X
Lost password?

Don't have an account?
Gain Access Now

X

Receive free daily analysis

NFL
NBA
NHL
NASCAR
CFB
MLB
MMA
PGA
ESPORTS
BETTING

Already have an account? Log In

X

Forgot Password


POPULAR FANTASY TOOLS

Expert Advice
Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Draft Rankings
Draft Simulator
Enter League Settings
Value Picks
Player Comparisons
News and Alerts

The Value of RB Targets in PPR Leagues

austin ekeler fantasy football rankings NFL DFS lineup picks

If you have followed my work at all, you know I am all about running backs that can catch passes. If you listen to RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (and if you’re not you should be!) you have most definitely heard me talk up running backs that catch passes and knock those who don’t. It's why for years I was constantly the low-guy on Derrick Henry. It’s why I think ranking Nick Chubb anywhere in the top-five is a mistake. I want pass-catching backs! 

This is not about personal preference, it is because in PPR it is a game-changer. Something I say a lot on the radio is that the margin for error is so much smaller for those RBs who do not catch passes. What I mean by that is they have to be so great not just as a runner, but also by scoring a bunch of touchdowns, to make up for it.

I want to dive even deeper and fully explain why I feel that way, which is exactly what I will explain here.

Featured Promo: Looking for some fantasy football action? Join a dynasty startup league over at FFPC. Sign up today and get $25 off any FFPC league. FFPC is the leader in dynasty leagues and has standard, superflex and best ball formats. Dynasty not your thing? No worries, FFPC has Best Ball leagues as well. Join A League Today!

 

Why Do RB Targets Matter So Much 

Simply put, RB targets matter because they are nearly three times as valuable as a handoff. Last season RBs as a whole scored 0.65 fantasy points per rushing attempt, compared to 1.51 fantasy points per target. That is on par with previous seasons as well. Think about it like this: in PPR, which is becoming more and more the norm in fantasy, you are rewarded one point per catch. That means before any yards or touchdowns are added on, if your running back catches his target, he has already scored you a fantasy point. Plus, since those RB targets are usually close to the line of scrimmage, they are much easier to convert than a downfield throw.

Last season, running backs as a whole caught 76 percent of their targets. So, on average, for three out of every four targets, a running back would have to rush for 10 yards, just to equate that one catch. Plus, last season, backs as a whole averaged 5.7 yards per target. So now a back needs to rush for 15 yards, just to equate one of those targets. Unfortunately, we know that is not the case. Running backs last season averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Basically, it takes about three to four carries to equate to every catch a running back makes. 

The fact that running backs scored over three times the amount of rushing touchdowns as receiving is what makes it a little closer. Last year RBs scored 385 times on the ground and just 101 through the air. But still, those TDs help to raise the point per carry number to 0.65, still well short of the 1.51 point per target. These numbers cannot be disputed, but there will always be a population of fantasy football players that think the best RBs are the big, burly backs that are not afraid to run through contact. But that can be a mistake. 

The best fantasy RBs are the dual-threat RBs. Any back that can see over 200 carries and over 70 targets are going to be studs for fantasy football. This is why Christian McCaffrey is such a cheat code in fantasy. No one would debate that. But, it's when having to chose between those backs that primarily run vs do more damage in the passing game that it becomes a debate. It’s why for instance, I would draft Austin Ekeler and his TD concerns over Nick Chubb and his pass-catching concerns. You can make the case that Chubb is the safer back of the two, but, his path to finishing as a Top-5 fantasy RB is harder. The path for any RB to find fantasy success with a lack of pass-catching is tough. Or as I like to say, the margin for error is so much smaller.

 

Why the Margin of Error Is Smaller for RBs with Receiving Woes 

The objective in fantasy football is to score as many fantasy points as you possibly can. You really do not care how the points are scored, as long as your team has more than your opponents. So it should not matter if an RB scores a bunch on the ground or through the air, but for some reason it feels like RBs who do so as a traditional runner are viewed as “safer” when in fact, the opposite is true. Backs who do not catch a lot of passes are at a disadvantage. 

Over the last five seasons, the necessary PPR points to finish as an RB1 (Top-12 running back) is 217. Of the backs that have scored 217-plus fantasy points in this span, they have averaged 73 targets, 57 catches, 488 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns. In that same span, there have only been five backs who reeled in fewer than 30 catches (and three with fewer than 20 receptions). Of those five RB1s with fewer than 30 catches, they averaged 1,314 rushing yards and 16.4 touchdowns per season. Those are fantastic numbers for any running back.

