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 2017.
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:
- 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:
Table 1: Tight End Receptions in 2008 through 2016
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 seven of the past nine seasons and last year tied the 2011 record of four. At least one tight end in every season has hit the 80-catch mark, and it appears the elite fantasy options approach this number each season.
- "Very good" performers can be defined by the 60-catch mark. In all years asdie from 2008, 2010 and 2014 at least 10 tight ends acheived the 60-catch mark, which roughly correlates to a solid TE1.
- In all nine 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. Looking over the last six years (2011-2016), a trend emerges that in most years 16-20 tight ends get at least 50 receptions, with 30-50% of them failing to break 60.
One of the key questions for 2017 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:
|Tight End||Team||1 PPR||1.5 PPR||VBD Bump|
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 9-11 tight ends (and 12 of the Top 14) all get a VBD point bump due to the extra bonus of 1.5 PPR scoring, and five out of the Top 8 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:
|Tight End||Team||1 PPR Mock||1.5 PPR Mock||Mock Bump|
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, although Rob Gronkowski moves slighty downward due to Travis Kelce's boost in PPR-bonus scoring (more catches but less projected touchdowns thank Gronkowski). The Top 10 all move up several selections, and as much as a half- to full round in ADP. The second tier of tight ends move as much as two rounds thanks to both the scoring change and also the dual flex rule (allowing for up to three tight ends in a starting lineup). Tight ends with challengers on the depth chart such as Huntery Henry (Antonio Gates) and Cameron Brate (O.J. Howard) are still tough selections and values to predict, so their ADP is depressed. Towards the latter stages of most FPC drafts, the Top 20 list of tight ends is exhausted quickly, as 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:
|Tight End||Team||1.5 PPR Mock||FPC ADP||ADP Reach|
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 many of the options in the TE8 to TE14 range appear to be solid values, available about where the Draft Dominator suggests you should grab them. If you can get one of the top guys as late as Round 5-6 and then a second before all 14 are gone in Rounds 8-10 you are doing very well. After that a run on the position starts for the lower tier TE1s and upper end TE2s in Rounds 9-11. All of the tight ends after TE14 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.
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 2017 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 2 tight ends early if they slide beyond where they should (both should be gond by the end of Round 2), but then consider taking TE3-5 if you really like one of them in Round 3 or 4. 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 2017 drafts, the sweet spot is similar to the 1.5 PPR mock - Rounds 5-7 for many of the lower TE1s and higher TE2s in the TE6-TE13 range. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.