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FANTASY FOOTBALL: ‘PPR Spectacular’ — How to dominate your August fantasy draft … without really trying

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Covering the previous two seasons, Packers wideout Davante Adams led all NFL receivers in red-zone targets (46) and red-zone receiving touchdowns (17).

BATSBY Sports offers up its annual PPR Draft Spectacular (longtime readers from SI.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, etc. swear by this document), breaking down certain targets-driven initiatives for fantasy playmakers at wide receiver, tight end and running back.

DRAFT-PREP MATERIALS

QB-STARTER RANKINGS
TOP 60 PPR TAILBACKS
TOP 75 PPR WIDE RECEIVERS
TOP 35 PPR TIGHT ENDS
TOP 125 PPR PLAYMAKERS
THE ANNUAL PPR SPECTACULAR: How to dominate your August draft
SLEEPER CELLS: 10 preferred PPR gems to target for Round 8 or higher
FREE MONEY ALERT: BATSBY’s initial picks for ‘NFL Survivor Pools’
HURRY UP AND PICK! The results of three simultaneous mock drafts (No. 9 slot)
MOCK DRAFT SIMULATION: #4 SLOT
MOCK DRAFT SIMULATION: #11 SLOT

WIDE RECEIVERS

DID YOU KNOW …

Charting the last three seasons, Cards wideout DeAndre Hopkins has enjoyed four different runs of at least five straight games with double-digit targets (including the playoffs)?

Along those lines, Hopkins (three-year averages: 111 catches/158 targets/1,381 receiving yards/8 TDs) carries an ongoing streak of double-digit targets (five consecutive outings) into the Week 1 opener (@ Tennessee).

TOP 80 PPR WIDE RECEIVERS

  1. Davante Adams, Packers
  2. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
  3. Calvin Ridley, Falcons
  4. Stefon Diggs, Bills
  5. DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
  6. Keenan Allen, Chargers
  7. Justin Jefferson, Vikings
  8. DK Metcalf, Seahawks
  9. A.J. Brown, Titans
  10. Diontae Johnson, Steelers
  11. Mike Evans, Buccaneers
  12. Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team
  13. Allen Robinson, Bears
  14. Adam Thielen, Vikings
  15. Julio Jones, Titans
  16. Robert Woods, Rams
  17. Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers
  18. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
  19. Robby Anderson, Panthers
  20. Cooper Kupp, Rams
  21. CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys
  22. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
  23. Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
  24. DJ Moore, Panthers
  25. Tee Higgins, Bengals
  26. Odell Beckham Jr., Browns
  27. Chase Claypool, Steelers
  28. Amari Cooper, Cowboys
  29. Kenny Golladay, Giants
  30. Marvin Jones, Jaguars
  31. Marquise Brown, Ravens
  32. Jarvis Landry, Browns
  33. Brandin Cooks, Texans
  34. Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
  35. Tyler Boyd, Bengals
  36. Cole Beasley, Bills
  37. Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals
  38. Courtland Sutton, Broncos
  39. DJ Chark, Jaguars
  40. DeVante Parker, Dolphins
  41. Curtis Samuel, Washington Football Team
  42. Michael Thomas, Saints (will miss time on the PUP list)
  43. Corey Davis, Jets
  44. Deebo Samuel, 49ers
  45. Jalen Reagor, Eagles
  46. Tyrell Williams, Lions
  47. Michael Pittman Jr., Colts
  48. Jamison Crowder, Jets
  49. Marquez Callaway, Saints
  50. Nelson Agholor, Patriots
  51. Antonio Brown, Buccaneers
  52. DeVonta Smith, Eagles
  53. Mecole Hardman, Chiefs
  54. Russell Gage, Falcons
  55. Will Fuller, Dolphins (five-game suspension to start the season)
  56. Darnell Mooney, Bears
  57. Jakobi Meyers, Patriots
  58. Mike Williams, Chargers
  59. Laviska Shenault, Jaguars
  60. Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins
  61. Van Jefferson, Rams
  62. A.J. Green, Cardinals
  63. Randall Cobb, Packers
  64. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions
  65. Michael Gallup, Cowboys
  66. Allen Lazard, Packers
  67. Tre’Quan Smith, Saints
  68. Sammy Watkins, Ravens
  69. Darius Slayton, Giants
  70. John Brown, Raiders
  71. Tim Patrick, Broncos
  72. Emmanuel Sanders, Bills
  73. Parris Campbell, Colts
  74. Denzel Mims, Jets
  75. T.Y. Hilton Colts
  76. Rondale Moore, Cardinals
  77. Sterling Shepard, Giants
  78. Jalen Guyton, Chargers
  79. Christian Kirk, Cardinals
  80. Quintez Cephus, Lions

TARGETS ACQUIRED

Here’s one method assessment for quantifying elite-level consistency with seasonal and daily PPR leagues.

