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Players to Prioritize in PPR but Fade in Standard Leagues

The fantasy industry continues to unveil nuances in the scoring settings of various formats. This provides a growing collection of possibilities that owners can include in their smorgasbord of league options in 2019. But as refinements in scoring and lineup composition continue, the prominent settings of PPR and Standard scoring will retain their high level of popularity this season.

This can impact the decision-making process for owners who are determining which players possess the most favorable combination of skills and perceived opportunity to accumulate fantasy points in either system. Point-per-reception scoring presents a pathway for players who accrue targets and receptions. Standard scoring does not include the additional point when receptions are generated.

The team at RotoBaller is helping your draft preparations by breaking down which players should be prioritized and faded in both scoring systems. That includes this article, which contains recommendations on players who will be most productive in PPR leagues.

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Running Backs

Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears

Cohen's exceptional ability to elude overmatched tacklers has established him as an enticing PPR option. But the third-year back also functions within a backfield that has become more congested during the offseason. This will place constraints on his opportunities as a rusher that did not exist in 2018.

His credentials as a valuable asset in PPR leagues remain unquestioned. Cohen finished at RB11 in scoring last season, while placing third among backs in receiving yards (725), and sixth in targets (91), and receptions (71).  Cohen’s proficiency as a receiver was fourth highest in Football Outsiders’ DYAR (Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement) (184), while he also placed fifth in yards-after-reception (197).

He achieved these results despite functioning within an offense that ranked just 26th in passes-per-game (32.6). He was also allotted 99 rushing attempts (6.2 per-game), but the new components in Chicago’s refurbished backfield could keep Cohen from attaining the same workload this season.

Third-round pick David Montgomery should confiscate most of the 250 attempts that were designated for Jordan Howard in 2018, while former Seahawk Mike Davis should also obtain an ongoing percentage of carries.

But the collective arrival of Montgomery and Davis will not create a similar downturn in Cohen’s receiving output, as his potential to supply high-quality numbers as a dynamic PPR weapon is unaltered.

Matt Nagy’s confidence in Cohen was reflected in the pass-catching responsibilities that he attained last season. Nagy should maintain his reliance on Cohen by deploying him in multiple formations that maximize his eye-catching elusiveness. That will preserve Cohen’s status as a valuable asset in PPR leagues.

James White, New England Patriots

White performed effectively as a receiving back from 2015-2017. But he never finished higher than RB26 in PPR scoring, while averaging 70 targets and 52 receptions. However, an upturn in his usage ignited a surge in scoring during 2018 (RB7), as White assembled the most prolific numbers of his career.

White’s 123 targets placed him second among all backs - just one behind Christian McCaffrey. His career-best production included tying for first at his position in receiving touchdowns (7), finishing second in receiving yardage (751), and placing third in receptions (87).

White’s pass-catching responsibilities remain secure, which supplies the enticement to target him in PPR drafts. But a burgeoning depth chart that contained Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead has added Damien Harris. This makes it unlikely that White will replicate last season’s output on the ground.

White also achieved career highs in rushing attempts (94) and rushing yards (425) last season. Those opportunities included 25 carries when Michel was sidelined (Weeks 1/8/9) and an average of 10-per-game during games that Michel and Burkhead were both unavailable. Harris is a more proficient runner than White and should commandeer most carries that would otherwise have been assigned to White.

This integration of Harris into the backfield mix will combine with a healthy Michel and the lurking presence of Burkhead to squelch White’s chances of replicating last year’s rushing output. But his status as a highly productive resource in PPR leagues remains intact.

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

The Colts chose not to re-sign Frank Gore after he led the team in rushing during 2017. That created great uncertainty surrounding the touch distribution throughout Indy’s backfield entering 2018. Marlon Mack eventually capitalized by averaging 4.7 yards-per-carry. finishing sixth in yards-per-game average (75.7) and emerging as a valuable fantasy commodity. However, the 5-9, 200-pound Hines also ascended into relevance by capturing responsibilities as the team’s primary pass-catching back.

Hines collected 5+ targets in nine different contests, including each of his final five matchups. That helped him accrue the seventh-highest season total among backs (81), and deliver consistent output as a vital receiving weapon. Hines also averaged 4-receptions-per-game and placed eighth at his position with 63 catches.

The Colts finished fifth in red zone scoring during 2018 (67%) and their deployment of Hines played a significant role in that ranking. Not only was he utilized as a receiving weapon (10 red zone targets) but the Colts also deployed Hines as a runner 22 times. Hines’ strengths do not equate to responsibilities as a workhorse back. But those opportunities near the goal-line boost his scoring potential beyond other backs who are being drafted at a similar ADP.

Owners in PPR leagues can take advantage of Hines’ big-play ability through the investment of a 10th round pick. He should sustain a respectable touch total, as Frank Reich will schematically maximize his abilities as a receiving weapon. That supplies significant incentive to target him for your roster.


Wide Receivers

Jamison Crowder, New York Jets

Crowder currently remains available until Round 16 of the PPR draft process. But he is primed to showcase his ability as an inside route runner and reclaim his spot among the league’s more productive slot receivers.

He has fully recovered from the high ankle sprain that sidelined him for nine games in 2018. This resulted in a lost season, as his targets and output were not remotely close to his numbers from 2015-2017. He averaged 93 targets, 64 receptions and 747 yards with Washington during that span, including a team-high 103 targets in 2017.

