BATSBY Sports offers a two-part look at the 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.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PART II OF THE ‘PPR SPECTACULAR’

PART I

EDUCATED GUESS #1

You can bet the proverbial farm on Saints wideout Michael Thomas (149 catches, 1,725 yards, 9 TDs) incurring a slight production dip in 2020, citing three firm presumptions:

**Last season, Thomas amassed a new NFL single-season record for catches; and for what it’s worth, only Cris Carter (1994-95) and Antonio Brown (2014-15) have posted consecutive seasons of 120-plus receptions.

**It’s difficult to envision Saints tailback Alvin Kamara (three-year average: 1,492 total yards, 12.3 TDs) falling short of 1,400 total yards and/or double-digit touchdowns this year, especially with the University of Tennessee product slated to hit unrestricted free agency after the 2020 campaign.

**The Saints’ previous model of having Thomas outperform his wideout teammates by three or four times the targets reeked of absurdity; and that lack of balance contributed to the Saints averaging three points less in 2019 (compared to 2018).

To rectify the situation in 2020, New Orleans signed Emmanuel Sanders for the WR2 role.

WIDE RECEIVERS

PRESEASON: TOP 75 PPR WIDEOUTS

  1. Michael Thomas, Saints
  2. Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
  3. Davante Adams, Packers
  4. DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
  5. Julio Jones, Falcons
  6. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
  7. Kenny Golladay, Lions
  8. DJ Moore, Panthers
  9. Allen Robinson, Bears
  10. Mike Evans, Buccaneers
  11. Amari Cooper, Cowboys
  12. A.J. Brown, Titans
  13. Adam Thielen, Vikings
  14. Cooper Kupp, Rams
  15. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
  16. DeVante Parker, Dolphins
  17. Odell Beckham Jr., Browns
  18. DJ Chark, Jaguars
  19. Courtland Sutton, Broncos
  20. DK Metcalf, Seahawks
  21. Will Fuller, Texans
  22. Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team
  23. Stefon Diggs, Bills
  24. Calvin Ridley, Falcons
  25. Tyler Boyd, Bengals
  26. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
  27. Keenan Allen, Chargers
  28. T.Y. Hilton, Colts
  29. Jarvis Landry, Browns
  30. Sterling Shepard, Giants
  31. Marvin Jones, Lions
  32. Julian Edelman, Patriots
  33. Christian Kirk, Cardinals
  34. Michael Gallup, Cowboys
  35. Robert Woods, Rams
  36. Brandin Cooks, Texans
  37. Marquise Brown, Ravens
  38. Diontae Johnson, Steelers
  39. A.J. Green, Bengals
  40. Deebo Samuel, 49ers
  41. Breshad Perriman, Jets
  42. Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
  43. John Brown, Bills
  44. Hunter Renfrow, Raiders
  45. Darius Slayton, Giants
  46. Sammy Watkins, Chiefs
  47. Emmanuel Sanders, Saints
  48. Anthony Miller, Bears
  49. DeSean Jackson, Eagles
  50. N’Keal Harry, Patriots
  51. Curtis Samuel, Panthers
  52. Mecole Hardman, Chiefs
  53. Jamison Crowder, Jets
  54. Bryan Edwards, Raiders
  55. Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
  56. Justin Jefferson, Vikings
  57. Robby Anderson, Panthers
  58. Cole Beasley, Bills
  59. Mike Williams, Chargers
  60. CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys
  61. Jalen Reagor, Eagles
  62. John Ross III, Bengals
  63. Corey Davis, Titans
  64. Michael Pittman Jr., Colts
  65. Preston Williams, Dolphins
  66. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
  67. Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers
  68. Chris Conley, Jaguars
  69. Golden Tate, Giants
  70. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers
  71. Henry Ruggs III, Raiders
  72. Parris Campbell, Colts
  73. Steven Sims, Washington Football Team
  74. Laviska Shenault, Jaguars
  75. Allen Lazard, Packers

EDUCATED GUESS #2

Let’s take a stab at prognosticating Julio Jones’ precise statistics for 2020 — assuming full health:

First, let’s throw out Jones’ gold-standard season of (136 catches, 1,871 yards, 8 TDs) … and his, uh, worst, campaign of the last six years — 2017 (84 catches, 1,444 yards, 3 TDs).

