Point per reception is a different animal. On its surface, it looks deceptively simple. Guys get a point for each catch. The value of guys who catch the most balls goes up. This is true whether it’s a wide receiver like Derrick Mason (104 receptions last year) or a running back like Reggie Bush (73 receptions).
It also goes the other way. Guys like Greg Jennings (53 receptions) and Marshawn Lynch (18 receptions) see their value drop. A guy like Michael Turner, perhaps a borderline top-30 pick in a standard league, doesn’t make this list and may even end up being outscored by Jerious Norwood.
Conventional wisdom gets thrown to the side, but by how far?
You’re probably starting four wide receivers instead of two.
It’s no longer an advantage to have a running back in the flex.
If you play a flex, you want three good running backs instead of four. You can stick your third running back in on bye weeks and in the flex when you don’t have a better option with your receivers.
If you’re playing in a league where you’re likely to start four receivers (2 RB, 1 RB/WR, 3 WR) you need to stockpile quality wideouts, but that doesn’t mean you should pass up a RB who’s head and shoulders the best player left on the board because you can’t play him. (You can always trade good RBs.)
Here’s my list of the top 50 for those in a PPR. This isn’t where I think a player will go, but where I think they stack up relative to others. Certain players (Earnest Graham, for one) are ranked higher than where I think they’ll go, (and where you should draft them), and others (Maroney) are ranked lower.
The first 21 you’re about to read, and the rest shall come tomorrow.
1) LaDainian Tomlinson
However, he’s 29-years old and he’s got more mileage on him than Indiana Jones. His final stats were great last year, but week to week, he was a little inconsistent. He’s one of the greatest backs ever and probably has two or three seasons left as a top pick, but from here on out, he could break down.
I’ve never owned him, and suffice to say, I don’t want the first pick this year. (And if you took Westbrook here, I salute you.)
At some point, aren’t kids just going to refuse to play running back? Would you let your kid play running back? Isn’t wide receiver the way to go? Shouldn’t Jim Brown be telling L.T. that he needs to hang it up before he’s crippled?
Do we really need Rick Reilly traveling to El Paso 20 years from now and doing a piece on how L.T. spends most of his time telling football stories in the barber shop and riding around town in his rascal?
2) Brian Westbrook
Outscored L.T. in PPR last year, and if he were two years younger, I’d take him first (and I still might). Sitting down on the one last year in the Dallas game might’ve been the smartest play I’ve ever seen. McNabb should be fully recovered, which means the offense should be better, and, in turn, he may even be better.
3) Steven Jackson
Scott Linehan has to be on the hot seat. Jackson caught 90 passes two years ago. So he should get more touches than anyone in football. You know what else? Jackson knows this because he’s holding out.
He’s worried that Linehan is going to run him into the ground this year. He should be this year’s top-scoring running back. Though, his line, coach, and holdout are all red flags.
4) Tom Brady
I’m having a really hard time putting him here, but I keep coming back to this spot. If this were a standard league, and RBs were more valuable, I’d drop him behind Peterson and Addai.
I just don’t think Addai is going to get many more touches than last year. Peterson will, but he doesn’t catch a lot of passes, and he’s inconsistent as all hell.
By taking Brady with the fourth pick, you know you’re going to have the best QB every week (maybe Manning or Romo will be in the ballpark). He’s not throwing 50 touchdowns again, but he’s a safe bet for 35 (13 for Moss, seven for Welker, six for Gaffney, and nine for the field) and will probably throw 40 (17 for Moss, eight for Welker…).
Drafting Brady gives you the highest-scoring player in fantasy and also brings the bonus of not having to draft a backup (Even though his bye is in Week Four, that’s usually long enough to figure out which of your late-round sleepers is definitely not panning out).
5) Randy Moss
In the end, I gave Brady the nod over Moss due to health, the fact that receiver is deeper than QB, and the fact that Brady doesn’t light up a joint every blue moon.