Crowder functioned inside on 89% of his routes that season according to Football Outsiders. He should retain a similar percentage within the newly constructed offense of Adam Gase. The Jets' head coach displayed his penchant for targeting slot receivers while scripting plays in Denver, Chicago, and Miami. Now, his system should be designed to utilize Crowder on a recurrent basis.

This consistent usage will also boost Sam Darnold’s chances of improving upon the 57.7% completion percentage that he generated during his rookie season. Robby Anderson will also remain highly involved in the renovated Jet attack after he averaged 8.5 targets-per-game from Weeks 7-17, and 9.8 during his final four contests. The rapport that he established with Darnold was genuine, and his late-season statistical surge should continue this season.

But that will not prohibit Crowder from re-establishing his presence among the league’s most effective slot receivers. That will also provide you with a viable PPR option that does not require a significant investment during your draft.

Adam Humphries, Tennessee Titans 

Humphries’ transition to Tennessee did not appear to place him in a favorable environment. This created skepticism due to an unproven offensive coordinator, and major misgivings about Marcus Mariota’s ability to spearhead a productive passing attack. It also resulted in Humphries being dismissed as a declining commodity who was destined to encounter a decrease in targets and receptions.

The 26- year-old slot specialist established new career highs in every major statistical category last season (105 targets/76 receptions/816 yards/5 touchdowns) while garnering 6.6 targets-per-game. But his three-year averages with the Buccaneers from 2016-2018 were also noteworthy (90 targets/64 receptions/690 yards).

This fueled additional concerns about his ability to attain the same level of production that he assembled in Tampa Bay’s top-ranked passing attack (320 yards-per-game (320), after transitioning to a unit that ranked 29th (186 yards-per-game).

But Humphries’ ability to perform as a PPR option has been underestimated. He registered a 72% catch rate in 2018 and tied for second in average yards of separation according to Next Gen Stats (3.6). His responsibilities as a safety valve were on display in Tennessee’s preseason opener when six of Mariota’s eight attempts were launched in his direction. The tandem has worked out together throughout the offseason, and Mariota's comfort level with his new receiver should remain beneficial for Humphries.

He is not a candidate to challenge Corey Davis for the Titans’ WR1 role. But Humphries’ underrated strengths should warrant a late-round investment for your PPR roster. His current ADP places him in Round 19 and potential owners should reconsider their lack of interest.

Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills

As you consider late-round draft options, any assessments of Beasley’s projected fantasy scoring should not focus solely on his numbers and responsibilities as a Cowboy. Instead, there should be a sizable emphasis placed on the opportunity that awaits the 30-year-old in his new environment.

87% of Beasley’s targets were collected while running routes in the slot during 2018, according to Football Outsiders. While his inside responsibilities will not change, Beasley’s importance to his new offense will. He has resurfaced within a passing attack that needs to emphasize frequent usage of a trustworthy weapon in the slot. This places Beasley in position to lead the Bills in targets while providing an opportunity to eclipse his previous career highs in targets (98) and (75).

There are multiple reasons for optimism among Bills fans and fantasy owners surrounding Josh Allen’s potential to accrue fantasy points. But his 52.8 completion percentage underscored his shortcomings in passing efficiency. Buffalo’s offseason additions of Beasley and John Brown were designed to provide Allen with resources that capitalize on his strengths and boost his chances of success amid his deficiencies.

Brown will join Robert Foster in supplying downfield weapons to maximize Allen’s capacity for launching deep throws. But Beasley will provide Allen with a perpetual safety valve while operating on short and intermediate routes. This will elevate Beasley into Allen’s preferred third-down option while placing him in position to stockpile targets on high percentage passes. This will not result in substantial yardage. But his target and receptions totals will easily exceed the current expectations of his Round 20 ADP.


Tight End

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins 

Anyone who considers the merits of drafting Reed must determine whether his potential to accrue fantasy points outweighs the risk of experiencing another season with lingering injuries. If you are among the large group of disenchanted former owners who have endured his 31 missed games over the last six seasons, any hesitation to trust him is justified.

However, the current state of Washington’s wide receiving arsenal resides at a point between uninspiring and alarming. Trey Quinn possesses a desirable combination of dependable hands and route running acumen. But no other wide receivers on Washington’s lackluster depth chart appear capable of operating as the dependable receiving options that Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins desperately need.

Keenum could begin the year as Washington’s QB1, although Haskins should confiscate those responsibilities during the season. Considering the talent deficiencies that are rampant throughout Washington’s substandard offense, it is easy to envision either quarterback searching for a safety valve on a consistent basis. That provides a genuine opportunity for Reed to lead the Redskins in targets.

Josh Doctson’s inability to fulfill expectations compelled the Redskins to decline his fifth-year option. Paul Richardson’s disappointing 2018 season resulted in 20 receptions and nine missed games (shoulder). Rookies Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon could become increasingly involved as the season progresses, but they do not approach Reed’s potential to garner targets.

Reed's registered 6.6 average targeted air yards last season, and will not supply the big play potential of some tight ends. But he is primed to seize an integral role if he can elude health issues. That will allow him to deliver numbers that transcend his ADP in PPR leagues.

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