How to Attack Your Large-League PPR Draft - Footballguys

Strategy on Attacking Your Larger PPR League Draft

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.

Rank
Pos
PosRank
Player
Team/Bye
FanPoints
VBD
1 RB 1 Todd Gurley LAR/12 326.3 192
2 RB 2 Ezekiel Elliott Dal/8 304.8 170
3 RB 3 LeVeon Bell Pit/7 300.8 166
4 RB 4 Alvin Kamara NO/6 294.7 160
5 RB 5 David Johnson Ari/9 290.2 156
6 WR 1 Antonio Brown Pit/7 287.1 136
7 WR 2 DeAndre Hopkins Hou/10 275.6 125
8 RB 6 Melvin Gordon LAC/8 256.0 121
9 RB 7 Leonard Fournette Jac/9 253.8 119
10 RB 8 Kareem Hunt KC/12 243.1 109
11 RB 9 Dalvin Cook Min/10 235.3 101
12 RB 10 Saquon Barkley NYG/9 231.2 97
13 WR 3 Odell Beckham Jr NYG/9 245.6 95
14 RB 11 Christian McCaffrey Car/4 228.5 94
15 WR 4 Keenan Allen LAC/8 241.6 91
16 WR 5 Julio Jones Atl/8 239.9 89
17 RB 12 Devonta Freeman Atl/8 220.2 86
18 WR 6 Michael Thomas NO/6 234.2 83
19 RB 13 Jerick McKinnon SF/11 216.0 81
20 TE 1 Rob Gronkowski NE/11 214.6 75
21 WR 7 A.J. Green Cin/9 215.8 65
22 WR 8 Davante Adams GB/7 215.2 64
23 WR 9 Mike Evans TB/5 215.1 64
24 WR 10 Adam Thielen Min/10 213.4 62
25 WR 11 Larry Fitzgerald Ari/9 212.4 61
26 TE 2 Travis Kelce KC/12 197.9 59
27 WR 12 T.Y. Hilton Ind/9 207.7 57
28 WR 13 Doug Baldwin Sea/7 206.9 56
29 WR 14 Tyreek Hill KC/12 203.6 52
30 RB 14 Jordan Howard Chi/5 183.9 49
31 RB 15 Joe Mixon Cin/9 180.9 46
32 RB 16 Kenyan Drake Mia/11 179.9 45
33 WR 15 Stefon Diggs Min/10 195.2 44
34 QB 1 Aaron Rodgers GB/7 329.5 44
35 WR 16 Demaryius Thomas Den/10 192.6 42
36 WR 17 Brandin Cooks LAR/12 191.0 40
37 WR 18 Amari Cooper Oak/7 190.8 40
38 WR 19 Golden Tate Det/6 190.8 40
39 RB 17 Alex Collins Bal/10 173.6 39
40 RB 18 Lamar Miller Hou/10 172.5 38
41 TE 3 Zach Ertz Phi/9 177.2 38
42 WR 20 JuJu Smith-Schuster Pit/7 188.1 37
43 RB 19 Derrick Henry Ten/8 170.8 36
44 WR 21 Allen Robinson Chi/5 183.6 33
45 WR 22 Jarvis Landry Cle/11 181.5 30
46 WR 23 Michael Crabtree Bal/10 179.3 28
47 QB 2 Tom Brady NE/11 313.7 28
48 WR 24 Marvin Jones Det/6 178.5 27
49 QB 3 Russell Wilson Sea/7 313.1 27
50 QB 4 Deshaun Watson Hou/10 312.6 27
51 WR 25 Alshon Jeffery Phi/9 177.0 26
52 RB 20 Jay Ajayi Phi/9 160.0 25
53 RB 21 Derrius Guice Was/4 159.5 25
54 RB 22 Isaiah Crowell NYJ/11 158.9 24
55 QB 5 Cam Newton Car/4 309.4 24
56 TE 4 Jimmy Graham GB/7 160.8 22
57 TE 5 Greg Olsen Car/4 159.9 21
58 RB 23 Tevin Coleman Atl/8 154.7 20
59 RB 24 Dion Lewis Ten/8 153.7 19
60 RB 25 Jamaal Williams GB/7 153.5 19
61 TE 6 Evan Engram NYG/9 157.9 19
62 RB 26 Chris Thompson Was/4 152.7 18
63 RB 27 Carlos Hyde Cle/11 152.2 18
64 RB 28 Ronald Jones II TB/5 151.7 17
65 WR 26 Devin Funchess Car/4 168.1 17
66 WR 27 Marquise Goodwin SF/11 168.0 17
67 QB 6 Drew Brees NO/6 302.6 17
68 DEF 1 Jacksonville Jac/9 155.6 16
69 RB 29 Tarik Cohen Chi/5 150.1 16
70 WR 28 Emmanuel Sanders Den/10 165.8 15
71 WR 29 Robby Anderson NYJ/11 164.9 14
72 RB 30 Rex Burkhead NE/11 147.3 13
73 RB 31 Royce Freeman Den/10 146.3 12
74 DEF 2 Minnesota Min/10 149.9 12
75 WR 30 Sammy Watkins KC/12 161.8 11
76 WR 31 Pierre Garcon SF/11 161.5 10
77 PK 1 Stephen Gostkowski NE/11 156.8 10
78 WR 32 Josh Gordon Cle/11 161.3 10
79 RB 32 Mark Ingram NO/6 144.7 10
