In the ever-expanding world of fantasy football, PPR (points-per-reception) has emerged as one of the most popular formats, standing right up there with standard scoring, if not surpassing it outright.
It’s important to pay attention to your league’s scoring system, because PPR can have a pretty big change in how running backs are rated. The players who get the biggest bump in PPR will naturally be the ones who play a big role in their team’s passing games, and players who head to the bench on passing downs will take a hit in our rankings.
PPR is fun because it gives newfound value to players you might otherwise never consider drafting. Theo Riddick is kinda useless in standard leagues, but he turned 99 targets into 80 catches last season, making him a decent flex option in PPR. Likewise, Danny Woodhead was Philip Rivers’ most trusted back in the passing game and saw his role expand after Melvin Gordon flopped and later got injured.
Fantasy PPR players eyeing a running back in the first round should look for the right combination of heavy workloads and passing-game chops. Luckily for them, David Johnson fits that description perfectly. After taking over as the Cardinals’ full-time back in Week 12, Johnson averaged 18 carries and 5.6 targets per game over the final five games, proving that he’s ready for a workhorse role. The presence of Chris Johnson may be a slight threat, but David will be heavily involved in Arizona’s passing game, making him an easy first-round PPR choice.
Devonta Freeman is another high-tier player who gets a PPR boost after seeing 97 targets last year, finishing with 73 catches for 578 yards and three touchdowns. And if you’re looking for a slight value, look no further than Matt Forte, who can still play at age 30 and should fit perfectly in Chan Gailey’s spread offense. He’s almost a bargain at the end of the third or early fourth round.
Also, don’t totally sleep on Le’Veon Bell. The three-game suspension is an obvious hit to his fantasy value, but in his last healthy season (2014) Bell had 105 targets, 83 catches and 854 receiving yards. He’ll be the clear-cut No. 1 PPR back when he comes back in Week 5. Just make sure you grab DeAngelo Williams if you take the plunge on Bell.
As far as rookies go, C.J. Prosise could be a nifty PPR asset. Thomas Rawls didn’t do much in the passing game even before he broke his ankle (just 11 targets in 13 games), so look for Prosise to fill that spot in Seattle’s offense early on. In Oakland, DeAndre Washington could get some run with Latavius Murray failing to impress as an every-down runner.