Saturday, July 7, 2012

Eleven Players to Target in PPR Leagues

Playing in PPR (point-per-reception) leagues can afford you additional opportunities to get a leg up on your opponents, especially since most sites and individuals base their main rankings and strategies on non-PPR leagues. PPR leagues give receivers and running backs an advantage to help them match or exceed the production of quarterbacks, but can also significantly alter the value of different players who catch a disproportionate number of balls. If you are playing in a PPR league, the value of running backs and wide receivers far outweigh the value of quarterbacks, and the traditional idea of drafting QBs late is superior to a QB first strategy. Here is a list of players to target in PPR leagues.

Wes Welker: Wes Welker is currently being drafted as the 9th WR, and I think that is a touch overpriced in traditional leagues. On the other hand, Wes Welker has over 110 receptions in four of the last five seasons. Sure, there are age, injury, and contract issues with Wes Welker, but he is a sure-fire 2nd round pick in PPR leagues because he should have an extra 20-40 receptions on many of the other top receivers (he had 22 more receptions than the next best receiver - Roddy White - in 2011). Even with all of his faults, there are still plenty of reasons to buy into Welker in PPR leagues.

Percy Harvin: Harvin is having a difficult offseason, but it seems like things in his world have finally calmed down. Everything points to him being at training camp, so the worries about a lengthy holdout are mostly over. Now that the diatribe is over, Percy Harvin had the 6th most receptions of all NFL players in 2011. He really got going after the bye week, and he seemed to have a good report with Christian Ponder. I don't like Harvin in non-PPR leagues, but he could be a top-10 receiver in PPR if he becomes a true slot receiver like Wes Welker. Harvin's current ADP (average draft position) is 19th out of all wide receivers).

Darren Sproles: Darren Sproles caught 86 passes in 2011, while only getting 87 carries. Those 86 extra points make him a must-have running back, especially with his low draft position. It should be noted that Darren Sproles had consistent production throughout the 2011 season, and did not seem to benefit significantly for the injury to Mark Ingram. Even if you think Ingram will be the featured back this season, Sproles will still produce big in PPR leagues.

Brandon Pettigrew: I can't think of anyone who benefits more from the PPR format than Brandon Pettigrew. Pettigrew had the 8th most receptions in the NFL in 2011, but is being drafted as the 9th tight end off the board. Pettigrew's 83 receptions made him the third highest receiving tight end behind Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, and he would be a steal in the 8th or 9th round, although you might be able to get him later depending on the depth of your league. Consider him a top-5 tight end in PPR formats.

Steve Johnson: Steve Johnson's 76 receptions tied him for 11th in the NFL amongst wide receivers with Hakeem Nicks, giving him significant value in PPR leagues. He might not get the same yards-per-reception that Nicks gets, but you can also draft him much later (his ADP is 63rd overall). His reception totals give him an edge over burners like Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson, or Brandon Lloyd, who rely on big plays rather than consistent production. Consider him as a player with far more upside in PPR leagues.

Reggie Wayne: Reggie Wayne might be past his prime and playing without Peyton Manning, but he still managed to grab 75 receptions without anyone who resembled a starting quarterback in 2011. With Andrew Luck we should see similar or slightly improved production out of Wayne, who currently has an ADP of 82. If you need a receiver in a PPR league in the 7th or 8th round, feel confident drafting Reggie Wayne for one more season (just make sure you avoid him in Dyansty Leagues).

Brent Celek: I don't like Celek in standard formats, but his 62 receptions make him an attractive choice in deep leagues, with his current ADP of 149 overall. If you are playing in a 12-team PPR league, consider Celek a cheap, consistent tight end.

Austin Collie: Austin Collie's ADP is 191, but he should be a consistent player in PPR fantasy leagues. His 54 receptions made him tied for 51st in receptions in the NFL amongst all players, and he was tied for 34th in receptions amongst wide receivers. He should be able to duplicate or improve on his numbers from 2011 with an NFL caliber quarterback, especially with Pierre Garcon out of the picture. Consider him a great late-round pick in PPR formats.

Andre Robers: Andre Roberts is a breakout candidate from Arizona in any format, but he managed to get over 50 receptions in 2011, meaning that he should have added potential in PPR leagues. I love Roberts as a deep sleeper, so make sure you make a grab for him in deep leagues, 3 WR leagues, and dynasty leagues in you drafts this season.

Roy Helu: Drafting a Redskins back can be risky, but Roy Helu had more receptions than LeSean McCoy in 2011. Those 49 receptions average out to just over 3 additional points per match, and he could do wonders for you as an RB2 or flex in PPR leagues. I don't want to overhype him, but if you are looking for a reason to love him, this is an option. Be careful in the future; there is a chance that Royster will be starting over him at the end of camp.

Jonathan Stewart: Stewart is locked in an unfortunate situation, but the is the pass-catching running back for the Panthers. His current ADP is 75th overall, and he is a worth a look as a flex player going into 2012. He is a good receiving running back, and his value skyrockets if there are any injuries to DeAngelo Williams or Cam Newton. Keep that in mind.

Remember not to draft quarterbacks early in PPR leagues. The top running backs all have huge upside in PPR leagues, so don't feel like you need a stud QB in PPR leagues (although drafting them early in any league is highly questionable practice).

Top Quarterbacks
Top Running Backs
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Top Tight Ends

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