These 20 wideouts notched at least eight games of eight-plus targets during the 2020 season. By comparison, 22 wideouts crossed the same threshold in 2019.

14 games — Stefon Diggs

13 games — DeAndre Hopkins

12 — Davante Adams

11 — Calvin Ridley, Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen

10 — DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Diontae Johnson, Robby Anderson

9 — Justin Jefferson, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks

8 — JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyler Lockett, Amari Cooper, DJ Moore, Tyler Boyd, Chase Claypool, Tee Higgins

TIME FOR A CAVEAT

You won’t see Tyreek Hill on the above listing, since he posted just seven games of eight-plus targets during the 2020 regular season.

However, it’s also worth noting: Hill (87 catches, 135 targets, 1,276 yards, 17 total TDs last year) notched 10 outings of double-digit targets, when counting the playoffs; and for those games, the All-Pro performer enjoyed sterling averages of 8.6 catches, 11.9 targets, 110 yards and 0.9 touchdowns.

RED ZONE PROWESS: WIDE RECEIVERS

Here’s a cumulative, two-year perspective of the NFL’s most proficient wideouts inside the 20:

RED-ZONE TARGETS

Davante Adams — 46 RZ targets
Tyler Lockett — 39 RZ targets
Allen Robinson — 38
Keenan Allen — 35
Jarvis Landry — 35
Mike Evans — 34
DK Metcalf — 33
Michael Thomas — 32
Cooper Kupp — 30
JuJu Smith-Schuster — 28
Marvin Jones, Jr. — 28 (consecutive campaigns of 14)
Calvin Ridley — 27
DeVante Parker — 27
Russell Gage — 26
Adam Thielen — 25
Terry McLaurin — 25
Tyreek Hill — 24
Julio Jones — 24
Tyler Boyd — 24
Jamison Crowder — 23
Stefon Diggs — 21
A.J. Brown — 20
Kenny Golladay — 20

INSIDE-THE-20 RECEIVING TDs

Davante Adams — 17 red-zone scores
Adam Thielen — 16 red-zone scores
Tyler Lockett — 15
Mike Evans — 13
Marvin Jones Jr. — 12
Keenan Allen — 11
A.J. Brown — 11
Calvin Ridley — 10
Allen Robinson — 10
Chris Godwin — 10
Tyreek Hill — 9
DK Metcalf — 9
Marquise Brown — 8
Michael Thomas — 8
Curtis Samuel — 8

FUN FACT #1

Last year, Green Bay’s Davante Adams was the only NFL receiver to post top-4 finishes in catches (115), targets (149), receiving yards (1,374) and touchdowns (18).

DRAFT TIERS OF A CLOWN

HORIZONTAL TIER I: Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill

HORIZONTAL TIER II: Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Ridley, Justin Jefferson, Keenan Allen, DK Metcalf

HORIZONTAL TIER III: Allen Robinson, Terry McLaurin, Diontae Johnson, A.J. Brown, Mike Evans, Adam Thielen, Julio Jones, Robert Woods, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Brandon Aiyuk, Tyler Lockett, Chris Godwin, DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, CeeDee Lamb, Cooper Kupp, Amari Cooper

HORIZONTAL TIER IV: Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, Kenny Golladay, Tee Higgins, Chase Claypool, Marvin Jones, Marquise Brown, Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, Courtland Sutton, DJ Chark, Michael Thomas, Corey Davis, DeVante Parker, Cole Beasley, Curtis Samuel, Will Fuller

