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Is a PPR draft strategy that much different from a standard Fantasy Football strategy?

PPR (points per reception) formats add a little twist to the game, and most high-stakes games are have some sort of PPR scoring structure. Your wide receivers score full point for each reception on DraftKings, and wide receivers on FanDuel score half a point for each reception that they haul in. Receivers aren’t the only players who can haul in passes, so running backs and tight ends are also able to take advantage of PPR formats.

Even though a PPR league may resemble a standard scoring league in many ways, that point per reception rule really can freak some people out. It can push a player like Antonio Brown into becoming the second pick of draft, and you will generally see wide receivers fly off the board much quicker than in standard drafts.

It can seem a little intimidating to transfer over from standard leagues to PPR leagues, but the So-Called Fantasy Experts have you covered. We will help you navigate the ins and outs of PPR leagues.

Let’s take a look at what to focus on and what to avoid your first time in a PPR draft.

Don’t Freak Out!

I was in a PPR draft about a month ago where Rob Gronkowski was the first player off the board, and this was not a free or $10 draft. I think the reasoning behind the pick was the fact that Jimmy Garoppolo would most likely heavily rely on Gronk if Tom Brady was on the sidelines. Gronkowski is the best weapon on offense for the New England Patriots, but that doesn’t mean you want draft him as the first pick of the draft!

You are going to see a lot of people freak out and draft a receiver very early. If a receiver is drafted with the second pick in the draft, there is probably going to be a herd mentality that starts to form. Other people will not want to miss out on owning receivers who are important and heavily targeted, so they will spend very early picks on Brown, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas.

A PPR league does not change the fact that there are only a handful of elite running back talent: Eddie Lacy, Adrian Peterson, Le’Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles. You can argue about DeMarco Murray, Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy if you want, but there is no way I am passing on any of the first five running backs I listed if I have a chance to grab them. You can’t find those types of players later in your draft.

Fantasy players also overlook the fact that most of those guys are pretty solid as pas-catching backs. Lacy finished 2014 with 42 receptions and four receiving touchdowns, Lynch totaled 37 receptions and four receiving touchdowns, Charles hauled 40 receptions and five receiving touchdowns and Bell went crazy with 83 receptions. A wide receiver is limited to how many passes he can catch and outside of the return game, he can only score Fantasy owners points by catching the ball. Running backs, however, can balance poor rushing performances with strong receiving totals. Forte didn’t always have the most productive day on the ground, but he more than made up for it by being very active in the passing attack.

You may see a lot of people skip over elite running back talent, but you shouldn’t follow the herd just because it seems safe.

Players Who Can Put Up Large Total-Yard Numbers

For standard scoring leagues, Giovani Bernard posted a decent game in Week 16 of the 2014 season: 36 rushing yards, 45 receiving yards and a touchdown. If you add three points for the 30 yards rushing, four points for the 40 receiving yards and add the touchdown (six points), Bernard scored 13 points in standard leagues. That isn’t bad, but how did he do in a full point per reception league? Bernard caught five passes in his Week 16 performance, so Bernard would have finished with 18 points in full point per reception leagues.

Since you only get points for yards and touchdowns in standard scoring leagues, a lot rides on your player finding the end zone each week. In PPR leagues, however, savvy Fantasy Football players can rely on dual-threat backs to offer big performances even if they don’t score a touchdown. Darren Sproles and Danny Woodhead may not rush for more than 400 yards this season, but a PPR Draft strategy would be to target these backs because they can offer a lot in terms of total yards. Chip Kelly wants to get Sproles on the field more and the veteran went off in Week 2 last season for seven receptions and 152 receiving yards. Woodhead totaled 76 receptions in 2013, and he is expected to return to a big role in the passing attack this season because Melvin Gordon will primarily handle the rushing duties.

Receptions start to add up for running backs who many not be involved in the majority of the rushing plays.

Targeting Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

I know I’ve spent the majority of time talking about running backs, so what are some tips when you want to target wide receivers and tight ends?

One thing to avoid is players who are not very consistent. DeSean Jackson is a boom-or-bust type of player each week, but he doesn’t offer enough in PPR formats to be relied on heavily. He may finish a game with over 100 receiving yards, but it may only require him two catches to do it. Compare that with the guy who finishes a game with seven receptions for 100 yards and you have a big difference.

You also want to focus on players who are considered “safety blankets.” Even with the addition of Jeremy Maclin, I don’t see Alex Smith chucking the ball down the field all game. He will rely on Travis Kelce for a short and intermediate passes, and Kelce could average five-seven receptions per game. If he does, that can be the equivalent of touchdown each game just by catching the ball. Look at first down stats from last year to see who a quarterback relied on to move the chains.

While a PPR Draft Strategy can differ slightly from a regular draft strategy, you don’t need to have a crazy plan in order to draft a solid roster.

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