Players that Receive a Bump in Standard Scoring (2018 Fantasy Football)
Last week I wrote about the high-volume receivers and pass-catching running backs that deserve a ranking bump in PPR formats, but who should you be targeting when points aren’t awarded for receptions? In standard scoring formats, you want to go after players that are efficient and consistent. You want players that don’t need to be targeted over 10 times a game to have relevance and have a knack for finding the end zone. You need game breakers who can consistently make big plays week in and week out and rack up yardage.
Additionally, without receptions skewing the point scoring in favor of three-down backs and pass-catching backs, the running back field is leveled. Early-down workhorses become more valuable. Here are the players that I bump up in my rankings for standard scoring formats.
Marvin Jones Jr. (WR – DET)
Golden Tate generally gets the lion’s share of the targets in Detroit, but Jones Jr. is the big play receiver, and he’s about as consistent as they come in that area. Over the last two seasons, he’s had 36 receptions of 20+ yards, and he leads the league in yards per catch during that span. Jones Jr. has increased his receiving yard totals with every season he’s played, and had his first 1,000+ yard season in 2017 (1,101).
He only had 61 receptions compared to Tate’s 92 last season, but he was targeted just 13 fewer times. His targets come on lower percentage passes, but he’s grabbed enough of them to make them count. Matthew Stafford is sixth in total pass attempts since 2010, and he averages 625 pass attempts in healthy seasons so there will be plenty to go around. Last year, Jones finished as the WR11 in PPR scoring but the WR5 in standard.
Tyreek Hill (WR – KC)
Hill is another receiver who doesn’t need many targets to be dominant. He received the fewest targets out of any receiver in the top 15 (in standard fantasy points), but finished fourth in that group. He had nine plays of over 40 yards last season and six of them went for touchdowns. That’s five different weeks (two of those scores were done in the same game) where he earned his keep on one play.
Hill averaged 11.6 yards per target last season, which is an absurd efficiency to try and repeat, but that is the style of his game. He can take the top off of any defense, and if he’s got a quarterback that can hit him in stride (did you catch that 70-yard bomb from Mahomes in their second preseason game?), he will remain a value. Last year Hill finished as the WR8 in PPR scoring, but the WR4 in standard.
Juju Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT)
Antonio Brown takes up a big chunk of the targets in Pittsburgh, but also a lot of the defense’s attention. Smith-Schuster was able to exploit the holes that Brown left in just 14 games (but only seven “starts”) as a rookie. With defenses focused on Brown and Martavis Bryant, Smith-Schuster made big plays happen. 21% of his catches last season went for 20+ yards, and he found the end zone seven times.
This year, Bryant was replaced with rookie James Washington, who’s already made a name for himself in the preseason as a contested catch winner. With Washington and Brown, Smith-Schuster won’t be peppered with targets anytime soon, so he doesn’t have that PPR intrigue, but his propensity for big plays is why I want him in standard leagues. Last year, Smith-Schuster finished as the WR21 in PPR scoring, but the WR16 in standard.
Jordan Howard (RB – CHI)
Howard is the guy that nobody wants in PPR, but everyone loves in standard. The main reason for that is he can’t catch a pass, so they don’t throw him the ball. Last year, Howard had 23 receptions on 31 targets and six drops. He was second among running backs in dropped passes, dropping 19% of the passes that came his way. However, when talking about groundwork, Howard was fifth in carries, sixth in rushing yards, and tied for third in rushing touchdowns.
He got 73% of the Bears rushing attempts in 2017, and that shouldn’t change with Tarik Cohen turning more and more into a receiver. He was also on the field for 58% of the Bears offensive snaps, which ranked 10th among the league’s running backs. I understand shying away from Howard in PPR, but he’s a powerhouse in standard. Last year, Howard finished as the RB13 in PPR scoring but the RB9 in standard.
Leonard Fournette (RB – JAC)
Fournette may catch a few more balls than Jordan Howard, but he’s in a similar ground-and-pound role. Last year, Blake Bortles threw to four receivers and a tight end more often than he threw to Fournette, though Fournette did out-target backfield-mate T.J. Yeldon by seven. According to the ECR (expert consensus rankings) for PPR, Fournette is ranked right after Melvin Gordon and Kareem Hunt on top and just above Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook. I would put him on the bottom of that list in PPR since the rest of them have a much higher receiving game upside, but I’d place him at the top of it in standard because the offense will run through him on the ground due to game script.
Fournette had the seventh-most carries in the league in 2017 while playing at least two fewer games than everyone ahead of him on that list. His pace over a 16-game season would have netted him 329 carries, eight more than Le’Veon Bell, who led the league. Last year, Fournette finished as the RB10 in PPR scoring, but the RB8 in standard.
Marshawn Lynch (RB – OAK)
Due to the lackluster way he started the season, many will forget that Lynch returned to form last November. In fact, over the last six weeks of the season, he was fourth in carries, third in rushing yards, and finished as the RB12 over that span. He only caught 20 passes last season, but that was never a big part of his game.
A big plus for Lynch is how he dominates the goal line. When inside the five-yard line in 2017, Lynch got 80% of the Raiders’ carries, and scored a touchdown on half of those attempts. Only Todd Gurley and Joe Mixon had a higher rush percentage inside the five than Lynch. Doug Martin may dig into Lynch’s workload, but they will feed “Beast Mode” in goal-line situations. Last year, Lynch was the RB24 in PPR scoring, but the RB18 in standard.
C.J. Anderson (RB – CAR)
With the likes of Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel, Anderson will not be catching many passes in Carolina. He’ll be filling the role that Jonathan Stewart played in 2017, and Stewart only caught eight passes. Stewart, however, also had 198 carries, a figure that Anderson will likely wind up near in 2018. Ron Rivera has mentioned that he wants McCaffrey to have an expanded role this season, but he isn’t going to get much more than 10 carries per game, and the rest will fall to Anderson.
Anderson is an afterthought in PPR scoring, currently going as the RB42 according to ADP. In standard though, he’s going as the RB40 and could be a great value there. Last year Jonathan Stewart was able to finish as the RB32 in standard scoring playing alongside McCaffrey. I’d expect a similar finish from Anderson in 2018.
Jimmy Graham (TE – GB)
Graham made a living in the end zone in 2017, catching 10 touchdowns (tied for second in the league), making that the fourth time he’s eclipsed double-digit scores in a season. He’s a big body that can out-man just about any defender in short-yardage situations, but his target volume will likely take a dip in Green Bay. Graham has never played a full 16-game season and received fewer than 95 targets, but Aaron Rodgers has never targeted a tight end more than 87 times in a season in his career. The touchdown upside is undeniable with Graham, but higher volume tight ends will pass him in PPR scoring, so he gets a nice bump in standard.