HORIZONTAL TIER V: Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Jerry Jeudy, Jamison Crowder, Deebo Samuel, Russell Gage, Nelson Agholor, Michael Pittman Jr., Mecole Hardman, Jalen Reagor, Mike Williams, A.J. Green, Tim Patrick, Darnell Mooney, Tyrell Williams, Randall Cobb, Michael Gallup, Sammy Watkins, John Brown, Jakobi Meyers, Darius Slayton, Kadarius Toney, Emmanuel Sanders, Amon-Ra St. Brown, T.Y. Hilton, Sterling Shepard, Jalen Guyton, Van Jefferson

THE CREAM ALWAYS RISES

Charting last season, 35 wideouts crossed the PPR-elite threshold of seven catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown at least seven times:

14 games — Stefon Diggs

13 — None

12 — Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Calvin Ridley, JuJu Smith-Schuster

11 — DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Mike Evans

10 — DK Metcalf, Amari Cooper, Robert Woods, Adam Thielen, A.J. Brown

9 — Justin Jefferson, Robby Anderson, Terry McLaurin, Marquise Brown

8 — Diontae Johnson, Allen Robinson, Nelson Agholor, Will Fuller

7 — Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, Chase Claypool, DJ Moore, Brandon Aiyuk, Marvin Jones Jr., Tyler Boyd, CeeDee Lamb, Chris Godwin, Cole Beasley, DeVante Parker, Curtis Samuel, Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder

FUN FACT #2

Charting his final 11 games last season, Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill notched five efforts of eight-plus catches, five instances of 100-plus receiving yards, nine outings of double-digit targets and 12 total touchdowns.

What’s more, since 2018, Hill has collected more total touchdowns (37) than any other NFL wideout.



TIGHT ENDS

TOP 35 PPR RANKINGS

  1. Travis Kelce, Chiefs
  2. Darren Waller, Raiders
  3. George Kittle, 49ers
  4. T.J. Hockenson, Lions
  5. Mark Andrews, Ravens
  6. Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team
  7. Kyle Pitts, Falcons
  8. Dallas Goedert, Eagles
  9. Robert Tonyan, Packers
  10. Noah Fant, Broncos
  11. Hunter Henry, Patriots
  12. Mike Gesicki, Dolphins
  13. Jared Cook, Chargers
  14. Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers
  15. Hayden Hurst, Falcons
  16. Tyler Higbee, Rams
  17. Pat Freiermuth, Steelers
  18. Austin Hooper, Browns
  19. Evan Engram, Giants
  20. Zach Ertz, Eagles
  21. Chris Herndon IV, Vikings
  22. Blake Jarwin, Cowboys
  23. Gerald Everett, Seahawks
  24. Cole Kmet, Bears
  25. Eric Ebron, Steelers
  26. Jonnu Smith, Patriots
  27. Anthony Firkser, Titans
  28. Adam Trautman, Saints
  29. Dawson Knox, Bills
  30. Kyle Rudolph, Giants
  31. Jordan Akins, Texans
  32. Dalton Schultz, Cowboys
  33. Harrison Bryant, Browns
  34. Mo Alie-Cox, Colts
  35. Will Dissly, Seahawks

TARGETS ACQUIRED, PART II

These 14 tight ends tallied at least seven games of six-plus targets last season. By comparison, only 12 tight ends crossed the same threshold in 2019.

14 games — Darren Waller, Travis Kelce

13 games — None

12 — None

11 — Hunter Henry

10 — Noah Fant, Logan Thomas, Evan Engram

9 — T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews, Eric Ebron

8 — Hayden Hurst, Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert

7 — Dalton Schultz

TIERS OF A CLOWN

HORIZONTAL TIER I: Travis Kelce, Darren Waller

HORIZONTAL TIER II: Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, George Kittle, Kyle Pitts, Logan Thomas, Robert Tonyan, Hunter Henry

HORIZONTAL TIER III: Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant, Dallas Goedert, Irv Smith Jr., Eric Ebron, Rob Gronkowski, Jonnu Smith, Jared Cook, Austin Hooper, Tyler Higbee, Evan Engram, Zach Ertz, Hayden Hurst

HORIZONTAL TIER IV: Blake Jarwin, Anthony Firkser, Adam Trautman, Gerald Everett, Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, Mo Alie-Cox, Kyle Rudolph, Harrison Bryant, Will Dissly, Drew Sample, Darren Fells, Chris Herndon, Dawson Knox

THE CREAM ALWAYS RISES, PART II

Charting last season, these 11 tight ends crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 80 yards and/or one touchdown at least seven times:

