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Rule Change coming to NFL Fantasy Football

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Big improvements are coming to the NFL fantasy football product this year.

Not only have we released an all-new, redesigned app for iOS and Android devices -- the fantasy game itself is changing. This year, we are switching from standard to PPR (one fantasy point per reception) as our preferred league scoring system. On NFL.com, PPR is the new standard.

Let's examine how PPR scoring should affect fantasy managers decisions.

PPR vs. Standard


First and foremost, the change from standard scoring will immediately increase the pool of fantasy relevant players. Naturally, giving an extra point for every reception that RBs, WRs, and TEs accumulate automatically decreases the dependence on yards and touchdowns to score fantasy points.

Because standard scoring systems only include two categories (yards and touchdowns), players that score few touchdowns or have specialized roles aren't particularly fantasy relevant. Bears RB Tarik Cohen is a perfect example of the problem with the standard scoring system.

As the Bears passing down back, Cohen plays an integral part in Chicago's offense. But, in standard scoring leagues, Cohen's role doesn't lead to many fantasy points. Last year, Cohen trailed only Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and Ezekiel Elliott in receptions among running backs -- but his 10.1 standard fantasy points per game ranked 26th among all RBs. In PPR leagues, Cohen tied Chris Carson for the RB15 finish (14.7 PPG).

Even though Cohen finished 20th among all running backs in snaps played last year, he lives on the fringe of fantasy relevance in standard leagues. But, in PPR, Cohen's high volume passing down role gives fantasy managers another start-able weekly option. PPR scoring elevates the "floor" of fantasy points we should usually expect a running back to score, especially for backs heavily involved in the passing game.

Does PPR scoring change fantasy strategy for pass catchers?


Statistically speaking, a single target in the passing game is worth 2.75 times as many PPR fantasy points as a single carry on the ground. For running backs, this difference is huge. In a sense, PPR scoring "evens" the playing field for backs like Tarik Cohen when compared to Chris Carson -- but it also makes workhorse RBs that never leave the field more valuable. Backs that rack up carries on the ground and see valuable targets are irreplaceable in fantasy.

While our approach to selecting which RBs to play changes in PPR leagues, our strategy towards receivers and tight ends is a slightly different story. By and large, we already want to draft pass catchers that see a bunch of volume in the passing game. Earning an extra point for every reception doesn't change that philosophy. There are a few specific players that see a big boost in full-point per reception leagues -- Jarvis Landry and Julian Edelman come to mind -- but, in general, individual receiver value does not change much in PPR formats.

Difference-making tight ends are already scarce in fantasy football, so a change from Non-PPR scoring doesn't necessitate a big jump in their positional value either way. Tight ends generally derive a high percentage of their fantasy output from touchdowns because they aren't as targeted as frequently as wide receivers. You can find one-off cases where PPR helps specific players -- Jordan Reed was the TE12 in PPR points per game and TE17 in Non-PPR last year -- but the differences are often negligible.

At the end of the day, we're chasing targets when it comes to receivers and tight ends, no matter if you play in standard or PPR leagues.

The FLEX spot is Key


Another meaningful difference in PPR vs. standard philosophy comes down to the FLEX spot where managers can start one RB, WR, or TE. FLEX fantasy starters typically consist of the third- or fourth- best receiver or running back on our fantasy teams. In theory, running backs ranked 1st through 24th in fantasy points are already starters if you play in a 12-team league where you must start two RBs. But, does the league's scoring system dictate which position is the most optimal FLEX option?

Let's run through some numbers.

Over the last six seasons, the 25th-36th highest scoring wideout has out-scored the 25th-36th best running back by an average of 2.3 PPR points per game. In standard leagues, the inverse is true. FLEX-worthy running backs actually out-score receivers by a slim margin as the RB25-RB36 has out-produced the WR25-WR36 group by 0.4 points per game in non-PPR leagues during the same time span.

Drafting for receiver and running back depth is paramount in PPR leagues.

Final Takeaways


Remember that pass catching RBs are more valuable in PPR versus standard leagues. On average, a single target is worth nearly three times as many fantasy points as a single carry in PPR formats. Targets are the lifeblood of fantasy scoring no matter the scoring system for receivers and tight ends, but a player like Julian Edelman will always be more valuable in point per reception leagues.

Furthermore, PPR formats add a new layer of strategy in FLEX starter decisions. In non-PPR leagues, conventional wisdom (and data) suggests that running backs are slightly more valuable FLEX starters while receivers make up a ton of ground in PPR formats. This wrinkle forces a little more calculation in roster building. In PPR formats, managers can gain an advantage over the league if they fill their FLEX spot with an additional workhorse running back or if they have incredible depth at receiver.

Note -- If NFL Fantasy commissioners wish to change their league settings to standard or even half-point per reception, they can easily do so under "scoring" on the league settings drop-down menu. Just toggle "receptions" and enter the point value you would like for all players to earn.

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