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The FPC and the Tight End PPR Bonus Rule

The Footballguys Players Championship Analysis - Looking at the TE PPR Bonus Scoring Rule

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, ready to knock it out of the park once again in 2016.

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 six 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 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 "Bonus"
80+ 2 3 3 3 4 1 3 3 40+
70+ 9 4 6 5 7 3 8 5 35+
60+ 10 9 10 10 11 8 10 6 30+
50+ 17 14 16 18 17 13 14 11 25+
40+ 23 20 21 30 20 24 20 19 20+

Table 1: Tight End Receptions in 2008 through 2015

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 six of the past eight seasons and last year had just two.  The peak was just four back in 2011, while only one ight end managed 80 catches in 2010, but that clearly looks like an outlier year.
  • 2011-2013, 2009 and last season (2015) topped 2008, 2010 and 2014 for tight ends that were "very good" performers, especially in PPR.  In  2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015 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 eight 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. The run of the 2011-2013 seasons were the high water mark for 50+ catches with 16-18 tight ends hitting that mark, showing the general trend towards more tight end involvement in the passing game. That’s further indicated by a record number of tight ends with 40+ receptions in 2012. Last year in 2015 confirmed that trend with numbers at 40+ and 50+ catches showing good numbers of players.

One of the key questions for 2016 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: 

Rank Tight End 1 PPR 1.5 PPR VBD
Bump
FPs VBD FPs VBD
1 Rob Gronkowski 237.9 93 274.6 112 19
2 Greg Olsen 188.8 44 222.7 60 16
3 Gary Barnidge 185.2 41 216.9 54 13
4 Jordan Reed 183 39 217.9 55 16
5 Travis Kelce 180.9 36 213.8 51 15
6 Zach Ertz 172.4 28 206.2 43 15
7 Coby Fleener 166.3 22 197.9 35 13
8 Delanie Walker 162.8 18 192.5 30 12
9 Julius Thomas 159.3 15 186.8 24 9
10 Tyler Eifert 156.7 12 183.9 21 9
11 Ladarius Green 146.9 2 173.2 10 8
12 Jason Witten 144.5 0 172.3 9 9
13 Eric Ebron 143 -1 169.7 7 8
14 Antonio Gates 138.4 -6 163 0 6
15 Dwayne Allen 136.7 -8 160.9 -2 6
16 Austin Seferian-Jenkins 135.6 -9 160.1 -3 6
17 Zach Miller 129.9 -15 153.9 -8 7
18 Charles Clay 129.5 -16 154.6 -9 7
19 Kyle Rudolph 128.1 -22 152.6 -10 12
20 Martellus Bennett 122.9 -25 145.5 -18 7
21 Jimmy Graham 129.5 -25 142.5 -21 4
22 Jordan Cameron 119.4 -25 142 -21 4

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 10+ VBD point bump due to the extra bonus of 1.5 PPR scoring, and the Top 13 all get at least a +8 bump. 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:

Rank Tight End 1 PPR Mock 1.5 PPR Mock Mock Bump
1 Rob Gronkowski 4 3 1
2 Greg Olsen 44 26 18
3 Gary Barnidge 49 30 19
4 Jordan Reed 50 29 21
5 Travis Kelce 54 48 6
6 Zach Ertz 60 51 9
7 Coby Fleener 63 65 -2
8 Delanie Walker 75 66 9
9 Julius Thomas 83 74 9
10 Tyler Eifert 89 77 12
11 Ladarius Green 123 110 13
12 Jason Witten 127 112 15
13 Eric Ebron 129 117 12
14 Antonio Gates 137 123 14
15 Dwayne Allen 151 136 15
16 Austin Seferian-Jenkins 153 138 15
17 Zach Miller 172 158 14
18 Charles Clay 173 157 16
19 Kyle Rudolph 175 159 16
20 Martellus Bennett 181 168 13
21 Jimmy Graham 182 181 1
22 Jordan Cameron 183 183 0

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 full round or more for the second, third and fourth tight end on the list (Gronkowski cannot move up very far, since he is a Top 4 pick either way).  Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce reflect that second tier of tigth ends, moving up about half of a round in the draft for TE5 and TE6, followed by similar jumps upward by TE8 (Delanie Walker) and TE9 (Julius Thomas).  After TE10 (Tyler Eifert) goes off the board near the start of Round 7 (again about a round early once again), a big void hits the draft until Round 10, when a run on the next group of tight ends happens for the next few rounds until 16 are selected by the end of Round 12.  In this phase of most drafts, teams are securing their lower end TE1 starter and also trying either a committee approach or grabbing a strong backup (or possible flex starter). 

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, we have 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:

Rank 1.5 PPR Mock FPC ADP ADP "Reach"
1 3 6 -3
2 26 23 3
3 30 27 3
4 29 40 -11
5 48 49 -1
6 51 51 0
7 65 66 -1
8 66 68 -2
9 74 68 6
10 77 72 5
11 110 77 33
12 112 81 31
13 117 88 29
14 123 100 23
15 136 110 26
16 138 112 26
17 158 122 36
18 157 123 34
19 159 125 34
20 168 138 30
21 181 139 42
22 183 144 39

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

Interesting results when you compare the two drafts. What is really noticeable at the top is that TE5 to TE8 appear to be solid values, available about where the Draft Dominator suggests you should grab them.  If you can get one of these guys as late as Round 4, 5 or 6, you are doing very well. After that a run tight ends appears for the lower tier TE1s and upper end TE2s in Rounds 8-11.  All of the tight ends after TE10 appear to be reaches by 2-4 rounds, but he 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 early 2016 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 target any Top 3 tight end early if they slide beyond where they should (TE1 in Round 1, TE2 and TE3 in Round 3), but then consider taking TE4-6 if you really like one of them in Round 4 or 5.  If you wait for a tight end (or even want a second one early), there will be some key rounds to target for this position.  Based on the ADP of 2016 drafts, the sweet spot is similar to the 1.5 PPR mock - Rounds 6-7 for TE7-10. 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 TE7-TE10 range seems like the a solid Plan B.

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 10-12. 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.  Lots of tight ends appear to have solid secondary (TE2 / flex) value this coming season, so do not be afraid to grab a TE2 and a TE3 in the second half of your drafts.

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.