PPR Team
By Jeff Tefertiller
July 6th, 2010

This is the fifth and final installment of the series on PPR leagues. The study is based on points per game averages from the past eight seasons. We have previously looked at the Top 10 (elite players), Top 30 (good starters), and the Top 50 (fantasy starters) players. This article will examine the Top 100 players overall in PPR (point per reception) leagues. Only players who played in nine or more games were included in this study. There has been a recent trend to value the wide receiver position highly in PPR leagues. The data in this study has not supported those high hopes. Outside of the top few receivers, most score about the same on a per game basis ... not to mention the difficulty in predicting the Top 10-12 players at the position.

This article will take a closer look at flex starters, roster distribution among positions, and identify trends that may appear. As we discovered in the previous articles, the quarterback position dominated the Top 10, Top 30, and Top 50 players overall each year. Also, running backs and quarterbacks were starting to yield to wide receivers at the tail end of the Top 50. This is a trend we expect to continue in the Top 100 since so many more receivers are viable each week than players at the other skill positions.

The impact of elite players is obvious when compared to players in the Top 100. To illustrate the impact, let's look at the wide receiver position for last season. Wes Welker finished as the top producing wideout with a 20.4 points per game average. Sidney Rice had a very good season finishing as the eleventh ranked receiver with a 16.5 points per game average. The difference between Welker (as WR1) and Rice (as WR11) is larger than the difference between Rice (16.5 points per game average) and Nate Burleson (12.5 points per game) at WR25. The difference in 2008 was even greater. The margin between Anquan Boldin (WR1) and Eddie Royal (WR11) was bigger than the one between Royal (WR11) and Santonio Holmes (WR36). Identifying the elite fantasy receivers is a quest for all fantasy owners. They give your team such an advantage.

Below is a chart with the number of players at each position that finished in the Top 10, Top 30, Top 50, and the tiers leading up to (and including) the Top 100.

Top 10
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
8
7
5
5
1
5
1
4
4.5
RB
2
0
2
5
6
4
7
4
3.8
WR
0
3
3
0
3
1
2
2
1.8
Rk 11-20
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
4
5
5
3
3
6
7
3
4.5
RB
3
4
1
3
2
3
2
6
3.0
WR
3
1
4
4
5
1
1
1
2.5
Rk 21-30
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
4
1
2
2
7
3
4
7
3.8
RB
0
7
3
3
2
1
2
1
2.4
WR
5
2
5
5
0
6
4
2
3.6
TE
1
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0.3
Top 30
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
16
13
12
10
11
14
12
14
12.8
RB
5
11
6
11
10
8
11
11
9.1
WR
8
6
12
9
8
8
7
5
7.9
TE
1
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0.3
Rk 31-40
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
4
3
2
4
7
2
3
5
3.8
RB
3
4
5
1
1
3
4
2
2.9
WR
3
2
2
5
2
3
3
3
2.9
TE
0
1
1
0
0
2
0
0
0.5
Rk 41-50
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
2
5
3
1
3
4
3
2
2.9
RB
4
2
2
4
3
2
2
2
2.6
WR
2
3
4
5
4
4
5
6
4.1
TE
2
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0.4
Top 50
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
22
21
17
15
21
20
18
21
19.4
RB
12
17
13
16
14
13
17
15
14.6
WR
13
11
18
19
14
15
15
14
14.9
TE
3
1
2
0
1
2
0
0
1.1
Rk 51-60
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
1
3
4
6
2
2
4
1
2.9
RB
3
0
2
3
2
5
2
3
2.5
WR
5
7
4
1
6
3
3
6
4.4
TE
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0.3
Rk 61-70
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
2
1
2
4
2
1
3
4
2.4
RB
5
4
1
3
1
2
3
2
2.6
WR
2
4
5
2
5
6
3
4
3.9
TE
1
1
2
1
1
1
1
0
1.0
Rk 71-80
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
1
2
3
2
2
4
1
1
2.0
RB
5
2
4
3
4
2
2
2
3.0
WR
2
5
2
4
3
4
6
7
4.1
TE
2
1
1
1
1
0
1
0
0.9
Rk 81-90
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
1
2
1
0
2
1
3
2
1.5
RB
3
4
4
3
2
5
3
3
3.4
WR
4
4
4
5
5
4
4
4
4.3
TE
2
0
1
2
1
0
0
1
0.9
Rk 91-100
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
2
2
1
1
1
2
0
1
1.3
RB
0
3
4
3
3
2
2
0
2.1
WR
7
5
5
4
4
5
8
7
5.6
TE
1
0
0
2
2
1
0
2
1.0
Top 100
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Avg
QB
29
31
28
28
30
30
29
30
29.4
RB
28
30
28
31
27
29
29
28
28.8
WR
33
36
38
35
37
37
39
39
36.8
TE
10
3
6
6
6
4
3
3
5.1

