Why fantasy football needs to move away from PPR scoring

Some harassment is constant. Like ringing ears after a rock concert, pesky mosquitoes buzzing around your face on a hot summer night, the Nicole Kidman commercial that plays before movies in AMC theaters.

A few annoyances appear to be here to stay, including the score per reception in fantasy football.

PPR has eroded the fantasy landscape with the same steady determination as geological erosion, with the same efficiency as a swarm of locusts, with a misguided popularity akin to Adam Sandler’s comedy fandom.

So here we are, a fantasy community conquered and oppressed by the scourge of PPR scoring. There’s not much we can do to change it now, today. The only thing real football fans who happen to play fantasy football can do is yell and yell about how backward the idea of ​​PPR is, while still sticking to being good at it despite being the highest format.

So let’s start screaming, shall we?

Wes Welker was a PPR darling with the Patriots
Wes Welker was a PPR darling with the Patriots
Boston Globe via Getty Images

First, the idea of ​​PPR is absurd. In real football, there is no advantage how you gain meters – in the air or on the ground. A yard is a yard, it doesn’t matter. So why evaluate differently in fantasy?

Some might argue that we already do this with quarterbacks – since they often get fewer points for touchdowns and have higher yardage point thresholds. This brings us to our second point.

There is no scoring disparity between running backs and wide receivers, which is why the QB comparison is a false equivalency. Fantasy QBs score greatly disproportionately compared to other positions. This does not apply to RBs or WRs. The leaders in RB and WR often score a similar number of points. But the top of the total points leaderboard is almost always dominated by QBs.

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Therefore, the WR problem is better solved by roster requirements than by creating a disadvantageous rating system.

Since these things are undeniably true, that brings us to our third point: PPR has no reason to exist. It grew out of the dominance of the early rounds of drafting by stretching way back to the early days of fantasy (think: early to mid 2000s). To compensate for this, rather than making roster adjustments to solve the problem (like adding a third WR position), someone decided to skew the rating system instead.

Shaun Alexander was one of the most dominant fantasy football running backs in history.
Shaun Alexander was one of the most dominant fantasy football running backs in history.
Getty Images

And because people like dots, because dots are fun, the idea caught on despite its madness. And now — when RB’s drafts aren’t as dominant as they used to be, when there are even fewer feature backs and more backs-by-committee, when the NFL has moved to mostly pass-first offenses — PPR that didn’t even make it made sense at first, makes even less sense now.

So what’s the solution? Easy. First, if your league doesn’t have a third WR spot, add one – giving you a starting lineup of two RBs, three WRs, and a Flex, along with the other base positions. The additional WR spot and the ability to play a WR at Flex help make up for the lack of supply of RBs in the draft.

Next, convert the one-point bonus for first downs instead of scoring for receptions. In this way, a player’s actual contributions on the field are reflected in the fantasy output and not just in an arbitrary yardage score.

These simple solutions should resolve any perceived issues that encourage PPR use, while removing the wart itself.

We will keep screaming these realities until they become our shared reality. Until then, let’s hold our noses while we wade in the PPR dirt.

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