PPR changes the value of positions.
ESPN's Ken Daube actually wrote a pretty good article about PPR strategy. The main takeaways from the article are that the majority of players are not more valuable in PPR compared to others at the same position. However, wide receivers become significantly more valuable while running backs and especially quarterbacks become less valuable. Running backs ranked outside the top 20 are even less valuable because it's unlikely for a running back to outscore a wide receiver at the flex spot. For example, the 25th ranked running back (there are 24 RB1s and RB2s in a 12-team league), Jonathan Stewart, was outscored by the 53rd wide receiver, John Brown, in PPR last year. Conclusion: top running backs are still valuable but it's far more important to stock up on wide receivers in later rounds. It may have been obvious to you, but it's important to know just how much of an effect PPR has on each position group.
15 Players More Valuable in PPR
The following players are more valuable in PPR leagues and should be drafted earlier accordingly.
Le'Veon Bell (ranked 1st overall)
Value Adjustment: Moves to 1st overall.
Bell is already ranked 1st overall in ESPN but a PPR format cements his status as the top player even with a two game suspension to start the season. With 83 receptions last year, Bell finished as 2014's top running back in fantasy. Although... Call me crazy, but I'd still pick Adrian Peterson (who I think will catch a lot of balls this year considering Asiata and McKinnon combined for 77 receptions in 2014).
Antonio Brown (ranked 6th overall)
Value Adjustment: Well worth the 1st round pick and should be considered above the back end of the tier 1 running backs such as Eddie Lacy, Marshawn Lynch, and Matt Forte.
In standard leagues, Brown outscored the next best receiver (Demaryius Thomas) by 28 points, a comfortable margin. In PPR, Brown pads the lead by an additional 18 points. Brown's dominance in PPR leagues makes him the only player I'd consider taking over a top running back, a position in which talent is much more scarce.
Matt Forte (ranked 8th overall)
Value Adjustment: Moves up a tier among running backs.
Forte tallied an incredible 102 receptions last year. With the pass-happy coach Marc Trestman gone, that number seems sure to drop significantly. But let's not get carried away. Forte had earned his reputation as the best pass-catching running back in the league before Trestman ever set foot in Chicago. Even excluding 2013 and 2014 with Trestman as coach (during which Forte totaled 176 receptions in 2 seasons), Forte averaged 57 receptions per 16 games. He's guaranteed to finish top 5 among running backs in receptions and a PPR format pushes him from the front of the tier 2 running backs to the top. While Le'Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson, and Jamaal Charles are all still firmly ahead of him, you could make a case for taking Forte over Lacy or Lynch.
Rob Gronkowski (ranked 12th overall)
Value Adjustment: Might actually be worth his rank now.
I'm strictly against taking Gronkowksi in the first round of a standard league. However, there is a stronger case for Gronk in a PPR, especially in deeper leagues. In a PPR, the gap between Gronkowski and the next best tight end increases, as does the gap between Gronk and a replacement level tight end. Also, tight ends become slightly more valuable in general in PPR leagues.
Brandin Cooks (ranked 30th overall)
Value Adjustment: Moves up a round.
Before getting injured, Cooks led the league in catch percentage and was on pace for 85 receptions on 112 targets. Due to the exodus of 4 of New Orleans' top 5 pass catchers this off-season, 315 targets are up for grabs (almost half of Brees' pass attempts in 2014). Cooks' target total is in line for a massive increase and if he can maintain a catch percentage even close to what he achieved in 2014, he'll catch over 100 balls, easy.
Justin Forsett (ranked 34th overall)
Value Adjustment: Moves up a round and replaces Mark Ingram as the 11th best running back (24th overall).
Just as Forte's receptions are bound decrease due to Trestman's departure, Forett's are due for a bit of a boost as Trestman is the new offensive coordinator the Ravens. Forsett caught a respectable 44 balls in 2014 so it would not be a surprise to see him approach or even exceed 60 catches in 2015.
Julian Edelman (ranked 35th overall)
Value Adjustment: Overrated in standard leagues, he's worth his price in PPR.
I don't like Edelman in standard leagues but his rank is justified for PPR. In 2014, Edelman finished 25th among wide receivers in standard leagues while finishing 16th among receivers in PPR which corresponds well with his standard league rank (he's the 16th ranked wide receiver for 2015 drafts). Edelman's value is held back by the lack of touchdowns but he's a good bet for 90-100 catches.