The averages of the other four seasons (2014, 2016, 2018-19) come out to: 100 catches, 155 targets, 1,518 yards and seven scores for this season. BOOM!

That’s top-five territory for PPR wideouts, no matter how you slice it.

TARGETS ACQUIRED

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

These 22 wideouts notched at least eight games of eight-plus targets during the 2019 season:

15 games — Michael Thomas

14 games — DeAndre Hopkins

13 games — Julio Jones

12 — None

11 — Julian Edelman, Robert Woods, DJ Moore

10 — Davante Adams, Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Courtland Sutton, Keenan Allen, Tyler Boyd

9 — Kenny Golladay, Amari Cooper, Jarvis Landry, Cooper Kupp

8 — Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., DeVante Parker, Jamison Crowder, John Brown, Christian Kirk

TIERS OF A CLOWN: WIDEOUTS

TIER I — Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Julio Jones Chris Godwin
TIER II — Tyreek Hill, Kenny Golladay, DJ Moore, Amari Cooper, Allen Robinson, Adam Thielen, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike Evans, Cooper Kupp, A.J. Brown
TIER III — Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Courtland Sutton, Calvin Ridley, Tyler Lockett, Terry McLaurin, DJ Chark, DeVante Parker, DK Metcalf, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd
TIER IV — Robert Woods, Keenan Allen, T.Y. Hilton, Julian Edelman, Stefon Diggs, Michael Gallup, Marvin Jones Jr., Will Fuller, Sterling Shepard, Brandin Cooks, John Brown, Christian Kirk, Deebo Samuel, Diontae Johnson
TIER V — Breshad Perriman, Deebo Samuel, Marquise Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Williams, Corey Davis, Robby Anderson, Darius Slayton, Jerry Jeudy, Golden Tate, Anthony Miller, Alshon Jeffery, Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins, Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, Chris Conley, N’Keal Harry, Larry Fitzgerald, Jalen Reagor, Hunter Renfrow, Jamison Crowder, Michael Pittman, Jr., Brandon Aiyuk, Curtis Samuel, John Ross III, Tee Higgins, Justin Jefferson, Laviska Shenault

AMARI’S HOME/AWAY SCHIZOPHRENIA

Remember when noted ESPN blowhard Rex Ryan inadvertently referred to Amari Cooper as a ‘turd’ back in March?

It was obviously a poor choice of words on Ryan’s part, an indefensible cheap shot on national TV. But moving past the needless insult, did Ryan have a point in criticizing Cooper’s home/road splits with the Cowboys?

Check this out:

**For his 12 regular-season road outings (2018-19), Cooper owns painful averages of 3.8 catches, 7.1 targets, 41.2 yards and 0.3 TDs.

**For his 13 regular-season home games (2018-19), Cooper boasts stellar averages of 6.7 catches, 8.5 targets, 109 yards and 0.9 TDs.

What’s the verdict? Cooper might become the first top-10 wideout in fantasy history … to be mired in a home/away platoon with a third-tier receiver.

MORE FUN WITH NUMBERS: JULIO JONES EDITION

Jones collected at least eight targets in his final 10 games last season, a feat only shared by Saints superstar Michael Thomas.

During this prolific span, Jones enjoyed three outings of double-digit receptions, three games of 130-plus yards and one effort of multiple touchdowns (the last-second road upset of the 49ers).

All told, Jones’ per-game averages for Weeks 6-16 came to 7.3 catches, 11 targets, 104 yards and 0.2 touchdowns.

‘CHEETAH’ ON THE REBOUND

Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill’s injury-riddled campaign in 2019 (58 catches, 89 targets, 860 yards, 7 TDs) resulted in three-year lows across the board.

Sounds ominous for 2020, huh? Wrong.

There were still a number of tangible feats to celebrate:

****From Week 6 to Super Sunday, spanning 15 total games, Hill racked up eight-plus targets seven different times — including three outings of double-digit targets.

