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2014 Fantasy Point Per Reception Leagues: RBs Undervalued

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With no nagging injuries, Spiller's value rises this season in PPR. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
With no nagging injuries, Spiller's value rises this season in PPR. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but I love excitement. The thrill of my day starts with the first sip of coffee in the early morning burning my eager lips and ends with the thrill of my exhausted head hitting the pillow to go to sleep at night. Yeah, I find my pillow quite exciting, so what?

Okay, so maybe my days aren’t that thrilling to ya’ll, although to me, they match most of my expectations. As a husband of 20-plus years and a father of two teenage kids, one in college and one in high school, the thrills are tempered a bit. I don’t skydive. No lion taming. And, I definitely stay away from Half Dome.

Since we’ve established that it doesn’t take much to get me going, and that anything to do with heights is the devil, let it be known that Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues do it for me. PPR leagues seem to be getting more popular with each season, although that could just be my overwhelming love for how much excitement it brings to fantasy football itself. Adding in a slight scoring twist without straying too much from the original standard scoring system? That’s okay in my book.

We all know that wide receivers in general receive a nice draft day boost due to a PPR system, especially top-tier options that really see a ton of targets. It’s also worth noting how much of a boost pass-catching running back options see. In most cases, I’m actually looking for top receiving RB options over WR in the first couple of rounds, unless the value doesn’t present itself. In addition, I pay closer attention to lesser RB options that catch the ball out of the backfield, options that I wouldn’t normally consider in standard leagues.

Take a look at the league leaders in receptions last season at RB, as some of these names will surprise you:

Rank

Player, Team

Receptions

1

Pierre Thomas, Saints

77

2

Danny Woodhead, Chargers

76

3

Matt Forte, Bears

74

4

Darren Sproles, Eagles

71

5

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

70

6

Knowshon Moreno, Dolphins

60

7

Ray Rice, Ravens

58

8

Giovanni Bernard, Bengals

56

9

Reggie Bush, Lions

54

10

Joique Bell, Lions

53

11

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys

53

12

LeSean McCoy, Eagles

52

Not all of these gentlemen are top talents. In fact, I only see three names that I’d consider in the superhero realm: Charles, McCoy and Forte. Thomas and Woodhead jump out as players that really helped owners in PPR leagues last season, as owners were able to draft them much later. I love seeing Bernard on this list – the kid is only going to get better with his all-around game. Also, it’s interesting to note that Bush and Bell had almost the same amount of receptions for the Lions in 2013. According to recent talk out of Detroit, a similarly shared role is expected this season for both RB options. Mark that piece of information down, because I’m gambling I can find Bell a couple of rounds later than Bush this season – a nice value grab.

Now, let’s check out the top-scoring RB options last season in PPR leagues:

Rank

Player, Team

Receptions

Points

1

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

70

369

2

Matt Forte, Bears

74

329

3

LeSean McCoy, Eagles

52

316

4

Knowshon Moreno, Broncos

60

280

5

Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

36

262

6

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys

53

244

7

Reggie Bush, Lions

54

236

8

Chris Johnson, Titans

42

235

9

Eddie Lacy, Packers

35

235

10

Adrian Peterson, Vikings

29

229

11

Fred Jackson, Bills

47

222

12

Danny Woodhead, Chargers

76

212

Charles, Forte and McCoy are money-in-the-bank options. Lynch doesn’t see a huge boost due to PPR, but remains high since he scores boatloads of TDs. Bush is a bit overrated going into this season, but those are numbers he can get close to again. Peterson’s numbers will jump after missing two games in 2013. Jackson saw a nice bump in value in PPR, but I don’t see that sticking this season with RB C.J. Spiller expected to be fully healthy this year.

Just for comparisons sake, let’s look at the Top 12 WR options in PPR from 2013:

Rank

Player, Team

Receptions

Points

1

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos

92

312

2

Josh Gordon, Browns

87

308

3

Antonio Brown, Steelers

110

307

4

A.J. Green, Bengals

98

301

5

Brandon Marshall, Bears

100

298

6

Calvin Johnson, Lions

84

298

7

Dez Bryant, Cowboys

93

289

8

Alshon Jeffery, Bears

89

277

9

Eric Decker, Broncos

87

276

10

Andre Johnson, Texans

109

270

11

Pierre Garcon, Redskins

113

269

12

DeSean Jackson, Redskins

82

264

As you can see, the drop off from the top RB options is much greater than it is at WR, where a larger group scored similar totals. The main idea from all of this is that you want a top pass-catching RB option in the first round of PPR leagues (trading up for one would be essential if I didn’t have a Top Five overall pick). Then I’m likely looking to snag a top-notch WR in the second round, with value finds at RB and WR in the third and fourth rounds. The disparity in top-level talent was much greater at RB than it was at WR in PPR leagues last year, and I expect it to be very similar this year - be sure to take advantage when drafting in 2014.

With all this in mind, here are my Top 10 PPR RB options I want this season with some quick-hit comments, along with some overrated and underrated choices for 2014:

Top 10

  1. Jamaal Charles (KC) – A no-brainer choice.
  2. LeSean McCoy (PHI) – I would be overjoyed with either Charles or McCoy.
  3. Matt Forte (CHI) – Forte gets the slight edge over Adrian Peterson considering his catching ability.
  4. Adrian Peterson (MIN) – AP will come back healthy and dominant once again.
  5. Le’Veon Bell (PIT) – Imagine if Bell played the first three games of the 2013 season?
  6. Marshawn Lynch (SEA) – He doesn’t get a ton of catches, but finds the end zone way too often.
  7. Eddie Lacy (GB) – Major potential to be a Top Five overall PPR back with his all-around skills.
  8. Arian Foster (HOU) – This could be a low ranking if Foster returns at 100 percent.
  9. C.J. Spiller (BUF) – No nagging injuries for Spiller and more big plays overall.
  10. DeMarco Murray (DAL) – I wanted to put Giovanni Bernard here, but Murray just edges him out.

Overrated Values

Reggie Bush (DET) – Drafting Bush too high is a risk this season, as news out of Detroit suggests a pretty even split in touches with Joique Bell.

Knowshon Moreno (MIA) – There’s just no way Moreno gets close to his production from last season with the Broncos.

Chris Johnson (NYJ) – I’m staying as far away from Johnson as possible, especially now that he is with the Jets.

Underrated Values

Giovanni Bernard (CIN) – Bernard is going to jump way up in production this season, with the Bengals utilizing his running and catching talents.

Joique Bell (DET) – Bell is an overall better value this year than Bush, but will you have the nerve to wait and take him while passing on Bush?

Ray Rice (BAL) – He is going to get overlooked this season, but I’m saying don’t do it. Rice’s value last season was strictly in PPR leagues, although that will change with the Ravens getting him back on track with the running game.