PPR vs Half PPR vs Standard Non PPR in Fantasy Football Explained

When looking into playing season-long fantasy football and daily fantasy football (also known simply as “DFS”) you will find many different kinds of rules for many different leagues.  One of the main differences between leagues are how they total up points per reception (PPR). 

Although this would seem like a small difference, it leads to very different strategies and point totals and projections for players.  What is the difference between PPR vs Half PPR vs Standard non PPR in fantasy football? 

Standard non PPR league scoring does not give any additional points for a reception. Half PPR leagues give a ½ point per reception by a player, and PPR will give a full point per reception by a player. 

  • Standard Non PPR – 0 points per reception
  • Half PPR – 1/2 point per reception
  • PPR – 1 point per reception

Understanding the difference between PPR, Half PPR, and standard will change the value of a lot of players, which will ultimately also change the strategies used to win.

In this article we are going to discuss what scoring methods are used by different fantasy sites, and discuss PPR vs Half PPR vs Standard non PPR and more length to touch on my preferences, how player values change in each format, and how it affects position and draft value.

Scoring Format By Major Fantasy Sites

There a many Daily Fantasy Sports sites, but there are currently 3 major sites:

  • Yahoo Fantasy, where their standard scoring is half-PPR and you can see full scoring here.
  • FanDuel, where their standard scoring is half-PPR (you can see full scoring here).
  • Draft Kings, where their standard scoring is PPR (you can see full scoring here).

In season-long fantasy football, you can usually choose the format you wish to play. Yahoo Pro Leagues are season-long pay leagues, and they come with a half PPR scoring format.

PPR vs Half PPR vs Non PPR Strategy

Fantasy football, to some extent, tries to use scoring rules that help reflect a player’s true impact on the game of football. For example, the point of fantasy football would be worthless if scrub players outscored All-pro caliber players in fantasy.

The variations in PPR, Half PPR, and Non-PPR are all attempts at trying to find a healthy balance that correctly weights the true impact that a player has. Most experts agree that half-ppr leagues are the best, fairest version of fantasy football and come the closest to accurately weighting the true impact that players have on the field.

The Argument for Non PPR

If you are of the belief that individual receptions don’t matter that much in football and that receptions are meaningless if the team isn’t moving the football and scoring touchdowns, then non-ppr standard scoring would be best for you (because it gives no weight – 0 points – per reception).

Standard leagues don’t value the number of receptions a player has in a game and only gives points to yards and touchdowns.  For me, this is a bit of a tough sell because although not all receptions have a significant impact on the game, certainly some do, and so, in my opinion, giving no weight whatsoever to receptions puts too much emphasis on yards and touchdowns.

In non PPR leagues, drafting and rostering players that score touchdowns is very important (this should be built in to your draft strategy).

The Argument for Full PPR

On the other hand, you can make an argument that every time a player catches a pass they are putting pressure on the defense and getting their quarterback in rhythm.   And you can argue that along with yards and touchdowns, catching the ball is helping their team win and should be rewarded in fantasy. If you believe receptions should be weighted significantly, then you would want to play full PPR.

In full PPR leagues, players that receive a lot of targets are increasingly important because each catch adds a point, which can end up being a significant boost in your points.

The Argument for Half PPR

As I stated earlier, this is my preference. I strongly believe this is the best scoring format and provides a healthy balance between touchdowns, yards, and receptions, making them all important to the outcome of your fantasy team (much like they are all important to the outcome of a real team).

Also, I think it expands the number of players that can help you win in fantasy but doe that in a way that does not over value receptions.  Standard scoring puts too much emphasis on touchdowns, therefore once you get past the elite options at each position you are left with a lot of players that are really inconsistent. 

Full PPR, in my opinion, is an over-correction to non-PPR and just gives too much value to receptions. It gives too much value per reception relative to yards and touchdowns.  Full PPR also brings too many players into the fold and can make you end up trying to draft low-value real-life players that get lots of targets. 

Half PPR gives the right amount of value to receptions, creating a healthy balance between the impact of touchdowns and the impact of receptions and is that perfect middle ground for me.

Player Value in PPR vs Half PPR vs Non PPR

Elite players at every position will likely remain the top players no matter what the scoring format is.  The biggest impact of the different scoring formats is on the second level of fantasy players.

The two positions that change the most are wide receivers and running backs. 

Running Backs

We can group running backs into groups of skillsets and determine what scoring format is best for each group. 

1. Workhorse Running Backs – The elite group of running backs (known as “workhorses” or “bell-cows”) are running backs that get the bulk of the carries, get the goal line carries, and catch the ball out of the backfield.  These backs are elite in any scoring format.  These running backs will typically be the top picks in every season-long fantasy draft and will cost the most salary in DFS. 

