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Draft Strategy for PPR Leagues


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PPR leagues have become increasingly popular and more prevalent over the past few years. Scoring systems vary, but generally one point is awarded per one reception by a player. It might not seem like much value on first glance, but these points add up in a hurry with the right players. So how do you make the most of your draft choices in a PPR league? Just keep reading. I'll tell you who to draft, when to draft, and why you should listen to me.

Who to draft is pretty straight-forward: guys who catch a lot of passes. But it isn't as simple as it might sound. Guys like Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Wes Welker are fantasy gold in PPR leagues. They are targeted often and catch everything thrown their way. But big names like Calvin Johnson and Terrell Owens lag behind in receptions. How can you tell the difference between receivers?

1. Consider the player’s tendencies and the guy throwing him the ball. Owens has developed a knack for dropping passes over the years. Last year he caught only 69 passes and was fourth in the league in dropped passes with 10. And though he had just as many touchdown catches, he barely scratched the surface of 1,000 receiving yards, with 1,052. Those aren’t No. 1 WR numbers to me. Johnson (despite being the fourth-most targeted wideout last year with 151 balls thrown his way) caught only 78 passes. You have only have to look at the collective arm accuracy of Daunte Culpepper, Jon Kitna and Dan Orlovsky to see why so many passes didn't make it close to Megatron’s hands. This year, he gets the aging Culpepper again, with rookie QB Matt Stafford waiting in the wings. Yikes. That screams No. 2 WR to me.

2. The same theory goes for running backs. I realize the entire world is in love with Adrian Peterson, but the guy catches a pass once every full moon. I lean toward players such as Maurice Jones-Drew (who I would take with the No. 1 pick in any draft this year), Matt Forte, Frank Gore, Stephen Jackson, Steve Slaton and yes, even Reggie Bush. Since most teams rotate running backs with greater frequency these days (the dreaded “Running Back by Committee” approach), the fantasy pool for this position has become completely diluted. Gone are the days when you HAD to use your first two picks on running backs. In fact …

When to draft players in a PPR league is not set in stone . Not believing I needed an elite running back to compete in a highly competitive, 14-team league last year, I took a chance and traded my draft slot of ninth for 12th. Most of the guys in my league thought I was nuts, but they couldn’t see the ultimate payoff: nearly back-to-back picks. Heck, I even tried to trade down to the 14th slot, but that player was using the same strategy: back-to-back No. 1 wideouts in the first two rounds. While most teams were fumbling over themselves for top-tier running backs (or Tom Brady and Peyton Manning), I had just drafted Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. In a league that starts three WRs with no flex spot, these picks were steals. I could plug any Joe Blow into the No. 3 WR slot with the production I would get from AJ and Wayne. And with my next two picks I managed to swing a starting backfield of Brandon Jacobs and Willie Parker while everyone was caught up in a run on wide receivers. By getting those two No. 1 WR right out of the gate, it solidified my team at that position and opened up a whole new draft strategy for me.

So why should you listen to me? Well, that strategy (along with a few shrewd pickups and trades – wouldn’t you know it, I ended up with Megatron as my No. 3 WR) won my league last year. So if you’re in a PPR league and you’re all pumped to take Frank Gore with the No. 5 pick, think about trading down and getting back-to-back elite wide receivers instead. You can probably get Ryan Grant or Brandon Jacobs or Ronnie Brown as a No. 1 RB on your third pick, and the dropoff from the Top 10 running backs on the board won't be that great. And you can always find a starting quarterback in the fifth or sixth round. Let someone else reach for Brees, Brady and Manning. They just throw the ball; they can’t catch their own passes.

Receptions win PPR leagues . By getting as much production as you can for that statistic in the first few rounds, you will reap huge benefits as the season wears on. So resist the temptation to draft like you did five years ago – RB, RB, WR, QB, etc. – and shake it up a bit. The payoff will impress you.