The do-everything running back might be falling out of favor in the NFL, but they are still king in the world of PPR fantasy. Teams are leaning more and more towards running backs needing to be skilled catchers out of the backfield, even if their overall usage is waning in the modern, big-play NFL.
This year there are a handful of players worthy of top picks in PPR, and all of them carry significant risks. In short: This year is a minefield when it comes to drafting. The key to winning a PPR league this year is going to be balancing your running backs and wide receivers. Heavily used WRs are increasingly becoming staples at the top of PPR drafts, and often don’t carry the same injury risks as players out of the backfield.
So let’s look at the Top 100 and then go through some tips for your draft.
Fantasy Football Top 100 PPR
|23||Amon-Ra St. Brown||WR||DET||9|
|25||Travis Etienne Jr.||RB||JAX||9|
|43||Kenneth Walker III||RB||SEA||5|
|59||Michael Pittman Jr.||WR||IND||11|
|84||Brian Washington Jr.||RB||WAS||14|
Bijan Robinson will turn heads at No. 3, but hear me out
Drafting a rookie this early seems like a surefire way to lose a league, but Bijan Robinson isn’t a normal rookie, and the Falcons aren’t a normal team.
Offensive coordinator Dave Ragone loves to feature running backs in his offense. Last year Tyler Allgeier, Cordarelle Patterson and Caleb Huntley combined for 430 carries and 39 receptions. Part of the allure of Robinson is his ability as an all-purpose back, and being targeted more in the backfield, paired with a lion’s share of the carries will see a massive use rate out of the rookie immediately.
It’s absolutely within reason to project Robinson to finish with 1,500 all-purpose yards or more, along with nine to 12 touchdowns. Whatever risks there are associated with him being a rookie more or less balance out against Christian McCaffrey’s injury history, or Austin Ekeler’s general dislike of the Chargers at the moment.
There exists a world where players pass over Robinson in PPR drafts and let him fall to the back end of the top 10. Taking him at that point would be an absolute steal.
Don’t freak out about your quarterback
There are only two quarterbacks worthy of being taken early in a PPR draft and that’s Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. These were the only two QBs who contributed over 400 points last season, and project very much the same this year. After that we have Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow, then a big gap.
The third tier of PPR quarterbacks is deep after those four, and worth waiting for, rather than over-drafting a top player. Keep this in mind: The difference between Geno Smith at No. 5 and Marcus Mariota at No. 20 was only 100 points on the season last year.
Shore up your backs and receivers first, and worry about the QB later.
Three players I’d target in the draft
We’re talking about the Top 100 players here, so none of these guys are “sleepers,” but all have the potential to be overlooked in your draft and could be difference makers.
Breece Hall, RB — New York Jets
My No. 16 overall player this year, Hall could easily be overlooked by players going for the likes of Najee Harris or Joe Mixon. Hall was a monster his rookie season before being injured, and Aaron Rodgers loves to use his backs as receivers. Huge potential to put up big numbers.
D.J. Moore, WR — Chicago Bears
The Bears are really tough to project this season, but I’m very bullish on D.J. Moore. He’s No. 45 in my Top 100, but could easily finish as a top scorer among receivers.
Justin Fields is poised to take major strides, and it’s easy to forget that Moore has been a consistent 1,000-yard receiver with absolute dumpster fire quarterbacks in Carolina since Cam Newton’s release. He will get targets and he will thrive. You can probably take him in your flex spot and he’ll be a difference maker.
Miles Sanders, RB — Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are desperate to ensure Bryce Young has success early, and Sanders was signed as a safety net to make sure that happens. Young is accustomed to using a speedy back as a target, which he did in Alabama last year with Jahmyr Gibbs — who led the Crimson Tide in receptions.
With the Panthers receiving corps developing without a lot of top-end promise, expect a very high usage rate from Sanders this season. He’s No. 39 in my rankings, and could easily slide deep where he would be a brilliant pickup in the flex who could easily be a RB1 or RB2 if the need arises.