There are a few general observations from the chart above:

  • In 2008, it is interesting that only three tight ends made it into the Top 100 players overall. That number jumped to ten in 2009. Last year was the best season of the study for tight end production. There is considerable depth at the position going into the 2010 season. Fantasy owners know they can wait longer than ever before on a tight end this season.
  • As expected, almost half of the players that finished in the 51-100 range overall were wide receivers. In 2008, exactly half of the 50 players in that group were wide receivers. That number dropped in 2009. Last year, out of the 50 total players, 20 were wideouts. The average over the eight-year study is 22. In both seasons the elite receivers gave their owners an advantage while there are many that will produce similar numbers after Top 20.
  • Because so many receivers produce about the same, and outscore the running backs in the 51-100 group, wide receivers make great flex starters in PPR leagues. Only 14 running backs finished in the 51-100 group compared to 22 receivers on average. This means that fantasy owners in PPR leagues should look to fill their benches with receivers. These pass receivers make much better flex starters and injury or bye week replacements plus there is a greater supply of pass catchers.
  • The number of quarterbacks and running backs has remained fairly static over the years in the 51-100 range. None of these passers are anything more than spot starters for many fantasy teams.
  • We will now look at the positional distribution, including points per game averages. One thing to notice as we move toward player 100 overall is the effect of the elite players, those finishing in the Top 10 overall compared to the Top 30, Top 50, and now Top 100 players overall. First, let's look at the Top 10 , Top 30, and Top 50 overall players. We have discussed all three groups in the previous three articles. But, they give a good background for the players in the 51-100 grouping.

    Top 10
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    Avg
    QB
    8
    7
    5
    5
    1
    5
    1
    4
    4.5
    25.1-20.7
    23.5-20.3
    28.4-20.6
    23.0-19.2
    21.3
    27.0-20.6
    23.5
    25.9-22.5
    RB
    2
    0
    2
    5
    6
    4
    7
    4
    3.8
    24.9-20.8
    n/a
    24.8-23.0
    30.2-20.8
    23.7-20.8
    22.8-21.4
    27.9-20.8
    31.6-21.7
    WR
    0
    3
    3
    0
    3
    1
    2
    2
    1.8
    n/a
    22.1-19.5
    24.1-20.5
    n/a
    21.3-20.6
    20.7
    23.7-22.4
    23.9-23.0
    Top 30
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    Avg
    QB
    16
    13
    12
    10
    11
    14
    12
    14
    12.8
    25.1-17.0
    23.5-17.1
    28.4-18.3
    23.8-16.3
    21.3-16.9
    27.0-17.9
    23.5-17.3
    25.9-17.7
    RB
    5
    11
    6
    11
    10
    8
    11
    11
    9.1
    24.9-20.2
    19.5-16.9
    24.8-17.7
    30.2-16.2
    23.7-17.1
    22.8-17.9
    27.9-17.7
    31.6-18.9
    WR
    8
    6
    12
    9
    8
    8
    7
    5
    7.9
    20.4-16.9
    22.1-17.8
    24.1-17.6
    19.0-16.8
    21.3-17.9
    20.7-18.0
    23.7-17.2
    23.9-18.1
    TE
    1
    0
    0
    0
    1
    0
    0
    0
    0.3
    17.0
    n/a
    n/a
    n/a
    17.3
    n/a
    n/a
    n/a
    Top 50
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    Avg
    QB
    22
    21
    17
    15
    21
    20
    18
    21
    19.4
    25.1-15.3
    23.5-15.0
    28.4-15.4
    23.0-15.2
    21.3-15.0
    27.0-16.0
    23.5-15.2
    25.9-16.1
    RB
    12
    17
    13
    16
    14
    13
    17
    15
    14.6
    24.9-15.4
    19.5-15.6
    24.8-15.4
    30.2-14.8
    23.7-14.6
    22.8-15.8
    27.9-15.3
    31.6-16.0
    WR
    13
    11
    18
    19
    14
    15
    15
    14
    14.9
    20.4-15.5
    22.1-15.5
    24.1-15.2
    19.0-14.8
    21.3-15.0
    20.7-15.7
    23.7-14.6
    23.9-15.8
    TE
    3
    1
    2
    0
    1
    2
    0
    0
    1.1
    17.0-15.2
    16.4
    15.8-15.4
    n/a
    17.3
    17.0-16.9
    n/a
    n/a

