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How To Attack Large PPR Leagues

Strategy on Attacking Your Large PPR League Draft

Large leagues are a lot of fun. The addition of PPR (Point Per Reception) scoring adds a different dimension to standard sixteen-team leagues. These leagues are much different than the standard scoring, twelve-team ones. It is a losing proposition to use draft strategies intended for smaller or standard scoring leagues and try to adapt those to PPR and sixteen teams. An entirely different strategy is required in order to make the most of the draft. This article will look at sixteen-team leagues using PPR scoring. The PPR scoring rewards a point per reception for all positions. We will examine strategies specially designed for the larger PPR leagues in order to best attack the draft and get the most from the roster. These will help you form a new strategy for your larger league.

Down to basics, what are the differences I should know about the large PPR leagues?

In general, the larger the leagues, the more positional scarcity comes into play, especially at the quarterback position. In twelve team leagues, there might be twelve starting quarterbacks you would want as your starter. But, when the number of teams goes to sixteen, there will be a few fantasy squads with poor quarterback play. This is not as true with the running back position in PPR when compared to non-PPR scoring. PPR leagues still reward quarterback and running back play, but there are subtle differences. First, the elite backs with strong receiving skills are gold in PPR leagues. They are scarce.  Plus, there are some lesser ball carriers who catch enough passes to be viable starters, increasing the number of players in the position pool. The value at the wide receiver position gains value on the running backs earlier in the draft when compared to non-PPR leagues. There is an increased number of wideouts now in play for the early rounds. The large league means that we must have a plan in order to get the most value out of the running backs and wide receivers.

Anyone that has been caught in a position run in a standard twelve-team league knows how hopeless and frustrating it can be feeling there is nothing you can do to help your situation as you see player after player selected. These runs affect every position in the larger PPR leagues. The extra teams mean the runs can be longer and those left out are in even worse shape than in the smaller leagues. The talent plateaus at certain points in the draft mean a drop-off is coming if you do not take a player in the run.

Since most larger leagues have fewer roster spots per team, each one is important. Knowing how to strike the best balance is the key. This involves the tight end, kicker, and team defense positions as well as depth at running back and wide receiver.

Knowing when to take a kicker or team defense is a bigger issue in the larger leagues. So few strong options exist, but must we use an early pick to get the kicker and team defense we want?

How do I best address these issues above?

Due to fewer desirable alternatives at the quarterback position, expect to select your starter earlier than in twelve-team leagues. While it seems unfathomable to most fantasy owners, it might be best to draft a starting quarterback in the first two rounds, especially if you are picking at the end of the first round. There are a couple of reasons for this strategy. In all league sizes, if you are drafting at the end of round one, you need to have positions of strength in order to make up the sizable deficit at the wide receiver and running back positions. So, selecting a quarterback at the 1/2 turn helps get a stud at the position in larger leagues. The other aspect to consider is how many at the position could be gone before your third-round pick. You could take QB3 in the early part of the second round or the QB10 (or worse) at the end of the third round. There is a huge difference in the predictability of future production as well as the level of certainty of the situation in the elite passer. There are many more viable fantasy wideouts than rushers after the first twenty picks. In large leagues that start two running backs, three wide receivers, and a flex, both positions are important for different reasons. Getting an anchor fantasy RB1 is the first course of action unless Antonio Brown is available. Then you move to look for value at both positions for many rounds with only a quarterback mixed in, as the value dictates. Unless you take Rob Gronkowski early, tight ends can offer value, but they usually become a value play in the sixth round or later.

Positional runs are a tough pill to swallow. You need to plan ahead and be proactive. Stay ahead of the runs by picking your core positions early. This means, as stated above, selecting starters at quarterback and your first running back earlier than normal with the thought that there are plenty of choices available later at wide receiver in PPR leagues. As you move to the middle rounds of your draft, start keeping tabs on the tight end position. Make a list of players you will be fine with as fantasy starters at the position and be proactive as your list gets smaller and smaller. For rounds four through eight, you will find great options at wide receiver and tight end, so plan ahead and wait to see where the value lies.

