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How to Attack Your Small-League PPR Draft

Strategy on Attacking Your Small PPR League Draft

Small leagues are a lot of fun. There is something about the eight or ten team leagues that make them enjoyable. The size makes them much different than the standard twelve teamers. So does scoring one point per reception (PPR). As with any other unique league, it is a losing proposition to use standard draft strategies. An entirely different strategy is required to make the most of the draft. This article will specifically look at ten team leagues using PPR scoring. We will examine strategies specially designed for the smaller leagues rewarding a point per reception in order to best attack the draft and get the most from the roster. This will help you form a new strategy for your small-sized league.

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

a. Since there are no scarcity issues, everything is about the studs. The whole draft is focused on how to draft enough elite players to win. It is only through the studs that an owner can gain an edge over his leaguemates. The top two or three players at each position outscore the rest by tremendous amounts each and every year.

b. Knowing how to best attack the quarterback position is one of the biggest keys to small leagues? Is it necessary to select a passer early in the draft like in the bigger leagues?

c. The running back position is one where the drop-off in expected production comes earlier in 2016 than in years gone by. With the emphasis on receivers, how can I take advantage of this phenomena?

d. With only fifty wide receivers rostered, on average, how do we gain an edge?

e. Is there is a valid reason to take a kicker or team defense early?

How do I best address these questions above?

a. Since we need studs in order to gain advantages over the other teams in the league, how best do I go about drafting these players? The top players at every position give their owners a huge edge each week. The best way to get these studs is to be proactive in your draft. When the value stagnates at one position, look for studs at another. In the table below, we can see how a top-five wideout has a similar value to a large group of backs. So, why not gain an edge at receiver and select a similar rusher next round? It pays to be proactive and look for talent plateaus and drop-offs. Look for studs. A top kicker or defense might be a great pick earlier than you would think, especially if giving you an extra two or three points per game each week.

b. In smaller (eight or ten teams) leagues which start only one passer, there is no reason to address the position before the seventh round unless you get a stud at an outstanding value. There will be great fantasy quarterbacks available later. In smaller leagues, owners want to wait on the quarterback position (because there are so many good options) which makes the good passers drop further. The results below bear out this very important point. Aaron Rodgers, the top-ranked passer, is only ranked 18th overall. So, it is best to wait on selecting a quarterback and try to find studs at other positions. Possibly the best strategy is to wait until at least eight quarterbacks are drafted before even looking at the position. The depth at the quarterback position is enough that the risk-taking fantasy owners might be able to wait until other teams begin taking backups (which means ten or twelve passers are off the board), and then select two of Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, or even Philip Rivers. In fact, we very much love the idea of pairing Dalton with either Manning or Rivers to address the quarterback position.

c. We will look a little later at how weighted the values are slanted toward the wide receivers (eight of the top seventeen player VBDs are wide receivers and that ratio grows as we move further down the rankings). Even with this phenomenon, we advise taking one of the top running backs because the scarcity at the position will soon catch up. The difference between RB1 (David Johnson) and RB10 (Isaiah Crowell) is roughly eleven points per game. That is huge. The expected fantasy production for all positions has definite tiers. It is best to look for tier drop-offs as you evaluate players across positions.

d. Unless going after super stud (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, or Dez Bryant), it is best to wait on the wide receiver position until ten or fifteen are off the board. There is very little difference in expected production so you might as well stock up on the position (running back) where you gain an advantage. The difference between WR5 (Jordy Nelson) and WR20 (Golden Tate) is between two and three points per game.

e. There are at least ten good kickers and team defenses so every team can have a good option. You should employ one of two strategies for the kicker position. Either take a stud earlier than you would think, or wait until ten are gone. The stud gives you an extra few points a game so it is a viable strategy. For the team defense position, it is best to play matchups with a smaller league. There will be plenty of good options available on the waiver wire each week from which to choose. Many times, it is better to have a mediocre defense with a great matchup than a good defense with a mediocre matchup.