    As discussed previously, the quarterbacks reign in the Top 50, with the wide receivers gaining ground. Also, the tight ends that score this well are few and far between. Now, on to the players finishing in the 51-100 tier.

    Rk 51-60
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    Avg
    QB
    1
    3
    4
    6
    2
    2
    4
    1
    3.1
    14.4
    14.4-14.2
    14.8-14.4
    14.7-13.9
    14.5-13.9
    14.9-14.7
    14.5-13.8
    15.2
    RB
    3
    0
    2
    3
    2
    5
    2
    3
    2.4
    15.0-14.6
    n/a
    15.2-15.1
    14.7-14.3
    14.3-13.5
    15.6-15.0
    14.3-13.8
    15.6-14.9
    WR
    5
    7
    4
    1
    6
    3
    3
    6
    4.3
    14.6-14.5
    14.8-13.9
    15.1-14.6
    14.4
    14.5-13.5
    15.6-14.9
    14.4-14.3
    15.4-14.9
    TE
    1
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    1
    0
    0.1
    15.2
    n/a
    n/a
    n/a
    n/a
    n/a
    13.9
    n/a

    As one might expect, the running backs are starting to thin out. In 2009, only 15 backs finished in the Top 60 players overall. The position is top heavy in terms of production. In addition, the Quarterback position is left with players that are on the lower end of fantasy backups. In 2009, several wide receivers slid to the 51-60 group where they would have been in the Top 50 in previous seasons. After three big years for wideouts, the 18 pass receivers in the Top 60 the last two season was quite the disappointment. Let's expand a little on this. A middle of the road fantasy WR2 barely sneaks into the Top 60 players overall. And the number of wide receivers in this group is on the decline. This is contrary to what most would think. At the tight end position, there were only eleven players that ranked in the Top 60 players overall throughout the eight years of this study ... and four of these came in 2009. The position is increasing in prominence.

    Rk 61-70
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    Avg
    QB
    2
    1
    2
    4
    2
    1
    3
    4
    2.4
    13.9-13.5
    13.4
    14.0-13.6
    13.9-13.2
    13.4-13.0
    14.6
    13.8-12.6
    14.7-14.2
    RB
    5
    4
    1
    3
    1
    2
    3
    2
    2.3
    14.3-13.7
    13.5-12.9
    14.1
    13.6-13.2
    13.2-13.0
    14.0-13.9
    13.2-12.9
    14.8-14.4
    WR
    2
    4
    5
    2
    5
    6
    3
    4
    4.1
    14.0-13.6
    13.9-13.5
    14.1-13.2
    13.6-13.3
    13.5-13.0
    14.5-13.9
    13.2-12.7
    14.8-14.4
    TE
    1
    1
    2
    1
    1
    1
    1
    0
    1.0
    13.8
    13.2
    14.2-14.0
    13.6
    13.0
    13.8
    12.6
    n/a