2. Non-Receiving Running Backs – Next, you have running backs that are elite runners and get the bulk of the teams carries, including the goal line touches, but don’t catch passes.  These running backs typically won’t play on third down either, which continues to limit their upside. 

These are the backs that are still really valuable in standard scoring formats.  They will still score touchdowns which in standard scoring represent a much larger percentage of scoring than the other two formats. 

In PPR formats, these running backs really struggle to separate from running backs that catch passes.  Considering that one catch is worth the equivalent of 10 yards, it doesn’t take many passes for other running backs to catch up and surpass the value of these running-only backs.

In half PPR it isn’t as bad for these running backs as full PPR, but still they lack upside in this format.  So it is important to remember, because these backs don’t catch passes, they will be most successful in non-PPR formats which emphasize touchdowns and yard. So adjust accordingly.

3. Goal-Line Backs – The next group of running backs are the ones who only get around 10 carries (or less) a game but get a lot of goal line carries for a team.  These running backs can provide value in standard scoring only.

They tend to be very risky plays because their success is touchdown dependent. These players though are usually very cheap in DFS.  In half PPR and PPR, they basically have no value and become obsolete. 

4. Versatile Backup Running Backs – The next group of running backs are the running backs who get around 10 carries a game but also get 5-7 catches a game. They are versatile and offer both ground and air points, but they yield carries and snaps to either a RBBC backfield, or to a starter.

In standard formats, these running backs can still be valuable, but they lack huge upside because they simply won’t get enough touches during the game.  In half PPR their value rises considerably but they still lack the overall upside you are looking for in DFS. 

PPR leagues though, these backs can be nearly as elite as the top backs, even outscoring the elite backs if they have a better matchup or game flow because of the amount of catches they get at times. 

5. Receiving Running Backs – The last group of running backs are the backs who get very few rushing attempts but get a lot of targets out of the backfield.  In any format these backs can be very risky because they rarely score touchdowns and catching the ball out of the backfield is usually very inconsistent game-to-game. 

In standard scoring, these running backs are obsolete.  They do get carry a bit of value in half PPR leagues, but are usually still too risky to play.  In PPR leagues, the risk can certainly be worth the reward, especially in games where their team is expected to trail (which means they will have more opportunity to catch passes – this is known as ‘positive game script’).

Wide Receivers

There are not as many groups of wide receivers that vary a lot from format to format, but there are still some groups that matter more in certain formats. 

1. Elite “#1” Wide Receivers – As with running backs, there are the elite wide receivers who catch a lot of passes, gain a lot of yards and score a lot of touchdowns.  These players are very valuable in every format and will always be very expensive in DFS or top draft picks in season long leagues.

2. High Target, Low Yards Receivers – The next group of receivers are the ones who catch a lot of passes but they don’t usually get a lot of yards.  These are usually slot receivers who are quick and catch a lot of short passes and so they don’t get a lot of yards. 

These players usually do not score a lot of touchdowns (of course there can be exceptions). This is because they rarely score unless their team is throwing the ball very close to the goal line (scoring from distance is a problem for these players). And even near the goal line, they will not be a primary option.

These players can be valuable across all formats, but their value really increases in PPR and half PPR formats.  Because they get targeted a lot and catch a lot of passes, these type of receivers can provide a very high floor for fantasy owners in PPR and 1/2 PPR formats.  The problem with these receivers though is they rarely have huge upside because they don’t get a lot of yards or touchdowns.  These types of receivers are referred to as “High Floor, Low Ceiling” players in PPR formats. In standard formats, their floor is not high at all because the catches don’t affect points.

3. Red Zone Receivers – The last group of receivers are the ones who don’t catch a ton of passes but they do catch a lot of touchdowns.  These receivers are usually very tall and get most of their targets in the red zone, or inside an opponent’s 20 yard line. 

In PPR and 1/2 PPR, these receivers are very risky because they are touchdown-dependent. They will be considered “High Ceiling, Low Floor” plays.  Since they usually don’t catch many passes or get a lot of yards, they don’t outscore many high-catch low touchdown guys in PPR formats. 

In standard scoring though, they tend to be high risk but high reward because Non PPR standard scoring is touchdown-dependent, and these types of receivers score touchdowns.

Tight Ends

With tight ends, there are the top few tight ends that are elite and everyone else tends to be very hit or miss.  There are tight ends that are very touchdown dependent and while those tight ends will be more valuable in standard scoring, getting consistent tight end production is hard to do once you get outside the few elite options at the position.

Matching Format to Value

Make sure you are matching the scoring format of your league to the players you are drafting. If you don’t pay attention to the players skillsets and how they relate to your league’s format, then you will end up with bad value picks throughout your draft. This is a major mistake beginning fantasy players make when drafting their teams.

