2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

2017 Fantasy Football: Standard, PPR or Half-PPR?

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If you had to go into a Baskins-Robbins to buy ice cream for 10 to 12 people without knowing what each individual wanted, most people would select something fairly common for the group. You could get away with selecting vanilla ice cream for everyone, or perhaps chocolate. Every manager has an idea of how individual scoring should be, but the basic system is the main contention.

With subtlety aside, the main formats for league Fantasy Football will be with us for a long time. As time goes on and our understanding of artificial intelligence grows, Fantasy Football may change into further diverse formats. For now, it remains Standard and PPR for the vast majority of league play.

The less popular hybrid, Half-PPR, may appear as an attempt to bridge the gap between the two, but in essence, it is really a game in itself too.

Standard, PPR or Half-PPR?

I will look at the case for each of these and analyze their benefits and shortfalls. Setting a suitable format for your league is always important. Everything from your draft to weekly lineups depend on it. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get too technical and just try to explain things in plain language without putting graphs all over the place.

Standard

Standard scoring hasn’t changed much since the beginning of Fantasy Football. 10 yards for a full single point has been around for a long time. Everything else in the standard structure builds around the 10-yard rule. Quarterbacks, kickers and defensive scoring relate equivalence to that.

The reason Standard scoring is “standard” probably derives from the simplicity of the system. It keeps calculations to a minimum with individual scores, basic yardage, turnovers, sacks, safeties and field goals. When watching a game on television, fantasy statistics on a rotator at the bottom of your screen usually calculate to Standard points.

Touchdown impact

Standard gets the knock of being touchdown dependent. A touchdown by default holds the value of 60 yards and although this is true for PPR too, the effect of a touchdown carries higher value in Standard because of the lower scoring. No matter the format, scoring touchdowns is a backbreaker against your opponents, but more so in Standard.

Touchdowns are a major part of Fantasy Football but are among the least predictable. As such, touchdowns don’t translate well into trend worthy statistics either. Some things, such as red zone targets can relate statistically, but generally on a week by week basis, touchdowns come down to the right place at the right time.

Does standard reward real-world value enough?

I guess I should clarify what I mean by real-world value first. Amongst many other things, it relates to the impact players for in-game situations. Standard scoring falls short on bridging the workhorses versus the lesser fantasy players who score big on just one or two plays. Here’s a common example:

Let’s take a running back, who might rush for over 100 yards without a score all game, but is helping his team by moving the sticks into scoring position. A sleeper tight end caps a drive with a 15-yard catch in the end zone. On a single play, he has attained 75% of the running back’s fantasy points – the guy who did all the real-world work by moving the chains.

A gain for a first down is a real-world value. Both Standard and PPR by default ignore first downs as a real-world value, although leagues can option to include it. It is something a player tries to attain like a touchdown. Your Standard league could be beefed up to give 1st downs extra weight. Later on I’ll discuss such a league.

Summary

Standard is actually the book measure of fantasy skill. Despite the out-moded assertions that often sticks to it, Standard scoring remains very popular. At one time, I too thought of it as antiquated and should move aside for PPR or newer hybrids. I am less critical of the system than I used to be, but as mentioned, certain aspects I would still prefer revamped off the default. Standard is cold and hard, low scoring and challenging.

Standard may suit old-school tournament fantasy enthusiasts, but it also serves well as an introductory system for newcomers. It is fun, yet after a while the basic nature of it becomes wearisome. This is why PPR and other systems have surged – people want to explore something much more dynamic.

PPR and Half-PPR

It is amazing how different the game becomes when you add points for receptions. PPR isn’t some new modification to Standard scoring. Both have been around concurrently since the dawn of modern internet fantasy football and before.

PPR obviously makes for higher scoring, but does it slide the scale any better than Standard for creating more fantasy relevant players? It turns out that the answer is surprisingly not much. PPR shifts value away from the running backs and further toward the wide receivers/tight ends. That is the most evident shift you see from Standard. Quarterbacks outside of the top-tier also suffer in value with PPR.

Compensating measures and the Superflex

To temper the shift, league managers like to compromise with Half-PPR; but does it work? It turns out that a markdown on PPR only serves to move the scoring needle lower and still leaves the pure running backs behind. Quarterbacks again, apart perhaps from the very best three or four, remain unbridged from their real-world value as well.

An interesting modern method of addressing the quarterback lag in value is the Superflex. The Scott Fish Bowl league employs it along with other modernizing techniques such as 1st down scoring, no kickers or defenses,  etc. No trading permitted. However, the league doesn’t reward receptions and thus doesn’t come under the umbrella of PPR.

The Superflex allows a flex spot usable for an extra quarterback, thus upping the importance of the position. Those accustomed to drafting a quarterback later in regular leagues will seem surprised at the increase in fantasy premium of the position in a Superflex league. There is more difference than you might think from just a two-quarterback setup and the debate of when to draft them continues. Some contend Superflex is the future of fantasy football formats; going beyond both Standard and PPR.

PPR is just PPR

Understandably, purists want some real-world connection to their fantasy teams. A common complaint about PPR is the old argument that a reception for zero or negative yardage gives a reward. In the NFL real-world, it’s a win for the defense.

Of course, no one wants fantasy football to be like playing fantasy license plates. To say PPR strays too far from the real-world value of NFL players is just not true. Detractors of PPR also point to the disparity of balance. This is probably a better argument because as I mentioned, the non-elite quarterbacks tend to suffer in PPR as well as the non-pass catching running backs.

I have pointed out some flaws in Standard, but PPR calculations aren’t necessarily there to address them. The point to always remember is that PPR is a different fantasy game and not just a presumable fixer or upgrade for Standard play. Neither is Half-PPR really. Half-PPR tries to address the over-balance of PPR and not the under-balance of Standard. As I stated from the top, Half-PPR, while obviously related to full PPR, remains a unique game of its own.

Summary

PPR is wild and woolly. High scoring. Although imbalance seems built into it, you’ll find no compromise in skill for drafting and setting lineups. By adding receptions, you actually have an extra measurement of skill.

One thing PPR does better than Standard is mitigate the damage and imbalance of touchdowns. It is true that touchdowns score as much in PPR, but at least some of the receiving workhorse players I talked about earlier get some compensation.

PPR and Half-PPR are not perfect and even proponents will admit that, but then what system is? I like keeping the real-world refinements and ideas coming. I’m a little more open to experimenting than I used to be.

Whatever league you are in, I would encourage you to be flexible and open to experimenting with new ideas for fantasy football. If your league manager says “let’s try this”,  try to consider the changes and get a league discussion on them. Some people like things the way they are and that’s understandable. Commissioners of long ongoing leagues should, therefore, try to introduce new systems slowly, year by year.

I hope you have a good summer and enjoy 2017 Fantasy Football whatever formats you find yourself playing.


For more F6P preseason coverage please visit our 2017 Draft Kit section.

About Richard Savill

Richard is an NFL Fantasy Football Writer and Editor of Fantasy Six Pack. Host of The Fantasy Edge Podcast. FantasyPros Contributor. Member of the FSWA. Richard is known for his "outside the box" insight into NFL fantasy football. Winner of the 2015 FSWA challenge.

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