If you draft a running back as your RB1 you are basically saying two things about that back: 1. You are confident they will catch over 30 passes, but more around the average of 54 catches. Or, 2. They are going to rush for about 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns. One threshold is so much easier to obtain than the other. If you drafted a running back and they put up 1,200 rush yards and 10 touchdowns with 20 catches, that back had a great season. But they still fell way short of the necessary results to be an RB1 in PPR formats. 

Another issue with backs who do not catch a ton of passes is their ceiling is so much lower. If you draft an RB who is going to catch fewer than 30 balls in the Top-5, you are drafting them at their absolute ceiling. Think of it like this: in 2020 Derrick Henry rushed for 2,027 yards, the fifth-most in NFL history and put up 17 touchdowns, tied for the second-most among all running backs, but he still just finished as the RB3. I get that he is one of the safest backs in the league, but understand if you draft him third overall, you are drafting him at his ceiling (but I get paying up for the safety he brings).

For those drafting Nick Chubb as a Top-10 RB, you are drafting him right around his ceiling. Yes, he finished last season as the RB11 despite only playing 12 games, but he scored 12 TD in those games. So this season you are either expecting him to put up 17 touchdowns, or close to it or are banking on him catching more passes even with Kareem Hunt still on the roster. If you do not believe neither of those things will happen, do not draft Chubb inside the Top-10 RBs. 

Want to win in fantasy football? Score the most points. And the easiest path to doing so is by targeting those backs who will be heavily utilized in the passing game, since a target is worth 2.5 carries, on average. 

Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio



Download Our Free News & Alerts Mobile App

Like what you see? Download our updated fantasy football app for iPhone and Android with 24x7 player news, injury alerts, rankings, starts/sits & more. All free!




Win More With RotoBaller

Be sure to also check out all of our other daily fantasy football articles and analysis to help you set those winning lineups, including this new RotoBaller YouTube video:

More Fantasy Football Analysis




POPULAR FANTASY TOOLS

Expert Advice
Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Draft Rankings
Draft Simulator
Enter League Settings
Value Picks
Player Comparisons
News and Alerts