13 games — Travis Kelce

12 games — Darren Waller

11 games — None

10 — None

9 — Logan Thomas, T.J. Hockenson, Robert Tonyan, Jared Cook

8 — Eric Ebron, Rob Gronkowski

7 — Mark Andrews, Hunter Henry, Hayden Hurst

RED ZONE PROWESS: TIGHT ENDS

Here’s a cumulative, two-year perspective of the NFL’s most proficient tight ends inside the 20:

INSIDE-THE-20 RECEIVING TDs

Travis Kelce — 11 red-zone scores
Mark Andrews — 11 red-zone scores
Jonnu Smith — 10
Jimmy Graham — 10
Austin Hooper — 10
Darren Waller — 9
Mike Gesicki — 9
Jared Cook — 9
T.J. Hockenson — 7
Logan Thomas — 7
Robert Tonyan — 7
Irv Smith Jr. — 7
Zach Ertz — 6
Kyle Rudolph — 6
Hayden Hurst — 5
Rob Gronkowski — 5

INSIDE-THE-20 TARGETS

Travis Kelce — 39 RZ targets
Darren Waller — 33 RZ targets
Mark Andrews — 30
Jimmy Graham — 29
Eric Ebron — 26
Mike Gesicki — 25
Evan Engram — 22
T.J. Hockenson — 22
Hayden Hurst — 21



RUNNING BACKS

TOP 60 PPR TAILBACKS

  1. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
  2. Dalvin Cook, Vikings
  3. Derrick Henry, Titans
  4. Alvin Kamara, Saints
  5. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
  6. Jonathan Taylor, Colts
  7. Aaron Jones, Packers
  8. Austin Ekeler, Chargers
  9. Saquon Barkley, Giants
  10. Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team
  11. Nick Chubb, Browns
  12. David Montgomery, Bears
  13. Joe Mixon, Bengals
  14. Najee Harris, Steelers
  15. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs
  16. James Robinson, Jaguars
  17. Miles Sanders, Eagles
  18. Myles Gaskin, Dolphins
  19. Mike Davis, Falcons
  20. Chris Carson, Seahawks
  21. D’Andre Swift, Lions
  22. Raheem Mostert, 49ers
  23. Darrell Henderson, Rams
  24. Josh Jacobs, Raiders
  25. Kareem Hunt, Browns
  26. Javonte Williams, Broncos
  27. Ronald Jones, Buccaneers
  28. Damien Harris, Patriots
  29. Gus Edwards, Ravens
  30. Kenyan Drake, Raiders
  31. Jamaal Williams, Lions
  32. J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team
  33. Chase Edmonds, Cardinals
  34. Trey Sermon, 49ers
  35. Melvin Gordon, Broncos
  36. Phillip Lindsay, Texans
  37. Devin Singletary, Bills
  38. Michael Carter, Jets
  39. Sony Michel, Rams
  40. Zack Moss, Bills
  41. James Conner, Cardinals
  42. Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers
  43. Nyheim Hines, Colts
  44. Devontae Booker, Giants
  45. Marlon Mack, Colts
  46. Tevin Coleman, Jets
  47. David Johnson, Texans
  48. James White, Patriots
  49. AJ Dillon, Packers
  50. Ty’Son Williams, Ravens
  51. Mark Ingram, Texans
  52. Tony Pollard, Cowboys
  53. Latavius Murray, Saints
  54. Tarik Cohen, Bears
  55. Alexander Mattison, Vikings
  56. Joshua Kelley, Chargers
  57. Jeff Wilson Jr,. 49ers
  58. Justin Jackson, Chargers
  59. Boston Scott, Eagles
  60. Chuba Hubbard, Panthers
  61. Rex Burkhead, Texans
  62. Salvon Ahmed, Dolphins
  63. Xavier Jones, Rams

FUN FACT #3

Charting his last 19 games, Panthers tailback Christian McCaffrey owns absurd averages of 146 total yards and 1.3 touchdowns; and let us not forget, CMC notched multiple TDs in all three outings last year (missed 13 games to injury).

DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

A fantasy friend didn’t care for Austin Ekeler’s top-8 ranking among running backs, essentially labeling the Chargers playmaker as too small and too injury-prone.

