What PPR means in fantasy football, and three picks to target in draft

USATSI/NBC Sports Bay Area

What PPR means in fantasy football, and three picks to target in draft

If you’re a fantasy football newbie, the most intimidating acronym just might be PPR.

First, take a deep breath. This is fantasy football, not real football, so nobody’s going to yell at you for not knowing what it is. Well, I can’t speak for the people in your fantasy football league, but I certainly won’t yell at you.

Second, that’s where I come in! This handy guide will explain what the PPR format is, and which players you should target in your fantasy football draft.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is PPR?

PPR is an acronym that stands for “point per reception.” It is as simple as it sounds: For every catch a player on your fantasy team accrues, you earn a point.

Now, not all PPR leagues are created equal. Some leagues assign different point values per reception, ranging just about anywhere between zero and one. Make sure you check with your league manager to see how many points a reception is worth before you draft, as it will change your approach.

For the purposes of his guide, we’re going to assume one reception is worth one point.

I’m in a PPR league. What does that mean for my draft?

It means you’re going to need to look at players who catch a lot of passes and those who are targeted a lot. Let’s look at Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen as a case study.

In non-PPR leagues, Thielen’s most important numbers from last season were “1,373” and “nine.” The former represented his receiving yards, and the latter his touchdowns. Assuming receiving and rushing TDs are worth six points apiece and receiving and rushing yards are worth 0.1 points per yard, Thielen accumulated 182.3 points in 2018.

That was enough to make him one of the best wide receivers in standard fantasy leagues last year, but he was even more valuable in PPR leagues. He tied for fourth with 113 receptions last season, meaning he would have been worth an additional 113 points.

Most of the top receivers in standard leagues are going to get that kind of volume, but knowing who is targeted most often can make a big difference at some important positions.

Who should I target? 

All four of the players below are examples of skill-position players (one wide receiver, running back, and tight end) whose stock is boosted by their pass-catching ability. 

James White, Patriots RB
White rushed for a respectable 425 yards on 94 carries and added four touchdowns last season. His 751 receiving yards and seven receiving TDs made him a low-end RB1 or really strong RB2 in standard leagues, but his 87 receptions made him a borderline elite RB1 in PPR leagues. 

Sony Michel figures to get the bulk of the carries in New England, but Bill Belichick’s constant backfield tinkering and Brady’s clear chemistry with White still makes him a viable fantasy option. 

Jarvis Landry, Browns WR
Did you know that, through the first five years of their career, no wide receiver in NFL history has more catches than Jarvis Landry? Quit your yards-per-reception jokes, the guy has sure hands! 

Even with LSU teammate Odell Beckham, Jr. joining him in the Dawg Pound, Landry’s going to catch plenty of passes from Baker Mayfield this season. He won’t be your WR1, but he could be your WR2 or even your flex. 

Zach Ertz, Eagles TE
Travis Kelce was the king of the tight ends in 2018 and retains the crown headed into 2019. But Zach Ertz closes that gap in PPR formats. 

He is a favorite of now-healthy Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz, and Ertz caught a career-high 116 passes last season. That was enough to propel him over 49ers tight end George Kittle for second-best at the position in PPR formats, and is something to keep in mind if (read: when) you miss out on Kelce. 

More fantasy football draft kit content

49ers mailbag: Could co-coordinators ease Kyle Shanahan's workload?

49ers mailbag: Could co-coordinators ease Kyle Shanahan's workload?

It has been two weeks since the 49ers’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. That’s more than enough time to turn the page and look ahead.

So that’s what we’re doing -- with the help from some of our Twitter friends. Here is the first offseason edition of the 49ers Mailbag.

Kyle Shanahan is one of the best play-callers in the NFL. I don’t think there’s even a question about that. Is there? So I can’t envision any scenario in which Shanahan stops doing the thing he does best.

Shanahan certainly believes McDaniel and LaFleur are ready to call plays. McDaniel and LaFleur are, in essence, co-offensive coordinators. They are responsible for putting together the first components of the weekly game plan.

Through the first three seasons together with the 49ers, they have found a pretty good rhythm together and Shanahan finds himself placing more trust in them. What they’re doing is working.

If the 49ers have the $19 million-plus in cap room to devote to a franchise tag for Arik Armstead, then I think they could work out a long-term deal that would work for both sides.

As for the question about a tag-and-trade, I’m sure you’re thinking about how the Kansas City Chiefs tagged Dee Ford a year ago and, then, traded him to the 49ers. In that instance, the Chiefs had Frank Clark on the line, so that made sense.