Moss is going to be the best WR in your league. He’s a difference maker. I’m not saying that the next two picks aren’t, it’s just that picking Moss and Grant, or Moss and Jones-Drew is going to get more points than taking Peterson and one of the Grant/Mojo/Manning-type players you can pick up in Round Two.
I know the draft is more than two rounds, but once you get into the third round, more and more guys have question marks. There’re plenty of quality guys that you can pluck from the free agent pool and will take a spot on your team (Grant, Anderson, and Watson, to name a few from last year).
None of those guys will give you an advantage like Moss does.
6) Adrian Peterson
I don’t need to talk about how great he is, so I’ll say this: Every defense that plays the Vikings will develop a game plan which revolves around stopping him. He’s inconsistent, Tarvaris Jackson, he has a history of injuries, and (this can't be stressed enough) Tarvaris Jackson.
Plus, if you pick him, you have to take Chester Taylor, which is fine if you’re in a league where you can take him in the eighth or ninth, but kind of sucks if you’re in a league where someone like me is going to make you use a sixth or seventh-round pick on him. I’m constantly flipping him and Addai.
7) Joe Addai
Last year was as good as he’s going to be. He’s not getting many more touches because the Colts don’t need to give him more touches on a consistent basis to win. So why risk his health by giving him the ball 20-25 times a game when most games you can give it to him 15-20 times and distribute those other touches to Rhodes and Keith in return for a small drop off in production?
8) Marion Barber
There is no reason not to like this guy. He plays for a high-powered offense behind a strong O-line for a talented coordinator. His specialty is running in the red zone. He catches passes, and he’s coming out of a time-share. I don’t buy the idea that he runs too hard to take more then 20 carries a game. I think that’s ridiculous.
The only worry I have here is that much like Addai and the Colts, they don’t need to give him the ball 25 times to win.
9) Clinton Portis
Last time he was drafted in the top 10, he missed half the season. There are always backs taken in the first round who breakdown and kill their teams. Some you can predict (Johnson, Alexander), and others you can’t (Jackson). I honestly can’t tell if I have reason to be worried, or if I’m being paranoid.
10) Frank Gore
These last three backs can really go in any order. I think Portis is the most reliable, (but I have a nagging feeling he gets hurt this year), Barber should be a solid No. 1 back, but Wade Phillips is the same man who once tabbed Rob Johnson as a franchise QB and just last year kept giving carries to Julius Jones when it was clear that Barber was a far better option.
Gore should catch the most passes, he’s the best player, and he has the most upside of the three. He also plays for the worst offense, QB, and offensive line.
Nobody really knows how Mike Martz is going to use him, although with Nolan’s head under the guillotine, you would think he would get at least 300 carries. But with Martz’s history of under utilizing the running game, and Nolan’s history of bringing knives to a gunfight, you just never know.
11) Reggie Wayne
I’ve had him in the majority of my leagues for the past two years, but I won’t be able to get him this year because everyone has caught on. Much like how I was able to consistently draft Andre Johnson as a reserve until last season.
I don’t think Harrison’s status affects him, btw.
12) Terrell Owens
It took five years, a suicide attempt, and owning Tony Romo, but I’ve finally forgiven him for screwing over the 49ers.
I remember his last season with the team fondly. Promptly after predicting he would get 2,000 yards, Aeneas Williams lit him up in Week Two, and he spent the rest of the year refusing to go up the middle and short-arming passes.
After playing like a dog all year and leading the team to a 7-9 record, he blamed everything on the rest of the team, especially Jeff Garcia, going so far as to insinuate that Garcia was gay.
A year later Garcia was in Cleveland, and his future wife (2004 Playmate of the year Carmella DeCesare) is getting in a bar fight with his ex.
(I believe that’s check, and mate, Mr. Owens.)
13) Braylon Edwards
When the Browns slog through their brutal schedule and devastate Cleveland with their six-win season, Edwards will be the only one who doesn’t fall off. If I was convinced the Browns aren’t going to be disappointments this year, I might put him ahead of Owens and Wayne. He’s that good. He should be higher.
