This weekend, I had the opportunity to join some of the top fantasy football writers on Rant Sports for a mock draft. We drafted for a PPR league, something I applaud. PPR leagues are far superior to regular leagues. The NFL is a passing league today, and receivers who move the chains aren’t second-class citizens anymore — they’re the stars of the team.
Drafting for PPR brings more guys into play. It means that you don’t have to be reliant on touchdowns to score points, especially for your running backs. Slot receivers and third-down backs become more valuable than they are in regular leagues. Overall, it’s a much better experience. If you’ve never had the chance to be in a PPR league, I would highly encourage it.
Here’s how my team shaped up:
Round 1 (2) RB Doug Martin — This was probably the toughest choice of the entire draft for me. This pick could have gone to any of four guys. It could have been Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles or Arian Foster. The reason I went with Martin is because those three all have mileage on their tires and injuries could be a problem this year. When in doubt, I went with the younger, fresher legs.
Round 2 (19) WR Brandon Marshall — A PPR machine, Marshall could end up being the No. 2 receiver this year. I thought about going with another running back here because the position is so shallow this year, but in PPR leagues, you can sometimes come up with additional options at running back that you don’t have in regular leagues.
Round 3 (22) QB Peyton Manning — Again, I thought about running back here, but I also wanted to make sure I got one of the four elite quarterbacks. Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers were off the board, and as much I love Tom Brady in real life, I think Manning has more weapons and will have a better fantasy year.
Round 4 (39) WR Randall Cobb — Cobb is guy that has more value in a PPR league than he does in a regular one. You never know who is going to get the touchdown catches for the Green Bay Packers, but they’ve said that getting Cobb more involved in the offense is a priority this year. If he gets the touchdowns, he’ll be a top-tier receiver; if he just gets the receptions, he’ll still be valuable.
Round 5 (42) RB Darren Sproles — This was the guy I was hoping would fall to me after I passed on running back in rounds two through four. Sproles is a flex play at best in regular leagues, but he gets plenty of targets in the New Orleans Saints passing offense.
Round 6 (59) RB Le’Veon Bell — The concerns with his inability to stay on the field so far in preseason are an issue, but chances are Bell will still be the top back for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year. With a concerted effort to get back to the run in Pittsburgh this season, Bell has a chance to be a solid No. 2 back and a really good option in the flex spot.
Round 7 (62) WR DeSean Jackson — Despite his disappointing showings the last two years, Jackson still has the upside to have a really good year this season. I’m sure you’re like me and have been burned by him in the past, but don’t let that scare you off. New head coach Chip Kelly throws the ball in bunches, and with the injury to Jeremy Maclin, Jackson should get lots of targets.
Round 8 (79) WR Anquan Boldin — When the San Francisco 49ers traded for Boldin this spring, they knew they were getting a workhorse receiver, and that’s exactly what I want in a PPR league. San Francisco is going to spread the opportunities around when it comes to the red zone, so touchdowns may be hit or miss for Boldin this year, but he’ll be the first option for Colin Kaepernick on his way there.
Round 9 (82) RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis — Don’t believe the haters: the demise of Green-Ellis has been greatly exaggerated. I know rookie Giovani Bernard has looked good in preseason and certainly has more upside, but Green-Ellis will be hard to keep off the field again this year. A third-down back, Bernard will need to improve his pass blocking skills to stay on the field, something rookies tend to struggle with.
Round 10 (99) RB Vick Ballard — At this point in the draft, I’m looking for depth, so I want guys who are going to get chances to be on the field. So far in preseason, second-year man Ballard has seen the majority of the reps with the Indianapolis Colts‘ first team. I don’t except big things out of him this year, but if I need to use him, I can expect him to be on the field.
Round 11 (102) WR Chris Givens — Another guy who’s more valuable in PPR leagues then he is in regular ones, Givens has seen the most targets on the St. Louis Rams‘ first team this year. Rookie Tavon Austin might end up with the most receptions in St. Louis this year, but Givens has looked good so far this summer.
Round 12 (119) TE Brandon Pettigrew — Had to grab a tight end here. The position is pretty much the same after you get past Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. After them, I would rather just wait until late in the draft and take whoever is left and hope for the best.
Round 13 (122) RB Ronnie Hillman — I was glad to find Hillman still available at this point. I agree with most that rookie Montee Ball will end up as the Denver Broncos back with the most value this year, but I do think Hillman is worth taking a flyer on.
Round 14 (139) Packers D/ST — Time in the draft to take a defense, and Green Bay was the best that was available.
Round 15 (142) K Matt Prater — Same thing as the defense. You have to draft a kicker, and Prater was the best option available in the final round.
QB1 Peyton Manning
RB1 Doug Martin
RB2 Darren Sproles
WR1 Brandon Marshall
WR2 Randall Cobb
FLEX DeSean Jackson
K Matt Prater
D/ST Green Bay Packers
Bench RBs – Le’Veon Bell, Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Vick Ballard, Ronnie Hillman
Bench WRs – Anquan Boldin, Chris Givens
Overall I was happy with how my draft went. I was nervous when I didn’t get my hands on a second running back until the fifth round, but was glad that Sproles was still there. I also thought I was able to get good value late in the draft with backs like Green-Ellis, Ballard and Hillman.
I was able to get them because I waited until late to take a tight end and drafted only one quarterback. I always take only one quarterback and tight end in leagues with standard waiver wire rules. That way I can just cut one of the RBs/WRs who’ve either been injured or just aren’t performing and pick up a backup when my starter’s bye weeks come around.
Once you get down to the backups at quarterback and tight end, you’re better off just taking whoever comes along on the waiver wire and having depth at running back and receiver, because those positions are harder to find mid-season on the waiver wire.
In PPR leagues, you need depth at the running back and receiver over anything else. Make sure to stock up on them — you’ll be glad you did.