Wednesday, August 22, 2012
By: A. J. Applegarth
For this article, I plan to highlight some strategies and/or players to take into account when drafting in a PPR League versus drafting in a Standard League. The obvious difference between the two league types is that Standard Leagues typically only award points for Receiving Yards (1.0 point for every 10 yards) and Touchdowns, while PPR Leagues typically award 0.5 points per reception (hence the name), as well as award points for Receiving Yards and Touchdowns. Most of the leagues I play in are set up as PPR Leagues, so while it may seem like a simple change to some, I do feel there is a little more strategy involved when drafting in this type of league.
In a standard league, most people tend to take the best available players at each position. Once those “Top Tier” scorers are gone, the next few picks go towards “value” players that can maximize your overall point scoring for your team. But, with a PPR League, it’s actually easier to maximize your overall point scoring by taking some of those “value” players earlier in the draft. Here are a few names of those “value” guys you may not have thought about drafting too early, but based on past performances in PPR Leagues, are worth taking a look at before some of the bigger name players at their position.
Running Backs: Most of the top-name backs that are high draft picks in Standard Leagues are also very valuable in PPR Leagues because they are in offenses that rely on screen passes and short-yardage underneath passes that pile up smaller chunks of yardage throughout a game. Therefore, it’s very easy for these guys to rack-up a lot of points on receptions alone, even if they don’t gain a lot of total yards in a given game. I still recommend trying to get at least one of those top RB’s early in the draft, if possible, but the following guys are also pretty valuable, and can be targeted in the middle-rounds of the draft.
Darren Sproles (RB - NO) – Last season, Sproles led all RB in Targets (111), Receptions (86), Yards (710) and Receiving TD’s (7), beating out Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy, all guys who are being taken in the 1st Round of most drafts. The New Orleans Offense is one of the most powerful in the league and Drew Brees had great success checking the ball down to Sproles out of the backfield, and I expect more of the same this season. Sproles has gained some recognition for his skills in the receiving game, so he may not last past the 3rd or 4th Round in 2012, but if you can get him there, he’s worth it!
Reggie Bush (RB - MIA) – Bush finally had a season in which he had shown the flashes of talent he displayed in his college days at USC, and was a pretty solid option in the receiving game for Miami. Brandon Marshall was Miami’s only true threat at WR last season, and with average talent at the QB position, Bush seemed to take advantage of being deployed out of the backfield. While Bush only managed 291 total yards receiving with 1 TD, I feel those stats will only improve this year, especially with a rookie QB at the helm, and the dismissal of Marshall, leaving a less-than-scary receiving corps.
C. J. Spiller (RB - BUF) – Spiller was typically drafted earlier than Fred Jackson last season, but only played sparingly in the beginning of the season. However, once Jackson went down with a season-ending injury, Spiller filled in very nicely. In the final six games of the season with Jackson out, most of Spiller’s production came on the ground, but he did average 4 receptions for 32 yards per game, and also scored 2 Receiving TD’s.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends: Now, we get to the guys who are actually “paid” to catch the ball! As with the RB’s, the sexier names at the Top-Tiers of each position should actually have more attention paid to them than some RB’s for the shear fact that they will get a good portion of their total points from doing their job and just catching the ball. In some cases it may even be more beneficial to take a Top-Tier TE over a 2nd or 3rd-Tier WR due to productivitly / average number of catches per game (Think Jimmy Graham and Ron Gronkowski). Here are a few guys that may be worth a flier in some of the middle / later rounds.
Antonio Brown (WR – PIT) – Brown had a stellar season last year complimenting (and almost out-playing) fellow-burner Mike Wallace. Big Ben seemed to form a very comfortable relationship with Brown, as he was targeted 123 times (10 more times than Wallace) for 69 receptions (only 3 less than Wallace) and 1,108 yards. The downside was that Brown only reached the endzone twice last season, but I feel like that number will at least triple this season.
Titus Young (WR – DET) – Calvin Johnson is quite possibly the best WR in the game right now, and should see his fair-share of double-teams this season (event though, I feel he’ll still be able to rack-up points), which leaves Titus Young as the potential beneficiary to all that attention being given to Johnson. Last season, Young was only a rookie, and averaged ~3.5 rec/game for a total of 607 yards (2nd most on the team) and 6 TD’s. Nate Burleson is still in the fold this season, but will most likely be shifted into more of a slot receiver, allowing Young to fall into that #2 position behind Johnson. Keep an eye on Young in the mid-to-late rounds as a potential low-end #2/high-end #3 Fantasy WR this season.
Martellus Bennett (TE – NYG) – Bennett has the luxury of being the starting TE on a Giants team coming off their 2nd Super Bowl win in the last five seasons, so he’s in a pretty nice situation. Granted, that “starter” status is mostly due to the ACL injury that Travis Beckum is still recovering from, but Bennett is only 25 and brings good size, speed and athleticism to the G-Men. Jake Ballard, the Giants mainstay at TE last season, averaged the most yards per catch (10.7) of qualifying TE’s last year, so if Bennett can some targets in a passing attack that features Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, he could be a late-round sleeper for those waiting on a solid back-up TE option.
Coby Fleener (TE – IND) – Like Bennett, Fleener has the luxury of coming out of training camp as the starting TE, although, he’ll be starting for a Colts team that finished in last place in 2012. But, back to the positive side, Fleener will be catching balls from his fellow-rookie, and college teammate QB, Andrew Luck, so I feel like Fleener will be a great safety valve for Luck this season. The two combined have already combined on four passes for 38 yards this preseason, and I expect that number to continue to grow throughout the regular season. Luck and Fleener aren’t necessarily going to be Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark this season, but the potential is there for solid numbers from another late-round pick.
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