Andre Johnson (58th overall)
Value Adjustment: Moves at least 2 rounds. I would draft him ahead of DeAndre Hopkins (29th overall).
I already think Johnson is really underrated in standard leagues but his value is even higher in PPR. Since 2006 (9 seasons), Johnson exceeded or was on pace to exceed 100 receptions in every season except for 2011 and 2014. Johnson had 85 receptions last year (tied for 11th) despite the Houston Texans finishing 30th in pass attempts. Conversely, the Indianapolis Colts led the league in that category. And we haven't even considered that going from Dorsey/Grossman/Savage/Carr/Banks/Rosenfells/Yates/Delhomme/Leinart/Schaub/Keenum/Fitzpatrick/Mallet to Andrew Luck is like night and day. You think he's too old? 34-year old Reggie Wayne caught 106 balls from Andrew Luck in 2012, Luck's rookie year.
CJ Spiller (ranked 62nd overall)
Value Adjustment: Moves up at least a round. I would draft him ahead of TJ Yeldon (52nd overall).
I've already said a lot about Spiller's upside in a previous article. Suffice to say, 70 receptions is not out of the question for this talented player in an offense that has been at or near the top of the league in running back targets and receptions for years. However, on August 29th, it was reported that Spiller is likely to miss the first 2 weeks of the season in order to recover from off-season knee surgery.
Jarvis Landry (ranked 65th overall)
Value Adjustment: Would not draft in standard leagues, becomes at least a high-end flex in PPR.
With 84 receptions in his rookie year, Landry jumped from the 49th best receiver in standard leagues to the 34th best in PPR. While I don't understand why his rank is so high in standard leagues (managed just 758 yards on those 84 catches and Miami added Devante Parker, Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills, and Jordan Cameron this off-season), he'll provide solid, reliable production in PPR.
Shane Vereen (ranked 78th overall)
Value Adjustment: Moves into being relevant as a low-end RB2. I would not draft Vereen in a standard league.
Personally, I think there's too much uncertainty about Vereen's usage in this new offense for me to feel good about drafting him. But Vereen finished 20th among running backs in PPR (29th in standard leagues) so he's definitely shown that he has the potential to be valuable in this format. Just don't reach too high, especially if you already have a couple serviceable running backs. Remember, a wide receiver in flex is much more valuable than a running back in a PPR. Even as the 20th ranked RB, Vereen was outscored by the 46th wide receiver, Michael Crabtree. Vereen ranks significantly higher among running backs but running backs in general (in this range) should be ranked lower in the overall rankings.
Danny Woodhead (ranked 94th overall)
Woodhead missed almost the entire 2014 season due to a fractured leg but did you know that he actually finished 19th among running backs in 2013? Melvin Gordon is the bell-cow in San Diego but I think Woodhead will resume playing a significant role in Mike McCoy's offense. Woodhead finished second in running back receptions in 2013 with 72 and, these days, QB Philip Rivers' game revolves around carving up defenses with short passes. Additionally, the Chargers don't shy away from using Woodhead in the red zone. He'll score more touchdowns than you think.
Anquan Boldin (ranked 104th overall)
Value Adjustment: Would not draft in standard leagues, solid flex in PPR.
He's 34 years old but speed has never been a part of Boldin's game. He is by far Kaepernick's most reliable target, averaging 84 receptions in the past 2 seasons and he should be a nice flex play in PPR leagues.
Devin Funchess (ranked 105 overall)
Value Adjustment: Moves up 2 rounds. Has potential to be a low-end WR2.
Kelvin Benjamin is out for the year and Funchess is a very similar receiver to Benjamin. Cam Newton has to throw to someone. Benjamin had 144 targets last year. Funchess will catch a lot of balls due to sheer volume.
Stevie Johnson (ranked 225 overall)
Value Adjustment: Would not draft in standard leagues. Potential WR3 in PPR.
Keenan Allen drawing top coverage, Malcolm Floyd declining, massive upgrade at QB compared to the ones he has played with in his career. From 2010-2012 Johnson averaged 79 receptions per season with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB. Johnson will likely play as the slot receiver, replacing Eddie Royal who caught 62 passes last year. Very under-the-radar player that could have significant value in deep PPR leagues.
10 Players Less Valuable in PPR
- Marshawn Lynch
- Alfred Morris
- Desean Jackson
- LaGarrette Blount
- Isaiah Crowell
- Chris Ivory
- Torrey Smith
- Martavis Bryant
- John Brown
- Dwayne Allen