Most of us have evolved into playing with some form of PPR scoring in our fantasy football leagues. There are various versions of PPR and depending who you talk to there are various reasons why. Full point PPR is the most common I see, though half-point is pretty popular as well. Then there is tiered PPR and TE premium where it can vary by position in an effort to adjust positional value. The one common thread is all camps believe receptions are important. The NFL would agree. The team can not move forward if when the quarterback targets a receiver, they do not catch the ball.
We are all in agreement receptions are important and some leagues (which I am in favor of) are including Point-Per-Carry. This Observation is not about PPC though, it’s about why we should be playing with Point-Per-First-Down. Typing it out like that seems so long, I feel like PPFD is long also but it’s what we will use.
I would argue first downs are one of the most important parts of the game offensively. They are the goal of many plays within the game of football and every position is trying press down the field for the next first down. So why do we acknowledge how important receptions and carries are but not first downs? Part of the problem is many of the main fantasy sites do not offer it as option. I must also recognize the large majority of players are in redraft and not dynasty leagues which are known to be more progressive. There are people out there still playing standard and TD only leagues, so it’s really not too shocking when I think about it. The more shocking part is people still playing standard… stop, just stop it… I digress.
One of the arguments against PPFD is making certain players too valuable. Do we not want to make players who are valuable in the NFL valuable in fantasy? This was the whole reason for PPR and PPC. Look at Jarvis Landry in PPR league vs Standard. According to SportingCharts.com
League leaders in Receiving First Downs generally have in the neighborhood of 70 in any given year. The majority of all successful receptions result in first downs, so most players have a First Down % of at least 50%. A notable exception to this is running backs who catch a lot of short passes out of the backfield, as they’re more likely to have receptions that for 5-8 yards, on average, and are much less likely to result in a first down.
I will refer back to Sporting Charts but let’s take a look at two leagues; both with full PPR scoring and 0.5 PPFD. I do not use full-point because I want it to be a bonus and not the same value as a player going for ten yards. When changing scoring, I like it add value to my watching experience as well as match real NFL value. (Personally I think I’d want half-point for both, given a majority of passes result in a first down, but I am using data from leagues I currently play in.)
The top performers do not change very much. QB is slightly moved around because of rushing for first downs. One player who was brought up on twitter was Julian Edelman, we can look there first. He only played 9 games in 2015 but pulled in 61 receptions, 37 for first downs. In PPFD he finished 19th overall and without he finished 27th. Looking at just wide receiver though, he was 6th in both. To draw contrast in the same time period, Antonio Brown goes from 3rd to 8th and Mike Evans goes from 20th to 23rd. So who falls out of the top 8 of PPR? Quarterbacks.
The changes to wide receiver are not huge though, let’s look how each position fills the top 100.
- QB 23 in PPFD and 24 w/o
- WR 16 in PPFD and 16 w/0
- RB 6 in PPFD and 6 w/o
- TE 5 in PPFD and 4 w/o
- QB 26 in PPFD and 28 w/0
- WR 40 in PPFD and 40 w/o
- RB 25 in PPFD and 23 w/o
- TE 9 in PPFD and 9 w/o
Taking a look at the overall distribution, not much has changed. Adding PPFD just adds to the fun, it does not change much in positional distribution except maybe the devalue of quarterback. The easiest way to fix this is by playing in Superflex or 2QB, something we should all be doing anyway. It seems to me the biggest change will be in the value of individual players, which is another way to get a leg up on your opponent.
I will need to dive more in depth to individual players, which will come in the next Observation.