-38
152.3
-36
2
20
Aaron Hernandez
126.2
-40
147.3
-41
-1

Table 2: TE VBD and Fantasy Points Projections Comparison - 1.0 vs. 1.5 PPR

Based on Table 2, you can see that the Top 8 tight ends all get a 7+ VBD point bump due to the extra bonus of 1.5 PPR scoring. So how does that translate to a draft? Let's take a look at where each one was selected in the two formats during the Draft Dominator mock drafts in Table 3:

Rk
Tight End
1 PPR Mock
1.5 PPR Mock
Mock Bump
1
Jason Witten
4.01
3.02
11
2
Antonio Gates
4.05
3.10
7
3
Dallas Clark
6.02
4.01
25
4
Vernon Davis
6.03
4.03
24
5
Jermichael Finley
6.06
6.04
2
6
Chris Cooley
7.09
7.08
1
7
Zach Miller
8.10
8.04
6
8
Kellen Winslow
9.01
8.05
8
9
Tony Gonzalez
9.03
8.12
3
10
Marcedes Lewis
9.02
9.01
1
11
Dustin Keller
9.05
9.02
3
12
Jimmy Graham
9.04
9.03
1
13
Brandon Pettigrew
13.01
10.09
28
14
Owen Daniels
13.04
11.11
17
15
Rob Gronkowski
12.11
13.03
-4
16
Jared Cook
14.01
13.04
9
17
Jermaine Gresham
14.07
14.01
6
18
Heath Miller
15.05
14.02
15
19
Tony Moeaki
15.06
14.10
8
20
Aaron Hernandez
15.07
15.04
3

Table 3: TE Mock Draft Results Comparison - 1.0 vs. 1.5 PPR

The top tight ends, as you might expect by the big boost to their VBD, move up a one to two rounds in the draft. This year the lower rounds (Rounds 7-9) are most popular for tight ends, which reflects that there is a deeper Tier 2 for tight ends this season. That probably is a reflection of both depth at the position across the entire league as well as a weak performance for tight ends in 2010.

The last question that really needs to be asked is how these mocks compare to real drafts. The good news is that Clayton Gray has pulled together some great ADP data this year based on last year's drafts and married that with the current ADP data. Table 4 takes that ADP and compares it to the 1.5 PPR mock:

Rk
1.5 PPR Mock
FFPC ADP
ADP "Reach"
1
3.02
2.01
13
2
3.10
2.04
18
3
4.01
2.08
17
4
4.03
2.12
15
5
6.04
3.05
35
6
7.08
3.10
46
7
8.04
4.07
45
8
8.05
5.08
33
9
8.12
6.02
34
10
9.01
6.09
28
11
9.02
7.01
25
12
9.03
7.06
21
13
10.09
7.12
33
14
11.11
8.07
40
15
13.03
9.02
49
16
13.04
9.10
42
17
14.01
10.09
40
18
14.02
11.04
34
19
14.10
12.03
31
20
15.04
13.01
27

Table 4: Tight End FPC Mock Pick vs. FFPC ADP Data

Interesting results when you compare the two drafts. A clear "reach" pattern emerges with the first four tight ends being drafted about a round to a round and a half earlier than the VBD suggests as good value, and then the next tier of 3-4 tight ends go about three or almost four rounds early. The trend continues for the balance of the Top 15 as the next 10 TEs average going about three rounds too soon. The question that needs to be answered now is whether the "reach" is justified, and if it can be expected in drafts with 1.5 PPR for tight ends.

Parting Thoughts

The common thought is that the 1.5 PPR scoring rule will create a significant advantage for tight end scoring, but the degree to which it matters varies widely with the talent level of the tight ends themselves. If a fantasy team owner grabs a 80+ catch tight end, he should have a significant advantage over other teams (about 30 catches per season for about half the league). That advantage is not as big as it might seem, yet based on the 2010 FPC Draft ADP data we see that the tight ends are going "too early". Why is that? It has to be perception of the value of tight ends, and the significance of having an elite one over a very good one, and a very good one over just a good TE1. Basically the scoring and uniqueness of the format creates a false sense of a run on the position and teams "reach" for tight ends early. The reach problem is not that bad, however, if everyone agrees that they will do it - and that seems to be the trend across 1.5 PPR leagues.

So how do you approach the tight end position, especially with 1.5 PPR scoring? Certainly running a few mocks and reviewing previous drafts are a good start in trying to figure out when to take a TE1. Grab one too soon and your team will be hurting in other spots, but wait too long and you will fall behind at a key starting position. My recommendation is to split the difference. Based on the ADP of 2010 drafts, the sweet spot is similar to the 1.5 PPR mock - Rounds 7 to 9. At that point of the draft you should have your RB1, RB2, WR1 and WR2 along with 2-3 more starters and, so grabbing a tight end at that point does not cost you your true studs with your first picks. The advantage of having the top tight end (based on projections) could easily be not worth it since some tight ends overperform and others disappoint, so snagging your favorite tight end in the TE10-TE13 range seems like the best strategy.

As a second thought to getting the best tight end value, keep an eye out for any tight ends that are slipping down in Rounds 8-10. Grabbing a strong TE2 can give a fantasy squad excellent depth and versatility under the Dual-Flex rule and also back up a key starting position.

It takes a little time to get your mind wrapped around a new contest with a new set of rules, but the time spent is often well worth it if the goal is to field a competitive team. Giving a little bit of effort to get a greater understanding of the twists and turns to the rulebook can give turn a good fantasy player into a great one and a great player into a dominant force. Knowledge is power - so be as powerful as you can!

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.

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