Looking at PPR Value

Looking at PPR Value

Nick breaks down the guys with significant PPR differential
By: Nick Traicoff : August 22, 2013 1:07am

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With NFL offenses increasingly taking to the air and creating multiple receiving threats, while running games grow more and more populated by committees, 4,000 passers have become common place. Consequentially, fantasy scoring can often seem top-heavy, with 25+ points becoming regular from the quarterback position.  

In an attempt to level the fantasy field, many leagues have turned to counting receptions for some sort of points, whether a half or full – commonly known as the “PPR format.”  This scoring style has many supporters as well as many staunch haters, but regardless of where you stand, there’s no debating that this scoring can greatly affect Player Value and knowing who is positively and negatively affected is enormously important.

Below, we outline the players who you’ll want to bump in both directions (boost or drop) on your cheat sheets at the Running Back, Wide Receiver, and Tight End positions. To help organize, we broke players into categories by expected draft range –Early (1st-3rd) Middle (4th-7th) and Late (8th+).

Note: a very simple way to make PPR values more concrete is converting your projected reception total (whether you make your own or use a trusted site) into touchdowns by dividing by 6. For example, if you play in a full-point PPR league and think Darren Sproles will match his Saints’ average of 80.5 receptions, add 13 touchdowns to his projection (80 divided by 6).  If you think he’s going for around 1,000 total yards and the 8 total touchdowns he’s averaged while in New Orleans, you’ve got a 1,000 yard and 21 TD back. Still think he belongs in Round 3?


Running Back

Early Rounds - BOOST

  • Jamaal Charles –Head coach Andy Reid has long history of employing the running back heavily in the passing game (Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, Lesean McCoy), and Charles arguably has more talent than all of them. Reid already studied Charles passing game prowess, while the offensive coordinator projected a major and versatile role for his stud back and noted “The sky is the limit”. 2,000 total yards, 60 catches (10 TDs worth) and 8 touchdowns isn’t an unreasonable sky, especially if his early preseason workload is an indication (8 touches including 3 receptions and a 1-yard TD plunge on just 14 plays). Those stats deserve legit #1 consideration in PPR formats.


  • Ray Rice – The pinnacle of consistency for PPR leaguers: hasn’t missed a game or caught less than 61 balls in his last 4 seasons. Now will be leaned on even more heavily in the underneath game with Boldin’s trade and Pitta’s injury. Arguably the safest first round investment PPR owners can make.


  • Matt Forte: New head coach Marc Trestman employs a pass-to-run system filled with bubble and screen routes for his backs, and the average reception totals for his NFL RBs is 68.5 (fewest was 49, most? Charlie Garner at 92). New O.C Aaron Kromer came from the Saints who know how to get the ball to the running backs through the air. With health, Forte will catch 75 balls in his sleep, and a possible goal line role (all 3 goal line touches with first team offense in preseason game 2) gives Forte top 5 RB upside in PPR leagues.


  • Darren Sproles: Seems obvious, but he continues being criminally undervalued: ADP is RB18 and 29 overall in PPR leagues! He finished as the #5 PPR back in 2011 and #14 in 2012 despite missing 3 games (8th in points per game), and Sean Peyton’s return, who also wants Sproles more involved in the run game, can only be viewed as a positive. He should go no later than mid-round 2 as a lock for 1,000 total yards, 80 catches, and 6-7 touchdowns. A true RB1.


  • Reggie Bush: This dynamic and recently underutilized receiving threat enters the NFL’s pass-happiest offense. Head coach Jim Schwartz suggested 80 catches as realistic, and with 5 catches in a half of pre-season action, I might take the over.  A low-end RB1 at an RB2 price.


Early Rounds – DROP

  • Alfred Morris – I don’t fully doubt camp reports of improved receiving skills given his ridiculous work ethic, but only 11 catches in 789 snaps still can’t be ignored. Will still be rock-solid in the run game, but more of a high end RB2 in these formats. 


