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10 Running Backs with PPR Lifts (Fantasy Football)

Jul 12, 2017

Theo Riddick has been a PPR darling

Whenever you go into any draft the golden rule is to know your league’s settings and scoring system. The difference between a PPR and standard scoring league can have a significant effect on a player’s value and on your draft strategy, particularly at the running back position. There are guys who will see a boost in production in PPR formats because of their receiving ability out of the backfield. Obviously, backs like David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell are PPR beasts, but they will not be on this list because they are still considered top three backs even in standard scoring leagues. What we are looking for are running backs who will have much more value in PPR than in standard.

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* = Missed three or more games due to injury

No. 10 – Mark Ingram (NO): PPR ADP 71 (RB 29)

With the addition of Adrian Peterson in free agency, Ingram is no longer looked at as the sure No. 1 running back on the depth chart for New Orleans. He will likely lose carries and goal line opportunities to AP, but where he does hold an advantage is in the receiving category. The Alabama product has recorded 45+ receptions in each of his past two seasons, along with four receiving touchdowns last season. Rookie Alvin Kamara will likely get looks through the air as well, but we could see a similar situation as we did last season when Tim Hightower was also in the mix.

2016 Receptions: 46
2015 Receptions: 50*

No. 9 – Devonta Freeman (ATL): PPR ADP 11 (RB6)

Freeman is an RB1 in any scoring format, but his receiving stats should not be overlooked come Draft Day. Even with Tevin Coleman stealing approximately 30 percent of his touches, Freeman still managed to rack up 54 receptions in 2016 after catching an impressive 73 the year before. The loss of Kyle Shanahan could hurt Atlanta’s offense, but the 25-year-old’s consistent production makes him a safe RB1 and first-round selection in PPR formats.

2016 Receptions: 54
2015 Receptions: 73

No. 8 – Bilal Powell (NYJ): PPR ADP 64 (RB25)

Powell ended last season on an absolute tear, compiling 21 receptions along with 411 yards through the ground in the last four weeks of the season. He will be competing for touches with an aging Matt Forte, but there is no doubt that Powell will be in store for a big workload in 2017. Despite only having more than eight carries in just four games last year, Powell still managed to finish 22nd in fantasy points in standard formats and 16th in PPR scoring. His 58 receptions were fourth best at his position.

2016 Receptions: 58
2015 Receptions: 47

No. 7 – Ty Montgomery (GB): PPR ADP 43 (RB17)

There are a lot of question marks surrounding Ty Montgomery and whether or not he can handle the workload in Green Bay. In 2016, the converted wide receiver had just one game in which he saw double-digit carries, so the question marks are certainly warranted. However, he is a good bet to be used as a situational, dynamic playmaker out of the backfield. Montgomery posted two games last season with 10 receptions and finished the season with 44 catches despite having little to no role in the first four games. He most likely won’t see much goal line work due to his frame and running style. This will hurt his value in standard formats, but a 60+ reception season is not far-fetched which would move him into RB2/flex territory in PPR leagues.

2016 Receptions: 44
2015 Receptions: 15*

No. 6 – Darren Sproles (PHI): PPR ADP 143 (RB50)

With eight straight 40-reception seasons, Sproles is the ultimate undervalued PPR back. He seems to be drafted in the double-digit rounds every year despite being one of the best receiving weapons out of the backfield in the entire NFL. The 13-year veteran finished 30th in standard scoring at the running back position last season but moved up into the RB2 ranks finishing 24th in PPR formats. LeGarrette Blount will be the primary back in Philadelphia but Sproles should continue to be productive, even at 34 years of age.

2016 Receptions: 52
2015 Receptions: 55

No. 5 – Duke Johnson (CLE): PPR ADP 118 (RB44)

In his first two seasons in the NFL, Johnson has put up back-to-back 50+ reception campaigns. Isaiah Crowell is slated to be the starter, but given Cleveland’s knack to fall behind in most games, Johnson should see a lot of opportunities to rack up underneath catches versus prevent defenses in “garbage time” situations. The third-year pro barely cracked the top 40, coming in at 39 in standard scoring last season, but his receiving stats moved him into the top 30 in PPR scoring. He is a pretty safe choice to finish at that mark or better in 2017, making him a steal at his current ADP of #43 RB off the board in the 10th-11th round.

2016 Receptions: 53
2015 Receptions: 61

No. 4 – C.J. Prosise (SEA): PPR ADP 98 (RB38)

Prosise’s rookie season was cut short due to injury, but he showed flashes of brilliance averaging 5.7 yards per carry and nearly three receptions per game. The Seahawks will use Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls as their primary running backs, but neither are good receiving options out of the backfield. Prosise possesses great hands and shiftiness that will make him a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He is less proven than every player on this list but his upside is very high in an offense that knows how to create mismatches and one that gets the most out of their players.

2016 Receptions: 17*
2015 Receptions: N/A

No. 3 – James White (NE): PPR ADP 111 (RB41)

White is coming off his best season as a pro, finishing third in receptions among all running backs, only behind David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell. Not bad company, huh? Perhaps his most impressive stat came in the Super Bowl where he caught 14 passes for 110 yards and a score, which would be a 31-point fantasy outing. He also added two touchdowns on the ground and 29 rushing yards, so to put that in perspective he really had a 46-point fantasy night. Those numbers show you his potential in this offense. White’s back-to-back 40+ reception seasons and increase in production in 2016 make him a safe PPR selection this season.

2016 Receptions: 60
2015 Receptions: 40

No. 2 – Theo Riddick (DET): PPR ADP 83 (RB34)

Over the past two seasons, Riddick has proven to be one of the top receiving running backs and a major role player for the Detroit Lions. His average of 5.3 receptions per game last year would have given him an 84-catch season over a 16-game span, which would have marked back-to-back 80+ reception campaigns. His value in standard scoring formats is considerably lower since he has never rushed for more than 360 yards in a season and has never averaged better than 4.0 yards per carry. Ameer Abdullah will be the starter and is certainly capable as a receiver as well, but Riddick has a defined receiving role in the Lions offense, which makes him a strong flex play with RB2 potential in PPR scoring formats.

2016 Receptions: 53*
2015 Receptions: 80

No. 1 – Danny Woodhead (BAL): PPR ADP 65 (RB26)

The ultimate boom or bust pick based on his injury history, yet the safest and best PPR value pick if he can, in fact, stay healthy. Woodhead has missed 27 games over the past three years due to injury, but he recorded 75+ receptions and six receiving touchdowns in each of his last two full seasons. The numbers suggest that Woodhead is, in fact, an RB1 in PPR formats when healthy as he finished 12th in 2013 and 3rd in 2015 in fantasy scoring at the running back position. With Kenneth Dixon out for the first four weeks to start 2017, Woodhead will surely have a bigger than usual workload in place and will be used often as a weapon through the air.

2016 Receptions: 6*
2015 Receptions: 80

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Mike Dente is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @1ststopfantasy.