It can be feast or famine at times with Jimmy Graham. Photo Credit: Felipe Mac
Rankings are fun, but at the end of the day, they are just names. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a statistical nugget for each player? Good, bad, or indifferent, here are my Top 50 players in PPR formats for the upcoming season with a brief stat that hints at the direction every player is trending in my ranks as we approach kickoff.
1. Jamaal Charles – He is averaging 20.6 percent more yards per carry and a 33.7 percent fewer carries per touchdown in the second half of the season over his career (minimum of 100 carries in a given season).
2. LeSean McCoy – For the first time in his career, Shady’s yards per carry and touchdown rate both increased the more he was used.
3. Matt Forte – Despite playing five fewer games, he has six more receptions (on 114 fewer targets) than Torrey Smith since 2011.
4. Adrian Peterson – All Day has never had a season in which he played at least 13 games with less than 1,437 yards (more than Eddie Lacy had last year) or 10 touchdowns (a total Frank Gore has reached only once in his nine-year career).
5. Eddie Lacy – No 1,000 yard rusher had more catches without scoring a receiving touchdown last year than the Packers rookie.
6. Calvin Johnson – For those considering getting cute atop the Fantasy WR ranks, Megatron has been targeted 15.3 percent more per game than Demaryius Thomas over the last two seasons.
7. Demaryius Thomas -Joined Larry Fitzgerald as the only active receiver with back-to-back 1,400 yard 10-touchdown seasons on their resume.
8. Jimmy Graham – In his best six weeks last season, Graham caught 47 balls for 764 yards. In his other 10 games, he totaled 39 receptions and 451 yards.
9. Alshon Jeffery – Does Jay Cutler love Brandon Marshall or just love big receivers? Prior to last season, the average WR2 behind Marshall when Cutler was the signal caller measured five inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter than Marshall; Jeffery is one inch shorter and 14 pounds lighter. It is also worth noting that the average WR2 was one year older than Marshall … Jeffery is six years his junior.
10. A.J. Green – More passes directed at Green hit the ground than total number of passes thrown at Cordarrelle Patterson last season.
11. Le’Veon Bell – In a rookie season in which he missed two games and didn’t record his first 20-carry game until the middle of November, Bell averaged more touches per game than Marshawn Lynch in 2013.
12. Dez Bryant – He has scored on 22 of his 35 career red zone catches.
13. Randall Cobb – The Packers have scored an average of 28.6 points in the last 16 regular season games that Cobb has participated in.
14. Giovani Bernard – Only 15 backs had more carries than BenJarvus Green-Ellis last season and Bernard still finished as the 13th best PPR running back.
15. Marshawn Lynch – Beast Mode caught more passes than Eddie Lacy last year and has increased his yards per reception each year he has spent in Seattle.
16. Brandon Marshall – The 30-year-old is averaging one catch inside the opponent’s 10-yard-line every 4.3 games over the last four seasons.
17. DeMarco Murray = He picked up a first down 20.4 percent more often than Marshawn Lynch last season.
18. Montee Ball – Nearly 71 percent of his touches last season came when the distance to gain a first down was at least six yards.
19. Peyton Manning – He has thrown 92 touchdown passes in two seasons with the Broncos, one fewer than in his final three seasons as a member of the Colts.
20. Julio Jones – Jones averaged one more target per game than the league leader in total targets (Andre Johnson).
21. Aaron Rodgers – In nine of his last 11 starts (minimum five pass attempts), Rodgers has totaled 300 yards and/or three touchdowns.
22. Wes Welker – In his first season with Peyton Manning, Welker caught 45 passes but hauled in two more throws of over 10 yards.
23. Vincent Jackson – His catch rate increased while his touchdown rate decreased for a third consecutive season.
24. Andre Johnson – At 33 years old, Terrell Owens (6’3” 225 pounds) caught 85 balls for 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns with an unproven Tony Romo and aging Drew Bledsoe leading an above average run offense. Johnson is 6’3” 230 pounds and one could make the argument that his pass game has improved and the run game as gotten worse.
25. Drew Brees – Since 2008, Brees’ touchdown total has improved from the season prior just once while his interception total has increased twice over that span.
26. Arian Foster – Name the one running back that has a 350-carry season and a 60-catch season on his resume. I’ll give you a hint … I’m writing under the “Arian Foster” header for a reason.
27. Antonio Brown – For the second consecutive season, Brown’s YAC/REC rose by half a yard and his touchdown rate increased.
