If you don’t play fantasy football, you probably have no idea what this title means. Of course, it’s 2013, so if you don’t play fantasy football, you’re now the oddball. “PPR” stands for points per reception. About half of all fantasy leagues do not give any points for receptions, while the other half includes some sort of PPR format. And while the value of every player is dependent on each league’s scoring system, few players see their value fluctuate between scoring systems quite like Wes Welker. Or, at least, that’s how it seems. Is there a way to measure this effect?
First, a review of Welker’s numbers since he joined the Patriots:
Welker doesn’t get many touchdowns, and while he has respectable yardage totals, he is only exceptional when it comes to piling up receptions. Welker has 672 receptions over the last six seasons, easily the most in the NFL (in fact, it’s the most ever over any six-year stretch). Brandon Marshall (592) and Reggie Wayne (578) are the only two players even within 100 catches of Welker. Over that same time frame, he ranks 4th in receiving yards, but only tied for 17th in receiving touchdowns.So how can we measure how much more valuable Welker is in PPR-leagues than non-PPR leagues? One way is to use VBD, which is a measure of how much value a player provided over the worst starter (or some other baseline). For example, Welker scored 173 fantasy points and ranked as WR12 in non-PPR leagues last season. If you are in a start-three wide receiver league, the worst starter would be WR36, who scored 111 fantasy points. That means Welker provided 62 points of VBD.
But in a PPR scoring system, Welker ranked 7th with 291 fantasy points. And since WR36 in a PPR system (Malcom Floyd) scored only 167 fantasy points, that gives Welker 124 points of VBD. By this measure, he was twice as valuable to fantasy players in PPR leagues than he was in non-PPR leagues.
As it turns out, Welker has been twice as valuable in PPR leagues over the course of his career. Since he entered the league in 2004, Welker has produced 683 points of VBD in PPR leagues and just 339 VBD points in non-PPR leagues. That means Welker has been only 49.6% as valuable in non-PPR leagues as he is in PPR formats. The table below lists the top 100 wide receivers (in terms of VBD in PPR leagues) since 19701: Welker is the only player to be half as valuable in non-PPR leagues:
I’ve written a lot about Paul Warfield, so I don’t think anyone will be surprised to see him as the Least PPR Receiver since 1970. You could probably write two or three posts just about the 98 names in between Welker and Warfield, but I’ll leave that to you guys in the comments.
How low do we need to change the threshold (of top 100 in PPR VBD) to find a more PPR-y receiver than Welker? If we lower the threshold to 150 points of PPR VBD, number one on that list is the man who used to occupy Welker’s role in the Patriots offense. Troy Brown stays #1 even if we lower the threshold to 50 points of PPR VBD.
One name not on the list: Danny Amendola, who may or may not be a suitable replacement for Welker in 2013. In standard leagues, Amendola has never ranked in the top 45, so he has 0 points of VBD in non-PPR leagues. His only season above the baseline in PPR leagues came in 2010, when he finished as the 30th best fantasy wide receiver (with 85 catches and 689 yards).
Previous “Random Perspective On” Articles:
AFC East: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC South: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans
AFC West: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers
NFC East: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
NFC North: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC West: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
- Wide receivers who entered the league prior to 1970 are included, but only their post-merger seasons are included for this study. [↩]