Why PPR Sucks: Switching Your League to First Downs
Eddie Rex - 8/23/2017
Quick, before everyone gathers for the draft, text them to just change one rule in your league. One small thing. It can make your league 100 times better, just one change to get rid of a stupid and pointless metric.
It’s hateful and vile. Point-per-reception is worse than small-minded, it’s worse than exasperating and stupid. It’s un-American.
OK, here’s the situation. Third-and-18, pinned back to your own 10. You fake the pass, run a draw up the middle, your beast of a running back blasts through the hole, bounces off six tacklers, stretches, reaches and…. MAKES the first down. Holy crap. Play of the game so far.
Or, your quarterback drops back, sees no one open, drops a pass in the flat and the fourth-string RB catches it, hesitates, and is FLATTENED for a 2-yard loss.
In fantasy football, the play of the game gets zero (0) points. The lame dump-off pass, yeah, that’s worth a point.
You can have a running back dominate a game, it can be the centerpiece of a team’s game plan, to chew up clock and feed the guy who churns out four or five yards a run. And yet that running back can rack up 98 yards on 21 carries, be the hero of his team – and score less than the backup tight end who caught 4 passes for 22 yards.
I’ve had it. That’s not fair. It’s worse than communism or fascism, it’s a scourge on American society – I would say it’s even worse than awarding participation medals to all the kids in soccer league.
And there’s an alternative. It’s a scoring metric that is clear and simple, that reflects what actually happens in a football game.
Give first downs a point instead.
Not all sites have that alternative in their scoring systems, but some do. It’s not on ESPN sites, for instance, but is available in Yahoo leagues.
And it’s brilliant. It’s one of the most important things that happen in a game – first downs, yardage and scoring, that complete reflects the NFL offense.
When is the last time you heard an announcer summarize the game and say, Well, clearly Team A was better, because look how many receptions they had.
It’s not a new idea, as far as I know it’s been kicked around leagues since 2011, and there’s an excellent article this year from Fantasy Knuckleheads that outlines the numbers and how it changes, and doesn’t change, your draft approach.
Basically, you stop getting to be brilliant for drafting Dion Lewis or Duke Johnson or TJ Yeldon over the actual starting running back on a team. Just because a running back catches balls out of the backfield doesn’t mean that guy is a top pick or an important player.
OK, I’m taking a breath. You get the point. I hate hate hate hate hate point-per-reception. If you’re unsure, you could gradually phase in first-down scoring by reducing PPR to a half-point and making first downs worth half a point, too.
But really, that’s just delaying the inevitable. Right now, everyone plays PPR because …. well, because that’s what we played last year. When you stop to think about it, PPR was a stop-gap stat to better reflect the shift in the NFL to more passing and less power running.
But it has passed its sell-by date. It’s a relic. PPR is an artificial way to boost receiving scoring numbers in fantasy football, but doesn’t actually reflect the importance of those receptions. Since just about every team now utilizes a variation of the West Coast offense, those first downs most often come by reception. And if they come on a little 3rd-and-1 run, then so be it. That’s an important yard. Much more important than a 3-yard loss on a pass play, don’t you think?
And after you make that one tiny change in your league settings, and everyone is suddenly happy and full of juice in your league, then we can start talking about that stupid tight end everyone is forced to draft and why in heck special teams don’t score real fantasy points. But we’ll save that for later….
Another link on the subject:
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