28. Rob Gronkowski – He has recorded fewer than 45 receiving yards in six of his last 16 regular season games.
29. Jordy Nelson – Even with Aaron Rodgers missing seven games last season, Jordy Nelson continued his touchdown scoring ways and is now averaging 10.9 touchdowns per 16 games over the last three years.
30. Andrew Luck – The pride of Stanford made some serious adjustments in terms of efficiency in his second professional season. If you combine his efficient ways of 2013 with his high volume of 2012, the result would be a season in which he threw for 4,295 yards and 27 touchdowns in addition to his strong career rushing numbers (316 yards and 4.5 touchdowns per season). No quarterback in the NFL threw for 4,000 yards and ran for 200 last season and only Luck and Aaron Rodgers have crossed both plateaus while throwing 23 touchdowns over the last three seasons.
31. Doug Martin – He’s averaging over 23 touches per game for his career. That being said, he is averaging 3.2 yards per carry after his 20th carry in a game over his career.
32. Andre Ellington – He had as many 20-plus yard carries as Adrian Peterson … on 161 fewer carries.
33. Julius Thomas – Charles Clay had 50 percent more games with 50-plus receiving yards last season.
34. Roddy White – He caught 43 passes for 502 yards in December.
35. Alfred Morris – Since 2012, Morris has more rushing yards than Lynch, rushing TDs than Forte, and 20-plus yard rushes than Charles. Underrated!
36. C.J. Spiller – Subtract an outlier 2012 and Spiller is averaging 6.36 yards per carry … or 31.6 percent fewer yards than Frank Gore’s career mark.
37. Victor Cruz – Eli Manning had completed 61.3 percent of his passes over the previous five seasons. If he just matches that number last season, you’re looking at another 21 completions (not to mention more pass plays called due to the increased efficiency). Adjust Cruz’s catch count accordingly (he was responsible for 23 percent of Manning’s completions last season) and that results in five more catches for another 69 yards. Take that one step further and assume that Cruz simply matches his career TD per catch rate and he would have scored 8-9 touchdowns (mathematically it comes to 8.8) on those 78 catches, which are reasonable adjustments if Eli Manning has an average season.
38. Matthew Stafford – He has thrown 40-plus passes in 30 games since the beginning of the 2011 season and now has his most talented group of pass catches at his disposal. Golden Tate scored four times on 19 catches indoors last season: this just in, Detroit plays inside.
39. Pierre Thomas – He averages more yards per carry over his career than Arian Foster and has caught 84.9 percent of passes thrown his way.
40. Zac Stacy – Subtract his three longest carries and he averaged just 3.5 yards per carry last season.
41. Michael Crabtree – It was only one season ago that Crabtree ranked third among all receivers in PPR points per opportunity, and that was with the conservative Alex Smith accounting for half of the passes thrown.
42. Vernon Davis – Colin Kaepernick’s favorite target reached paydirt with 10 of his 24 receptions on the opponent’s half of the field last season. It took him 48 such catches to score 11 touchdowns in the previous two seasons combined.
43. T.Y. Hilton – Kenbrell Thompkins recorded a touchdown in more games than Hilton last season despite missing four games and seeing 68 fewer passes thrown his way.
44. Reggie Bush – He averaged 50 percent more carries per game than his career rate, yet he ran the ball only twice on third down all season long.
45. Joique Bell – The only player to record more rushing touchdowns, more catches, and more yards per catch than Bell in 2013 is LeSean McCoy.
46. Julian Edelman – He got the rep as being a consistent PPR producer last season, but he went a six week stretch in the middle of the season in which he totaled 18 catches for 181 yards.
47. Pierre Garcon – He was responsible for 44.4 percent of Robert Griffin’s completions of passes thrown over 10 yards and 39.7 percent of his career-high 1,346 yards came on such plays. DeSean Jackson caught 31 fewer passes than Garcon last year but 11 more on balls thrown at least 11 yards.
48. Shane Vereen – He caught at least five passes five times last season, something Vernon Davis hasn’t done since 2011. Vereen missed eight games last year.
49. Keenan Allen – In his rookie campaign, Allen had as many games with eight-plus catches for 105 yards as he did games with fewer than four catches for 35 or fewer yards.
50. Marques Colston – The last time Colston finished an NFL season with a 16 game pace of less than 68 catches for 1,000 yards and five touchdowns was … well, never.
Every situation is different, so if you’ve got a custom scoring league or need advice based on roster construction, get at me.