  • Stevan Ridley – The goal-line back in the Pats high-powered offense always has value, but only 9 career receptions speak for themselves.  Still love his heavy running game workload in what projects to be a more balanced and explosive attack, but he needs to be downgraded in reception leagues.


  • Marshawn Lynch – Just like the above two, we LOVE Marshawn’s abilities and role in the run game of a strong offense, but he’s a minimal factor in the passing game with only 18 catches last season and only 1 season of above 30 catches in his career.  Too many dual-threat RBs are available in Round 1 to burn a pick on Beast Mode in PPR formats.


Middle Rounds BOOST

  • Shane Vereen – Everyone’s favorite sleeper this season but it’s fully justified. Evidenced by his ability to make over-the-shoulder fade catches out of the backfield, Vereen is arguably the Patriots most versatile threat in the offense most adept at exploiting mismatches. As Belichek’s movable chess piece, Vereen could become Brady’s version of Sproles given the departure of 4 of Brady’s top 5 targets. Woodhead’s 55 targets, 40 catches, and 25th PPR RB finish are his absolute floor, and his ceiling is so much higher.


  • Giovani Bernard – Caught 92 balls in two seasons of college ball, and looked extremely natural doing it. At minimum, he’s the passing game portion of a backfield committee where AJ Green is taking the top off of every defense. His insane acceleration and swift feet could make him one of the most dangerous open-field threats in the game, and O.C. Jay Gruden is smart enough to utilize the screen game to do so.


Middle Rounds – Drop

  • Montee Ball –Just ask Donald Brown: there’s no quicker way to find the bench in a Peyton Manning offense than not pass-protecting, and Ball whiffed big against the Seahawks, yielding a huge hit on the star QB. A lack of third-down looks, his inability to beat out Ronnie Hillman, and the many other mouths to feed will make Ball a weak PPR option. 


  • Chris Ivory – Perhaps he just hasn’t been given the chance, but Ivory has 3 receptions in 3 career seasons in the NFL for a robust catch per year average. He might approach 15, but Ryan’s lead backs rarely catch the ball and his durability is a MAJOR red flag. Intriguing in standard leagues, but let someone else snag him in the early 6th and go for the upside options above in PPRs.


Late Round – Boosts

  • Danny Woodhead: Beat writer Michael Ghelken noted that “Woodhead is going to be a big part of this thing” and later added Woodhead is “too good at what he does on passing downs to keep off field.” Rivers loves checking down to the RB, and Woodhead’s a proven third-down option – something Ryan Mathews (only 5 third-down touches last season) cannot claim.


  • Roy Helu: Barely even getting a look as Morris’ handcuff, nevermind the fact he can offer up to stand-alone flex value in PPR leagues, especially as a bye week filler, given that he’s “locked down” the third-down back job. Caught 49 balls in very limited action as a rookie, and flashed legit big play ability in his touches.


Late Round – Drop

  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis: If you need more detail as to why BJGE offers little to the fantasy owner, click it here for my over-valued players. And given this article was written for standard leaguers, and that his passing game prowess offers even less potential (22 catches last season were a career high, and that was before Giovani was drafted) and he’s an easy candidate to be a poor selection in PPR leagues.


  • Mikel Leshoure: Reportedly running behind Joique Bell (who caught the third most balls of running backs last season and offers sneaky value on his own), yet Leshoure is getting picked nearly 70 selections earlier in PPR leagues. Outside of an occasional touchdown plunge, he’ll offer little in these settings.


Wide Receiver

Early Rounds – BOOST

  • Brandon Marshall: Though he can’t be expected to be the target of over 40% of his team’s aerial attack again, Marshall should easily top 100 catches in 2013 (118 in 2012). Combine Marshall’s status as the apple of Cutler’s eye (all 5 of Jay’s targets in preseason game 2) with Trestman’s quick-strike attack that emphasizes his receivers’ after-the-catch abilities, and Brandon should be the second receiver off the board after Megatron in PPR formats.