REAL-TIME FANTASY NEWS

MLB39 mins ago

Cubs-Cardinals Postponed On Friday Night
Luke Kornet3 hours ago

Doubtful On Saturday
Tyrese Haliburton4 hours ago

Questionable For Game 3 On Saturday
Zach Neto4 hours ago

Hopefully Avoids Serious Injury
Donovan Mitchell4 hours ago

"Happy" In Cleveland
Artturi Lehkonen5 hours ago

Doubtful For Training Camp
Roope Hintz5 hours ago

In Contention To Return To Action On Saturday
Robbie Ray5 hours ago

To Face Hitters Saturday
Sergei Bobrovsky5 hours ago

Looks To Continue Hot Streak In Game 2 Against Rangers
Austin Riley5 hours ago

Unlikely To Return Until Monday
Igor Shesterkin5 hours ago

Attempts To Turn Around Form On Friday
Triston Casas5 hours ago

To Take Ground Balls
Filip Chytil5 hours ago

An Option To Join Top Line Friday
Royce Lewis5 hours ago

To Start Rehab Assignment On Saturday
Kaapo Kakko5 hours ago

In Danger Of Being Scratched For Game 2
Dean Kremer5 hours ago

Orioles Place Dean Kremer On 15-Day Injured List
Adley Rutschman5 hours ago

Colton Cowser Sitting Friday
James Wood6 hours ago

Has Hamstring Tightness
Kodai Senga6 hours ago

Shut Down For 3-5 Days
Josh Lowe6 hours ago

Not Ready To Return
Austin Riley6 hours ago

Not Returning On Friday
Reese Olson6 hours ago

To Pitch On Saturday
Wyatt Langford9 hours ago

Could Be Back With Rangers On Monday
Pat Freiermuth9 hours ago

Developing Chemistry With New QB
Russell Wilson9 hours ago

Looking Good At OTAs
Caleb Williams9 hours ago

Has Struggled At OTAs
Christian Watson9 hours ago

Hoping To Move Past Hamstring Issues
Anthony Richardson10 hours ago

Won't Change His Playing Style
AJ Smith-Shawver10 hours ago

Braves Place AJ Smith-Shawver On 15-Day Injured List
Lane Thomas10 hours ago

Could Return As Early As Friday
Sean Murphy11 hours ago

Goes Deep In Another Rehab Game
Julius Randle11 hours ago

Knicks Not Actively Looking To Trade Julius Randle
Blake Corum22 hours ago

Rams Seeking Three-Down Role From Blake Corum
Javonte Williams22 hours ago

Newcomers Threatening Javonte Williams' Role
Samaje Perine22 hours ago

Jaleel McLaughlin Facing Threat To Workload
Mike Conley24 hours ago

Questionable For Friday Evening
Tyrese Haliburton24 hours ago

Dealing With Left Hamstring Soreness
Tyrese Haliburton1 day ago

Won't Return On Thursday Night
Zack Wheeler1 day ago

Another Quality Start For Zack Wheeler Thursday
Kevin Gausman1 day ago

Fans Season-High 10 In Third Win
Eloy Jiménez1 day ago

Eloy Jimenez Likely Out At Least One Month
Michael Conforto1 day ago

Unlikely To Return This Weekend
Luka Doncic1 day ago

Probable For Game 2
Luke Kornet1 day ago

Questionable To Return
Kristaps Porzingis1 day ago

Still Not Practicing
Courtland Sutton1 day ago

Not At OTAs
Travis Etienne Jr.1 day ago

Jaguars Plan To Ease Travis Etienne Jr.'s Workload
Derrick Henry1 day ago

Ravens Not Putting A Cap On Derrick Henry's Workload
Rome Odunze1 day ago

Expected To Practice Next Week
Marvin Harrison Jr.1 day ago

Cardinals Sign Marvin Harrison Jr. To Rookie Deal
Jameson Williams1 day ago

A "Man On A Mission"
Darren Waller1 day ago

Absent At OTAs
Daniel Jones1 day ago

Has No Doubt He'll Be Ready For Week 1
Dameon Pierce1 day ago

Texans Still Have Plans For Dameon Pierce
Deshaun Watson1 day ago

Throwing Every Other Day
Naz Reid2 days ago

Records Full Line In Game 1 Defeat
Karl-Anthony Towns2 days ago

Limited To 16 Points In West Final Opener
Anthony Edwards2 days ago

Has Mixed Night In Game 1 Against Dallas
Jaden McDaniels2 days ago

Leads Timberwolves With 24 Points In Game 1 Against Dallas
P.J. Washington2 days ago

Plays Effective Game Against Minnesota Wednesday
Kyrie Irving2 days ago

Has Big First Half In Game 1 Against Minnesota
Luka Doncic2 days ago

Tops All Scorers In Game 1 With 33 Points
Dallas Cowboys2 days ago

Cowboys Flirting With Backfield Committee
Geno Smith2 days ago

Has "Really Good Grasp" On New Offense
Anthony Richardson2 days ago

Throwing At OTAs
Jayson Tatum2 days ago

Could Get Time At Center
Kristaps Porzingis2 days ago

Out Again For Game 2
Xavier Tillman2 days ago

Sr. Questionable For Game 2
Bojan Bogdanovic2 days ago

Has Surgery
Si Woo Kim3 days ago

Misses First Cut In 2024
Nicolai Hojgaard3 days ago

Debuts At Charles Schwab Challenge
Harry Hall3 days ago

Returns To Charles Schwab Challenge
Grayson Murray3 days ago

Looks To Continue Playing Well At Colonial
Garrick Higgo3 days ago

Struggling For Form Heading To Colonial
Scottie Scheffler3 days ago

A Favorite To Win At Colonial
Rafael Campos3 days ago

A Risky Play At Charles Schwab Challenge
Lucas Glover3 days ago

A Healthy Option At Charles Schwab Challenge
Hayden Springer3 days ago

Can Hayden Springer Turn Things Around At Colonial?
Tyson Alexander3 days ago

Needs More Than A Putter At Colonial
PGA3 days ago

J.T. Poston Is Risky But Has A Lot To Like At Charles Schwab Challenge
Mark Hubbard3 days ago

