Finding fantasy football PPR value buys: Wide receivers

Finding fantasy football PPR value buys: Wide receivers

Fantasy football draft strategy tips and advice

Finding fantasy football PPR value buys: Wide receivers


With the tremendous popularity of point-per-reception leagues, fantasy footballers find themselves with different strategic decisions to ponder before draft day.

One of the most common scenarios is not necessarily a strategic move but a situational problem every gamer eventually will encounter: Not every player you will covet is ideal for PPR scoring, of course, so it forces gamers to feel like they need to chase receptions elsewhere, almost as some players do with certain categories in roto scoring in baseball.

Recognizing roles

Myriad factors go into determining target share for wide receivers, and it’s especially important to look at the bigger picture of which running backs and tight ends will overtake secondary receiving options in the pecking order. It’s also imperative to understand which receivers profile as target hogs vs. the ones who are primarily utilized in low-volume roles.

Miami’s Will Fuller or Los Angeles Chargers receiver Mike Williams certainly can help fantasy football rosters, but neither guy is bound to rack up huge reception counts as deep threats. On the other hand, the only reason Buffalo’s Cole Beasley or Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry have weekly utility is due to roles as safety blankets for their respective quarterbacks.

System designs are particularly important, too, because the more three-wide sets a team employs, the greater chance fantasy owners can find a value on a wideout whose playing time may exceed comparably skilled players with lesser roles due to more “12” personnel base sets. Examples of this would be best found in 2020 formation frequencies deployed by Tennessee (35 percent), Philadelphia (35 percent), Arizona (30 percent), the Los Angeles Rams (29 percent) and Houston (28 percent) as the five teams with the highest frequency of two-wide receiver sets. Interestingly, only Arizona has the same playcaller in 2021.

It should go without saying, PPR scoring inherently inflates the stock of receivers, and particularly those catching a bunch of balls, regardless of what they accomplish after said receptions. Thus, values are tougher to come by.

Most targeted in 2020

Identifying which teams utilize their wide receivers the most in the passing game is a fine place to start. In 2020, the top target shares at the position belonged to:

WR Targ
Targ %
Buffalo Bills
New York Jets*
Carolina Panthers
Pittsburgh Steelers**
Cincinnati Bengals
Arizona Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons*
Los Angeles Rams**
Dallas Cowboys
Houston Texans*

*denotes change in offensive system
**denotes change in OC but system remains in place

Note: All ADP figures are courtesy of and use 12-team, PPR scoring, unless noted otherwise. The figures are based on redraft-only leagues conducted after June 1.

  • The Jets will rely on former San Francisco assistant Mike LaFleur to call plays in 2021, and he comes from a system that targeted its receivers the second-fewest times in 2020. Some of that is due to injuries and woeful quarterback play. The Jets bolstered its receiving corps in the offseason, which will cut into WR Jamison Crowder‘s involvement, and a rookie quarterback could impede his success, too. There’s still reasonable late-round value to be found in the veteran slot receiver.
  • Carolina lost Curtis Samuel in free agency but gained David Moore (Seattle’s WR3 last year) via the market and rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. via the draft. Sam Darnold enters as the starting quarterback and had considerable chemistry with Robby Anderson while together in New York. Their reunion comes on the heels of the veteran receiver snagging a career-high 95 passes and showing he can be more than a deep threat. With no prominent tight end but the return of RB Christian McCaffrey to rack up catches, it’s still safe to believe Anderson will remain a heavily targeted outlet.
  • The Steelers have a new coordinator in Matt Canada, but he’s going to run mostly the 2020 system and should defer to plays Ben Roethlisberger enjoys running. There will be a ton of targets for the receivers but not a lot of late-round value to be found in fantasy.
  • Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp has shown an array of skills in during his career. The past two years, volume was on his side, securing 92-plus receptions in each season, but he scored only three touchdowns in 2020 after housing it 10 times the prior campaign. A year after finishing WR4 in PPR, an ADP in the middle of Round 6 makes for a safe bargain with Matthew Stafford under center.

Least targeted

WR Targ
Targ %
Las Vegas Raiders
San Francisco 49ers**
Indianapolis Colts**
Washington Football Team
Philadelphia Eagles*
Cleveland Browns
Los Angeles Chargers*
New Orleans Saints**
Kansas City Chiefs
New York Giants

*denotes change in offensive system
**denotes change in OC but system remains in place

  • While the Raiders may not finish 2021’s season with the lowest percentage of targets sent toward receivers, Las Vegas should remain in the bottom 10 once more. That said, Henry Ruggs is going in Round 11, on average, and he’s bound to have a substantial uptick in targets in his sophomore season. Hunter Renfrow profiles as a fantastic slot weapon, but if he couldn’t get it done last year as Ruggs struggled to find his footing, it’s hard to expect much improvement in 2021.
  • Washington should divert a sizeable number of targets from the backfield and tight ends to newcomer Curtis Samuel. He’s not going to come super cheap, of course, going in late Round 9 in ADP tracking. Samuel represents a sound value here, especially given his past experience in OC Scott Turner’s system.
  • As previously mentioned, Jarvis Landry‘s value is totally dependent on his volume. The Browns have an elite pass-catching running back in Kareem Hunt, two capable tight ends, a (former?) superstar WR1 in Odell Beckham Jr., and the returning Rashard Higgins as a third wideout. Donovan Peoples-Jones could be an emerging asset, too, so it’s tough to find a true value buy here beyond Landry’s appropriate Round 9 ADP.

Best value buys

  • Going in Round 15, on average, Detroit Lions rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is primed to be a sly fantasy choice. The probable top targets should be running back D’Andre Swift and tight end T.J. Hockenson, although there is an opening for the promising rookie to dominate his positional looks. Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams profile as deep threats and have battled injuries of late, adding to St. Brown’s appeal.
  • Cole Beasley, as mentioned above, typically is going in Round 11. There’s risk here, since the Bills have wide receiver Gabriel Davis ready for a step forward, and recent news has Beasley saying he’d rather retire than be vaccinated. It’s difficult to envision him walking away from his career, however. Expect a small step backward in targets and receptions while still maintaining flex utility.
  • Indy’s Michael Pittman Jr. missed time last year due to injury and was slow to get going as a rookie. His immediate future is bright, and there’s a decent chance he leads the team in catches. Take a late-round stab at him in reception-rewarding systems.
  • The loss of Julio Jones by way of trade from the Falcons to the Tennessee Titans opens the door for a tremendous volume of targets to be dispersed among several players, including wide receiver Russell Gage. He has sneaky value in PPR (Round 11 ADP), although a serious portion of these looks will go toward the backfield and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. Atlanta’s new system will lean on its TEs before emphasizing as third receiver.
  • On average, gamers have opted to invest a Round 13 pick in Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Marvin Jones Jr. He has proven to be adept at assimilating into any offensive system thrown his way to date, and he has a knack for scoring touchdowns, which will help offset a modest target total. Other receivers will cut into his work, but Jacksonville doesn’t have a tight end to speak of, and this defense will force rookie Trevor Lawrence to chuck the rock with regularity.

Honorable mention

  • Denver’s Jerry Jeudy is going as WR34 at the moment, in Round 8. He’s a reasonable bet for a serious step forward. Unfortunately, the Broncos have an improved defense to limit the need to throw, an upgraded rushing attack, and several capable receivers … oh, plus there’s that whole sketchy quarterback situation. If pretty much everything goes perfectly, Jeudy could catch 80 balls.


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