  • Randall Cobb: When your quarterback is Aaron Rodgers and he predicts you’re going to catch 100 balls, PPR leaguers need to take notice. As a threat to lead the league in catches, 2013 could very well be the year Cobb emerges as the premier slot receiver in the game. Get on the next big thing now before the price skyrockets for next season.


  • Andre Johnson: Yes, he has NEVER caught double digit touchdowns in 10 NFL seasons and only hauled in 4 last year.  That he’s still been considered such an elite fantasy commodity for so long only further illustrates his value for PPR leaguers: he racks up catches and yardage with the best of them. Somehow, despite setting a career high in yards with 1,598 (2nd in the league) and hauling in 112 balls last season, he’s slipping to the third round and is the 10th WR off the board in PPR leagues.  Even if he’s a year older, the Houston offense will still run through him, especially if Foster’s injury concerns linger. Steal him.


Early Rounds – Drop

  • Julio Jones: This placement has nothing to do with Julio’s ability – behind Calvin, he might be the most physically imposing receiver in the game. Indeed, he has flashed the tools to take over games and shove this label in my face. Consistency remains the key detractor with Jones, and in PPR leagues, far more stability is available for cheaper price tags. Though he might get you 30 points and win a matchup, Julio’s as likely to get that goose egg and disappear. Snag the 8-catch a game receiver and take the guaranteed points.


  • Vincent Jackson: Similar to Julio, VJax can put up the 160 yard, 3 TD effort in any given week.  Similarly, he can put up the 2 catch, 30 yard game. In PPR leagues, always side with the consistency. His career high for receptions is 72.


Middle Rounds- BOOST

  • Danny Amendola: Anyone who saw the Patriots pre-season game against the Bucs noticed how Welkerian Danny looked in a half of play, racking up 6 catches for 71 yards and a TD. The huge question mark remains health, but Amendola looked like he’d been playing with Brady for years, and if he can stay healthy, 115 catches is a realistic bar. Will be a weekly top-7 PPR option.


  • Reggie Wayne: Though I’m not super-high on Wayne in standard leagues because I think his touchdowns drop outside of Bruce Arians’ vertical attack, I do think his receptions stay high or even rise in Pep Hamilton’s quicker-strike, West coast style offense that features higher percentage throws. Wayne will haul in a bunch of thosethrows. Frequent 7-8 catch, 90 yard days will be in Wayne’s future.


  • Wes Welker: The man who redefined the slot position in New England showed some true chemistry with Manning in catching 3 passes for 31 yards and a TD in a quarter of preseason play against the Seahawks. Though he goes from the focal point of an offense to just another mouth to feed, Manning always makes sure his slot guys don’t go hungry and no one works harder and finds the soft spots better than Wes. 80 catches (or about 5 a week, close to a TD), looks like his floor.



Middle Rounds – DROP

  • Jordy Nelson: Note: If you’ve been reading carefully you’d have noticed a trend for the WR value drops: they’re nearly all homerun hitters. These guys hold more value in standard leagues, as unlike more possession-based pass-catchers, PPR doesn’t offer major benefits for them and capitalizing on your leagues scoring settings is huge. PPR scoring creates guys who are getting you minimum 13 points on 5 catches for 80 yards each week that become monsters when they cross the stripe.  


Nelson’s ability to get behind defenses is elite, and consequentially he will have some monstrous games. He’ll also disappear at times while smarter PPR bets lock-in that double-digit floor. Take the guaranteed production elsewhere.


  • Mike Wallace: Replace Nelson with Wallace but factor in a huge downgrade at quarterback and Wallace doesn’t sound so sexy anymore.


  • Torrey Smith: Reports indicate Smith has developed his all-around game and is ready to emerge as the Ravens go-to-guy in Boldin and Pitta’s absences.  Though certainly possible, we think Rice inherits the majority of these touches even if Smith continues emerging as a premier deep threat.