Trending Up Ahead Of Charles Schwab Challenge
Alejandro Tosti3 days ago

Headed For Trouble At Colonial
Chan Kim3 days ago

A Potential Value At Charles Schwab Challenge
PGA3 days ago

S.H. Kim A Sneaky Option At Colonial
Justin Suh3 days ago

A Player To Avoid At Charles Schwab Challenge
PGA3 days ago

Matthi Schmid Looks To Regain Form At Colonial
Filip Chytil4 days ago

Appears Ready To Rock For Eastern Conference Finals
Jani Hakanpaa4 days ago

Still Not Practicing
Roope Hintz4 days ago

Skates Monday, Still Day-To-Day
Sam Lafferty4 days ago

And Ilya Mikheyev Drawing Into Game 7 Lineup
Thatcher Demko4 days ago

Unavailable For Game 7, Arturs Silovs Will Start
Brock Boeser4 days ago

Out Indefinitely With Blood Clots
Joey Logano4 days ago

Dominates All-Star Race
Ryan Fox4 days ago

Continues Up-And-Down 2024
Denny Hamlin4 days ago

Falls Short Of Victory At The All-Star Race
Ryan Blaney4 days ago

Rallies For Fifth-Place Finish At North Wilkesboro
Patton Kizzire4 days ago

Showing Improvement The Past Month
Kyle Busch4 days ago

Ricky Stenhouse Jr Punches Kyle Busch After Lap 2 Crash at All-Star Race
Kyle Busch4 days ago

Wrecked Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. at All-Star Race, Then Said He "Sucks"
Christiaan Bezuidenhout4 days ago

Likely To Bounce Back This Week
Keegan Bradley4 days ago

Attempts To Continue Momentum From Valhalla
Edson Barboza4 days ago

Lerone Murphy Dominates To Defeat Edson Barboza
Carlston Harris4 days ago

Gets Knocked Out At UFC Vegas 92
Khaos Williams4 days ago

Scores Knockout Win At UFC Vegas 92
Luana Pinheiro4 days ago

Loses Second Fight In A Row
Angela Hill4 days ago

Scores First Submission Win
NASCAR4 days ago

Bubba Wallace Exceeds Value In DFS At North Wilkesboro
Chase Elliott4 days ago

Finishes Eighth In All-Star Race
Vinicius Salvador5 days ago

Winless In The UFC
Adrian Yanez5 days ago

Returns To Win Column In A Big Way
Ramiz Brahimaj5 days ago

Doesn't Do Much In UFC Vegas 92 Loss
Themba Gorimbo5 days ago

Wins Lackluster Decision At UFC Vegas 92
Edson Barboza5 days ago

Falls Short At UFC Vegas 92
Christopher Bell5 days ago

Fades Back To 17th At North Wilkesboro
Chris Buescher5 days ago

Winds Up Third At All-Star Race
Tyler Reddick5 days ago

What To Do With Tyler Reddick At North Wilkesboro?
Joey Logano5 days ago

Will Start On The Pole In The 2024 NASCAR All-Star Race
Christopher Bell5 days ago

Should DFS Players Roster Christopher Bell At North Wilkesboro?
William Byron5 days ago

Aims For The Top 10 At North Wilkesboro
Denny Hamlin5 days ago

Is One Of The Top Favorites To Win The All-Star Race
Kyle Larson5 days ago

Will Start From The Rear At North Wilkesboro
Martin Truex Jr5 days ago

. Is One To Watch At North Wilkesboro
Chase Elliott6 days ago

Why Chase Elliott Is A Core Play In DFS This Weekend At North Wilkesboro
Kyle Busch6 days ago

Will Kyle Busch’s Recent Struggles On Short Tracks Continue This Weekend At North Wilkesboro?
Ricky Stenhouse Jr6 days ago

. Likely Not A Factor In All-Star Race
Michael McDowell6 days ago

Could Slide Back At North Wilkesboro
AJ Allmendinger6 days ago

May Struggle In All-Star Race
RANKINGS
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
OF
SP
RP

RANKINGS

QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF

MORE RECENT ARTICLES

 

Second-Year WR Breakouts? 2024 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Risers

The fantasy football action never sleeps at RotoBaller! With early best ball drafts already getting underway, we're taking a look at some potential breakout fantasy football players for the 2024 campaign. RotoBaller's David Rispoli digs into three second-year wide receivers who could turn into fantasy stars in 2024. These sophomore WRs showed flashes of brilliance... Read More


Michael Florio's Football Show - Podcast RotoBaller Network

Florio's Football Show: Love for Levis, Fade Rodgers and Sneaky Targets!

