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Players Who Gain Value in PPR Formats (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Jun 22, 2021

J.D. McKissic finished 17 spots higher among running backs in PPR formats than he did in standard scoring

There used to be fantasy leagues that were touchdown-only. If you can believe it, there’s still some of them out there. Most of them graduated to standard scoring along the way, which was certainly better, though that’s no longer the standard scoring method in fantasy football, either.

Today, there are many leagues transitioning to PPR leagues, which stands for point per reception. Some are full point while others meet in the middle and go with a half point. Part of the reason many are changing is due to sites like ESPN and CBS making full PPR the default option when you set up a league, while Yahoo and use half-point PPR. Some like it because it produces more fantasy points, and who doesn’t like to see the points stack up?

People like me enjoy it because it’s more predictable than standard scoring. I can more accurately predict if a player will have five catches for 70 yards rather than a player have one catch for a 50-yard touchdown. In PPR, those stat lines are worth the exact same, so at least it’s evened out. In standard, the one catch for a 50-yard touchdown guy scores 5.0 more fantasy points. Bring on the predictability because it increases the skill gap.

If you’re someone transitioning to the old standard format to PPR, we’re here to help your transition easier. We’ll be talking about the players who benefit the most from the PPR format, as well as an article later this week highlighting those who lose the most value in the format, so stay tuned for that. There’s a lot more volatility in standard formats, as it relies heavily on touchdowns, whereas PPR formats benefit those who move the chains. It obviously helps scoring touchdowns, but PPR will make your league less touchdown-dependent than ever. Let’s look back at the 2020 season and talk about which players benefited the most from the PPR format.

Running Backs

J.D. McKissic (WAS) +17 spots
If you were in a standard format, McKissic would’ve finished as the No. 34 running back, so a weak flex option. In a PPR format, he finished as the No. 17 running back, so a solid RB2 option. It’s players like him why we do articles like this because where he should be drafted depends on your league’s format. In my early projections, McKissic comes in as my RB38 in PPR, while falling way down to RB48 in standard formats. That’s a difference of probably three full rounds in ADP.

James White (NE) +15 spots
He’s someone who pops up on this list every year, though last year he was less fantasy relevant due to the circumstances. I wouldn’t have guessed that he was a top-45 running back in PPR, but he was. Over the last three years, White finished 15, 11, and 6 spots higher in PPR formats than standard ones. If Mac Jones takes over as the starting quarterback, White’s role will certainly see a bump in value, especially in PPR formats.

Austin Ekeler (LAC) +9 spots
Despite missing six full games and a portion of others, Ekeler managed to finish as the RB26 in PPR formats last year. While sitting down to do early projections, he was one of just two running backs (Christian McCaffrey was the other) who netted 100 targets. This is a big one to know because of how high he’ll be drafted. In full PPR, Ekeler came in at RB7 in projections. In standard, he came in at RB14, which is quite the difference.

Nyheim Hines (IND) +9 spots
When you see a running back have nearly as many targets (76) as he does carries (89), he’s going to be more valuable in PPR formats. There were a few big games that carried his year-end finish, but Hines finished as the RB15 in PPR formats last year and RB24 in standard formats, which is a massive jump. Hines could very well be the new-age version of James White, as he’s the primary passing-down back in his offense who doesn’t get a whole lot of work on the ground.

Wide Receivers

Cooper Kupp (LAR) +8 spots
I’m not surprised to see Kupp higher in PPR formats, though I am surprised that he moves from WR34 in standard to WR26 in PPR, which is essentially going from a WR3 to a WR2. Will that change now that he has a quarterback who’ll throw the ball down the field a bit more? It could, but Kupp will be relegated to the slot more than 50 percent of the time, so he’s going to be the go-to option over the middle of the field for Matthew Stafford. Don’t be shocked to see Kupp approach the 100-reception mark in 2021.

Robby Anderson (CAR) +8 spots
This would not have been the case while Anderson was with the Jets, as he was used in a down-the-field capacity. However, with Joe Brady in Carolina, Anderson was used as a possession-style receiver and it allowed him to finish as the WR19 in PPR formats in 2020. Could that change with Sam Darnold coming to the team, or will they keep Anderson in the role where he exceled? He did move up four spots in my projections when moving to a full PPR format.

Sterling Shepard (NYG) +8 spots
This is likely a product of Daniel Jones throwing 11 touchdowns in 14 games last year, as that will naturally force players to look better in PPR formats. Shepard has now seen at least six targets in 28 of his last 30 games, which is quite remarkable. That’s likely to change with the arrival of Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, but he’s still likely to be worth more in PPR formats.

Tyler Boyd (CIN) +8 spots
Naturally, you’re going to see a lot of slot-heavy receivers who benefit from PPR formats, and Boyd is no different. With Ja’Marr Chase added to the wide receiver corps alongside Tee Higgins, it’s only going to magnify Boyd’s slot-heavy role and continue to boost him in PPR formats. He’s not going to see the high target share he has as the clear-cut No. 3 option in the offense, but still, he is worth much more in PPR formats.

Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz (DAL) +6 spots
When streaming tight ends, you often look for a floor rather than a ceiling, and Schultz gave you that in PPR formats. He wasn’t a sexy play every week, but he delivered enough to finish as the TE11 in PPR. Because of the lack of touchdown upside without Prescott, he finished as the TE17 in standard. It’s likely to be Blake Jarwin in this territory next year, as he’s expected to resume the starter role.

Noah Fant (DEN) +5 spots
When you’re a tight end who sees 93 targets yet only scores three touchdowns, you’re going to finish higher in PPR formats. Will the coaching staff move to Teddy Bridgewater? That might change Fant’s outlook, but Courtland Sutton‘s return isn’t going to make it easier for Fant to lead the team in touchdowns.

Logan Thomas (WAS) +4 spots
It’s a shame that Washington added a lot of new faces to their offense this season because it seemed like we were on our way to have another top-tier tight end. Did you know Thomas finished as the No. 3 tight end in PPR formats? He saw 110 targets last year and his role was only growing as he got a grasp on the offense, but will the arrival of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Curtis Samuel, and Dyami Brown limit his target upside?

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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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