PPR League Draft Strategy And Tips

Jul 16, 2014 9:44 PM EST

An increasingly popular scoring type for fantasy football is Points Per Reception (PPR) scoring.  This typically involves players receiving one point for each reception.  As with any rules, league managers can tweak the settings for half a point per catch or any kind of point per catch ratio they desire.  In PPR leagues, players that catch the ball more are, clearly, more valuable as they accumulate more points.  Therefore, the strategy is pretty simple:  target the players who typically get more receptions than their positional counterparts.  Here are several notable players that benefit from PPR scoring.

Running Backs

Jamaal Charles - fantasy's No. 1 running back of 2013 - led the league with 104 targets that yielded 70 receptions (fifth among running backs).  Charles gets a boost in PPR leagues, and seems to be the only running back on the Chiefs that should get serious work.

Adrian Peterson hasn't caught the ball very often (finished 31st among running backs in 2013), so why is he on this list you ask? Norv Turner is calling the plays now in Minnesota, and he is a fan of throwing to the running backs. When he was coaching San Diego in 2012, two of his running backs were in the Top 15 running backs in terms of receptions, and he had two in the Top 10 in 2011. Even Chris Ogbonnaya of the Browns finished with the 10th-most targets among running backs in 2013. Expect an uptick in AP's receiving out of the backfield.

LeSean McCoy should be going in the top four in all drafts this season. McCoy had 52 receptions on 64 targets last season.  That isn't all that special, but combining those receptions with 314 rushes makes McCoy a unique breed.  Seems too good to be true, doesn't it?  It kind of is. The Eagles brought in Darren Sproles this offseason, and he was the fourth place running back last year in receptions (71) and third place in targets (89). Sproles will cut into McCoy's work, particularly in the receiving game, and Sproles may re-assume a role similar to the one he played in New Orleans which makes him a sneaky PPR play.

Matt Forte is another running back that is heavily involved in the passing game, as he compiled 74 receptions (third among running backs) on 94 targets (second among running backs) in 2013. I think he falls slightly behind Charles, Peterson, and McCoy, but he should be the next running back taken after those three.

Giovani Bernard exploded onto the scene last year and, despite splitting significant time with Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard still finished eighth in receptions among running backs with 56. The scales seem to be tipping in Bernard's favor, so expect that number to continue to rise.

"He was awful last year.  What a waste."  I don't really disagree, but Ray Rice still finished seventh in receptions among running backs with 58. His legal issues are still unsettled, and believers in Rice may benefit heavily, especially in PPR leagues.  He could be a very good value pick.

I could easily see Pierre Thomas finishing the season with the most receptions for running backs.  He finished third in the category in 2013 with 77 receptions, and the man right ahead of him was his former teammate Darren Sproles who had 80 catches. Allot Thomas half the receptions that Sproles had, and Thomas finishes with 117 receptions.  You could even give Thomas a quarter of those receptions and he still leads running backs by a lot with 97 grabs.  There's an extremely high ceiling for Thomas in PPR leagues this season.

Donald Brown is now in San Diego to go along with an already-crowded backfield with Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews. Woodhead had the second-most receptions among running backs with 76 on only 87 targets.  He gains a lot of value in PPR leagues as a fairly strong flex play, but his value is almost obsolete in standard leagues.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Marshall has been considered one of the premier PPR wide receivers for the last few years. He finished fifth in 2013 with 100 receptions. His teammate Alshon Jeffery had 89 receptions, but I'm still a firm believer that Marshall will continue to post the highest target and reception numbers on the Bears offense.

Antonio Brown finished second among receivers with 110 receptions last season. Emmanuel Sanders left to go hang out with Peyton Manning, and Cotchery is gone too. Brown had a ton of targets last season, and one can only expect that number to increase with the departure of Sanders and Cotchery.

Pierre Garcon was the reception leader last season and had 113 catches on 182 targets. DeSean Jackson is now a Redskin, so he may cut into Garcon's targets and productivity. If the Redskins defense is as bad as it was last season, however, there will be plenty of targets to go around during catch-up time.

Andre Johnson finished just behind Brown and had 109 receptions last season. Johnson is typically heralded as a solid PPR receiver. Currently, he is unhappy and has a very shaky quarterback situation with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm.

Julian Edelman is another player whose PPR value is significantly higher than his standard league value. Edelman finished with 105 catches last season and, assuming the Patriots don't sign another number one wideout, he should continue to be Tom Brady's favorite target.

Tight Ends

Jimmy Graham had the most receptions among tight ends, and I'm not going to waste my time praising him because he's the No. 1 tight end no matter what.

Jason Witten was tied at number five with 73 receptions. There hasn't been much movement on the Cowboys offense, so expect roughly the same. Hopefully, Tony Romo is fully healthy now.

Jordan Cameron had the third-most receptions among tight ends last year, and that was with a revolving door quarterback situation. It remains to be seen how Manziel plays at the professional level, but Cameron could do even better with consistent quarterback play. Word out of Browns camp is that Cameron is "uncoverable."

Greg Olsen shares the number five slot with Witten, but I expect Olsen's productivity to increase heavily. Why? He's the only person on the Panthers who knows how to catch a football. Not really, but he's by far Cam Newton's favorite, most-established target at the moment.

Antonio Gates finished fourth with 77 receptions and didn't have an extremely disappointing, turf-toe marred season (finally). Ladarius Green seems to be a strong candidate for preseason tight end sleeper, so he could cut into Gates' targets if they employ two tight end sets and may actually overtake Gates as the No. 1 option.

PPR leagues add an additional dimension to fantasy football that many owners enjoy and prefer.  If you're participating in a PPR league, make sure you draft accordingly and focus on those certain players that get a significant amount of targets and/or receptions.