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Must-Have Players for Fantasy Football - Standard Leagues (Non-PPR)

Nick Chubb - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Does anyone play in standard leagues anymore? [insert that common joke about how we shouldn't call them standard leagues when they aren't standard anymore.]

I actually like to still play in a standard league every so often. If you don't know what standard is or if you need a refresher, there's no points per reception in standard. It neutralizes some of the advantages that receiving backs or Jarvis Landry-esque receivers have.

So, who are players you should prioritize in standard? Below are five players whose value is higher in that format than in other formats.

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Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

It's much easier to highlight RBs who get a boost in standard than wide receivers, since all wide receivers theoretically catch passes, but not all running backs do.

So, we'll be looking at three RBs in this piece, and just two receivers. Let's start with the running backs: specifically, Nick Chubb.

More than pretty much any team, the Browns have their "running" running back and their "catching" running back.

Last season, Nick Chubb had 228 carries for 1,259 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games. He caught 20 passes.

Meanwhile, Kareem Hunt played in just eight games, but had 22 catches. And D'Ernest Johnson, who had 128 fewer carries than Chubb did, had just one fewer reception than Chubb.

If Hunt is healthy, Chubb is going to see very little passing work. And while that's definitely bad for his value in PPR leagues since it takes away those each reception points, his workload on the ground means that he'll still be an elite option in standard scoring.


Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers love to run the football, and that should continue with the move to Trey Lance at quarterback.

San Fran targeted its running backs the 10th-fewest number of times in the NFL last year. And of those targets that did go to running backs, the majority went to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

Meanwhile, Elijah Mitchell, who led the team in rushing attempts with 207, was targeted just 20 times all season. He did a great job converting those targets in 19 catches, but the fact that JaMycal Hasty saw more targets than Mitchell is telling. The 49ers don't throw the ball to their main running backs. Jeff Wilson Jr. had 79 rushing attempts, and he was targeted just eight times in the passing game.

Part of the reason is that the team has Deebo Samuel, who they use in a hybrid role. Another part is that they just really like Juszczyk as the check down option. But whatever reason you want to settle on, it's clear that Mitchell is more valuable in leagues where receptions don't equal fantasy points.


Damien Harris, New England Patriots

Continuing our trend of running backs who don't catch many passes, we have Damien Harris.

Harris had 202 carries last year and 15 rushing touchdowns. But in the passing game, he had just 18 catches.

This has been the Patriots MO for years. The last time the same running back led the team in carries and was also the leading running back in targets was in 2014, when Shane Vereen had 96 carries and 77 targets. But even that comes with a caveat, which is that 96 carries isn't many, and Steven Ridley had 94 carries while playing in 10 fewer games.

New England compartmentalizes things. If healthy, James White will have four or fives times the targets of Harris. If not healthy, someone else who isn't Harris will become the passing back. New England doesn't like to mix things in this backfield.

A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

I'm really interested to see how the Eagles' passing game looks this year.

Last season, the Eagles threw fewer passes than any other NFL team. That's what happens when your quarterback is known for his running and your best wide receiver is a rookie DeVonta Smith.

But the Eagles showed commitment to the passing game this offseason by trading for A.J. Brown. Now the question becomes this: how many targets will Brown get on this offense?

In addition to throwing the fewest passes in the NFL last year, the Eagles targeted their wide receivers just 51.3% of the time, the league's third-lowest rate. Dallas Goedert absorbs a lot of the shorter passes, and that shows in the numbers, as just five teams targeted tight end a higher percentage of the time than Philly.

You don't bring in A.J. Brown if you don't plan to use him a lot, but I think Brown's volume will be down. The Eagles will use him down the field, but the overall number of targets will make him slightly more valuable in standard than he'll be in PPR.


Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kansas City Chiefs

There won't just be one guy replacing Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs brought in Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster plus drafted Skyy Moore, all of whom should see various kinds of usage.

But if there's someone who can provide the kind of deep-ball threat that Hill was, it's MVS, who projects to be the kind of low-usage, high-aDOT player who makes more sense in standard than in PPR.

Last season with the Packers, MVS finished fourth on the team in targets and sixth in receptions, but he was third in receiving yards and first in yards per reception.

The Chiefs will likely continue to use MVS in the same way that the Packers did, taking advantage of his speed and looking for him down the field while barely using him in the short passing game. They have Travis Kelce for that. They have JuJu. The team doesn't need MVS to get involved near the line of scrimmage.

They just need him to scare defenses. Patrick Mahomes has one of the league's biggest arms. With Valdes-Scantling's speed, defenses will have to protect over the top. That opens up the short passing game for other players, and it also puts MVS in a position where he'll often be out wide, stretching the defense. We know Mahomes is going to launch some balls his way. It'll just be up to him to haul them in.

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