PPR vs. Standard Leagues - ADP Comparison
The difference in drafting in NFL Standard leagues and PPR leagues has always been obvious. The bonus points awarded for a catch boosts the value of not just the wide receivers and tight ends, but also of the running backs with strong pass-catching abilities. Running backs have still dominated the first few rounds of both league styles, but the high-end wide receivers that see the most targets are starting to creep up further in PPR leagues as their point totals are running more on par with those of the second tier backs.
This season, with a growing number of NFL teams turning to more of a committee approach in the backfield while developing more intricate passing attacks, both league styles seem to be headed down very similar paths. Quarterbacks in high-octane offenses are on the rise, top-tier wide receivers are moving up the ladder, and we're even seeing a burst from some of the top-tier tight ends. However, while the first round in each style is nearly identical, there are still plenty of nuances to note when you're sitting there on draft day.
Obviously, even in committee backfields, the pass-catchers are the ones getting more love in PPR leagues than the backs that grind it out between the tackles. A player like Darren Sproles is going to come off the board a lot quicker than his backfield-mate Mark Ingram, as evidenced by Sproles' 35.52 ADP to Ingram's 55.97 rank. However, the gap closes considerably due to Sproles' lack of appeal in a league that does not award points for a reception. In standard leagues, Ingram's current ADP sits at 54.84 (very similar to his PPR ADP) while Sproles' ADP drops to 42.74.
And the converse holds true as well. A running back like Michael Turner tends to be fantasy gold in NFL Standard leagues, but because he is not a strong pass-catching back, his ADP drops in PPR leagues. Currently, in standard leagues, Turner has an ADP of 19.37 while it drops to 21.67 in PPR play. The difference isn't enormous - it used to be a little more evident when Turner was a few years younger - but it shows that in PPR leagues, owners are more inclined to grab a tight end on the rise like Jimmy Graham than they are to grab a running back like Turner. The same holds true for Frank Gore (22.85 in NFL Standard; 25.85 in PPR).
And speaking of Graham, the tight end position is vastly on the rise in PPR leagues these days. Sure, players like Graham, Rob Gronkowski and even Antonio Gates have a strong ADP showing in NFL Standard leagues due to their touchdown production but even players like Fred Davis, Jermichael Finley and Brandon Pettigrew are higher up the ADP charts in PPR leagues. And in some cases, they are even climbing higher than a few of the backup running backs that tend to be available.
For wide receivers, it's all about targets in PPR leagues. The guys who get the most looks from their quarterbacks are the ones with the greater number of opportunities and, consequently, are usually the ones who score the most points. We've seen them rise up in NFL Standard leagues as well - Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, just to name two - but this year, with the lack of quality depth at the running back position, even the second and third tier receivers are jumping up the ranks in PPR leagues. Wes Welker has long been the poster child for PPR receivers and the same holds true for him this year with his 39.42 PPR ADP and 44.12 in NFL Standard, but joining him now are the likes of Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, and Greg Jennings.
Deep threats, on the other hand – players like Torrey Smith and Jordy Nelson, do not rise in the ADP ranks in PPR leagues. While a player like Jennings will get eight to ten targets a game and finish up with six or seven catches, a player like Nelson might get half the looks but equal yardage and not score as high due to the per-catch bonus.
One of the more noticeable differences in ADP ranks for wide receivers in PPR and standard leagues is found further down in the draft. Fantasy owners are much more inclined, in PPR leagues, to scoop up wide receivers rather than running backs. In standard leagues, most owners turn to a backup running back more quickly than they would an unproven wide receiver simply because of the lack of depth at the position. PPR leagues on the other hand are the complete opposite. With the running back position so tenuous, the likelihood of free agent backs available during the season tends to increase, so why not grab a receiver with high upside as they are already likely to score a handful of points just on catches alone. Yardage and touchdowns are almost gravy. Players like Randy Moss, Eric Decker and even Michael Floyd are going significantly higher in PPR leagues while a backup running back like Mike Goodson who sits behind an injury-prone Darren McFadden still goes earlier in standard leagues.
The differences in ADP between the two styles may not be that tremendous, but when you're drafting your team, it could be your knowledge of those differences that gives you the edge over your competition. You'll know when to act fast and when to wait. You'll know which players should be the better value picks, and that alone should give you a better and more balanced team.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.