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Players to Prioritize in Standard Leagues but Fade in PPR


Some of us still really enjoy playing in standard leagues, even though standard scoring has become the villain of the fantasy world according to some people. My home league has played standard since it started and it's fun to have a league where I have to think about fantasy football in a completely different way.

When we think about the way players are valued differently in standard and PPR, we often think about which players are more valuable in PPR. We'll talk about how a third-down back gets more valuable or a Jarvis Landry-style receiver who catches 10 passes per game matters more than they do in standard.

But we don't talk much about the opposite of that coin: players who are more valuable in standard than in PPR. I'm thinking about the one-dimensional backs and the big play receivers who don't get a ton of catches. Let's talk about some players who are more valuable in standard scoring than they are in PPR.

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Will Fuller (WR, HOU)

To me, Fuller really encapsulates the kind of guy I want in standard but am scared of in PPR leagues. He's a big-play receiver who has a real nose for the end zone, but he has just two games in his entire career where he was targeted at least 10 times, and his highest number of catches in a game is eight. Fuller's not going to accumulate points via catching a lot of passes.

What Fuller will do, though, is get behind a defense and take advantage of the few catches he does get in a game. For his career, Fuller averages 3.45 catches per game and 14.6 yards per reception. He's scored 13 touchdowns, with 11 of them coming from Deshaun Watson passes. The two have developed a lot of chemistry, connecting on seven scores in a four-game span back in 2017.

Fuller is coming off an ACL tear, but reports indicate he still looks fast at training camp. If Houston's top-three receivers are healthy, DeAndre Hopkins is your consistent, make-the-plays guy and Keke Coutee is your short-yardage, PPR-value move-the-chains guy. Fuller's probably going to be third in the pecking order in terms of who Watson looks to, but he'll be among the league leaders in air yards as his five or six targets per game will be deep down the field.

There's enough uncertainty with his usage to worry about starting him in PPR, but I'm all over Fuller in standard scoring this year. Give me five or six shots at huge touchdown plays.

 

Jordan Howard (RB, PHI)

Remember when Howard was in Chicago last year and everyone thought Matt Nagy was going to get him involved in the passing game?

Well, Howard ended up with a career-low 20 targets. Now he's in Philadelphia, who have a crowded backfield and have no reason to even pretend that Howard can be useful in the receiving game, as they've brought back Darren Sproles for that.

Howard's lack of receiving usage depresses his PPR value, but his role as a short-yardage, red-zone back means he's still worth owning in standard leagues.

Howard has 18 touchdowns run over the last two seasons, with 10 of them coming from inside the five-yard line. He's the guy Philadelphia is going to call on when they need to rumble in a three-yard score. He might only wind up with 50-60 yards per game, but if Howard can find the end zone 10 times over the course of the year, he's a flex option in standard.

 

Adrian Peterson (RB, WAS)

Adrian Peterson surprisingly re-signed with Washington in the offseason, and the number-eight rusher of all-time isn't signing to sit on the bench.

Like with Howard, Peterson will see most of his fantasy opportunities come in the red zone this year. Derrius Guice will get a lot of early-down work and Chris Thompson is still the pass-catching back, but it will be Peterson who gets the coaching staff's trust when it matters.

Last season, Peterson had his first 1000 yard season since 2015. He also found the end zone eight times, with seven of those coming on the ground. Five of those came off runs from inside the 10-yard line, with the other two rushing touchdowns coming on big plays. Overall, Peterson had 31 red zone carries out of the team's 53 red zone rushing attempts. If you take quarterback runs out of the mix, Peterson had all but 10 of the team's red zone carries.

Peterson will find it tougher to reach 1,000 yards again this year and he probably won't see more than 20 or so targets, but I'd expect him to once again dominate the team's red zone touches. If Dwayne Haskins winds up as the team's starting quarterback, Haskins' lack of mobility means we're likely to see fewer plays that put the quarterback in a position to run the ball in the red zone, giving Peterson a few more shots to sneak the ball into the end zone.

It's possible Peterson just falls off a cliff this year. He's a 34-year-old running back with an injury history. I get that. But if he stays healthy, his touchdown upside is hard to ignore.

 

DeSean Jackson (WR, PHI)

Of the top 50 players in receiving yardage last season, Jackson was tied with Josh Gordon for the fewest receptions. But since Josh Gordon's NFL future is once again in serious doubt, let's talk about Jackson.

Jackson played in just 12 games, catching 41 passes. That extrapolates out to 54-ish receptions over a full season, which would still put him near the bottom of receptions among the top-50 receiving yardage leaders. Jackson's a big-play guy. He averaged 18.9 yards per catch, the most among qualified players.

Jackson will never be a high-volume guy. He's never had a 100-reception season and has hit 80 just three times. But he's led the NFL in yards per catch four times in his career and has the kind of big-play potential that makes him a fantasy asset even at that low overall volume. Jackson averages 67.1 yards per game in his career, and in standard scoring, you'll take that as a guy you can flex in when you factor in the possibility for breakaway touchdown receptions.

You can also argue that Jackson is playing with the best quarterback he's had since he last played for the Eagles. In his post-Philly stints, he's caught touchdowns from Kirk Cousins, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy, Jameis Winston, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Those are fine quarterbacks. Heck, Kirk Cousins was really good in Washington. But Wentz was playing at an MVP level the last time he was healthy. He has the potential to be the next quarterback to ascend to that top tier.

Even last year when he played 11 games and looked a little rusty at times, Wentz was still second in the NFL in accuracy rating. He was ninth in air yards per attempt. Know what that (potentially) means? Long, accurate throws to his big-play receiver, DeSean Jackson.

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