Roster management is very important in the larger leagues, especially those rewarding points for receptions. Knowing how to best manage your depth roster spots is difficult. The first thing to do is to see what your league rewards compared to the strengths (and weaknesses) of your starting lineup. In the PPR leagues, your reserves should include plenty of running backs and wide receivers. It might be best to stash an upside back or handcuff of a starter. Also, since the wide receiver position has plenty of good options, it is best to roster as many pass catchers as possible. Several emerge each season to be strong fantasy starters. Many times, it is best to select only one kicker and one team defense in order to free as many bench roster spots as possible for running backs and wide receivers. Make sure to draft kickers and team defenses with late byes. By midseason, there will be plenty of options available on the waiver wire. The key is finding starters at those positions with a late bye. At the tight end position, there are differing opinions as to the need for rostering a backup. If you have a stud at the position, meaning you have one of the better starters in expected production, then it is best not to roster a backup. Save the bench spot for another position. You invested a quality pick at the position. There is no need to use another roster spot, too. But, it is best to have a quality reserve tight end if you do not have a top tight end. That is one position where players emerge and disappoint every year.

It might be best to address the kicker and team defense positions a little earlier in larger leagues than in twelve team leagues. Each year, there are multiple factors which minimize the number of desirable options at each position. Just think how few kickers and team defenses have late bye weeks (as discussed above), good strength of schedule for matchup purposes since we are only carrying one at each position, and kicking jobs settled that make your short list for both positions. The list is not large.

When we look at the VBD (Value Based Drafting) application, we quickly realize how valued the wide receivers are when compared to the other positions, even in PPR leagues. Yes, above, we advised taking a quarterback early due to scarcity reasons and, the VBD application has only Cam Newton in the Top 50 picks.  And, even he is not valued highly by the VBD.  But, your leaguemates will take quarterbacks early and often.  You will have two choices: take one early, too, or get stuck with the likes of Andy Dalton as your starter at the position.  The wide receivers dominate the first few rounds, including 12 of the top 16 players (representing the first round).  The VBD accounts for positional scarcity and available options at other positions using the Footballguys.com projections. The league variables used were sixteen teams, sixteen roster spots, scoring giving one point per reception, and starting requirements of 1 Quarterback, 2 Running Backs, 3 Wide Receivers, 1 Tight End, 1 Flex, 1 Kicker, and 1 Team Defense.

Below is a table with the Top 160 players from the Footballguys projections. Notice how the VBD drops way off after Todd Gurley (RB2), then slowly declines compared to the other positions. This is very similar to the non-PPR scoring. The point is very important since it illustrates how valuable those top ball carriers are when compared to the lesser options at the position, in both PPR and non-PPR scoring.  With so many wideouts becoming valuable earlier, the quarterbacks are pushed down the pile. The good news is that in your draft, you will be able to accumulate value by stockpiling receivers in the middle rounds. 

