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2014 Fantasy Football Sleepers: PPR Wide Receivers & Running Backs

In this article, we look around the NFL and provide analysis on some fantasy football PPR sleepers for both running backs and wide receivers.

A majority of the fantasy football leagues that I'm a part of each year are Point Per Reception (PPR) leagues, where fantasy owners are rewarded with extra points for each reception that a player makes.  I recently wrapped up a few drafts, including a 14-team PPR league draft, and wanted to share some of my observations and potential PPR sleepers/value picks.


2014 Fantasy Football Sleepers – PPR Leagues

Based on what I've been seeing in my various drafts, most of the NFL players listed below should be available in the mid-to-late rounds of your fantasy football drafts, and have relatively low ADPs based on their potential upside in PPR leagues.

Reading up on pre-season player analysis, analyzing ADPs, identifying 2014 risers/fallers and potential draft day busts, following the pre-season team outlooks and identifying draft day sleepers are all key components for your fantasy football draft strategy. Today I'm here to help out with wide receivers and running backs, and make sure your PPR teams are prepared to win.

I’ve considered these RBs and WRs because of their potential fantasy football returns, in comparison to the draft-day investment in these players and their current draft ADPs. Hopefully we can find some high-upside players that can provide significant fantasy value based on where they’re being drafted.


Editor’s Note: You read about even more fantasy football sleepers & ADP draft values for running backs, wide receivers and all other positions - make sure to bookmark our running list of players to consider targeting in your fantasy football drafts for all positions. Also be sure to check out our nifty fantasy football sleepers analysis recap to see a rundown and summary of all our sleepers articles. 


Running Back Sleepers & Draft Values

Pierre Thomas - RB, New Orleans Saints

pierre-thomas-ppr-sleepers-2014-fantasy-footballAfter participating in various fantasy football drafts this year with PPR formats, I was a little surprised to see where Pierre Thomas was being taken on average. His current ADP of 54, or the 25th running back drafted overall, puts him around the 6th-7th round in ten-team leagues, or something around an RB3/FLEX option.

Playing in the prolific Saints offense, centered around the passing game led by Drew Brees, gives Thomas to be a high-upside RB2 option in PPR leagues. Darren Sproles is no longer in town, and Thomas racked up 77 catches last year. Expected to be the lead running back receiver on the Saints, Thomas has the upside to surpass the pass total and then some.

Don't sleep on Pierre Thomas if you are still drafting in PPR leagues. His current ADP makes him a great running back target in the middle rounds, and makes him a sleeper on draft day based on the potential return he can provide on your investment.


Darren Sproles - RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Speaking of Sproles, this is another running back that I've seen slipping very late in fantasy football drafts for PPR leagues. I understand that he comes with some risk, being on a new team with a new offense and playing behind stud running back LeSean McCoy.

But we should not forget the dynamic skill set that Sproles possesses, especially in the passing game coming out of the backfield. The Eagles' offense is creative, so they are going to find ways to get Sproles the ball in open space. His current ADP of 89, or the 39th running back drafted overall, puts him around the 10th-11th round in ten-team leagues, or something around an RB4/RB3 option.

Playing in the high-powered Philadelphia offense, with defenses keyed in on McCoy and other offensive options (Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Zach Ertz among others) can make Sproles more of a high-upside FLEX/RB2 option in PPR leagues. This type of draft day value makes Sproles a low-risk running back option to draft, with plenty of sleeper potential to deliver on his cheap ADP draft price.


Other Potential PPR Sleeper Running Backs: Dexter McCluster (current ADP: 159), Roy Helu (current ADP: 152)


Wide Receiver Sleepers & Draft Values

Jarrett Boykin - WR, Green Bay Packers

Boykin has been nearly a forgotten man in 2014 fantasy football drafts, as depicted by his ADP of 129, or the 54th wide receiver drafted overall, which puts him around the 13th-14th round of 10-team PPR leagues. With the Packers looking strong in 2014, including a healthy Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, the offense looks poised to put up some explosive numbers.

Even though there are plenty of wide receivers and offensive options for the Packers, Boykin is coming into the year as their WR3 and has WR3 upside as well for PPR leagues. He may not be a consistent force this year with everyone healthy, but the Packers don't have a strong tight end option, and both Cobb and Nelson should receive plenty of attention on defense. This should open up passing targets for Boykin, and the Packers offense has enough passing volume to keep a talented WR3 on the fantasy football radar all season long. So Boykin is a perfect draft sleeper to target in the later rounds of your drafts.

Playing a significant role last year for the Packers, Boykin had a few monster weeks for PPR formats and averaged a solid 13.9 yards per reception. His 2013 game log included seven games with at least five catches, and two games with eight receptions, all coming from Week 7 onwards. His extremely low draft price makes him a low-risk potentially high-reward wide receiver sleeper for your teams.


Jordan Matthews - WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Rookie Jordan Matthews is an intriguing name for me in PPR leagues for a few reasons. Given his talent, and the other wide receiver options in Philadelphia, Matthews may be a sneaky option to receive a consistent amount of passing targets on a game-to-game basis. Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper are the WR1 and WR2 options on the high-upside Eagles offense, but are we really so confident in the ability of those receivers to remain healthy and produce for fantasy football owners all season long?

Maclin has an injury history, and hasn't produced for fantasy owners for some time now. He certainly has upside in the offense if he can stay on the field, but that's a big "if" right now. Riley Cooper showed good chemistry with Nick Foles last year, but he may not be receiving a consistent amount of pass targets from game to game, making him a potentially boom-or-bust option.

Matthews has been lining up in three-wide receiver sets, which is a great sign for his 2014 fantasy football outlook, and may be the beneficiary of some short passes in the slot or even out of the backfield. It'll be interesting to see how he's utilized in Week 1, but given his extremely low ADP of 127, or the 53rd wide receiver drafted overall, Matthews has the potential to be a PPR sleeper wide receiver for your fantasy football teams, at a very low draft day cost.


Other Potential PPR Sleeper Wide Receivers: Kenny Britt (current ADP: 141), Aaron Dobson (current ADP: 131)