14) Ryan Grant
He’s legit. He ran really well last year, he’s young, has a lot of tread left on his tires, the offense should revolve around him, and I believe in Aaron Rodgers. You should be able to pick him in the mid-second round in a 10-team league.
I’ve got a good feeling about him, the same feeling I had with Reggie Bush last year.
(Forget I just wrote that.)
(Refusing to acknowledge the huge elephant hanging over the Packers.)
15) Tony Romo
As long as Jessica Simpson isn’t watching, I’m on board
Listen, last year, I watched a lot of Cowboys and Colts games (I had Addai, Wayne, Barber, Romo, and Witten in one league), and Tony Romo was better then Manning. He’s also a lot of fun to own\watch, and this is from a 'Niners fan who HATES the Cowboys.
(How was I able to field a team with those five? Addai and Wayne were nabbed in the early rounds, I stole Barber in the fifth or sixth, traded for Romo, and took Witten in the 12th. Unfortunately, the Jessica Simpson game was in the first round of the playoffs.)
16) Peyton Manning
For the past three years the jackasses at the major networks took sides between him and Brady over whom was the greatest QB of their generation, and once Peyton was given the Super Bowl, EVERYONE decided he was better then Brady.
Until last year when EVERYONE decided that Brady was the best QB that ever played, while the Pats rolled over a schedule consisting of CFL and semi-pro teams, until he shat himself in the Super Bowl (Oh wait, he had one drive.)
As for Peyton, he’s got the weapons (even if Harrison doesn’t return to form), and Brady showed him up at his own game last year (running up the score by padding his stats against weak teams, then falling apart at the worst possible moment in the season, which went against his M.O. for his entire career up until that point), so he’s in line for a big season.
(I have to add this here, since he’s not making my list, but I’m watching an Eli interview right now, and he looks like Kramer in the Seinfeld episode with Mel Torme.)
(The one where Kramer’s mouth is numb from the dentist and Mel thinks he has muscular dystrophy.)
17) Larry Fitzgerald
Really, a toss up with Andre Johnson, but I know what I’m getting with Fitz.
18) Andre Johnson
Last year, he played with a guy who wasn’t David Carr for the first time in his career, and before he got hurt, he was on pace for 92 receptions for 1,676 yards and 16 TDs.
One other thing: I keep hearing that Johnson’s an injury risk, but I don’t buy it. Last year was his fifth season, and before last year, he missed three games in four years. Suddenly he’s a huge injury risk? Methinks the fantasy Sherpas are trying to steer us wrong.
19) Maurice Jones-Drew
He’s 5’7”. My mom is 5’7”. Have you seen the Madden commercial where he’s wearing the long shirt and looks like a bona fide midget?
Isn’t Mojo the buddy you ridicule because of his stature before he lowers his shoulder into your stomach and leaves you coughing for the next 20 minutes before you gather your wind and continue until he knocks you on your ass? (Later claiming that you were so drunk you didn’t know what was going on.) Don’t you want this guy on your team?
Last year, Fred Taylor ran 223 times, and Mojo took it 167. He also caught 40 passes. The year before, he caught 46 passes. In two seasons, he’s scored 26 TDs. He should get 200 carries this year. He’s going to catch 40 passes and score 10 times or more.
(All that, and he’s fun to own)
20) Marques Colston
1) Moss 2) Owens 3) Wayne 4) Edwards 5) Fitzgerald 6) Johnson 7) Colston
That seems low for him.
21) Larry Johnson
I know, I wrote in length (Towards the end) about how much I hate him this year, but even though he only averaged 3.5 YPC, if you double his stats (only played eight games last year), he would’ve been the sixth-highest scoring back last season. He was on pace for 316 carries and 60 receptions.
Of course, I’m not picking him. He’s no fun to own, and there’s a five-percent chance Herm Edwards gives him the ball a combined 500 times and he dies on the field during the playoffs.
You don’t need that.