Michael F. Florio is back going over a number of topics this week! Why is he warming up to both Calvin Ridley and Will Levis? He also talks why he is so concerned with Aaron Rodgers, why he loves targeting Kyler Murray and Justin Fields and tries to make sense of the Broncos backfield. All... Read More


Great Value? Five Currently Underrated Players in 2024 Fantasy Football Drafts

We're bringing the fantasy football heat 365 days a year at RotoBaller! With early 2024 best ball drafts already underway, we're looking into the ADP of fantasy football's most impactful players. NFL Network contributor and RotoBaller analyst LaQuan Jones dives into the early ADP of some popular fantasy options. While these players aren't perfect, they... Read More


Pat Freiermuth - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Tight End Winners From the 2024 NFL Offseason

The tight end position, long held captive by Travis Kelce, has become much more interesting. While the tippy-top production has dipped with Kelce getting just a touch older, the general position is much deeper. Last season gave us breakout performances from Sam LaPorta, Trey McBride, and, to a lesser extent, Dalton Kincaid. This season, we’ll... Read More


Caleb Williams - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

2024 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings, Post-NFL Draft: Caleb Williams, Jonathon Brooks, Trey Benson, Brock Bowers, Xavier Worthy, Ray Davis

Howdy, RotoBallers! The 2024 NFL Draft is officially in the books. Which exciting rookies do fantasy managers want to target in upcoming fantasy drafts? Who is fantasy relevant, and should they be prioritized? We've got you covered with our 2024 fantasy football rookie rankings post-NFL Draft edition. Let's see where rookies such as Caleb Williams,... Read More


Najee Harris - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren - Fantasy Football Outlook for Pittsburgh Steelers RBs in 2024

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense will look a little different in 2024. The team will roll with either Russell Wilson or Justin Fields at quarterback this year after a busy offseason. Pittsburgh signed Wilson to a one-year deal in free agency and traded for Fields in March. The Steelers also traded away former first-round pick Kenny Pickett. The one thing that will... Read More


Quinshon Judkins - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, RB, NFL Draft Sleepers

2025 NFL Draft - Early Running Back Prospect Rankings

The 2024 NFL Draft featured a pretty clear weakness at running back. There's maybe one or two players from the 2024 class who project to be a real No. 1 running back in the league. Luckily, the 2025 running back class is one of the best in years, with multiple legitimate NFL RB1s in the class... Read More


Top 24 Wide Receiver Rankings and Tiers for 2024 Fantasy Football

The football season never stops at RotoBaller! With early best ball drafts already taking place, we're digging into our positional rankings for 2024. NFL Network contributor and RotoBaller analyst LaQuan Jones dives into the rankings and tiers for the top 24 fantasy football wide receivers for the upcoming 2024 season. Use this early insight to... Read More


UFL DFS PICKS, FANTASY FOOTBALL, DRAFTKINGS, FANDUEL

UFL DFS Value Plays: Week 9 Bargain Bin for DraftKings Including Jordan Ta'amu, Matt Colburn, Ty Scott, More

Welcome to the Week 9 edition of RotoBaller's UFL DFS Bargain Bin, where the goal is to touch on some potentially mispriced players in DraftKings' Week 9 UFL contests. Each week during the UFL 2024 season and postseason, I’ll give you my thoughts on where there may be some value spots to exploit for DraftKings'... Read More


Going Too Early? Five Overrated Players in 2024 Fantasy Football Drafts

Here at RotoBaller, the fantasy football season is year-round! With early 2024 best ball drafts already underway, we're digging into the ADP of fantasy football's biggest names. NFL Network contributor and RotoBaller analyst LaQuan Jones highlights the early ADP of some popular fantasy options. While these players are great, are they worth their out-of-control ADP... Read More


Terry McLaurin - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Winners From the 2024 NFL Offseason

The first two articles in this series focused on the offseason's quarterback and running-back winners. This series has focused more on quick-hitting analysis than in-depth statistical breakdowns; that trend will continue here with the receiver group. With the increasing popularity of three-receiver sets and higher passing volume in the NFL, the receiver position has a... Read More


Fantasy Football Dynasty Price Check - Christian Watson (2024)

Christian Watson had a very slow start to his NFL career early on in the 2022 season, struggling with injuries and drawing the ire of Aaron Rodgers in his NFL debut. However, Watson went off from Week 10 onward, averaging 65.4 yards per game and finishing as the overall WR4 (standard format) during that span.... Read More


Bijan Robinson - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

Early Half-PPR Rankings for 2024 Fantasy Football: Marvin Harrison Jr., Kenneth Walker, Josh Jacobs, Zack Moss, Drake London, Jayden Reed

Hey, RotoBallers, we are back with more fantasy football rankings! The 202 NFL Draft is over, and free agency is winding down; most players are now reporting to offseason workouts. The heart of fantasy football draft season is a few months away, but it's never too early to start preparing for your fantasy drafts. Today,... Read More