PPR leagues (point-per-reception) are similar to fantasy baseball leagues with extra categories like on-base percentage or strikeouts per nine innings because a few people in the league will always place too much weight on the extra category. When this happens, talented players may slide down the draft board because the extra category is not necessarily their strong suit.
So, if you decide to try out a PPR league this year, take receptions into consideration, but remember that touchdowns and yards still get you points just like they always have. The following is a list of my running back rankings for a non-keeper, PPR league.
1. Chris Johnson | Tennessee Titans | 2,509 total yds, 16 total TD, 50 REC
2. Ray Rice | Baltimore Ravens | 2,041 total yds, 8 total TD, 78 REC
3. Adrian Peterson | Minnesota Vikings | 1,825, 18 total TD, 43 REC
4. Maurice Jones-Drew | Jacksonville Jaguars | 1,765 yds, 16 TD, 53 REC
Few would argue against Chris Johnson being number one in a PPR format (if not all formats), but some might argue Peterson should be ranked higher than Rice. After all, Peterson narrowly outscored Rice in PPR leagues in 2009, and Chester Taylor (44 REC in 2009) has left the Vikings for the Bears, which may give Peterson more snaps on third down. However, it seems unlikely that Willis McGahee will score 14 total touchdowns again this season, so Rice should see an increase in touchdown production to go along with his high reception totals (Rice’s 78 REC in 2009 led all running backs by 15).
5. Frank Gore | San Francisco 49ers | 1,526 total yds, 13 total TD, 52 REC
6. Steven Jackson | St. Louis Rams | 1,738 total yds, 4 total TD, 51 REC
7. Jamaal Charles | Kansas City Chiefs | 1,417 total yds, 8 total TD, 40 REC
8. Michael Turner | Atlanta Falcons | 906 total yds, 10 total TD, 5 REC
Gore missed three games last year and still finished fifth in PPR scoring with 52 catches. Like Rice, Jackson had a great year in 2009, but he only found the end zone four times. If he is healthy, Jackson is likely to see the touchdowns increase and could be an elite PPR running back.
Charles also has the chance to be an elite PPR running back. He caught forty passes in 15 games during 2009 (only eight starts), and he might have the talent to be a top three back if he wasn't part of a RBBC (Running Back By Committee). As for Turner, he has the potential for a big bounce back year on the ground, and even though he is not much of a pass catcher, the word out of Atlanta is that they are going to try to get him more involved in the passing game.
9. Ryan Grant | Green Bay Packers | 1,450 total yds, 11 total TD, 25 REC
10. DeAngelo Williams | Carolina Panthers | 1,369 total yds, 7 total TD, 29 REC
11. Shonn Greene | New York Jets | 540 total yds, 2 total TD, 0 REC
12. Joseph Addai | Indianapolis Colts | 1,164 total yds, 13 total TD, 51 REC
13. Rashard Mendenhall | Pittsburgh Steelers | 1,369 total yds, 8 total TD, 25 REC
Grant, Williams, and Mendenhall are all fairly consistent backs (when healthy in DeAngelo’s case) who do not catch a lot of passes, but catch enough to not hurt their value too much in PPR leagues. On the other hand, Greene’s PPR value is suspect heading into 2010.
In his rookie year, Greene caught zero passes and was only targeted four times. However, the upside on his rushing totals is through the roof. Addai may be the back whose value increases the most in a PPR format. Addai was one of eight backs to have at least fifty receptions last season and was 6th among backs in PPR scoring.
14. Pierre Thomas | New Orleans Saints | 1,095 total yds, 8 total TD, 39 REC
15. Matt Forte | Chicago Bears | 1,400 total yds, 4 total TD, 57 REC
16. Ryan Mathews | San Diego Chargers | ROOKIE
17. Jonathan Stewart | Carolina Panthers | 1,272 total yds, 11 total TD, 18 REC
18. Cedric Benson | Cincinnati Bengals | 1,362 total yds, 6 total TD, 17 REC
Over the last three seasons, Thomas has seen his reception totals go from 17 to 31 to 39. If the pattern holds and Thomas gets in on some of the touchdown opportunities available due to Mike Bell’s departure, he could be a nice value pick in the 4th/5th round.
Forte has averaged 60 receptions over his first two seasons and could easily increase his touchdown total from last season (four). The only concern is the addition of Chester Taylor, who could take over some of the third down and pass catching responsibilities.
19. Ronnie Brown | Miami Dolphins | 746 total yds, 8 total TD, 14 REC
20. Beanie Wells | Arizona Cardinals | 936 total yds, 7 total TD, 12 REC
21. Tim Hightower | Arizona Cardinals | 1,026 total yds, 8 total TD, 63 REC
22. Ricky Williams | Miami Dolphins | 1,385 total yds, 13 total TD, 35 REC
23. LeSean McCoy | Philadelphia Eagles | 945 total yds, 4 total TD, 40 REC
Both Brown and Williams were productive in the Miami backfield in 2009, but if Brown is healthy all season, he figures to be the more productive back because of his rushing production (despite Williams’ 35 receptions last year).
Different names, same story in Arizona. Hightower caught 63 passes last year, but Wells should be the more productive back if he cuts into Hightower’s rushing opportunities significantly. In Philly, McCoy is a nice pass catcher (40 receptions in 2009), but he may continue to have a hard time finding the end zone with Mike Bell, Michael Vick, and Brent Celek being viable options around the goal line.
24. Knowshon Moreno | Denver Broncos | 1,160 total yds, 9 total TD, 28 REC
25. Justin Forsett | Seattle Seahawks | 969 total yds, 5 total TD, 41 REC
26. Fred Jackson | Buffalo Bills | 1,433 total yds, 4 total TD, 46 REC
27. Thomas Jones | Kansas City Chiefs | 1,460 total yds, 14 total TD, 10 REC
Jackson and Jones may lose playing time to younger backs this season, but they can still be productive. Jackson was the 13th highest scoring PPR back last year thanks to 46 receptions, and despite only four touchdowns. Jones is not a pass catcher, and he surely will not repeat his rushing totals from last year, but Kansas City currently has him listed at the top of their depth chart. Even if Charles sees the majority of the carries, Jones may still see his share of goal line carries.
28. Darren Sproles | San Diego Chargers | 840 total yds, 7 total TD, 45 REC
29. Jerome Harrison | Cleveland Browns | 1,082 total yds, 7 total TD, 34 REC
30. Reggie Bush | New Orleans Saints | 725 total yds, 8 total TD, 47 REC
31. Arian Foster | Houston Texans | 350 total yds, 3 total TD, 8 REC
32. Michael Bush | Oakland Raiders | 694 total yds, 3 total TD, 17 REC
Sproles should see the same amount of work in the passing game this season (45 receptions in 2009), and he could be more involved in the ground games as well after LaDainian Tomlinson’s departure. Reggie Bush has always been known as a pass catching back, but his reception totals have declined each year from 88 to 73 to 52 to 47. Foster and Michael Bush are two breakout candidates to round out the list. Foster averaged 18+ fantasy points (non-PPR) in three starts last season, and Bush could potentially reap the benefits of the Raiders realizing that Darren McFadden is not any good.
Written by Brett Talley exclusively for thefantasyfix.com. Brett is a law student who has yet to take notes during the fall semester because he has been too busy doing mock drafts. You can follow him on Twitter @therealTAL.
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