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    What Is the PPR Scoring System in Fantasy Football?

    For those just getting into the great game of fantasy football, here are some of the basics of how a PPR fantasy scoring system works.

    Prior to joining a new fantasy football league, it’s important to know exactly how the league works. One of the first questions you should ask is about is the scoring settings. When I ask about the settings, one of the first things I need to know is whether the league is some version of PPR.

    For those new to the game, you may not know what this term means. So, what does PPR stand for, and how does it impact fantasy football scoring?

    What Is PPR in Fantasy Football?

    Some fantasy football terms are not that intuitive. PPR is about as straightforward as it gets.

    PPR stands for “point per reception.” It means exactly what it says. PPR dictates how much a reception is worth in fantasy football.

    For old people like me, PPR wasn’t really a thing when I started playing fantasy football. In fact, you may have heard the term “standard” when referencing a specific scoring system.

    It’s become an ironic term because if you look up the term “standard” in the dictionary, you will see that it is defined as “used or accepted as normal or average.” When I started playing fantasy football back in 2003, the “standard” scoring system was non-PPR. This scoring system awards no points for receptions.

    Due to this fact alone, the term “standard” became synonymous with “non-PPR.”

    The term “standard” is synonymous with “default.” If you were to sign up for a random league on one of the three main fantasy football platforms, you would initially be given their default, or standard, settings. There is nothing “standard” about non-PPR.

    Given how “standard” some version of PPR has become, it is essential to understand the term. The default scoring on ESPN and Sleeper is full PPR, meaning each reception is worth 1.0 points. Yahoo’s default scoring is half-PPR, which awards 0.5 points per reception.

    These changes are all relatively recent (within the past five years or so), as fantasy platforms need to adapt to the modern NFL, which is very pass-happy and quarterback-friendly.

    Difference Between PPR and Non-PPR Scoring in Fantasy Football

    The differences between PPR and half-PPR are often overstated.

    According to a study done by JJ Zachariason of lateround.com, the difference in annual finish in fantasy points per game in PPR scoring vs. half-PPR scoring is not very significant. Only in extreme cases should player values be adjusted meaningfully to account for the difference.

    However, there is a very stark contrast between PPR scoring and non-PPR scoring.

    In non-PPR, receptions don’t matter … at all. The only thing that matters is how many yards were gained. A 20-yard rush and a 20-yard reception are the same thing.

    One of the primary criticisms of PPR scoring is it rewards unproductive plays. If a running back carries the ball 15 times for 90 yards, that’s a very efficient performance. Yet, a wide receiver racking up an inefficient seven catches for 40 yards is going to outscore that running back by 2.0 PPR fantasy points.

    The primary criticism of non-PPR scoring is pertaining to touchdowns. Even in half and full PPR, touchdowns are everything in fantasy football. They are the single most important factor in winning fantasy matchups.

    When there is an element of PPR, at least there’s some means by which players can chip away at the advantage provided when your opponent scores touchdowns. In non-PPR, there’s virtually no chance a player that doesn’t score a touchdown can compete with a player that does.

    If that same running back who carried the ball 15 times for 90 yards doesn’t score, he’s only giving you 9.0 fantasy points. Meanwhile, another running back can carry the ball five times for 20 yards and a touchdown and score 8.0 fantasy points.

    To best illustrate the difference, let’s look at a wide receiver from last season who relied heavily on receptions.

    MORE: How Fantasy Football Scoring Systems Work

    The players most impacted are those who operate near the line of scrimmage. They are the players who command a lot of targets, but don’t really see the ball much downfield.

    Last season, Indianapolis Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. caught 109 passes for 1,152 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 15.6 PPR points per game and finished as the overall WR14. That’s an extremely valuable fantasy asset who almost finished as a WR1.

    Now, if you take away his receptions, you get his non-PPR average. In non-PPR, Pittman averaged a paltry 8.8 points per game, a difference of 6.8. He finished as the overall WR27.

    That is a massive shift in value. Pittman was one of the most valuable later-round picks in PPR and half-PPR leagues. In non-PPR leagues, he barely moved the needle.

    On the other hand, players that rely more on efficiency don’t take as big of a hit.

    Take Minnesota Vikings WR Jordan Addison. In his rookie season last year, Addison caught 70 passes for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns. That gave him a 13.0 fantasy points per game average in PPR leagues. In non-PPR leagues, he averaged 8.9 points per game.

    While that’s still a difference of 4.1 points per game, it pales in comparison to what we saw with Pittman.

    Because Addison relied more on yardage and touchdowns, he finished five spots higher in non-PPR (the WR26) than in PPR (the WR31).

    What Is the Point of Varying Scoring Systems?

    For most fantasy leagues, the purpose of different scoring systems is to promote fairness.

    There will always be some leagues that do unique things just to be different. That’s perfectly fine. This game is supposed to be fun. I would never discourage anyone from doing what they find fun.

    But for most leagues, the goal is to make a game predicated heavily on randomness and variance as fair as possible.

    For all intents and purposes, non-PPR scoring has gone the way of the VCR. As to which format should be the “default” between half-PPR and full-PPR, that is up for debate.

    Some commissioners and managers feel PPR scoring system leagues over-incentivize receptions and unjustly reward unproductive plays (like a reception for no gain), causing a further gap between the top and mid-tier players. This criticism is fair and most noticeable with running backs.

    Receiving work is key to the fantasy success of running backs. In PPR leagues, a target is anywhere from 2.5-3x more valuable than a carry. Touchdowns still trump everything, but receiving work is still very important. It’s far more impactful than rushing efficiency.

    The negative side of this is satellite backs who catch three to four passes a game can be more valuable than some of the best runners who aren’t used as receivers.

    As the game continues to advance, fantasy managers are thinking of ways to reward receptions without overvaluing unproductive plays. This line of thinking gave rise to two relatively new scoring systems.

    First is the tiered PPR system. In this format, the value of a reception is tied to the length of that reception or the position of the player.

    MORE: What Is Best Ball Fantasy Football?

    The position-based PPR might work like this: Running backs receive 0.25 points for receptions, wide receivers earn 0.5 points, and tight ends receive a full point.

    The reception length-based system might work like this: A 0-4 yard reception awards no points, a 5-9 yard reception awards 0.25 points, a 10-14 yard reception awards 0.5 points, a 15-19 yard awards 0.75 points, and a 20+ yard reception awards 1.0 points. You can tweak it however you want, but you get the idea.

    The second is PPFD — or point per first down. Rather than reward players for merely catching a pass, we reward them for obtaining a first down. This comes with its own set of problems, as a running back falling forward for one yard on third-and-1 would earn just as many points as an 11-yard reception on third-and-12.

    The argument in favor of PPFD scoring is rewarding players for actions that greatly benefit their NFL teams. It also serves to equalize the value between rushing and receiving that has tipped more heavily on the receiving side of things in recent years.

    As with all scoring format changes, PPR or otherwise, the primary goal is to create a balanced fantasy league where one position is not vastly overvalued compared to another. That way, fantasy managers can prioritize different things and build their teams in different ways to compete.

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