This prompted a gentle, yet firm reminder to the general fantasy public (novices and experts alike) of Ekeler’s PPR excellence — from just two years ago.

****Of the nine times Ekeler (92 catches, 108 targets, 1,550 total yards, 11 TDs in 2019) tallied six-plus targets, the Western State alum enjoyed a supreme catch-to-target rate of 85 percent … while finding the end zone five different times.

****For that season, Ekeler crossed the elite-level threshold of 120 total yards and/or one touchdown on nine separate occasions.

****Ekeler rolled for 1,550 total yards (sharing time with Melvin Gordon) … while only collecting more than 20 touches twice all season.

FUN FACT #4

Last year, Cowboys tailback Ezekiel Elliott cleared the elite-level threshold of 100 total yards and/or one touchdown in all five games started by Dak Prescott.

Also during that span, Elliott enjoyed a robust catch-to-target rate of 73 percent.

Digging deeper … charting his 31 starts with Prescott as a backfield mate, Elliott notched 100 total yards and/or one touchdown 29 times.

50-AND-OVER CLUB

Here’s a look at the 18 running backs who collected a minimum of 50 receiving targets last season:

J.D. McKissic — 110
Alvin Kamara — 107
Nyheim Hines — 77
Ezekiel Elliott — 73
Mike Davis — 70
Chase Edmonds — 68
David Montgomery — 68
Austin Ekeler — 65
Aaron Jones — 63
James White — 62
James Robinson — 60
Giovani Bernard — 59
D’Andre Swift — 57
Clyde Edwards-Helaire — 55
Dalvin Cook — 54
Miles Sanders — 52
Devin Singletary — 52
Kareem Hunt — 51

OTHER NOTABLES

**Myles Gaskin, Dolphins (averaged 4.7 targets over 10 games)
**Joe Mixon, Bengals (collected 14 total targets over back-to-back outings, shortly before going down with a season-ending injury)



MOCK DRAFT A: THE ‘ZERO BACK’ STRATEGY (#2 SLOT)

For this mock draft (conducted on Aug. 3), we had the explicit goal of grabbing four wide receivers and an elite-level tight end (either Travis Kelce or Darren Waller) in the first five picks … and then building out the running backs, starting in Round 5.

And in hindsight, we’re rather pleased with the results of this exercise, while operating out of the No. 2 draft slot.

ROUND 1 — TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs
ROUND 2 — WR Justin Jefferson, Vikings
ROUND 3 — WR Keenan Allen, Chargers
ROUND 4 — WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
ROUND 5 — WR Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals
ROUND 6 — RB Javonte Williams, Broncos
ROUND 7 — RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers
ROUND 8 — RB David Johnson, Texans
ROUND 9 — RB Ronald Jones II, Buccaneers
ROUND 10 — RB Jamaal Williams, Lions
ROUND 11 — D/ST Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ROUND 12 — QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
ROUND 13 — TE Austin Hooper, Browns
ROUND 14 — PK Justin Tucker, Ravens
ROUND 15 — QB Baker Mayfield, Browns
ROUND 16 — WR Tyrell Williams, Lions

MOCK DRAFT B: THE ‘ZERO BACK STRATEGY’ (#11 SLOT)

We’ll now attempt the same mock exercise, philosophically speaking, from the bottom of Round 1.

We’re still hyper-focused on landing a dominant tight end (Travis Kelce or Darren Waller), four top-flight receivers somewhere in Rounds 1-5, and then churning out the tailbacks, en masse, from Rounds 6-10.

ROUND 1 — WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
ROUND 2 — TE Darren Waller, Raiders
ROUND 3 — WR Mike Evans, Buccaneers
ROUND 4 — WR Diontae Johnson, Steelers
ROUND 5 — WR Robby Anderson, Panthers
ROUND 6 — RB Travis Etienne, Jaguars
ROUND 7 — RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers
ROUND 8 — RB David Johnson, Texans
ROUND 9 — RB Ronald Jones, Buccaneers
ROUND 10 — RB Jamaal Williams, Lions
ROUND 11 — D/ST Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ROUND 12 — QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
ROUND 13 — QB Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars
ROUND 14 — PK Harrison Butker, Chiefs
ROUND 15 — TE Tyler Higbee, Rams
ROUND 16 — WR Tyrell Williams, Lions

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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