****In his final eight games, Hill posted a superb catch-to-target rate of 71 percent.

****Covering his last 33 outings (including the playoffs), Hill racked up multiple touchdowns seven different times.

****And there was that YouTube-friendly foot race during the offseason.

THE CREAM ALWAYS RISES

Charting last season, 26 wideouts crossed the PPR-elite threshold of seven catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown at least seven times:

14 games — Michael Thomas

13 — None

12 — None

11 — Cooper Kupp

10 — DeAndre Hopkins, Chris Godwin, DJ Moore, Kenny Golladay

9 — Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, Julian Edelman, Tyler Lockett, DeVante Parker, Cole Beasley

8 — Julio Jones, Robert Woods, Michael Gallup, Calvin Ridley

7 — Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Jamison Crowder, DJ Chark, A.J. Brown, John Brown, Stefon Diggs, Terry McLaurin

TIGHT ENDS

PRESEASON: TOP 35 PPR TIGHT ENDS

  1. Travis Kelce, Chiefs
  2. George Kittle, 49ers
  3. Darren Waller, Raiders
  4. Mark Andrews, Ravens
  5. Zach Ertz, Eagles
  6. Tyler Higbee, Rams
  7. Evan Engram, Giants
  8. Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers
  9. Hunter Henry, Chargers
  10. Austin Hooper, Browns
  11. Noah Fant, Broncos
  12. Jared Cook, Saints
  13. T.J. Hockenson, Lions
  14. Mike Gesicki, Dolphins
  15. Dallas Goedert, Eagles
  16. Jack Doyle, Colts
  17. Hayden Hurst, Falcons
  18. Jonnu Smith, Titans
  19. Chris Herndon, Jets
  20. Eric Ebron, Steelers
  21. Greg Olsen, Seahawks
  22. Devin Asiasi, Patriots
  23. Ian Thomas, Panthers
  24. O.J. Howard, Buccaneers
  25. David Njoku, Browns
  26. Irv Smith Jr., Vikings
  27. Will Dissly, Seahawks
  28. Darren Fells, Texans
  29. Blake Jarwin, Cowboys
  30. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
  31. Dawson Knox, Bills
  32. Jason Witten, Cowboys
  33. Jace Sternberger, Packers
  34. Jimmy Graham, Bears
  35. Josh Oliver, Jaguars

TARGETS ACQUIRED, PART II

These 12 tight ends tallied at least seven games of six-plus targets last season.

By comparison, only eight tight ends crossed the same threshold in 2018.

14 games — Travis Kelce

13 games — Zach Ertz

12 — Darren Waller

11 — George Kittle, Mark Andrews, Austin Hooper

10 — Mike Gesicki

9 — None

8 — Dallas Goedert, Hunter Henry, Greg Olsen

7 — Tyler Higbee, Evan Engram

TIERS OF A CLOWN: TIGHT ENDS

TIER I — Travis Kelce, George Kittle
TIER II — Zach Ertz, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, Evan Engram, Tyler Higbee, Rob Gronkowski, Hunter Henry
TIER III — Austin Hooper, Jared Cook, Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant, T.J. Hockenson, Dallas Goedert, Jack Doyle, Hayden Hurst, Eric Ebron, Devin Asiasi, O.J. Howard
TIER IV — Greg Olsen, Jason Witten, Kyle Rudolph, Chris Herndon, David Njoku, Irv Smith Jr., Jonnu Smith, Blake Jarwin
TIER V — Cameron Brate, Tyler Eifert, Darren Fells, Will Dissly, Dawson Knox, Adam Troutman, Cole Kmet
TIER VI — Jace Sternberger, Jimmy Graham, Ryan Griffin, Jordan Akins, Jacob Hollister, Gerald Everett, Ricky Seals-Jones, Kaden Smith, Josh Oliver

THE CREAM ALWAYS RISES, PART II

Charting last season, these 10 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 — None

