The 2019 fantasy football season is here, which means it’s time to start talking position rankings.
If you’re in a points per reception (PPR) league, you need to approach your draft differently than a standard league. No, you don’t dismiss studs like DeAndre Hopkins and Todd Gurley, but you do need to put an extra incentive on identifying players who might not put up gaudy numbers but still are focal points of their respective offenses. Essentially, “sleepers” are far more important in PPR leagues.
Let’s look at five players to target and five to avoid (in no particular order) in PPR leagues:
1. Jaylen Samuels, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
This is as much about Samuels being a top-notch injury handcuff as it is his actual usage in the offense. Samuels looked great when filling in for James Conner last season, and finished his rookie campaign with 256 rushing yards on 56 carries. More important for PPR leagues, he caught 26 balls for 199 yards and three touchdowns. The Steelers have been open about their commitment to giving Samuels a bigger role in the offense, raising optimism for Tarik Cohen-like numbers, if everything goes right.
2. Jakobi Meyers, WR, New England Patriots
Yes, we’re buying the hype. Meyers looked excellent during training camp and has carried it over into the preseason. The Patriots also are treating the undrafted rookie like someone who will have a big role in Week 1. A shifty, possession receiver, Meyers also has the ability to make big plays down the field and make defenders miss in the open field. Take a late-round flyer on him and hope he and Tom Brady develop great chemistry.
3. Adam Humphries, WR, Tennessee Titans
Humphries caught 76 balls for 816 yards and five touchdowns last season in what was a breakout campaign for the 26-year-old. Now with the Titans, Humphries has a chance to have an even larger role than what he had in Tampa Bay. Of course, Tennessee’s iffy passing game could limit Humphries’ value.
4. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
Moore looked solid during his rookie season and should see an uptick in usage this year with ex-No. 1 wideout Devin Funchess now with the Indianapolis Colts. Moore likely will be Cam Newton’s No. 1 option which should lead to plenty of targets and plenty of receptions.
5. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
This might seem obvious, given how valuable Ertz is in all fantasy formats. However, Ertz is especially great in PPR leagues and should be drafted higher than both Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Ertz finished with 116 catches last season, 13 more than Kelce and 28 more than Kittle.
1. Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
A perennial PPR stud, we’re iffy on Edelman this season solely because of his age (33) and injury history. We also expect the Patriots to make a concerted effort to work in some of their younger wideouts in an attempt to lighten Edelman’s load. He’s still is worthy of a spot on your roster, but don’t reach like you did in previous years.
2. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Ridley was a stud in his rookie season, racking up 821 yards and 10 touchdowns while showing impressive chemistry with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. However, his 64 receptions illustrate that Julie Jones (rightfully) remains the focal point of the offense, putting a limit on Ridley’s PPR value. He obviously is worth drafting, just not nearly as high in PPR leagues as in standard formats.
3. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Mack is a fine rusher, but he’s not the best receiving back in Indianapolis. That honor goes to Nyheim Hines, who caught 63 passes for 425 yards and two scores last season. Hines is the clear passing-down back, which hurts Mack’s value.
4. O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When the Buccaneers target tight ends on got-to-have-it plays, they go to Cameron Brate. When they want chunk plays and/or touchdowns, they look at Howard. Translation: Howard is a standard league stud, but just an OK option in PPR leagues. If the Bucs trade Brate gets before the season, however,, everything could change.
5. Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots
Michel was absurdly one-dimensional last season, catching just seven passes in what was an otherwise great rookie campaign. The Patriots have used him in more passing-down situations in training camp and in the preseason, but leopards don’t change their spots that quickly. We expect rookie Damien Harris to get a lot of run in New England’s passing attack, hurting Michel’s fantasy upside in the process.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images