Generally speaking, there isn't a huge difference for most running backs when comparing the fantasy value using point-per-reception (PPR) versus standard scoring. For some backs, however, there can be a significant increase (or decrease) in their value depending on format.
A few weeks ago, we released our running back rankings based on standard scoring. Although we will update and expand those rankings in the near future, this week we will focus on our PPR rankings beginning with running backs.
Over the next several days or so, these rankings could change quite a bit depending on what happens in free agency.
For example, the 2011 home of DeAngelo Williams could impact not only himself but the fantasy outlooks of current Carolina Panthers teammate Jonathan Stewart and Denver Broncos' Knowshon Moreno. If Williams doesn't re-sign with the Panthers, who are well below the salary cap, a reunion with new Broncos (and former Panthers) coach John Fox appears to be the most likely landing spot.
Here are some notes regarding the running backs in our rankings:
• As you can see from the table, Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy and Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson virtually swapped spots based on the scoring format. McCoy finished as the second most productive back in PPR formats last year; Peterson finished second using standard scoring.
• On a per-game basis, the top three running backs in fantasy points per game (PPR scoring) in 2010 were Houston Texans' Arian Foster (24.5), Oakland Raiders' Darren McFadden (20.6) and Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy (19.8).
• To further illustrate how results can differ based on format, San Diego Chargers' Darren Sproles was the 29th most productive running back in 2010 using PPR scoring. In standard formats, Sproles was 44th. PPR scoring had the opposite effect on New Orleans Saints running back Chris Ivory, who finished as the 35th most productive back using standard scoring and 48th most productive using PPR scoring.
• By taking the combined average of fantasy points allowed in 2010 by all 32 teams' opponents in 2011, we derived a fantasy football strength of schedule by position. For running backs in PPR leagues, the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks have the easiest and most difficult schedules, respectively.
• Over the past three seasons, only three running backs have finished with 2,000-plus yards from scrimmage (YFS): Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson (2,509) last year, Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice (2,041) in 2009 and Houston's Arian Foster (2,220) last year.
• Four running backs have 100 receptions over the past two seasons combined: Rice (141), McCoy (118), Chicago Bears' Matt Forte (108) and Sproles (104).
• LaDainian Tomlinson leads all active running backs in most seasons (nine) with 50-plus receptions and Brian Westbrook is second with five seasons. No other active running back has more than three 50-reception seasons. Tomlinson and Westbrook had 52 and 16 receptions, respectively, in 2010.
• New Orleans running back Reggie Bush, who may or (more likely) may not be back with the Saints in 2011, leads all running backs in receptions (294) during the last five years. Rams running back Steven Jackson is second with 265.
• Before we get to our rankings, here is some running back trivia (with the answer): Who are the two running backs in NFL history to finish with 1,000-plus rushing and 1,000-plus receiving yards in the same season? Answer: Roger Craig (1985) and Marshall Faulk (1999).
Here are our top 25 fantasy running backs using PPR scoring for 2011:
1. Arian Foster, Texans
2. Chris Johnson, Titans
3. Ray Rice, Ravens
4. LeSean McCoy, Eagles
5. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
6. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
8. Frank Gore, 49ers
9. Darren McFadden, Raiders
10. Steven Jackson, Rams
11. Matt Forte, Bears
12. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
13. Peyton Hillis, Browns
14. Michael Turner, Falcons
15. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
16. Ryan Mathews, Chargers
17. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
18. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
19. Jahvid Best, Lions
20. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
21. Shonn Greene, Jets
22. Felix Jones, Cowboys
23. LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers
24. Joseph Addai, Colts
25. Cedric Benson, Bengals
From now until the start of the NFL season, we will release new content daily. Over the next few days, we will release our PPR rankings for wide receivers and tight ends in addition to our top 150 cheat sheet for PPR scoring.
There are three ways to keep track of our fantasy content updates: 1. visit TheTipDrill.com, our fantasy section, on a daily basis; 2. follow us on Twitter @EDSFootball and/or 3. "like" us on Facebook.
In addition, feel free to ask specific fantasy questions to us in our fantasy football forum or via Twitter.
Good luck in all of your leagues in 2011!