    There are no decent quarterbacks in the 61-70 area. The passers in this group each year yield at least ten points per game to the top fantasy passer, on average . These passers should only be rostered for depth and possible upside. The running backs are at the lower end of the fantasy RB starters (RB2). The receivers have almost caught up to the quarterbacks overall. It is interesting that at least one tight end has made the 61-70 group the past seven seasons.

    Rk 71-80
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    Avg
    QB
    1
    2
    3
    2
    2
    4
    1
    1
    2.1
    13.4
    12.4-12.3
    13.1-12.5
    13.0-12.8
    12.9-12.6
    13.5-13.1
    12.6
    12.9
    RB
    5
    2
    4
    3
    4
    2
    2
    2
    2.7
    13.4-12.9
    12.5-12.4
    13.1-12.6
    13.0-12.3
    12.7-12.3
    13.7-13.4
    12.2-12.0
    13.9-13.8
    WR
    2
    5
    2
    4
    3
    4
    6
    7
    4.4
    13.3-13.1
    12.9-12.3
    13.0-12.6
    13.2-12.7
    12.5-12.3
    13.6-13.1
    12.5-12.0
    14.1-12.9
    TE
    2
    1
    1
    1
    1
    0
    1
    0
    0.7
    13.1-12.9
    12.6
    12.6
    13.0
    12.7
    n/a
    12.5
    n/a

    The quarterbacks are only getting worse. Let's remember that these are players that played in nine games or more. Fantasy owners want no part of the passers in this group or later. The waiver wire produces better fantasy options than rostering these quarterbacks. The backs are still in the bottom of the RB2 rankings with an average of 22.4 backs in the Top 80. On average, 27.9 wide receivers finish in the Top 80 players overall. The receivers will further extend the advantage over the backs as we move toward player 100. It has become apparent why wide receivers make better flex starters and bench players in PPR leagues. There is plenty of depth at the position. The tight ends are starting to show up. These tight ends can score close to the top players at the position, but still offer an advantage over most fantasy starters. On average, only 2.7 tight ends per season finish in the Top 80 players overall.

    Rk 81-90
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    Avg
    QB
    1
    2
    1
    0
    2
    1
    3
    2
    1.6
    12.2
    11.9-11.7
    11.5
    n/a
    12.1-11.8
    12.7
    11.9-11.1
    12.4-12.3
    RB
    3
    4
    4
    3
    2
    5
    3
    3
    3.4
    12.4-12.0
    12.2-11.8
    12.2-11.5
    12.0-11.6
    12.0-11.8
    13.1-13.0
    11.9-11.6
    12.6-12.4
    WR
    4
    4
    4
    5
    5
    4
    4
    4
    4.3
    12.8-12.1
    11.9-11.7
    12.5-11.5
    12.3-11.6
    12.2-12.0
    13.1-12.5
    11.9-11.4
    12.6-12.1
    TE
    2
    0
    1
    2
    1
    0
    0
    1
    0.7
    12.3-11.9
    n/a
    12.2
    12.2-11.0
    11.9
    n/a
    n/a
    12.3

    The quarterbacks are now very thin and represent players you would not want to start (or even roster) on your fantasy team. With the decrease in quarterbacks, the Running Back position picks up the slack in the 81-90 group. Most seasons, the receivers produced almost the same number of players in the 81-90 range with similar points per game averages. The tight ends continue to gain ground, but there still are few tight ends that produce equal to low end fantasy WR3s. This is especially notable for leagues that do not mandate starting a tight end each week. Only the top handful of tight ends produce enough fantasy points to be viable. In the Top 90 players overall, there are only 3.4 tight ends on average compared to 32.2 wide receivers and 27.8 running backs.

