Now that football is officially back, chances are fiery discussions about keepers, rule changes and scoring alterations are lighting up league message boards. The latter, especially, has likely led to lengthy, heated exchanges. Owners who've expressed their disdain for the mundane have probably campaigned hard for a league-wide vote on whether or not points per reception should be awarded.
For those open to the idea, welcome to the 21st century.
In order to balance position value and reward the grunt workers of football for their blood, sweat and tears, assigning points per catch is the democratic thing to do. Those who don't subscribe to it are living in the past. Point blank, leagues that follow standard scoring systems are uncreative and undiplomatic. If fantasy mirrors reality wouldn't it make sense to give possession receivers like Wes Welker more props? Their contributions on the field are invaluable. Their general lack of recognition in fantasy is criminal. For example, Danny Amendola's 12-catch, 95-yard effort during Week 5 at Detroit should've been worth way more than Mike Sims-Walker's 4-46-1 line that week.
Millions of commissioners have smelled the coffee in recent years, swelling the PPR bandwagon. Making up just a small percentage of the Y! community a handful of seasons ago, over a third of leagues tracked the stat in 2010. This year, that number could very well encompass half the Y! fantasy universe. If your league isn't PPR-branded already, it's time to join the party. Seriously, the keg is starting to float.
Most are already familiar with the pass-catching abilities of wideouts like Reggie Wayne, Roddy White and Larry Fitzgerald along with running backs LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice and Reggie Bush, but to assist those ready to make the scoring switch, here are six unheralded players considered pyrite in standard leagues who are or will be pure gold in PPR settings:
Danny Amendola, StL, WR
12-team PPR ADP: 80.5 (WR30)
As touched on above, Amendola is a sleeping giant in PPR. Though his yards per catch reached a historical low for a player with at least 60 receptions in a season, and his uninspiring three receiving TDs left a lot to be desired, his 85-catch haul was certainly a high point. The overlooked wideout checked in at No. 33 in total scoring in PPR formats, besting such notable standard-league names as Chad Ochocinco, Santonio Holmes and Michael Crabtree. Schooled at the prestigious Wes Welker Institute of the Pass Catching Arts (Texas Tech), he could be the NFC's answer to the Patriots' greaseman. Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is absolutely enamored with Amendola's slippery abilities and precise routes working out of the slot, which has led some insiders to believe he could flirt with 100 receptions this season. Considering the Rams' renewed vertical emphasis and Sam Bradford's growing maturity, that ambitious prediction may actually come to fruition. Stretch out tendons to acquire his services no later than Round 7 in 12-teamers.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 94 receptions, 844 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns
Davone Bess, Mia, WR
12-team PPR ADP: 126.0 (WR52)
Nicknamed "Tenderoni," Bess is one of the most reliable pass snatchers in the AFC. Over his three seasons in the league, his numbers have steadily improved, topping out at 79-820-5 last year. The Hawaii product is a short, but thickly built weapon who makes up for his lack of size with savvy. Quick off the line and precise in his cuts, he's developed into one of the smartest and most disciplined route-runners in the league. Despite the Dolphins' sketchy play at quarterback, he grabbed nearly 65 percent of passes thrown his direction in 2010. Bush's presence could stunt Bess' statistical growth, but if Chad Henne or Matt Moore can prove to be at least semi-competent, another rock solid WR3 season is very possible. It's insane he's going around pick No. 126 in PPR mocks. Remember, he was a top-25 commodity in PPR formats last year.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 81 receptions, 833 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns
Darren Sproles, NO, RB
12-team PPR ADP: 133.9 (RB51)
Esteemed colleague Andy Behrens' unhealthy infatuation for Sproles is understandable. After the Saints parted ways with Bush, acquiring the more explosive Chargers castoff at a cheaper price was a brilliant move. It wouldn't be at all surprising if Sproles thrives in his new role. Unlike his predecessor, the Mighty Mouse doesn't shy away from contact, challenging tacklers between-the-hashes and in the open field. Short, squatty and positively electric in space, the elusive scat-back, coming off a 59-catch season with San Diego, could actually be even better in his new digs. Though Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram will be heavily involved, look for Sean Payton to deploy Sproles on third-downs, occasionally peppering him in on early downs. If PT or Ingram experiences an injury setback, he could reap considerable value even in traditional formats. The 51st RB off-the-board in PPR mocks, he's the ultimate bargain basement buy.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 47 carries, 230 rushing yards, 54 receptions, 552 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns
C.J. Spiller, Buf, RB
12-team PPR ADP: 89.0 (RB35)
After establishing new NCAA benchmarks in several categories while at Clemson, the ball-lightning failed to spark in his rookie season with the Bills. Entrenched behind underrated starter Fred Jackson, he amassed just 440 total yards with one touchdown on 98 touches. Overpowered, overwhelmed and generally impatient last year, Spiller dedicated time this offseason to film study in the hopes of correcting his rookie mistakes. Bills head coach Chan Gailey is optimistic the former first-rounder will experience a surge in his sophomore season. Jackson enters the 2011 season as the unquestioned starter, but Gailey wants to feed Spiller more in space, which could lead to a healthy receptions total come January. The youngster definitely possesses the necessary tools to excel on passing down work — speed, shiftiness and excellent hands. Don't be shocked if the post-hype sleeper snags 50-plus catches.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 142 carries, 582 rushing yards, 45 receptions, 398 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns
Jacquizz Rodgers, Atl, RB
12-team PPR ADP: N/A
Standing at just 5-foot-6, Rodgers likely is measured routinely outside roller-coaster rides at amusement parks. But don't write him off because of his smallish frame. Quick, elusive, versatile and tough, the ultra-competitive Oregon State product has silenced his critics at every level. Deceptively powerful and productive between-the-tackles, he's an excellent Warrick Dunn-type complement to Michael Turner. Already turning heads in Flowery Branch, 'Quizz, according to Matt Ryan, will be used almost exclusively on third downs. Recall last year in a similar role Jason Snelling nabbed 44 receptions. If Rodgers can match or exceed that total, he will be a cherished flex option in deeper PPR leagues. Even in standard formats he has reasonable odds of making a sizable impact if the overworked Burner flames out. Small in stature, but big in heart, Rodgers is a rookie to stash in the late rounds.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 51 carries, 214 rushing yards, 51 receptions, 505 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns
Earl Bennett, Chi, WR
12-team PPR ADP: N/A
It's hard to take the words of a supposed offensive "genius" seriously when he declares, with a straight face, Roy Williams is an "elite" player, but Mike Martz's claims of Bennett taking on a "much larger role" shouldn't be taken with a grain of salt. The former Vandy Dandy, who was also a collegiate teammate of Jay Cutler, battled through injuries last year, eventually coming on strong in Week 13, snatching seven passes for 104 yards in Detroit. An intelligent target with suitable size and athleticism, the four-year vet is expected to be the primary slot receiver in a pass-happy offense. Considering Cutler's comfort level with him and based on Martz's vow to get him more opportunities, Bennett is a dark-horse candidate for 70-plus catches. Similar to Amendola and Bess, his TD total may lag, but, going largely undrafted even in PPR-friendly leagues, he's a terrific eleventh-hour pick.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 72 receptions, 878 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns
Bring the noise on Twitter. Follow Brad @YahooNoise. And harass him in person, along with esteemed Yahoo! colleagues Brandon Funston and Andy Behrens, throughout August in a city near you. Visit FantasyFootballSymposium.com for more info.
Image courtesy of the AP
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