11 games — George Kittle

10 — Darren Waller, Austin Hooper

9 — Mark Andrews, Jared Cook

8 — Zach Ertz

7 — Dallas Goedert, Hunter Henry

RUNNING BACKS

PRESEASON: TOP 70 PPR TAILBACKS

  1. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
  2. Dalvin Cook, Vikings
  3. Saquon Barkley, Giants
  4. Aaron Jones, Packers
  5. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
  6. Alvin Kamara, Saints
  7. Josh Jacobs, Raiders
  8. Derrick Henry, Titans
  9. Austin Ekeler, Chargers
  10. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs
  11. Chris Carson, Seahawks
  12. Joe Mixon, Bengals
  13. Nick Chubb, Browns
  14. Kenyan Drake, Cardinals
  15. Miles Sanders, Eagles
  16. Raheem Mostert, 49ers
  17. James Conner, Steelers
  18. Le’Veon Bell, Jets
  19. Todd Gurley, Falcons
  20. Melvin Gordon, Broncos
  21. Devin Singletary, Bills
  22. Mark Ingram, Ravens
  23. D’Andre Swift, Lions
  24. David Johnson, Texans
  25. Cam Akers, Rams
  26. Ronald Jones, Buccaneers
  27. Kareem Hunt, Browns
  28. Marlon Mack, Colts
  29. James White, Patriots
  30. Phillip Lindsay, Broncos
  31. Tevin Coleman, 49ers
  32. Matt Breida, Dolphins
  33. Adrian Peterson, Washington Football Team
  34. Jonathan Taylor, Colts
  35. Sony Michel, Patriots
  36. Ryquell Armstead, Jaguars
  37. David Montgomery, Bears
  38. Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers
  39. Kerryon Johnson, Lions
  40. Jordan Howard, Dolphins
  41. J.K. Dobbins, Ravens
  42. Darwin Thompson, Chiefs
  43. Tarik Cohen, Bears
  44. Alexander Mattison, Vikings
  45. Latavius Murray, Saints
  46. Boston Scott, Eagles
  47. Duke Johnson, Texans
  48. Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team
  49. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Buccaneers
  50. Damien Harris, Patriots
  51. Chase Edmonds, Cardinals
  52. Tony Pollard, Cowboys
  53. Ito Smith, Falcons
  54. Nyheim Hines, Colts
  55. Zack Moss, Bills
  56. A.J. Dillon, Packers
  57. Carlos Hyde, Seahawks
  58. Darrell Henderson, Rams
  59. Justin Jackson, Chargers
  60. Darrynton Evans, Titans
  61. Jerick McKinnon, 49ers
  62. Bryce Love, Washington Football Team
  63. Jalen Richard, Raiders
  64. Devine Ozigbo, Jaguars
  65. Brian Hill, Falcons
  66. Joshua Kelley, Chargers
  67. Anthony McFarland Jr., Steelers
  68. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks
  69. Gio Bernard, Bengals
  70. Bo Scarbrough, Lions

NEVER LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH

Christian McCaffrey (2,392 total yards, 19 TDs last yearshould be a runaway pick for the No. 1 overall pick in PPR drafts,.

However, the Panthers star doesn’t have the cake schedule of another fantasy dynamo, Vikings tailback Dalvin Cook.

Carolina, Jacksonville, Seattle, Chicago and Green Bay surrendered the most rushing touchdowns to tailbacks last season — a staggering 93 combined scores — and Cook’s the only fantasy superstar to encounter all five wayward defenses in 2020.

Plus, with divisional rivalries … that’s seven total chances at the NFL’s most porous rushing defenses from last season.

(Gambler’s caveat: Air-tight trends from previous years doesn’t always guarantee future results.)

Adding to the fun, here’s an important reminder: Before incurring a substantive injury in Week 15 last year, Cook (1,654 total yards, 13 TDs) was a perfect 13 for 13 in reaching the elite-level threshold of 110 total yards and/or one touchdown.

BARKLEY’S TOUGH ROAD AHEAD

Need a reason to ignore Giants tailback Saquon Barkley (1,441 total yards, 8 TDs last year) at the very top of a fantasy draft?

The gauntlet of 2020 opponents (citing 2019 defensive stats), covering the first eight games include:

STEELERS — 3rd in rushing touchdowns allowed … 3rd in overall TDs surrendered to tailbacks

BEARS — 9th in receiving yards yielded to tailbacks … 9th in receiving TDs given up to the same position

49ERS — 4th in rushing touchdowns allowed … 3rd in overall TDs surrendered … 8th in rushing yards yielded

COWBOYS — 10th in rushing yards surrendered

EAGLES — 4th in rushing yards allowed

BUCS — 1st in rushing yards surrendered … 7th in rushing TDs yielded … 3rd in receiving TDs allowed to tailbacks

Does this mean Barkley’s incapable of replicating the seismic numbers from his rookie campaign of 2018 — 2,028 total yards and 15 touchdowns?

No.

We’re merely saying it might be the smarter play to bypass Barkley on draft day … and then stealthily trade for him around Week 5, a time when the original owner might be a little disenchanted with his Round 1 choice.

