Fantasy Football 2012: An Early Primer for Points Per Reception-League Drafts

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Fantasy Football 2012: An Early Primer for Points Per Reception-League Drafts
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In 2011, New England's Wes Welker enjoyed top-five status, among receivers, in catches (122), targets (173), receiving yards (1,573) and touchdowns (9).

The calendar may read June 18, but it's never too early to mix in a Points Per Reception-league primer for the season ahead.

For starters, here's an off-the-cuff listing of the 50 most viable assets with PPR leagues—where the rankings here typically bear little resemblance to ones from standard-scoring leagues.

Draft strategies are different, as well. In standard leagues, I usually adhere to the principle of taking four running backs in the first seven rounds—and perhaps five by Round 9.

But for PPR drafts, I never deviate from the 4-2-1 code (first seven picks) of four targets-driven receivers, two pass-friendly running backs and either a top-notch quarterback or top-four tight end. 

 

Part I

1. RB Arian Foster, Texans
2. RB Ray Rice, Ravens
3. RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles
4. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions
5. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
6. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
7. WR Wes Welker, Patriots
8. RB Chris Johnson, Titans
9. RB Matt Forte, Bears
10. QB Drew Brees, Saints
11. QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
12. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
13. TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
14. RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers
15. TE Jimmy Graham, Saints
16. RB Fred Jackson, Bills
17. WR Andre Johnson, Texans
18. WR Roddy White, Falcons
19. RB Darren McFadden, Raiders
20. RB Roy Helu, Redskins
21. WR Percy Harvin, Vikings (69 targets/8 TDs in his last seven games)
22. WR Mike Wallace, Steelers
23. RB Darren Sproles, Saints
24. QB Tom Brady, Patriots
25. RB DeMarco Murray, Cowboys

 

Part II

26. QB Cam Newton, Panthers
27. RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
28. WR Victor Cruz, Giants
39. RB Steven Jackson, Rams
30. RB Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
31. WR Brandon Marshall, Bears
32. WR A.J. Green, Bengals
33. WR Greg Jennings, Packers
34. RB Frank Gore, 49ers
35. WR Jordy Nelson, Packers
36. RB Javhid Best, Lions
37. WR Steve Smith, Panthers
38. WR Miles Austin, Cowboys
39. TE Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
40. RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
41. WR Marques Colston, Saints
42. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings
43. RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers (drew 61 targets last year)
44. WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
45. RB Trent Richardson, Browns
46. RB Reggie Bush, Dolphins
47. QB Michael Vick, Eagles
48. WR Steve Johnson, Bills
49. QB Eli Manning, Giants
50. RB Michael Turner, Falcons

 

Four Quick Takes

1. This summer, I pledge not to waste much time debating the pecking order for fantasy football's top three running backs—LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice and the amazing Arian Foster. If Rice's contract holdout should consume much of the preseason, Maurice Jones-Drew could easily step in and fill the third spot of elitism. In other words, you really can't miss with Foster, Rice or McCoy in any league—just close your eyes, make a pick and hope for the best.

2. The three biggest risers in the PPR rankings—compared to my standard-scoring Top 75—are Wes Welker (Patriots), Roy Helu (Redskins) and Darren Sproles (Saints). Helu, in particular, is a solid bet for 1,300 total yards and 53 receptions.

3. Roddy White finished with 100 catches, 1,296 yards and eight touchdowns last year—arguably the second-greatest fantasy season of his career. But he also had a 17-game streak of nine or fewer catches from 2010-11, the type of quirky, face-cringing run that gives one pause when conceiving top-five rankings.

4. In his five healthiest games last year (Weeks 1-3/Houston's two playoff games), Andre Johnson drew 56 targets and caught 34 balls for 517 yards and three touchdowns—with per-game averages of 11.1 targets, 6.9 receptions, 103.4 yards and 0.6 TDs. Bottom line: I hold no grudge toward the many doubters who cite Johnson as an injury or age risk (he's 30 now), but don't be surprised when he finishes the season as a top-five receiver.