Positional Value PPR vs Half PPR vs Non PPR

Scoring formats can really change the premium that positions provide when compared to one another.  In PPR, it places the value on being able to get a lot of receptions.  Always keep in mind though that players and positions should be evaluated based on the value they create. 

For example, in PPR leagues the format places greater value on elite wide receivers and elite running backs that catch passes because of all the extra points that they get for receptions.  And because of this, quarterbacks lose value in this format because they never catch passes. 

Another way of looking at the PPR scoring format is all positions that are able to catch passes (RB, WR, TE) all gained an EXTRA way of scoring points without losing any of the other original ways they score points (yards and TD points still remain the same). This means they gained ways to score points versus the rest of the positions in fantasy (QB, K, DST).

Of course, despite this it would be a mistake to just simply write off elite quarterbacks in this format just because they don’t score as much relative to other positions.  You still need to evaluate whether or not a quarterback will give you an advantage when compared to the other quarterbacks. 

If the quarterback is giving you a greater advantage relative to the other quarterbacks, then even though the percentage of points they score in PPR vs standard leagues is lower, they are still more valuable than elite wide receivers because, in this example, they would help you separate versus the field more than the elite wide receiver would help you separate against the field (because the value between the best quarterback and the next best quarterback option is greater than the value between the best qide receiver and the next best wide receiver). 

Scoring Format Review

PPR Format

In PPR formats, the elite wide receivers and elite running backs who catch the ball have a much higher scoring ceiling than they do in ½ PPR and standard scoring.  The full point they get with each reception will add up fast. 

These players provide the greatest consistency while also providing the largest amount of upside.  In PPR format, as we mentioned above, their scoring is so much higher that it can at times devalue the elite quarterbacks because the elite quarterbacks can’t differentiate themselves as much at their own positions (usually) as these elite running backs and wide receivers do.

In PPR formats, there are a lot more running backs in the NFL that become legitimate fantasy options because they catch passes and ultimately can score as much as the running backs who just carry the ball but score the bulk of their teams rushing touchdowns. 

The same also goes for wide receivers.  There are a lot of receivers who catch a lot of passes but don’t score touchdowns, and in PPR they can be just as useful as those wide receivers who don’t catch many passes but score touchdowns. 

For tight ends, PPR formats just separate the elite options from the non-elite options even more.  So likely, elite tight ends in PPR become more valuable and can really help fantasy teams separate themselves.

Half PPR

Half PPR formats are the middle ground between PPR and standard.  This format tends to shrink the field of players a bit more than PPR, while still giving value to non-touchdown scoring players.  The players that strictly catch a handful of passes for low yardage totals and rarely catch touchdowns really lose their value from PPR to half PPR. 

With the tight end position, it brings the elite options back to the pack a little more as it starts to become more focused on catching touchdowns while catch totals don’t create as much separation as they do in PPR formats. 

Quarterbacks also start to have greater value (relative to the field) in half PPR compare to PPR as they start to overcome the reception points that other positions gain.

Standard Non PPR

Standard formats are all about scoring touchdowns.  This format tends to shrink the number of players that really matter and that can help you win.  Elite quarterbacks in these formats tend to become more valuable because they can provide great upside while also providing consistent scoring. 

In standard formats, quarterbacks will usually score the highest percentage of points for their fantasy teams.  While running backs will always be important, they are most important in standard scoring because individual running backs tend to score the most touchdowns of any player in the NFL.

For wide receivers, scoring touchdowns can really change from year to year.  There are very few wide receivers in the NFL that score a consistent amount of touchdowns each year. 

Tight ends usually provide value by scoring touchdowns although the elite options will also catch quite a few passes.  But even elite tight ends usually don’t rack up huge yardage totals, so if they aren’t scoring touchdowns they won’t really provide much value above the non-elite options.

Which Scoring Format Is Right For Your Fantasy Football League?

If you are trying to decide which scoring format to use for your own personal league, it will really come down to personal preference, and the preference of the others in the league.

Half PPR is the scoring format that most professional fantasy players and experts prefer. Again, as mentioned above, it provides a healthy balance between receptions, yards, and touchdowns.

Half PPR and PPR provide more depth to the fantasy landscape, meaning there are more players that will score points consistently when you add in receptions as points.

If you are on the fence about what scoring format to use, I would give you this advice:

If your league is only 8-10 players, you don’t necessarily need more depth, so standard Non-PPR or half-ppr would be a good way to go. If your league is 12-16 players deep, then you will definitely want to consider PPR format to provide more depth of draftable players.

Research and preparation are key in fantasy football. Using fantasy advice sites or fantasy magazines for draft and season prep is always wise.

Joshua Lloyd

Joshua is lead content creator for basketball and golf at Sports Fan Focus. Golf is a passion of his and he enjoys both playing and watching golf in his spare time. To read more about Joshua, visit the SFF About Us page.

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