The FPC and the Tight End PPR Bonus Rule
By Jeff Pasquino
August 18th, 2012

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 for their third season, ready to knock it out of the park once again in 2012.

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 and 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 four 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
    2011
    2010
    2009
    2008
    "Bonus"
    80+
    4
    1
    3
    3
    40+
    70+
    7
    3
    8
    5
    35+
    60+
    11
    8
    10
    6
    30+
    50+
    17
    13
    14
    11
    25+
    40+
    20
    24
    20
    19
    20+

    Table 1: Tight End Receptions in 2008 through 2011

    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, but the number jumped up to four last season.

  • Last year and 2009 topped both 2008 and 2010 for tight ends that were "very good" performers, especially in PPR. In both 2009 and 2011 at least ten TEs were able to collect 60 or more receptions. Similar spreads happen at the 70 or more catch level as well.

  • 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. Last season was the high water mark for 50+ catches with 17 tight ends, showing the general trend towards more tight end involvement in the passing game.

  • One of the key questions for 2012 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
    Jimmy Graham
    251.2
    71
    293.4
    97
    26
    2
    Rob Gronkowski
    236.8
    56
    274.4
    78
    22
    3
    Aaron Hernandez
    197.6
    17
    232.9
    37
    20
    4
    Jason Witten
    192.2
    12
    224.7
    29
    17
    5
    Antonio Gates
    188.3
    8
    223.5
    28
    20
    6
    Vernon Davis
    180.4
    0
    212.8
    17
    17
    7
    Brandon Pettigrew
    171.4
    -9
    205.5
    10
    19
    8
    Tony Gonzalez
    165.8
    -15
    195.2
    -1
    14
    9
    Jermichael Finley
    163.4
    -17
    192.4
    -4
    13
    10
    Brent Celek
    152.0
    -28
    179.5
    -16
    12
    11
    Fred Davis
    150.1
    -30
    177.0
    -19
    11
    12
    Jermaine Gresham
    145.5
    -35
    174.4
    -22
    13
    13
    Dustin Keller
    144.7
    -36
    170.9
    -25
    11
    14
    Jacob Tamme
    132.4
    -48
    156.8
    -39
    9
    15
    Jared Cook
    130.9
    -50
    153.8
    -42
    8
    16
    Greg Olsen
    129.1
    -51
    153.0
    -43
    8
    17
    Owen Daniels
    128.3
    -52
    151.9
    -44
    8
    18
    Kyle Rudolph
    119.1
    -61
    142.0
    -54
    7
    19
    Heath Miller
    117.1
    -63
    139.0
    -57
    6
    20
    Coby Fleener
    116.3
    -64
    138.1
    -58
    6

    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 7 tight ends all get a 15+ 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
    Jimmy Graham
    27
    9
    18
    2
    Rob Gronkowski
    38
    22
    16
    3
    Aaron Hernandez
    70
    52
    18
    4
    Jason Witten
    78
    62
    16
    5
    Antonio Gates
    83
    64
    19
    6
    Vernon Davis
    96
    73
    23
    7
    Brandon Pettigrew
    123
    76
    47
    8
    Tony Gonzalez
    138
    96
    42
    9
    Jermichael Finley
    147
    102
    45
    10
    Brent Celek
    167
    141
    26
    11
    Fred Davis
    175
    147
    28
    12
    Jermaine Gresham
    194
    150
    44
    13
    Dustin Keller
    197
    159
    38
    14
    Jacob Tamme
    222
    194
    28
    15
    Jared Cook
    224
    205
    19
    16
    Greg Olsen
    227
    207
    20
    17
    Owen Daniels
    229
    209
    20
    18
    Kyle Rudolph
    241
    223
    18
    19
    Heath Miller
    249
    228
    21
    20
    Coby Fleener
    251
    232
    19

    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 the increased depth at the position across the entire league.

    The last question that really needs to be asked is how these mocks compare to real drafts. With the help of Clayton Gray here at Footballguys, he has pulled together some great ADP data based on early FPC drafts and created current ADP data for all of the top players. Table 4 takes that ADP and compares it to the 1.5 PPR mock:

    Rk
    1.5 PPR Mock
    FFPC ADP
    ADP "Reach"
    1
    9
    6
    3
    2
    22
    10
    12
    3
    52
    23
    29
    4
    62
    28
    34
    5
    64
    36
    28
    6
    73
    43
    30
    7
    76
    47
    29
    8
    96
    56
    40
    9
    102
    62
    40
    10
    141
    67
    74
    11
    147
    73
    74
    12
    150
    77
    73
    13
    159
    84
    75
    14
    194
    89
    105
    15
    205
    94
    111
    16
    207
    98
    109
    17
    209
    105
    104
    18
    223
    110
    113
    19
    228
    117
    111
    20
    232
    130
    102

    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 two tight ends going about a round earlier than the VBD suggests as good value, and then the next tier of 3-5 tight ends go about three rounds too early. The trend continues with TE8 and TE9 going four rounds too soon and then a big jump for TE10-13 going about six rounds too early. 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 20 catches per season for about half the league). That advantage is not as big as it might seem, yet based on the 2011 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 2011 drafts, the sweet spot is similar to the 1.5 PPR mock - Rounds 6 to 7. At that point of the draft you should have your RB1, RB2, WR1 and WR2 along with 1-2 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 TE8-TE11 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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