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Tight End Values: PPR vs Standard Leagues

Dallas Goedert - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

It feels impossible--even more with the current pandemic we're experiencing still ongoing worldwide--but the NFL offseason can be considered over in terms of high-impact moves. The first-year draft and free agency are long gone, most players have extended their deals or found new homes, and teams are ready to start moving the rock come the regular season.

For us fantasy GMs, the draft season is only gearing up and it will stay that way for the following days and weeks. Preparing for what is waiting for us in our virtual war rooms is a key part of the process, and the first thing to know is the language our leagues will speak to us. Excuse me for being a little poetic. What I mean is, you better know if you're going to battle your foes in Standard or PPR (Point-Per-Reception) scoring systems. The only difference between those leagues comes down to a simple matter of awarding one extra point to players that catch a pass. Standard scoring was a staple in the early days of fantasy football but PPR has become the most played system lately.

With both Standard and PPR-scoring systems in mind, it's time to discover which players are surefire bets in one system but potential duds in the other. Today, I'm highlighting two tight ends who are primed to become studs in Standard leagues but not so much when used in PPR format, and two more that fall on the other side of the equation: studs in PPR leagues and duds in Standard ones.

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TE Projections

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

If you look at the image above, you'll find a chart including the top-18 tight ends when it comes to standard-format projected fantasy points for the upcoming season (via PFF). The colors range from red (1:1 PPR: STD ratio) to green (2:1 ratio). That means that green players are suitable for PPR, while red ones not so much (preferable in standard-scoring leagues).

There is no player at the position entering 2021 with a more unbalanced PPR: STD projection than Thomas, which speaks highly of him in the former format. Thomas' 149+ PPR points (as PFF sees it) are 1.72 times what he'd score in standard formats putting up the same stats. That's because Thomas is expected to amass an astounding 89 targets while catching 63 of those for a 70.7% catch rate rather if that prediction holds. On the other hand, though, his yardage isn't that high, projecting to 609 yards with four touchdowns over the year.

In a clear breakout season last year, Thomas was able to finish with more than 40 PPR points for the first time in his pro career. He already posted a 65.5% catch rate, reached 670 yards (expected to drop a bit after Washington bolstered its receiving corps a bit), and was targeted a monster 110 times. The problem with Thomas in standard leagues is the fact that he is not that great at getting extra yards (25th percentile in YAC/Target), aDOT (7.1 yards), nor Yards Per Route Run (1.2 yards, 28th percentile).

Verdict: Prioritize in PPR, Fade in Standard

 

Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

Goedert is virtually tied with Thomas in terms of his PPR: STD points ratio in PFF projections, and the expected scores from the two of them are rather close (small five-point distance) as they project to TE12 and TE10 finishes in 2021. After a year to forget from Zach Ertz--who only played 11 games, yes, but still could only average seven PRR points per game--everything points to Goedert's direction to thrive under now-starter QB Jalen Hurts.

Goedert's evolution (he's entering his fourth season) has been parallel to Ertz's decline. Ertz's FPPG marks have gone from 17.5 to 14.4 to 7.0 while Goedert's marks have gone from 5.7 to 9.6 and lastly 10.6. You can see how those tallies go in opposite directions, and how Ertz has fallen out of favor--to the extent that Philly is seemingly looking to trade him away and name Goedert the lone TE1 of the squad.

Every season of Goedert's career, he's had to battle with a 100+ target player in Ertz, who might be out of town by the time the 2021 season kicks off. PFF isn't too bullish with Goedert's targets/receptions projection at "only" 84 and 60, but the upside is way higher if Ertz is indeed moved.

While Goedert is better in PPR leagues than standard formats, the truth is that he's a rather safe bet in both formats as he comes off putting up top-25 percentile marks in all aDOT, Yards/Route Run, and Completed AY/Target. The problem, though, would be his low YAC/Target (39th percentile) and the large number of targets he needs to see before scoring his touchdowns.

Verdict: Prioritize in PPR, Fade in Standard

 

Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

First things first: you better be drafting Andrews no matter the format your league uses, because Andrews is more probably than not going to be a high-end TE1 no matter how you look at him. With that out of the way, though, it looks like Andrews should be a little bit better in standard formats than some other top-tier tight ends, as his PPR: STD ratio isn't that high, and therefore the gap isn't that wide for him between both formats.

Andrews should get targeted a lot compared to his pass-catching teammates, but Andrews also happens to play in an offense not really known for its passing prowess--not that you hate it, because Lamar Jackson is still a marvelous player using the Konami Code to perfection. Good news for those stuck in Pleistocene-standard formats: Andrews doesn't need that much volume to thrive.

Mark Andrews finished 2020 as the TE6 with 170.1 PPR points. That's cool and all, but what is better are his underlying numbers. He had the sixth-highest aDOT, ranked inside the 86th (or higher) percentile in all Yds/RR, Completed AY/Target, RZ Targets/Game, and RR/Target, and he also caught 65.5% of his contested passes. Great all-around TE without the need for massive target numbers to put on a show. Good PPR play, great standard tight-end.

Verdict: Prioritize in Standard, Fade in PPR

 

Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers

Tonyan's 2020 season was so ridiculous that it's hard to believe in a repeat. If we're brutally honest, we have to accept it won't probably happen again. That is, of course, considering Aaron Rodgers stays in Green Bay--which is still up in the air at the time of this writing. If he gets traded, surely forget about it. I don't think I need to remind you of pre/post-2020 Tonyan, but here are the numbers: pre-2020 Tonyan: 17.7 and 26.0 total PPR points in two seasons and 27 games; 2020 Tonyan: 176.6 PPR points in 16 games and a TE4 finish on the year.

Tonyan was a super-low volume tight end and saw only 58 targets over his 16 games, but he somehow was able to put his hands on 52 of those passes for a ridiculous 88.1% catch rate and an even sillier 11 touchdowns on the year. Yes, 11 touchdowns, which yielded an average of a score every four-and-change receptions. LOL.

The Packers made Tonyan run 5.6 routes on average between targeting him (putrid 32nd percentile) and didn't even target him more than 0.7 times per game in the RZ. He just didn't need that volume. He always stepped up when called upon, was a touchdown machine, and now projects to finish 2021 in a better position among TEs in standard than PPR leagues. That is, again, assuming he can repeat his exploits for the second consecutive season. We'll see.

Verdict: Prioritize in Standard, Fade in PPR



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