TE premium is a budding fantasy football league format that’s growing in popularity — and if you’re looking for a draft strategy, you’ve come to the right place.
The primary purpose behind TE premium leagues is to make TEs more relevant in fantasy football by giving them extra points for standard stats like receptions or yards. The most common TE premium format is to give TEs 1.5 points per reception compared to the usual 1 PPR that wide receivers and running backs get.
This raises the question: How much more valuable does this make TEs in TE premium leagues, and what should your draft strategy be as a result?
Let’s compare the value of TEs in PPR leagues (1 point per reception) to TE premium leagues (1.5 per reception for TEs) using Auction Values. This gives us a great barometer for relative value, and these Auction Values come straight from Jeff Ratcliffe’s award-winning fantasy football projections.
Total Value - PPR
Total Value - TE Premium
OK, so this does that TEs are more valuable in TE premium leagues (duh), but the difference is not as dramatic as you might expect. Collectively, TEs only get about 10% more valuable compared to the field despite the fact they will score 50% more points per reception.
When looking at total fantasy points scored by all positions last year, here’s the breakdown:
% of all FPs scored - PPR
% of all FPs scored - TE Premium
TEs in TE premium leagues were still the lowest-scoring group overall by a significant amount, jumping from 14% of total points in PPR leagues to 16% in TE premium leagues. The other positions were slightly reduced.
Wait, So Are ‘TE Premium’ Leagues a Myth?
It depends which TE we’re talking about.
It seems easy to make the case that the current definition of “TE premium” doesn’t make TEs premium enough — but there’s a little more to the story.
Currently, “TE premium” leagues actually just means “TE premium for the already-elite TEs.” It widens the gap between the haves and have-nots at the TE position, and that should impact your fantasy draft strategy in TE premium leagues.
In PPR leagues, the top three TEs are worth about 41% of all TE auction value combined. In the TE premium format, the top three TEs jump up to 52% of the value! Just the top three TEs are worth more than all of the rest of the TEs combined.
However, by the time you get to the top 12, the combined value of TEs in TE premium and regular PPR leagues evens out, at about 90% of total positional value.
Here’s another way to read this data: TEs ranked 6-12 are worth 30% of total TE value in PPR leagues but only 25% of total TE value in TE premium leagues.
This means you’re actually losing relative value by drafting the likes of Dalton Schultz, T.J. Hockenson and the rest of the TEs in that tier, even though you’re in a TE premium league. And the gap only gets worse the lower down the rankings the go.
Applying This Data to Draft Strategy for TE Premium Leagues in 2022
While it’s true that all TEs are worth more in TE premium leagues relative to WRs, RBs and QBs, the data above elicits two clear takeaways:
The overall TE value gained is not that significant
The TE value gained is heavily concentrated among the already-elite TEs (“the rich get richer”)
Combining points one and two above, it becomes very easy to overvalue TE Tier 3 and beyond — in a growing-progressively-worse manner the lower down you go.
If there’s one takeaway to remember from this: “TE premium” does not equally apply to all TEs. If you’re in a TE premium league and want to actually experience a true premium on your TE, you want to get one of the Big Dogs.
But you also don’t have to bump them dramatically up your draft board. The top 5 TEs in 2022 are worth 6.7% of your total auction budget, compared to 6% in PPR leagues. That’s still less than RBs (12% of budget for the top 5) and WRs (10% of budget for the top 5).
Also, this doesn’t mean you should completely punt the position if you don’t land one of the top TEs in a TE premium league (it gets rough real fast at the TE position once you go beyond the top 10-12 players), but it does mean you’re not taking advantage of the unique scoring setting to its fullest extent.
Tyler is a 20-year fantasy football vet specializing in redraft, DFS, and dynasty. He has earned multiple FSWA nominations and won the Best Football Series award in 2017. Tyler previously wrote for PFF Fantasy, RotoViz, and Bleacher Report.