80 QB 7 Alex Smith Was/4 295.9 10
81 WR 33 Cooper Kupp LAR/12 160.5 9
82 RB 33 Rashaad Penny Sea/7 143.7 9
83 QB 8 Jimmy Garoppolo SF/11 294.9 9
84 WR 34 Randall Cobb GB/7 159.7 9
85 WR 35 DeVante Parker Mia/11 159.6 9
86 RB 34 LeSean McCoy Buf/11 142.9 8
87 QB 9 Kirk Cousins Min/10 294.2 8
88 TE 7 Delanie Walker Ten/8 147.4 8
89 RB 35 Marlon Mack Ind/9 142.7 8
90 WR 36 Jamison Crowder Was/4 158.3 7
91 QB 10 Matthew Stafford Det/6 293.0 7
92 QB 11 Carson Wentz Phi/9 292.7 7
93 DEF 3 Philadelphia Phi/9 143.2 6
94 WR 37 Chris Hogan NE/11 156.5 5
95 WR 38 Kelvin Benjamin Buf/11 155.4 4
96 RB 36 Sony Michel NE/11 138.4 4
97 WR 39 Robert Woods LAR/12 154.7 4
98 QB 12 Ben Roethlisberger Pit/7 289.1 3
99 PK 2 Justin Tucker Bal/10 146.6 2
100 RB 37 Giovani Bernard Cin/9 136.6 2
101 WR 40 Nelson Agholor Phi/9 153.0 2
102 QB 13 Andrew Luck Ind/9 287.6 2
103 PK 3 Greg Zuerlein LAR/12 144.5 0
104 PK 4 Wil Lutz NO/6 144.0 0
105 QB 14 Jared Goff LAR/12 285.9 0
106 RB 38 Devontae Booker Den/10 134.5 0
107 WR 41 Corey Davis Ten/8 150.9 0
108 TE 8 Kyle Rudolph Min/10 139.1 0
109 DEF 4 Baltimore Bal/10 134.8 -1
110 WR 42 Kenny Stills Mia/11 150.3 -1
111 PK 5 Matt Bryant Atl/8 142.9 -1
112 RB 39 Duke Johnson Cle/11 133.3 -1
113 DEF 5 LA Rams LAR/12 133.8 -1
114 QB 15 Matt Ryan Atl/8 284.4 -2
115 QB 16 Dak Prescott Dal/8 283.4 -2
116 DEF 6 Houston Hou/10 132.3 -3
117 WR 43 Jordy Nelson Oak/7 148.4 -3
118 QB 17 Philip Rivers LAC/8 283.2 -3
119 RB 40 Marshawn Lynch Oak/7 131.8 -3
120 WR 44 Sterling Shepard NYG/9 148.3 -3
121 QB 18 Patrick Mahomes II KC/12 282.6 -3
122 WR 45 Will Fuller Hou/10 147.1 -4
123 WR 46 Rishard Matthews Ten/8 146.6 -4
124 PK 6 Chris Boswell Pit/7 138.0 -5
125 PK 7 Mason Crosby GB/7 137.8 -5
126 PK 8 Harrison Butker KC/12 137.2 -5
127 DEF 7 Pittsburgh Pit/7 128.5 -6
128 DEF 8 Denver Den/10 128.5 -6
129 DEF 9 LA Chargers LAC/8 128.4 -6
130 DEF 10 Carolina Car/4 127.9 -6
131 TE 9 Jack Doyle Ind/9 133.1 -6
132 RB 41 Kerryon Johnson Det/6 128.2 -6
133 PK 9 Graham Gano Car/4 135.4 -7
134 PK 10 Matt Prater Det/6 134.6 -8
135 PK 11 Jake Elliott Phi/9 134.6 -8
136 TE 10 Jordan Reed Was/4 130.0 -9
137 RB 42 James White NE/11 124.7 -10
138 PK 12 Dustin Hopkins Was/4 131.5 -10
139 WR 47 Kenny Golladay Det/6 140.7 -10
140 DEF 11 Chicago Chi/5 121.9 -11
141 DEF 12 Kansas City KC/12 121.8 -11
142 WR 48 Allen Hurns Dal/8 139.8 -11
143 WR 49 Marqise Lee Jac/9 139.3 -12
144 DEF 13 Seattle Sea/7 120.8 -12
145 PK 13 Phil Dawson Ari/9 129.1 -12
146 PK 14 Dan Bailey Dal/8 129.1 -12
147 DEF 14 Arizona Ari/9 119.4 -13
148 PK 15 Robbie Gould SF/11 127.4 -13
149 QB 19 Tyrod Taylor Cle/11 272.1 -14
150 RB 43 Chris Ivory Buf/11 120.0 -15
151 PK 16 Adam Vinatieri Ind/9 125.7 -15
152 PK 17 Brandon McManus Den/10 125.1 -15
153 WR 50 Josh Doctson Was/4 135.8 -15
154 PK 18 Steve Hauschka Buf/11 124.8 -15
155 PK 19 Kaimi Fairbairn Hou/10 124.5 -16
156 WR 51 Tyler Lockett Sea/7 134.8 -16
157 DEF 15 New Orleans NO/6 115.2 -16
158 WR 52 Mohamed Sanu Atl/8 134.5 -17
159 TE 11 Trey Burton Chi/5 122.5 -17
160 PK 20 Ryan Succop Ten/8 122.5 -17

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.

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