Later Rounds - Boost

  • Anquan Boldin: Kaepernick showed a knack for peppering his top wideout in Michael Crabtree with targets last season, resulting in 5.9 catches and 88.6 yards per game for the receiver in 10.5 games.  The talent drop is obvious, but Boldin goes up and gets the ball with the best of them and has consistently been reported as Kap’s “go-to-guy” as the pair looked as though they’d “been playing together for 10 years rather than a few weeks” throughout camp. A rock-solid WR3 option in PPR formats.


  • Golden Tate: Though Tate hasn’t been an exact picture of possession receiver in his brief career, the stars seem to be aligning in a major way for a huge uptick in targets and catches. He’s got special talent that has translated into him being the “most impressive player in training camp,” while Pete Carroll noted Tate’s been the “highest tester in terms of assignments,” suggesting the full route tree will be available.  It appears Tate’s being primed for what would have been Percy Harvin’s role, and with an exciting young talent at QB, Tate could explode.


  • Brian Hartline: He doesn’t offer a ton of upside or explosion potential (only 1 TD last season), but Harline showed some solid possession skills and chemistry with Tannehill for 74 catches and 1,083 yards. That translates to 12 touchdowns, and he’s a low ceiling but safe floor bench WR in PPR leagues.


  • Ryan Broyles: His shaky knees are admittedly a major concern, but if and when he gets healthy, Broyles’ has Welker-like slot game –he holds the NCAA FBS record with 349 receptions and had 131 catches in his 2010 season. With the most dangerous receiving threat across from him drawing the double coverage, Broyles has the quick-twitch ability to eat up defenders one-on-one and rack up minimum 70 catches. 100 receptions isn’t a crazy thought.


Late Round – Drops:

  • Denarius Moore: Forget all the reports questioning Moore’s maturity as he puts on a frustrating camp.  He’s always been just a deep threat, and with arguably the weakest-armed quarterback in the league slinging him the rock, Moore will be an after-thought in game plans. Stay clear in all leagues, but especially PPRs.


  • Aaron Dobson: Even as a Pats fan I can advise you to spend your late round PPR dollars elsewhere. He’ll make some highlight reel TD catches, but reports seem pretty firm that he’s squarely behind UDFA Rookie Kendrell Thompkins. 



Tight Ends

Value Increase

  • Jason Witten: Might be my favorite PPR target at his ADP53 price tag. Detailed more here, Witten remains the coziest of safety blankets for Tony Romo and has averaged 92.3 catches for 1,018 yards since Romo took over the reins at QB, only missing 1 game in his entire career way back in 2003. He set a tight end record with 110 grabs last season, and 100+ is totally achievable again in 2013. His touchdowns, despite reports of him excelling in the red zone, won’t amaze, but his guaranteed 90 grabs add up to 15 end zone crosses. His 18-catch, 167 yard game from last year shows he still can win you a given week in this format from a position with many questionable options. Eat that up at the end of RD4.


  • Brandon Myers: Quietly was 4th among tight ends with 79 receptions last season, and Eli has always loved throwing to his tight ends. He’s reportedly been “the perfect fit” for Eli as the pair connects on short, long, and red-zone looks throughout camp. He had 5+ catches in 9 games last season, including a 14 catch effort in Week 14. A sneaky TE1 in PPR formats.


Value Decreases 

  • Kyle Rudolph: Though going 6th among TEs in PPR formats, Rudolph ranked 15 in receptions with only 53 catches. Had 10 games with less than 5 snags, including two goose eggs. As a touchdown-dependent option, leave Rudolph for standard leagues.


  • Antonio Gates: While all the injuries at wideout and Mike McCoy’s quick-strike attack seem to set-up a possible Gonzalez-esque renaissance, I’m not really buying given his price as the 8th tight end off the board in PPR formats. The line is simply horrendous, requiring Gates to stay in for blocking support more often. Moreover, he became strictly a red zone threat last season, ranking 19th among tight ends with 49 catches. Yes, he has 7+ TDs in 9 straight seasons, and I can see him reaching that again 2013. But when he doesn’t cross the stripe, he will offer little. Maximize on the PPR scoring with a safer bet for receptions.