Fantasy Football 2014: Top Players, PPR Draft Strategy and Mock Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2014

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17:   Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Everybody plays fantasy a little differently. Some people swear by PPR, while others will never stray from standard-scoring leagues. Some people dip their toes into IDP leagues. Some love keepers and dynasty leagues.

In my main league, my seven friends and I play a standard-scoring keeper league and start two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers, two tight ends, a defense, a kicker and two RB/WR/TE flexes while carrying a bench of nine players. It's our little twist on a tried-and-true formula. 

However you play, we all need advice. So below, I'll try to offer a little bit for both standard-scoring traditionalists and PPR lovers, including my top 50 players in standard leagues but also an entire section on PPR strategy. 

See, we can all get along. 


Fantasy Rankings

Fantasy Top 50
Draft SlotPlayerTeamPosition
1LeSean McCoyPhiladelphia EaglesRB
2Adrian PetersonMinnesota VikingsRB
3Jamaal CharlesKansas City ChiefsRB
4Matt ForteChicago BearsRB
5Peyton ManningDenver BroncosQB
6Marshawn LynchSeattle SeahawksRB
7Jimmy GrahamNew Orleans SaintsTE
8Calvin JohnsonDetroit LionsWR
9Eddie LacyGreen Bay PackersRB
10Drew BreesNew Orleans SaintsQB
11Aaron RodgersGreen Bay PackersQB
12Arian FosterHouston TexansRB
13A.J. GreenCincinnati BengalsWR
14Demaryius ThomasDenver BroncosWR
15Doug MartinTampa Bay BuccaneersRB
16Zac StacySt. Louis RamsRB
17Dez BryantDallas CowboysWR
18Brandon MarshallChicago BearsWR
19DeMarco MurrayDallas CowboysRB
20Alfred MorrisWashingtonRB
21Julio JonesAtlanta FalconsWR
22Matt StaffordDetroit LionsQB
23Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersQB
24Le'Veon BellPittsburgh SteelersRB
25Jordy NelsonGreen Bay PackersWR
26Montee BallDenver BroncosRB
27Randall CobbGreen Bay PackersWR
28Antonio BrownPittsburgh SteelersWR
29Julius ThomasDenver BroncosTE
30Alshon JefferyChicago BearsWR
31Andre EllingtonArizona CardinalsRB
32Rob GronkowskiNew England PatriotsTE
33Andre JohnsonHouston TexansWR
34Vincent JacksonTampa Bay BuccaneersWR
35Giovani BernardCincinnati BengalsRB
36Victor CruzNew York GiantsWR
37Reggie BushDetroit LionsRB
38Andrew LuckIndianapolis ColtsQB
39Toby GerhartJacksonville JaguarsRB
40Pierre GarconWashingtonWR
41Keenan AllenSan Diego ChargersWR
42Ryan MathewsSan Diego ChargersRB
43Vernon DavisSan Francisco 49ersTE
44Wes WelkerDenver BroncosWR
45C.J. SpillerBuffalo BillsRB
46Frank GoreSan Francisco 49ersRB
47Larry FitzgeraldArizona CardinalsWR
48Ray RiceBaltimore RavensRB
49Rashad JenningsNew York GiantsRB
50DeSean JacksonWashingtonWR


PPR Strategy

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 22:  Pierre Garcon #88 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter during an NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on December 22, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Generally speaking, you shouldn't dramatically change your draft strategy in a PPR league. While I'll outline certain players who should get a bump up your draft board in PPR leagues, the first thing to address is the one position that is less valuable in this format. 

The quarterbacks.

Because quarterback is the only offensive position that gains no value in PPR leagues, QBs logically account for a smaller proportion of the overall points scored. Thus, while they can still contribute big points for you on a weekly basis, it's less likely that a stud at the position is going to have anywhere near the impact he would in a standard-scoring league.

In other words, I wouldn't recommend selecting a quarterback with your first-round pick unless you are in a 12-man league or bigger, and even then you should only be going quarterback at the very end of the round. 

It is at the running back position that you see the biggest potential leap in value. While wide receivers take a leap as a positional group because of the added points from receptions, you don't see a ton of difference in value within the position since most top receivers nab a ton of passes. Last year, for instance, 22 receivers had 75 receptions or more. 

Yes, certain players tend toward being reception machines. More on them in a bit. But in general, your receiver rankings shouldn't be too much different.

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 14:  Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a touchdown catch against the Jacksonville Jaguars during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 14, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.  The Bears defeated the Jaguars 20-19.  (Ph
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

But at running back, players who make a living catching passes out of the backfield come at a premium. Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte should be the first two players off the board, for example (with Darren Sproles now in Philadelphia, LeSean McCoy drops to No. 3 overall in PPR leagues). Several running backs are far more valuable in PPR leagues.

Let's take a look at the players who have the greatest potential value increase, in no particular order, in this format:

  • Running Back: Danny Woodhead, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, Shane Vereen, Andre Ellington, Dexter McCluster, Giovani Bernard
  • Wide Receiver: Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, Kendall Wright, Pierre Garcon, Andre Johnson, Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall
  • Tight End: Jason Witten, Jordan Cameron (especially if Josh Gordon is out for the year)

Of course, certain players see their values dip in PPR leagues, namely at running back. Alfred Morris is the biggest culprit here, but Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Mathews, Frank Gore and Zac Stacy all have to be devalued in the format (Eddie Lacy was hurt somewhat by a mediocre 35 receptions a year ago, but he'll be a much bigger part of the passing game this season).

If you want an example of how PPR can change a player's value in a surprising way, consider this tweet from Pro Football Focus:

In standard-scoring leagues, Lynch had 70 more points. In PPR leagues, Garcon had seven more points. Lynch still holds value because talented running backs are harder to come by in any format than solid receivers, but there's no question that players like Lynch should be selected later in PPR drafts than they would be in standard ones.

But other players will see a huge jump in value this year in PPR leagues. There's Ellington, for example, who according to Arizona Cardinals game analyst Ron Wolfley will be the team's own version of Charles. That should have PPR owners licking their lips (or doing something slightly less creepy).

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 16: Captain Munnerlyn #24 of the Minnesota Vikings tackles Andre Ellington #38 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter of the preseason game on August 16, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Han
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

And Sproles could actually see an uptick in usage in Philadelphia's uptempo offense. He seems excited about his role, telling Zach Berman of the The Philadelphia Inquirer, "The stuff we've been doing in practice, I think it's kind of dangerous."

One would guess the rest of the league will eventually, and begrudgingly, agree. Versatile players like Sproles live for the PPR format. Make sure you value them appropriately. 


Have fantasy questions? Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer them and make some corny jokes, too. It's more fun than a Mo'Ne Davis shutout (but not as impressive). 

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