MORE DALVIN COOK LOVE

Fantasy owners can expect a variance with Cook rankings. I have the Florida State product at No. 2 … but others might have Dalvin barely holding down the fort in Round 1.

The primary knock here: Cook has yet to play a full season in the pros, with last year’s output of 14 games serving as the career high.

Personally speaking, there are minimal worries about Cook’s longevity or sustainability:

****For his first 13 games in 2019, Cook reached the elite-level threshold of 110 total yards and/or one touchdown 13 times; and against NFC North foes, the Vikings star owned stellar averages of 121 total yards and 1.3 TDs.

****Citing the NFL’s eight worst rushing defenses from last year, in terms of touchdowns allowed, the Vikings will encounter six of the unique opponents in 2020 (nine games total) — including two meetings apiece with the Packers, Bears and Lions.

TIERS OF A CLOWN: RUNNING BACKS

TIER I — Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook
TIER II — Aaron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Miles Sanders, Kenyan Drake
TIER III — Chris Carson, Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, James Conner, Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon
TIER IV — Raheem Mostert, D’Andre Swift, Mark Ingram, David Montgomery, Devin Singletary, Cam Akers, Kareem Hunt
TIER V — James White, Jonathan Taylor, David Johnson, Ronald Jones, Kerryon Johnson, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Marlon Mack, Tarik Cohen, Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, Phillip Lindsay, J.K. Dobbins, Jordan Howard, Sony Michel, Darwin Thompson, Adrian Peterson, Leonard Fournette
TIER VI — Rashaad Penny, Duke Johnson, Latavius Murray, Chase Edmonds, Boston Scott, Zack Moss, Darrell Henderson, Tony Pollard, Justin Jackson, Nyheim Hines, AJ Dillon, Darrynton Evans, Jalen Richard, Ito Smith, Jamaal Williams, Joshua Kelley, Anthony McFarland Jr., Ryquell Armstead, Giovani Bernard, Jerick McKinnon, Darrel Williams

ALIEN VS. PREDATOR

The top-five battle of Aaron Jones vs. Ezekiel Elliott represents a virtual coin flip.

For 2019, Elliott enjoyed the head-to-head edge with carries (301), rushing yards (1,357), total yards (1,777), catches (54) and targets (71); whereas Jones prevailed with yards per carry (4.6), receiving yards (474), rushing touchdowns (16), receiving scores (3) and total touchdowns (19).

The tiebreaker for 2020: Similar to Dalvin Cook, Jones should greatly benefit from a schedule that includes the Panthers (NFL-worst 27 rushing TDs allowed last year), Jaguars (bottom-5 ranking with rushing yards/rushing TDs surrendered) and Lions (bottom-10 with rushing yards/rushing TDs allowed).

Two more bonus tracks:

****In his final six outings last season (including the playoffs), Jones posted supreme averages of 116 total yards and 1.5 touchdowns.

****Last season, Elliott nearly doubled Jones’ amount of red-zone carries (59-33 disparity); and yet, the latter finished with more rushing touchdowns inside the 20 (14-11 advantage).

TARGET … CATCH … SCORE … REPEAT

Here are some cool nuggets regarding Austin Ekeler’s breakout campaign with the Chargers last season (92 catches, 108 targets, 1,550 total yards, 11 TDs):

****Of the nine times Ekeler talled 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 2019, 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.

50-AND-OVER CLUB

Here’s a look at the 20 running backs who collected a minimum of 50 receiving targets last season:

  1. Christian McCaffrey — 142
  2. Austin Ekeler — 108
  3. Tarik Cohen — 104
  4. Leonard Fournette — 100
  5. Alvin Kamara — 97
  6. James White — 95
  7. Le’Veon Bell — 78
  8. Saquon Barkley — 73
  9. Ezekiel Elliott — 71
  10. Devonta Freeman — 70
  11. Kenyan Drake — 68
  12. Aaron Jones — 68
  13. Dalvin Cook — 63
  14. Miles Sanders — 63
  15. Duke Johnson — 62
  16. Nyheim Hines — 58
  17. Chris Thompson — 58
  18. Jaylen Samuels — 57
  19. Melvin Gordon — 55
  20. Royce Freeman — 50

OTHER NOTABLES
David Johnson — Averaged 4.0 targets over 12 games
Kareem Hunt — Averaged 5.5 targets over eight games