 

Practice Makes Perfect

The Fantasy Blog should always be your primary source for voluminous information leading up to fantasy drafts, but if you're in the mood to participate in a LIVE mock draft on the Web—while learning not to reach for Joe McKnight before Round 12—here are the best destinations for real-time mocking:

 

Target Practice: Wide Receivers

A receiver is only as good as his quarterback—and the opportunities he gets to make a catch (known as targets). Here are last season's target leaders:

1. Roddy White, Falcons—179 Targets
2. Wes Welker, Patriots—173 Targets
3. Calvin Johnson, Lions—158 Targets
4. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals—154 Targets
5. Brandon Lloyd, Broncos/Rams (now Patriots)—150
6. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs—142
7. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins (now Bears)—141
8. Pierre Garcon, Colts (now Redskins)—134
9. Steve Johnson, Bills—134
10. Hakeem Nicks, Giants—133
11. Reggie Wayne, Colts—132
12. Victor Cruz, Giants—131
13. Steve Smith, Panthers—129
14. Antonio Brown, Steelers—124
15. Mike Williams, Buccaneers—124
16. Nate Washington, Titans—121
17. Percy Harvin, Vikings—120
18. Greg Little, Browns—120
19. Jabar Gaffney, Redskins (now Patriots)—115
20. A.J. Green, Bengals—115
21. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders—115
22. Vincent Jackson, Chargers (now Buccaneers)—115
23. Michael Crabtree, 49ers—114
24. Mike Wallace, Steelers—114
25. Nate Burleson, Lions—110
26. Marques Colston, Saints—107
27. Anquan Boldin, Ravens—106
28. Jerome Simpson, Bengals (now Vikings)—105
29. DeSean Jackson, Eagles—104
30. Dez Bryant, Cowboys—103
31. Santonio Holmes, Jets—101
32. Greg Jennings, Packers—101
33. Steve Breaston, Chiefs—98
34. Andre Roberts, Cardinals—98
35. Early Doucet, Cardinals—97
36. David Nelson, Bills—97
37. Plaxico Burress, Jets (now free agent)—96
38. Austin Collie, Colts—96
39. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles—96
40. Jordy Nelson, Packers—96

 

Target Practice: Tight Ends

Regarding tight ends, here are last season's 20 targets leaders. As an aside, I still can't fathom a tight end almost hitting the magical 150 mark.

1. Jimmy Graham, Saints—149 Targets
2. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions—126 Targets
3. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots—124 Targets
4. Kellen Winslow Jr., Bucs (now Seahawks)—121 Targets
5. Jason Witten, Cowboys—117
6. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons—116
7. Dustin Keller, Jets—115
8. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots—113
9. Brent Celek, Eagles—97
10. Vernon Davis, 49ers—95
11. Jermichael Finley, Packers—92
12. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals—92
13. Ed Dickson, Ravens—89
14. Greg Olsen, Panthers—89
15. Fred Davis, Redskins—88
16. Antonio Gates, Chargers—88
17. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars—85
18. Owen Daniels, Texans—84
19. Jared Cook, Titans—81
20. Heath Miller, Steelers—74

 

Target Practice: Running Backs

Last but not least, these 17 active running backs tallied 50 or more targets in 2011:

1. Darren Sproles, Saints—111 Targets
2. Ray Rice, Ravens—104 Targets
3. Chris Johnson, Titans—79 Targets
4. Mike Tolbert, Chargers (now Panthers)—79 Targets
5. Matt Forte, Bears—76
6. Arian Foster, Texans—72
7. LeSean McCoy, Eagles—69
8. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars—64
9. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers—61
10. Roy Helu, Redskins—60
11. Ryan Mathews, Chargers—59
12. Pierre Thomas, Saints—59
13. Steven Jackson, Rams—58
14. Kregg Lumpkin, Buccaneers—53
15. C.J. Spiller, Bills—53
16. Reggie Bush, Dolphins—52
17. Fred Jackson, Bills—50

Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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