    Rk 91-100
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    Avg
    QB
    2
    2
    1
    1
    1
    2
    0
    1
    1.1
    11.7-11.2
    11.4-11.2
    11.3
    11.5
    11.5
    12.2-11.9
    n/a
    11.8
    RB
    0
    3
    4
    3
    3
    2
    2
    0
    2.4
    n/a
    11.4-11.3
    11.0-10.9
    11.4-11.1
    11.7-11.4
    12.0-11.9
    10.7-10.4
    n/a
    WR
    7
    5
    5
    4
    4
    5
    8
    7
    5.4
    11.8-11.2
    11.7-11.2
    10.9-10.8
    11.5-11.1
    11.7-11.2
    12.3-11.6
    10.8-10.4
    11.8-11.6
    TE
    1
    0
    0
    2
    2
    1
    0
    2
    1.0
    11.7
    n/a
    n/a
    11.4-11.4
    11.4-11.3
    11.8
    n/a
    12.0-11.7

    The last ten-player group in the Top 100 has players that score very close together. This is the only tier where the wide receiver position totals at least half of the tier. In addition, this 91-100 tier is tied with the 61-70 tier for the the tight ends for productivity (garnering 10% of the tier on average). The receiver position is hitting a plateau where many players score the same. This happens usually around WR30 overall and can last 10-15 players deep. There is little difference between owning one receiver over another. For the tight ends, the group is merely just catching up on the other positions.

    Top 100
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    Avg
    QB
    29
    31
    28
    28
    30
    30
    29
    30
    29.4
    24.1-11.2
    23.5-11.2
    28.4-11.3
    23.0-11.5
    21.3-11.5
    27.0-11.9
    23.5-11.1
    25.9-11.8
    RB
    28
    30
    28
    31
    27
    29
    29
    28
    28.9
    24.9-12.0
    19.5-11.3
    24.8-10.9
    30.2-11.1
    23.7-11.4
    22.8-11.9
    27.9-10.4
    31.6-12.4
    WR
    33
    36
    38
    35
    37
    37
    39
    39
    37.3
    20.4-11.2
    22.1-11.2
    24.1-10.8
    19.0-11.1
    21.3-11.2
    20.7-11.6
    23.7-10.4
    23.9-11.6
    TE
    10
    3
    6
    6
    6
    4
    3
    3
    4.4
    17.0-11.7
    16.4-12.6
    15.8-12.2
    13.6-11.4
    17.3-11.3
    17.0-11.8
    13.9-12.5
    12.3-11.7

    While looking at the Top 100 players overall, the large number of receivers makes the case for why fantasy owners should look to roster more wideouts than running backs, especially for the purpose of roster depth. While the top running backs are very important and have a large impact, once we get past the Top 40 overall, the wide receivers outscore the backs by a good margin. So, after the first twelve backs on average (those that finish in the Top 40), fantasy owners should stock up on receivers. The wide receiver position scores better (than the running back position) and is much, much deeper. Every year at the tight end position, it is not difficult to identify the players that may finish in the Top 100 overall. The question is whether the owner wants to pay the price. The differential in points per game averages between the top tight ends and the merely average players at the position make it worth the price for a tight end who will catch a lot of passes, especially if drafted in the TE3-6 range.

    This eight-year study on PPR leagues offers conclusions that differ from popular opinion. Quarterbacks do dominate, even in leagues with PPR and only giving four points per passing touchdown. Top running backs outscore top receivers almost every year, but the wideouts offer value starting around player 40 overall and the trend continues throughout the Top 100. Elite players at all of the skill positions hold more of an advantage as we moved from the Top 10 to the Top 30, then to the Top 50 and now the Top 100.

    Please feel free to email me at tefertiller@footballguys.com with any questions or comments. Also, I am on Twitter, so feel free to ask me questions there.