Large leagues are a lot of fun. The additional teams and PPR (Point Per Reception) scoring adds a different dimension to standard 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. We will examine strategies specially designed for the larger PPR leagues 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 league, 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 to get the most value out of the running backs and wide receivers.
Anyone who 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 long 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. 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 to 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 QB2 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 at a discount. Then, consider players of 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 in the eighth round or later.
Positional runs are a tough pill to swallow. You need to plan 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, so plan out your strategy 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 limit 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 balanced the running backs and wide receivers are when compared to the other positions, even in PPR leagues. Yes, as stated above, we advise taking a quarterback early due to scarcity reasons and, the VBD application has only Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in the top 48 picks (first 3 rounds). And, even those stud quarterbacks are 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 Joe Flacco as your starter at the position. The running backs and wide receivers are split fairly evenly during the first few rounds, including each having exactly half of the top 35 players. The VBD accounts for positional scarcity and available options at other positions using the Footballguys.com projections.
Here are the league variables:
- 16 teams
- 16 roster spots
- PPR scoring
And here are the starting requirements:
- 1 Quarterback
- 2 Running Backs
- 3 Wide Receivers
- 1 Tight End
- 1 Flex (RB, WR, or TE)
- 1 Kicker
- 1 Team Defense
Below is a table with the Top 160 players from the Footballguys projections. Notice how the VBD drops way off after David Johnson (RB5), 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.
|13||WR||3||Odell Beckham Jr||NYG/9||245.6||95|
|64||RB||28||Ronald Jones II||TB/5||151.7||17|
|121||QB||18||Patrick Mahomes II||KC/12||282.6||-3|
To summarize the above, take wide receivers and running backs early and often, mixing in a quarterback in the first five rounds, then pound the receiver position in the middle rounds while waiting on a tight end. This strategy offers the highest chance for success.