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Editor's Note: This article was originally published in June 2011. We are bringing it back updated to reference the 2012 season for your convenience."And I know those little things, they make the biggest part of me." - Good Charlotte
On the surface, you wouldn't think that adding a single point to a player's score just for making a catch would change the game of fantasy football all that much and yet when you make this seemingly insignificant alteration to your league's scoring system, suddenly up is down, left is right and whole new cheat sheets need to be created. All those little things can add up to quite a big thing indeed.
Let's take a look at the projected top 15 players for the 2012 season in a league that follows the basic rules for ESPN standard scoring: 4 points per TD pass, 6 points per TD run/catch, 1 point per 25 yards passing, 1 point per 10 yards rushing/receiving, minus-2 points per turnover.
Notice something about the positional breakdown of this list? There's not a wide receiver or tight end to be found. In fact, Andre Johnson, the projected top wide receiver for 2012, ranks 18th on this list, and we don't get to New England's Rob Gronkowski until we drop to No. 30.
But everything changes when we add in that one seemingly innocent, yet maniacally nefarious, extra point. Suddenly all your old rankings go out the window, and you need to take a look at that PPR draft board with a brand new set of eyes. Let's go position by position and take a closer look at the impact of that one little point.
Except for the odd sleight of hand in which a quarterback like Colt McCoy has a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage only to have the ball settle back into his own hands, and he takes off running, in general you'll find a goose egg in the receptions column for your QB slot each and every week. In that regard, there's absolutely no difference at all when it comes to ranking quarterbacks in comparison to each other in a PPR league. But there is a huge difference in where quarterbacks now fall in relation to the other positions. Remember our projected top 15? Take a look at it now when we add in our one point per reception:
Suddenly, we've gone from 12 quarterbacks in the top 15 to only seven. In fact, switching to a PPR-scoring format drops the number of quarterbacks in the overall top 50 in scoring to 15, down from 23 in a more standard system. That's a huge difference, and it's also the reason you can absolutely afford to wait quite a few rounds longer before drafting your No. 1 signal-caller.
When it comes to running backs, it's not hard to place the usual suspects at the top of your draft lists. Lead backs who are not expected to share the carries -- a dying breed, to be sure -- will typically be expected to rush for more than 1,000 yards and approach double digits in touchdowns. Therefore, you should not be surprised by any of the names in the following list of running backs, ranked solely based on the ESPN preseason statistical projections.
However, not all of these backs are created equal. Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch might be separated by only two rankings spots, but if you add PPR into the mix, Forte's expected receiving output will leave Lynch back in the dust. In fact, "Beast Mode" falls out of the top 10. Backs with good hands, such as Darren Sproles, Roy Helu, Felix Jones and rookie Ronnie Hillman of the Denver Broncos, should all see their value skyrocket in a PPR league based upon their expected role in their respective teams' aerial attacks. At the same time, one-dimensional runners who see few, if any, targets on a regular basis, such as Michael Turner, Beanie Wells, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Willis McGahee, all need to be lowered considerably in your draft-day rankings.
Even among the potential first-rounders, after the consensus top three, the addition of the single point wreaks havoc with the preferred order of selection:
At the wideout position, you'd expect most of your stud receivers to get somewhere in the same neighborhood of catches. Where PPR makes the biggest difference is in inflating the value of the possession receivers like Wes Welker, who may not always be their quarterback's first choice when it gets into red zone territory. Similarly, the "home run hitters" -- those receivers who may make a game-breaking catch for 50-plus yards at any given moment, and therefore have higher yards per reception (YPR) -- will see a huge hit in their ranking due to a much lower number of expected catches, despite usually having a better yards-per-reception (YPR) average.
The following charts show some of the biggest movers in each direction when the number of catches plays a part in the tabulation of individual value. First, we have a lot of the deep threats who usually earn their points in bulk, and therefore suffer a bit in PPR leagues:
Next, let's take a look at the sure-handed receivers who, generally speaking, make their living running shorter routes, but in volume, and thusly see their stock rise when the number of catches matters:
Tight ends are a bit of a different breed. Either they're not part of their team's passing scheme at all -- they're used as an "extra offensive lineman," leading to few receptions -- or they're an integral part of the passing game, working across the middle of the field to keep the chains moving. As a result, adding a point per catch has little effect to the overall tight end rankings. Your top five are still going to be Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, Jason Witten and Vernon Davis, with very little difference in the grand scheme of things when PPR comes into play.
However, where the PPR adjustment needs to be made for this position is how early you can expect to have to select these elite players in order to not miss out. The following breakdown shows the expected round-by-round breakdown you can expect in both ESPN Standard and PPR leagues, based on our preseason projections.
Ignore the difference that one little point makes at your own risk. On the surface, it might not seem like it has a huge effect, but it really does. Quarterbacks can be waited on a bit longer, while the standout tight ends need to be snatched up more quickly. A running back with hands of stone is not nearly as valuable as one who often gets the call out of the backfield, and those possession receivers who may not have as much flash as their speed demon counterparts can make all the difference between a win and a loss. Change your draft lists accordingly, or you will indeed find out that the little things, they just won't go away.