Players Who See a Boost in PPR Formats (Fantasy Football)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Jun 27, 2018

Bears running back Tarik Cohen is one of the players who benefits greatly from the PPR format

It seems that many are making the switch over to PPR formats in 2018. Whether it be due to the fact that ESPN made PPR their standard format last season, or that Yahoo has made half-PPR their standard format this season. Whatever the case, we’re here to help you with the transition by talking about the players who benefit most by the point per reception scoring setting. We’ll also be doing a piece on players who the format hurts, but we’ll start on those who benefit.

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In standard formats, there’s a lot more volatility, as the format relies heavily on touchdowns, whereas the PPR format benefits those who move the chains. While it helps to score touchdowns as well (obviously), it’ll make your fantasy season less touchdown dependent than ever before. One tip is to try and avoid players who don’t see a lot of targets. For instance, JuJu Smith-Schuster saw just 5.6 targets per game in 2017, which ranked 55th among wide receivers, yet he’s being drafted as a top-24 wide receiver in 2018. It’s not to say that he’s guaranteed to bust, but his situation hasn’t changed much, so it’s hard to see that jump in targets it seems some are expecting. Oddly enough, his ADP is lower in standard formats. Let’s take a look at those who benefited the most and how much higher they finished in the PPR format.

Running Backs

Tarik Cohen (CHI) +11 spots
There’s been some big changes in Chicago this offseason, but knowing that Cohen finished 11 spots higher in PPR while in John Fox’s predictable offense, it should give you hope for his outlook in 2018. Some have suggested he’ll be used in the Tyreek Hill role under new head coach Matt Nagy, though I believe the offense is going to look a bit different than the Chiefs did. There are plenty of playmakers on the Bears now (that’s weird to say), so he’s going to be a bit more volatile than you’d like in standard, but you should get much more predictability in PPR formats. He’s also due for some positive touchdown regression, as he caught just one touchdown on 53 receptions, while the league average for running backs is a touchdown for every 25.4 receptions.

Theo Riddick (DET) +11 spots
He was in this article last year, too, as Riddick relies on the passing-down work as much as anyone in the league. The additions of LeGarrette Blount and Kerryon Johnson make things harder than ever to predict in the Lions backfield, because it seems that both Riddick and Ameer Abdullah are competing for the same role. On top of that, Johnson was a really good receiver while at Auburn, so Riddick could lose some luster. Still, he finished as the RB26 in PPR formats last year, so he can still be relevant even if he does take a step back.

Duke Johnson (CLE) +10 spots
There’s a lot of question marks surrounding what was Johnson’s job with the Browns, as the acquisition of Jarvis Landry is likely to walk in and steal a lot of the work that used to belong to him. But seriously, did you realize that Johnson finished as the RB11 in PPR formats last year? He’s averaged 80.3 targets per year with the Browns through three years, and it’s not as if Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb are going to steal much of the passing-down work. Another issue, however, is that Tyrod Taylor wasn’t brought in to throw the ball a ton (hasn’t ever topped 437 attempts in one year), which likely cuts the overall size of the pie that Landry was already going to eat into. Johnson is worth more in PPR formats without a doubt, but his actual value is way down from where it was last year.

James White (NE) +10 spots
I’m sure most could’ve guessed that White would be here, as 87.2 percent of his PPR points in 2017 came from the receiving totals he put up. While the Patriots did lose Dion Lewis, they added Sony Michel in the first-round of the NFL Draft, which clouds the picture just a bit. White has totaled at least 40 receptions in each of the last three seasons, including 116 of them over the last two seasons. He’s not going to get more than 30-50 carries, so you’re relying on that work to be there. This is the type of player who is there for bye weeks and you can play him in matchups where you expect the Patriots passing game to be doing work. You’ll want to bump him up your draft board if moving to a PPR format.

Notable mentions: Giovani Bernard (CIN), Jerick McKinnon (SF), Christian McCaffrey (CAR)

Wide Receivers

Jarvis Landry (CLE) +9 spots
If you read the intro, you understand why he’s here. Over the last four years, there hasn’t been a better definition of a PPR asset than Landry, who was continually peppered with targets en route to top-15 finishes in the format despite lacking in the touchdown department. We mustn’t forget about the other talent on his new team, though, as Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, David Njoku, and Duke Johnson are no slouches. The Browns are also looking to run the ball a bit more in 2018, which further clouds the picture. Still, Landry is going to be much better in PPR formats and should be adjusted in the ranks.

Demaryius Thomas (DEN) +7 spots
This is becoming a trend with Thomas, who finished three spots higher in PPR formats back in 2016. It’s like this because he’s not much of a touchdown-scorer anymore, as he’s totaled just 16 touchdowns over the last three years combined. The quarterback situation would have played into that, but at this point in his career, he’s a possession receiver who is seeing 140 targets on a consistent basis. He’s not a sexy pick, but he’s one of the safest picks in fantasy football, especially in PPR formats.

Golden Tate (DET) +7 spots
Another slot-heavy wide receiver, Tate has been one of the better PPR assets since arriving in Detroit. His movement was a plus-six in 2016, so to see him finish seven spots higher in 2017 should be no surprise. With Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay on the perimeter as the big-bodied red zone receivers, and Eric Ebron off to Indianapolis, Tate’s role is safe in the offense. Despite scoring just five touchdowns last year, Tate was able to finish as a top-12 wide receiver because of his consistency when it comes to moving the chains. If you’re moving to a PPR format, don’t make the mistake of underestimating Tate’s potential.

Jamison Crowder (WAS) +7 spots
If you haven’t noticed, three of the four receivers on this list are of the slot variety (Thomas only played the slot on 18 percent of his snaps). There’s a lot of changing in the scenery around Crowder, but it’s all benefitting him. Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson aren’t going to command 100-plus targets, and Derrius Guice isn’t a big pass-catcher out of the backfield. Crowder is going to become the go-to receiver for Alex Smith, so I’d expect to see him on this list once again next year.

Notable mentions: Randall Cobb (GB), Larry Fitzgerald (ARI), Sterling Shepard (NYG)

Tight Ends

Jordan Reed (WAS) +7 spots
While healthy, Reed has been more of a wide receiver than anything. He didn’t play much last year, so it’s hard to take much from this, but knowing Alex Smith‘s history with the tight end position, he’s likely to continue in that role. Everyone remembers Travis Kelce with Smith, but most have forgotten about Vernon Davis‘ emergence under Smith. The final full season they played together, Davis finished with 95 targets, 67 receptions, 792 yards, and six touchdowns. Reed’s health is always a concern, but he’s extremely valuable in PPR leagues when on the field.

Delanie Walker (TEN) +3 spots
This shouldn’t shock anyone, as Walker has now seen at least 102 targets in each of the last four seasons. Any time you can lock a tight end in for 80-plus targets, you’re going to like what he does for you in PPR formats. Now that Corey Davis is there, you’re likely to see Walker’s touchdown numbers continue to decline like they did in 2017 (scored just three receiving touchdowns), but you’re not as concerned in PPR as you would be in standard, which dropped him all the way to the TE7 despite an 807-yard season.

Notable mentions: Tyler Higbee (LAR), Jared Cook (OAK)

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

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