Rank

Pos

Player

Team

Pts

ADP

VBD

1

WR1

Antonio Brown

PIT/8

361

1

222

2

WR2

Julio Jones

ATL/11

345

2

207

3

WR3

Odell Beckham Jr

NYG/8

327

3

188

4

WR4

DeAndre Hopkins

HOU/9

301

4

162

5

WR5

A.J. Green

CIN/9

294

5

155

6

RB1

David Johnson

ARI/9

282

6

143

7

RB2

Todd Gurley

LA/8

277

7

137

8

WR6

Jordy Nelson

GB/4

271

8

132

9

WR7

Dez Bryant

DAL/7

268

10

130

10

WR8

Brandon Marshall

NYJ/11

266

12

128

11

WR9

Allen Robinson

JAX/5

261

14

123

12

WR10

Alshon Jeffery

CHI/9

260

13

121

13

RB3

Devonta Freeman

ATL/11

263

9

124

14

WR11

Keenan Allen

SD/11

257

17

119

15

RB4

Ezekiel Elliott

DAL/7

260

11

121

16

WR12

T.Y. Hilton

IND/10

254

21

115

17

WR13

Demaryius Thomas

DEN/11

253

20

115

18

TE1

Rob Gronkowski

NE/9

259

15

121

19

RB5

Lamar Miller

HOU/9

254

16

114

20

RB6

Jamaal Charles

KC/5

252

19

113

21

WR14

Mike Evans

TB/6

246

22

108

22

WR15

Amari Cooper

OAK/10

246

23

108

23

WR16

Brandin Cooks

NO/5

243

26

104

24

WR17

Jarvis Landry

MIA/8

242

28

104

25

RB7

Adrian Peterson

MIN/6

243

18

104

26

RB8

Mark Ingram

NO/5

243

25

104

27

WR18

Jeremy Maclin

KC/5

238

30

99

28

WR19

Sammy Watkins

BUF/10

238

27

99

29

WR20

Randall Cobb

GB/4

232

29

94

30

RB9

LeVeon Bell

PIT/8

235

24

96

31

WR21

Larry Fitzgerald

ARI/9

228

36

89

32

WR22

Golden Tate

DET/10

223

35

85

33

WR23

Eric Decker

NYJ/11

219

44

81

34

WR24

Doug Baldwin

SEA/5

216

41

78

35

RB10

Doug Martin

TB/6

220

31

81

36

WR25

Julian Edelman

NE/9

215

42

77

37

RB11

LeSean McCoy

BUF/10

218

32

78

38

WR26

Donte Moncrief

IND/10

212

50

74

39

RB12

Matt Forte

NYJ/11

217

34

77

40

QB1

Cam Newton

CAR/7

389

33

77

41

WR27

Jordan Matthews

PHI/4

209

51

70

42

RB13

Dion Lewis

NE/9

213

39

73

43

RB14

C.J. Anderson

DEN/11

212

40

73

44

WR28

Kelvin Benjamin

CAR/7

207

43

69

45

RB15

Duke Johnson

CLE/13

210

45

70

46

WR29

Michael Crabtree

OAK/10

204

56

66

47

TE2

Jordan Reed

WAS/9

211

37

72

48

WR30

Michael Floyd

ARI/9

200

52

61

49

RB16

Eddie Lacy

GB/4

205

38

65

50

RB17

Latavius Murray

OAK/10

204

46

65

51

TE3

Greg Olsen

CAR/7

206

47

67

52

WR31

Emmanuel Sanders

DEN/11

197

60

58

53

WR32

DeVante Parker

MIA/8

196

62

58

54

QB2

Aaron Rodgers

GB/4

375

48

63

55

RB18

Giovani Bernard

CIN/9

200

55

60

56

WR33

Allen Hurns

JAX/5

194

64

56

57

RB19

Thomas Rawls

SEA/5

198

49

59

58

RB20

Carlos Hyde

SF/8

197

53

57

59

WR34

Tyler Lockett

SEA/5

191

68

52

60

WR35

DeSean Jackson

WAS/9

189

72

51

61

TE4

Travis Kelce

KC/5

196

58

57

62

RB21

Danny Woodhead

SD/11

193

54

54

63

WR36

John Brown

ARI/9

188

70

50

64

QB3

Russell Wilson

SEA/5

366

57

54

65

TE5

Coby Fleener

NO/5

188

63

49

66

QB4

Andrew Luck

IND/10

360

59

48

67

WR37

Kevin White

CHI/9

179

76

41

68

RB22

Ryan Mathews

PHI/4

184

65

45

69

RB23

Frank Gore

IND/10

181

74

42

70

RB24

DeMarco Murray

TEN/13

181

61

41

71

WR38

Tavon Austin

LA/8

176

96

37

72

RB25

Matt Jones

WAS/9

180

66

40

73

WR39

Marvin Jones

DET/10

175

80

37

74

QB5

Drew Brees

NO/5

354

67

42

75

RB26

Jeremy Langford

CHI/9

179

69

39

76

WR40

Willie Snead

NO/5

173

99

35

77

TE6

Zach Ertz

PHI/4

180

82

41

78

TE7

Delanie Walker

TEN/13

180

71

41

79

WR41

Sterling Shepard

NYG/8

173

89

34

80

WR42

Josh Gordon

CLE/13

172

85

33

81

WR43

Stefon Diggs

MIN/6

172

93

33

82

WR44

Torrey Smith

SF/8

171

101

32

83

WR45

Corey Coleman

CLE/13

168

88

30

84

QB6

Ben Roethlisberger

PIT/8

347

75

35

85

RB27

Theo Riddick

DET/10

171

92

32

86

WR46

Laquon Treadwell

MIN/6

166

94

28

87

RB28

Jeremy Hill

