4 Fantasy PPR League Standouts for 2012
Point-per-reception (PPR) leagues are to the fantasy world what Michelle Williams was to Destiny's Child - worth the time to look into, but often swept under the rug because of the Beyonces (standard format leagues) and Kelly Rowlands (auction leagues) of the world. And just like you can't look at Williams' accomplishments the same way that you can Mrs. Jay-Z's, the idea that all leagues and drafts can be approached the same way is certifiably false. It just doesn't work that way. I mean, Williams is an actress, successful gospel singer, and... sorry, forgot where I was for a second. PPR leagues are absolutely worth your time; you just have to approach them with a separate set of drafting rules. If you're not prepared for a world where Darren Sproles could be a top five back, you need not apply. But for those of you who are a bit more adventurous, read on to get some tips about how to make the Michelle Williams rules work for you.
Note: Below, the numberFire rankings come from our Fantasy Draft Kit, with a standard 10-team league and one RB/WR/TE flex position. The only difference between the two rankings given is one point per reception added. The average draft position is accurate as of 9/3/12.
4 Fantasy PPR League Standouts for 2012
Darren Sproles - New Orleans Saints
Standard League Ranking: #66 Overall (#24 RB)
PPR League Ranking: #17 Overall (#8 RB)
Average Draft Position: #31
Want a back who can stand out, even while PPR leagues are inevitably dominated by receivers? Well, meet Mr. Sproles, and he's not even going until the fourth round of most leagues. In his first season in New Orleans, Sproles was second on the team in targets with 86, finishing behind only Jimmy Graham in that category. That means he was ahead of both Marques Colston, who played 14 games on the season, and Robert Meachem in the number of times Drew Brees looked his way when throwing the ball. When growing up, his hormones must have been focused on his hands and speed rather than his height - Sproles stands at only 5'6". But with a catch rate that has never been below 75% in any of his six pro seasons, Sproles has become a master at making his small body work for him. And with numberFire projecting him to have 77.9 catches on the year, he'll add an incredible amount of value if he's still there in even the top of the third round.
Roddy White - Atlanta Falcons
Standard League Ranking: #11 Overall (#2 WR)
PPR League Ranking: #4 Overall (#1 WR)
Average Draft Position: #32
Roddy White, the #4 overall player in all of fantasy? Believe it. According to the numberFire stats, White is projected to have an incredible 292.74 points in PPR leagues this season, more than all but two running backs (Foster and Rice) and three quarterbacks (Rodgers, Brady, and Brees). The main reason for this is the sheer number of passes expected to come his way. White led all NFL players with 181 targets last season, nine more than Wes Welker and 23 more than third-place Calvin Johnson. His catch rate wasn't too impressive - only 56% last season - but that seems to be somewhat of an anomaly considering he was at 64% the season before. And in case you thought last year might have been an isolated incident while Matt Ryan had a career year, just know that pride of UAB has been doing this for a while. He also finished first in the NFL with 179 targets in 2010 and second with 165 targets in 2009.
Eric Decker - Denver Broncos
Standard League Ranking: #61 Overall (#19 WR)
PPR League Ranking: #25 Overall (#10 WR)
Average Draft Position: #50
Some quick facts about Eric Decker for those of you who may be uninformed. Mr. Decker is currently engaged to country singer Jessie James. Decker grew up in Cold Spring, Minnesota, home of the Cold Spring Brewing Company. And oh yeah, he led the Broncos with 95 targets as a rookie even with Tim "Misfiring Cannon of an Arm" Tebow as his QB. I'd say with Peyton Manning now in town, his prospects look even a little bit better. In the fourth or fifth round of a PPR league, Decker represents the ultimate upside: a possession receiver whose role could potentially skyrocket this season, with 90+ receptions not too far out of the realm of possibility. Plus, you'd have the advantage of naming your team after Jessie James. That's not an advantage to be taken lightly.
Brandon Pettigrew - Detroit Lions
Standard League Ranking: #67 Overall (#8 TE)
PPR League Ranking: #48 Overall (#8 TE)
Average Draft Position: #79
Since numberFire CEO Nik Bonaddio was on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and all, we like our trivia questions here at numberFire. So let me put on my best Regis Philbin impersonation and give you an easy $100-type question right here.
C would be the easy answer, right? Well, I guess it could be A, considering how well Gates has done. It might even be D, considering how injury prone the Cowboys receivers were last season. But it couldn't be B. Never B. Ahh, but as you may have guessed considering the bold text up there, it is indeed Mr. Pettigrew. Two targets ahead of Gronk's 124, Pettigrew developed into a favorite target for Matthew Stafford last season, finishing a surprising eighth in the entire NFL with 83 catches. A lot of his eventual value will depend on Stafford's health, but numberFire projects him to get a high reception total again (74.8), which would make him an incredible option past the top two guys at TE.