Which Players Get a Bump in PPR? (2018 Fantasy Football)

by Sam Schlesinger | @avishai41 | Featured Writer
Aug 15, 2018

High-volume receivers, like Golden Tate, get sizable boosts to their value in PPR leagues

One of the most fundamental keys to being successful in your fantasy football draft is knowing the scoring settings of your league. Before every draft, you should know how many players you need to start at each position, and how many points they get for everything they do on the field. If you don’t, you may wind up drafting a player you like without realizing he doesn’t carry as much value as you thought due to your scoring settings.

The most common scoring difference between leagues pertains to whether or not points are awarded for receptions. There is a broad range of players that become more valuable in PPR leagues and would get a bump in rankings in that format. I would classify two types of players that become more relevant in PPR as high-volume wide receivers and passing-down running backs.

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High-Volume Receivers

Golden Tate (DET)
Tate has racked up 90+ receptions in all four of his seasons as a Detroit Lion, and he played two years with Calvin Johnson. Since 2014, he’s sixth in the league in receptions and ninth in targets. He has been Matthew Stafford’s safety net for four years, and Stafford has never ranked lower than ninth in pass attempts. Last year, Tate finished as the WR19 in standard formats, but was the WR12 in PPR.

Larry Fitzgerald (WR – ARI)
People sleep on Fitzgerald every season because of his age, but he’s had three of the most productive seasons in his career in the last three years from ages 32-34. He’s second in the league in total receptions since 2015 and three of his five career 100+ reception seasons have come in each of the last three seasons. Fitz has never in his career received less than 115 targets in a 16-game season, and the Cardinals don’t have anyone else to throw the ball to that would threaten the life of that streak. Last year, Fitz finished as the WR10 in standard leagues, but was the WR5 in PPR.

Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE)
Over the past three seasons in Miami, Landry averaged 152 targets per season. He was able to be extremely valuable in PPR leagues with the volume he got as a Dolphin, but can he keep that up in Cleveland? A month ago, it looked like the chances would be bleak with Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, and Antonio Calloway all primed for strong seasons. 

Now, Gordon took a leave of absence from the team, Coleman was traded to the Buffalo Bills, and Callaway finds himself in legal trouble once again. Gordon is expected to be back before the season starts, but Landry’s potential target total seems to be growing. Last year, Landry finished as the WR12 in standard leagues, but was the WR4 in PPR.

Pass-Catching Running Backs

Duke Johnson (CLE)
Johnson is the unquestioned pass-catching running back in Cleveland. They recently signed him to a three-year extension, so we know he’s part of their plan. He claims he’d rather be a slot receiver than a running back, and while no one expects him to completely change positions, he was third last year in the league in snaps from the slot among running backs and caught 29% of his passes when lined up there. As much as the uncertainty in the Browns’ receiving corps means more volume for Landry, it also means for volume for Johnson. Last year, Johnson finished as the RB19 in standard leagues, but was the RB11 in PPR.

Chris Thompson (WAS)
Even before the devastating news of Derrius Guice’s ACL tear, Jay Gruden had confirmed on multiple occasions that Thompson is the pass-catching running back on the team. He said that Thompson would maintain his role and that Guice was a “more of a first-, second-down banger.” In his nine healthy weeks last season before going down to injury, Thompson was the RB7 overall in PPR, led the Redskins in both rushing and receiving yards, and also led all running backs in receiving yards. Thompson may not get many of Guice’s carries, but without Guice, the Redskins will likely need to pass the ball a lot, and Alex Smith loves checking down to his running backs. In both 2016 and 2017, Smith produced a top-10 running back in receiving yards, and in 2013, his running back, Jamaal Charles, led all running backs in receiving yards.

Tarik Cohen (CHI)
Matt Nagy, the new head coach of the Chicago Bears, has been pumping up Cohen through the entire offseason. Cohen has been compared to Tyreek Hill (who Nagy coached last year in Kansas City), and he’s a player that Naggy is “giddy” about. He’s promised to use Cohen all over the field saying, “We’ll have some fun with him.” 

Jordan Howard will still see the lion’s share of early-down work, but Nagy and the Bears are going to create ways to use their Swiss Army knife, and that will be beneficial to Cohen’s PPR value. As a rookie, Cohen finished as the RB40 in standard leagues, but was the RB32 in PPR. With an expanded role in a more high-tempo offense, he could easily finish the season as an RB2.

Christian McCaffrey (CAR)
McCaffrey is the first name you think of when you say PPR. He led all running backs in targets as a rookie last season and was third in running back receptions. While he only had 117 carries, he was on the field for 805 snaps (second in the league) and had an offensive snap percentage of 70.2% (fifth in the league). The Panthers added D.J. Moore in the draft and now have a healthy Curtis Samuel and Greg Olsen, so McCaffrey’s role may be slightly diminished from last season, but there’s no question he will still be more valuable in PPR leagues. Last year, he finished as the RB15 in standard leagues, but was the RB9 in PPR.

Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara (NO)
It’s hard to give Ingram and Kamara a “bump” when Kamara is being drafted as a top-five running back in any format and Ingram is only so low (RB23 ADP) because of his suspension, but their value does increase. Kamara and Ingram both finished in the top 10 in running back receptions. Their combined 139 catches were 37 more than the next best running back combo in the league. The New Orleans Saints have never been outside the top-12 scoring teams in the league since Drew Brees and Sean Payton arrived, and Brees has led the league in completions six different times, including last year. Ingram and Kamara should have every opportunity to repeat their success.

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Sam Schlesinger is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Sam, check out his archive and follow him @avishai41.

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