In this case, I don’t think there’s anyone who plays Armstead’s position they would prefer over him. Armstead is exactly what the 49ers need: A defensive end on base downs who moves inside next to DeForest Buckner to rush the passer in nickel situations.

There is no need for the 49ers to do anything with Thomas, except work with him to continue to improve and become more valuable as a rotational player on the defensive line. The 49ers certainly will not pick up the fifth-year option on Thomas for the 2021 season. But with Thomas’ rookie contract guaranteed, there is no cap advantage in parting ways with him this year.

Regardless, Thomas should have a significant role next season. But if for whatever reason Armstead is not back, Thomas has a strong chance to be a starter.

The possibility of recouping a draft pick is part of the reason the 49ers felt compelled to make the trade in the first place. In my opinion, they would have preferred Mohamed Sanu, who was under contract through the 2020 season. But the Patriots offered the Atlanta Falcons a second-round draft pick, and the 49ers did not have a second-round pick after dealing it to Kansas City for Dee Ford.

Instead, the 49ers acquired Sanders and a fifth-round pick from Denver in return for third- and fourth-round draft picks. The 49ers do not figure to be active with veteran acquisitions on the free-agent market this offseason, so it is likely the 49ers have more losses than gains. If Sanders is a loss, the 49ers would stand a good chance of picking up a compensatory pick for the 2021 draft.

Get stronger. Work. Work. Work.

Pettis had a good offseason program a year ago, but he was not the same player when he came back for training camp. Other receivers on the team came back stronger at the opening of camp. Pettis did not. That is why Pettis struggled and fell out of favor to the point he rarely played in the second half of the season.

Pettis needs to take it up another few notches to get stronger and avoid the nagging injuries that also set him back last season. Pettis has more ability than almost anyone on the team to run some of Shanahan’s favorite routes. He will have an opportunity to prove himself in the offseason and training camp this year.

If Jalen Hurd and Pettis are both healthy, I think the answer is Hurd. The reason is because of his size and his unique skill set.

I envision Hurd being a big part of the 49ers’ two-minute offense because of his versatility. The 49ers can line him up anywhere in the formation, including running back. That puts the onus on the defense to figure out how they want to treat him. Is he a runner, wide receiver or tight end? Then, based on the defensive personnel, the 49ers can exploit those weaknesses.

[RELATED: Juice sick of Jimmy G, Shanahan criticism after Super Bowl]

The draft takes place more than a month after free agency. So the answer to this question could change, based on what the 49ers’ roster looks like at the time of the draft. But, right now, if the 49ers hold onto the No. 31 overall pick, the team can choose among the best available wide receiver, cornerback or defensive lineman.

There are two ways to look at this. But if there’s a team willing to move up to No. 31 overall, then that is the default move. It would make a lot of sense to sit out the first round of the draft to come away with multiple picks on Day 2.

But if there is someone at No. 31 with whom the organization has fallen in love, then they should take that player. The advantage of holding onto the first-round draft pick is that the 49ers would control the contract rights to the player for five years, instead of four.

49ers' Kyle Juszczyk sick of Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan criticism

49ers' Kyle Juszczyk sick of Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan criticism

Losing the Super Bowl was tough on the 49ers, to say the least. It was especially tough for the team's fullback, Kyle Juszczyk, who hated hearing the criticism of Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan, his quarterback and coach.

"Those are two guys that have absolutely nothing to prove to the rest of the guys in the locker room," Juice said Friday on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football." "You look at Jimmy, for people that are stats guys, 4,000 yards passing, better than a two-to-one, touchdown-interception ratio, 70 percent completion."

He added with that alone, you're looking at a "phenomenal quarterback."

"For whatever reason, Jimmy just gets this extra criticism, this extra heat, but I think at one point in the game he was like 19-for-22," Jusczyk said. 

"That's football, though -- you just change one or two plays in the game, and the whole dialogue changes, the whole narrative."

Juice mentioned the moment that could have put Jimmy G in the same category as Tom Brady as a Super Bowl MVP. The moment that could have led to the 49ers popping champagne in San Francisco amongst the faithful.

That could have been a game-changer.

The play in question caused wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to storm out of the media room following the Super Bowl LIV loss to the Chiefs. Garoppolo's overthrow in the fourth quarter changed everything.

[RELATED: What Juice regrets most from 49ers' Super Bowl collapse]

And they know it. Jimmy knows it. Sanders knows it. Shanahan knows it. 

"It's a shame that one or two plays can really change everyone's outlook on someone," Juszczyk said.