Fantasy Football: Stop playing standard scoring. Try PPR!

In an era without the technology that makes fantasy football as user-accessible as it is now, people adopted a set of rules to be considered “standard” throughout the game, so people who weren’t in the same league could talk about players in the same way.

The original fantasy football scoring system is called “standard” scoring. In an era without the technology that makes fantasy football as user-accessible as it is now, people adopted a set of rules to be considered “standard” throughout the game, so people who weren’t in the same league could talk about players in the same way. If every league played with vastly different rules, it would be difficult for a fantasy community to form because nobody would agree on the rules. Standard scoring united the community, and for that, it deserves credit.

However, it sucks. Standard scoring is not fun to play when comparing it to other options. It is a fundamentally flawed scoring system, especially in today’s NFL. Standard scoring rewards the bell-cow running-back, which is becoming rarer by the year as more teams adopt a RBBC. This means that there aren’t many running backs who score a lot of points in standard scoring leagues. The few usable running backs relegate all other positions to afterthoughts on the scoreboard. Receivers aren’t as likely to receive a running back’s workload every week, leading to less yards, TDs, and fantasy points in a standard system.

Here’s an example of what I mean: Chris Godwin had an amazing season last year, racking up 86 receptions, 1333 yards and 9 TDs, finishing as the WR2 in all formats. In standard leagues, 11 running backs scored more than him. Here’s another: Travis Kelce put together another great season in 2019, finishing with 97 receptions, 1229 yards, and 5 TDs, making him the TE1 in all formats. 19 running backs outscored him in standard scoring last year. It just doesn’t make any sense that the best tight end in football is less valuable than more than half the league’s starting running backs.

I’m not saying each position in fantasy football should mimic it’s value to a real-life NFL team, if so, quarterbacks and defenses would be the most important positions. What I am saying is that no position should be significantly more important than the others. In standard scoring, good running backs are scarce and they score way more points than other positions, making them incredibly important, given that you need to start two with the option of a third. You shouldn’t be able to win your league with great running backs that you got by drafting mediocre players at every other position. Fantasy football is a much more fun game when there can be studs at every position that can win you games.

To fix this problem, PPR scoring was created, awarding a point for every reception by a player. This gives receivers more value and increases the amount of usable running backs. In this format, only 6 running backs scored more points than Godwin, and only 8 running backs scored more than Kelce. These rankings make so much more sense considering the amount of value these players bring to their teams.

To illustrate the difference between standard and PPR leagues, I took the average of the top twelve players at each position in 2019 and calculated the average score of a standard team and a PPR team in a 12-team league.

Standard

% of Points

PPR

% of Points

Change in %

QB

19.67

20.0%

19.67

16.2%

-3.8%

RB1

14.65

14.9%

18.10

14.9%

0%

RB2

10.95

11.1%

12.50

10.3%

-0.8%

WR1

10.95

11.1%

16.75

13.8%

+2.7%

WR2

9.19

9.4%

12.73

10.5%

+1.1%

TE

6.35

6.5%

11.52

9.5%

+3.0%

FLEX

8.25

8.4%

11.83

9.8%

+1.4%

D-ST

9.46

9.6%

9.46

7.8%

-1.8%

K

8.74

8.9%

8.74

7.2%

-1.7%

Total

98.21

121.3

The data shows that PPR scoring gives more value to tight ends, both wide receiver spots, and the FLEX, who were all WR3s in PPR (no RB3 or TE2 scored enough to qualify as a top-12 FLEX option). Quarterbacks, RB2s, defenses and kickers were devalued, while RB1s surprisingly remained exactly the same. I would argue these are all positive changes. Tight ends and wide receivers deserve the value they have in PPR. Quarterbacks represented twice the value of most positions in standard, which is far too much for any one position. Defenses and kickers are positions with very random scoring distributions, and deserve less value than other positions. I would argue to cut them entirely, but personally I like a little bit of randomness and to have more players in the NFL be represented in fantasy.

PPR scoring seems to now actually be more popular than standard scoring, because players have realized how bad standard scoring is to play. Some players argue that PPR doesn’t simulate real football well because receptions don’t award teams value like yards or touchdowns do. To that I say, fantasy football shouldn’t mimic real football, that wouldn’t be as fun. Watching your wide receiver have a great game is more exciting if the position is valued rather than diminished by the regular games of the opposing QB, defense, and kicker.

Most players agree with this argument, which is why they switch to PPR or Half-PPR formats. So why do a good chunk of players still play standard? Because casual players create a league for the first time and click standard scoring on the league website since the name “standard” implies simplicity and ease, which appeals to them. This is bad for fantasy football because it can turn players off to the game in general if the rules they’re playing with are worse than the rules that they could be playing.

Next: Why Odell Beckham is overvalued in fantasy

To combat this, standard leagues should be stripped of their name and called 0PPR leagues. Last year, NFL.com switched to PPR as the standard league format. Other league platforms should follow. This change will improve the fantasy football community as a whole and take a step forward in the evolution of the game. If you’re in a standard league or are starting a new league, give PPR or half-PPR a try; it’s just better.

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