CIN/9

171

73

31

88

TE8

Tyler Eifert

CIN/9

170

77

31

89

RB29

Ameer Abdullah

DET/10

168

78

28

90

RB30

Arian Foster

MIA/8

167

91

27

91

WR47

Travis Benjamin

SD/11

162

102

24

92

RB31

Melvin Gordon

SD/11

166

81

27

93

TE9

Gary Barnidge

CLE/13

168

84

29

94

RB32

Jonathan Stewart

CAR/7

165

79

26

95

WR48

Vincent Jackson

TB/6

159

108

20

96

RB33

Charles Sims

TB/6

163

83

24

97

QB7

Blake Bortles

JAX/5

335

90

23

98

RB34

T.J. Yeldon

JAX/5

160

86

21

99

QB8

Carson Palmer

ARI/9

335

87

23

100

WR49

Michael Thomas

NO/5

155

113

17

101

TE10

Julius Thomas

JAX/5

162

103

23

102

TE11

Jason Witten

DAL/7

161

124

23

103

WR50

Markus Wheaton

PIT/8

154

109

16

104

QB9

Eli Manning

NYG/8

333

98

21

105

TE12

Antonio Gates

SD/11

160

111

21

106

RB35

DeAngelo Williams

PIT/8

157

95

18

107

RB36

Rashad Jennings

NYG/8

157

104

17

108

TE13

Dwayne Allen

IND/10

158

117

20

109

WR51

Rishard Matthews

TEN/13

150

137

11

110

QB10

Jameis Winston

TB/6

329

107

17

111

WR52

Phillip Dorsett

IND/10

149

121

11

112

WR53

Steve Smith

BAL/8

149

112

10

113

QB11

Tom Brady

NE/9

325

97

13

114

WR54

Mohamed Sanu

ATL/11

145

125

7

115

QB12

Philip Rivers

SD/11

325

105

13

116

WR55

Devin Funchess

CAR/7

143

123

5

117

RB37

Jay Ajayi

MIA/8

146

100

7

118

RB38

Isaiah Crowell

CLE/13

146

118

6

119

RB39

Shane Vereen

NYG/8

146

130

6

120

WR56

Pierre Garcon

WAS/9

141

132

2

121

QB13

Marcus Mariota

TEN/13

318

131

6

122

WR57

Dorial Green-Beckham

TEN/13

138

116

-1

123

RB40

Bilal Powell

NYJ/11

142

120

2

124

TE14

Martellus Bennett

NE/9

144

127

5

125

QB14

Matthew Stafford

DET/10

316

119

4

126

QB15

Tyrod Taylor

BUF/10

315

133

3

127

WR58

Robert Woods

BUF/10

137

141

-2

128

RB41

Justin Forsett

BAL/8

139

106

0

129

QB16

Kirk Cousins

WAS/9

314

122

2

130

TE15

Eric Ebron

DET/10

141

128

3

131

TE16

Jimmy Graham

SEA/5

141

126

2

132

QB17

Ryan Tannehill

MIA/8

311

134

-1

133

WR59

Kenny Britt

LA/8

136

146

-3

134

TE17

Zach Miller

CHI/9

139

138

0

135

TE18

Ladarius Green

PIT/8

136

114

-2

136

WR60

Terrance Williams

DAL/7

135

140

-3

137

QB18

Ryan Fitzpatrick

NYJ/11

311

136

-1

138

RB42

Darren Sproles

PHI/4

137

129

-2

139

WR61

Kamar Aiken

BAL/8

134

135

-4

140

RB43

Chris Ivory

JAX/5

136

110

-3

141

QB19

Derek Carr

OAK/10

309

115

-3

142

TE19

Kyle Rudolph

MIN/6

134

151

-5

143

TE20

Charles Clay

BUF/10

134

148

-5

144

RB44

James Starks

GB/4

132

142

-8

145

QB20

Andy Dalton

CIN/9

307

139

-5

146

WR62

Sammie Coates

PIT/8

127

144

-11

147

WR63

Bruce Ellington

SF/8

124

153

-14

148

QB21

Matt Ryan

ATL/11

302

143

-10

149

WR64

Jermaine Kearse

SEA/5

117

157

-22

150

RB45

LeGarrette Blount

NE/9

121

147

-18

151

TE21

Jordan Cameron

MIA/8

128

158

-10

152

WR65

Tyler Boyd

CIN/9

114

154

-24

153

WR66

Anquan Boldin

DET/10

114

168

-25

154

QB22

Tony Romo

DAL/7

299

150

-13

155

WR67

Jaelen Strong

HOU/9

113

161

-25

156

RB46

Kenneth Dixon

BAL/8

118

145

-21

157

TE22

Will Tye

NYG/8

126

159

-12

158

QB23

Alex Smith

KC/5

297

169

-15

159

RB47

Tevin Coleman

ATL/11

116

149

-24

160

WR68

Josh Doctson

WAS/9

110

155

-29

 To summarize the above, take wide receivers and running backs early and often, mixing in a quarterback early, then pound the receiver position in the middle rounds while waiting on a tight end.  This strategy offers the highest chance for success. 

Please feel free to email me (Tefertiller@Footballguys.com) with any questions or comments.  Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIN, and Google+ so feel free to connect at which is most convenient.