When we look at the VBD (Value Based Drafting) application, we quickly realize how valued the running backs are when compared to the other positions. The VBD accounts for positional scarcity and available options at other positions using the Footballguys.com projections. It is amazing that just one quarterback and zero tight ends were valued in the first two rounds. Further, the top tight end (Travis Kelce) is ranked 38th overall. This Kelce ranking may be a surprise to you, but this is because there are several good options. Even in PPR scoring, only eight players in the first two rounds are wide receivers. The reason? The VBD application understands that there are so few quality fantasy backs and prioritizes the position. The league variables used were ten teams, sixteen roster spots, PPR scoring, and starting requirements of 1 Quarterback, 2 Running Backs, 3 Wide Receivers, 1 Tight End, 1 Flex, 1 Kicker, and 1 Team Defense. The depth at the quarterback and wide receiver positions means that a fantasy owner can afford to wait on those positions while stocking up on rushers. It is obvious looking at the table of top fifty players below that smaller leagues dictate a strong nucleus of running backs.

Rank

Pos

PosRank

Player

Team

VBD

1

RB

1

David Johnson

Ari/8

226

2

RB

2

Le'Veon Bell

Pit/9

172

3

RB

3

Ezekiel Elliott

Dal/6

148

4

WR

1

Antonio Brown

Pit/9

117

5

RB

4

Devonta Freeman

Atl/5

100

6

RB

5

LeSean McCoy

Buf/6

98

7

RB

6

Melvin Gordon III

LAC/9

96

8

WR

2

Odell Beckham Jr

NYG/8

93

9

WR

3

Julio Jones

Atl/5

90

10

WR

4

Mike Evans

TB/11

84

11

RB

7

DeMarco Murray

Ten/8

76

12

WR

5

Jordy Nelson

GB/8

71

13

RB

8

Jordan Howard

Chi/9

70

14

RB

9

Jay Ajayi

Mia/11

68

15

WR

6

T.Y. Hilton

Ind/11

67

16

WR

7

A.J. Green

Cin/6

65

17

WR

8

Michael Thomas

NO/5

64

18

QB

1

Aaron Rodgers

GB/8

62

19

RB

10

Isaiah Crowell

Cle/9

54

20

RB

11

Leonard Fournette

Jac/8

54

21

WR

9

Amari Cooper

Oak/10

53

22

RB

12

Lamar Miller

Hou/7

53

23

WR

10

Demaryius Thomas

Den/5

50

24

RB

13

Todd Gurley

LAR/8

49

25

WR

11

Doug Baldwin

Sea/6

47

26

QB

2

Tom Brady

NE/9

45

27

WR

12

DeAndre Hopkins

Hou/7

44

28

WR

13

Tyreek Hill

KC/10

43

29

RB

14

Ty Montgomery

GB/8

40

30

QB

3

Andrew Luck

Ind/11

39

31

WR

14

Brandin Cooks

NE/9

39

32

WR

15

Allen Robinson

Jac/8

37

33

RB

15

Mark Ingram II

NO/5

37

34

WR

16

Dez Bryant

Dal/6

36

35

WR

17

Larry Fitzgerald

Ari/8

36

36

WR

18

Jarvis Landry

Mia/11

34

37

QB

4

Drew Brees

NO/5

34

38

TE

1

Travis Kelce

KC/10

33

39

WR

19

Michael Crabtree

Oak/10

33

40

RB

16

Marshawn Lynch

Oak/10

33

41

QB

5

Matt Ryan

Atl/5

29

42

RB

17

Bilal Powell

NYJ/11

29

43

WR

20

Golden Tate

Det/7

27

44

WR

21

Alshon Jeffery

Phi/10

22

45

WR

22

Stefon Diggs

Min/9

22

46

WR

23

Emmanuel Sanders

Den/5

21

47

RB

18

Carlos Hyde

SF/11

21

48

QB

6

Jameis Winston

TB/11

19

49

WR

24

Keenan Allen

LAC/9

19

50

RB

19

Joe Mixon

Cin/6

19

The table above represents the Top 50 players in terms of VBD. There are a few things that jump out. As we discussed, the value of studs – especially at the running back and receiver positions - is immense. Notice the VBD values for the three top players overall (all running backs) in comparison to the rest of the players, even very good players. Also, as we progress to the 50th overall player, the receivers account for more than half of the table.

Rank

Pos

PosRank

Player

Team

VBD

51

RB

20

Tevin Coleman

Atl/5

18

52

RB

21

Spencer Ware

KC/10

17

53

TE

2

Rob Gronkowski

NE/9

17

54

QB

7

Russell Wilson

Sea/6

17

55

WR

25

Sammy Watkins

Buf/6

16

56

RB

22

Dalvin Cook

Min/9

16

57

TE

3

Greg Olsen

Car/11

13

58

WR

26

Kelvin Benjamin

Car/11

13

59

RB

23

Eddie Lacy

Sea/6

13

60

RB

24

Christian McCaffrey

Car/11

13

61

WR

27

Davante Adams

GB/8

10

62

WR

28

Julian Edelman

NE/9

8

63

WR

29

Willie Snead IV

NO/5

8

64

WR

30

Quincy Enunwa

NYJ/11

5

65

PK

1

Stephen Gostkowski

NE/9

4

66

QB

8

Kirk Cousins

Was/5

4

67

RB

25

Ameer Abdullah

Det/7

1

68

WR

31

Adam Thielen

Min/9

1

69

RB

26

Theo Riddick

Det/7

1

70

TE

4

Jordan Reed

Was/5

1

71

DEF

1

Denver

Den/5

0

72

WR

32

DeSean Jackson

TB/11

0

73

WR

33

Jamison Crowder

Was/5

0

74

TE

5

Kyle Rudolph

Min/9

0

75

RB

27

Matt Forte

NYJ/11

0

76

DEF

2

Arizona

Ari/8

0

77

PK

2

Matt Bryant

Atl/5

0

78

QB

9

Dak Prescott

Dal/6

0

79

QB

10

Cam Newton

Car/11

-1

80

WR

34

DeVante Parker

Mia/11

-1

81

QB

11

Philip Rivers

LAC/9

-2

82

WR

35

Terrelle Pryor

Was/5

-2

83

PK

3

Justin Tucker

Bal/10

-3

84

TE

6

Jimmy Graham

Sea/6

-3

85

RB

28

Duke Johnson Jr

Cle/9

-3

86

WR

36

Brandon Marshall

NYG/8

-3

87

QB

12

Marcus Mariota

Ten/8

-3

88

PK

4

Mason Crosby

GB/8

-4

89

WR

37

Donte Moncrief

Ind/11

-4

90

WR

38

Randall Cobb

GB/8

-6

91

RB

29

C.J. Anderson

Den/5

-6

92

PK

5

Dan Bailey

Dal/6

-6

93

PK

6

Wil Lutz

NO/5

-7

94

WR

39

Pierre Garcon

SF/11

-7

95

QB

13

Eli Manning

NYG/8

-7

96

WR

40

Corey Coleman

Cle/9

-7

97

PK

7

Graham Gano

Car/11

-8

98

WR

41

Jordan Matthews

Phi/10

-8

99

RB

30

Frank Gore

Ind/11

-9

100

QB

14

Ben Roethlisberger

Pit/9

-9

When looking at the VBD spots from player 51 through 100, the wide receivers still have a huge advantage over running backs, and the value at quarterback and tight end is still lagging. This is why it is acceptable to wait on the wide receiver position for filling out your fantasy bench. There are plenty of great options after round five in a fantasy draft. As discussed above, having studs is the only way to gain an advantage. For this reason, an owner who loads up on wide receivers and running backs early on can still get studs at the other positions through the first ten rounds. The chart illustrates why the kickers are actually a decent play when the value running back and wideout plateaus.

Every league is different but this article should help you form a winning strategy in smaller PPR leagues.

Feel free to (email me) with feedback. Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.