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The “Perfect” Draft for Your Half-PPR Fantasy Football Formats

You know that feeling when you finish a draft and can’t find any mistakes? Everything just falls perfectly in line with your plan and you wouldn’t change anything. Today we’ll be taking a look at one such perfect draft in 0.5-point-per-reception leagues.

As stated in the Non-PPR draft, I will follow these rules for my “Perfect Draft”:

  • I can reach for players early, but I can only assume a player will be available if their Average Draft Position is within two spots of the selection.
  • Since they’ve transitioned to 0.5 PPR as their standard, I’ll use ADP from Yahoo.
  • The team format will be 1-QB, 2-RB, 2-WR, 1-TE, 1-Flex, DST, K, and 6 bench spots.
  • My draft spot will be pick 8 as selected by fellow RotoVizzer and podcast host, Stefan Lako.
  • I’ll also be using the Draft Dashboard tool to test out the potential for this outcome.

So with all of that in mind, let’s kick this perfect draft off.

Round 1

James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh

In 0.5-PPR leagues, I’m beginning to transition into a modified Zero-RB style of roster construction. While high-end RBs still outscore high-end WRs, by the time 12 players at each position are off the board, WRs score more. Since 2010, the average WR12 scored 205.6 fantasy points compared to the average RB12 who only managed 199.0 fantasy points. With that being said, I’m targeting a top-six RB in the first round, if available. And at pick 8, Conner is the ideal mix of receiving and rushing to provide a safe floor of production.

Conner finished as the 12th-highest scoring flex player in 2018 in just 13 games. On a per-game basis, he outperformed David Johnson and compares closely to Ezekiel Elliott, both of whom are being drafted ahead of him. Rookie Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels could cut into Conner’s work by the end of the season, but Conner proved in his first season as the starter that he can perform as a top-five RB.

Alternate Option: Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets

Bell isn’t going to get the 500 touches that he joked about, but he’s in line for a major workload. Bell’s receiving ability out of the backfield should help spark improvement to QB, Sam Darnold, which should lead to a heavy workload of targets.

Round 2

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh

After securing a top RB in Round 1, the next few rounds are earmarked for top WRs until I fill my starters, plus a reserve.

Normally, I wouldn’t take two players from the same team to start off a perfect draft, but the potential upside of Smith-Schuster makes him an easy pick. The exit of Antonio Brown opens up 168 targets that will need to be dispersed between a group of receivers that don’t have Smith-Schuster’s track record. Because of this, he should be in a position to increase his opportunity, which already saw him receiving 25% of the team’s targets.

 

Smith-Schuster has only played three games without Brown during his career so we lack the sample size to truly know how he’ll produce. But if those three games are any indication, he has top-five WR potential with a top-12 WR floor.

Alternate Option: Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City

Hill was the WR1 last season, and his season was better than any WR since 2015. The Kansas City offense is due for some regression, but there’s no question about Hill’s upside.

Draft Dashboard Update: It didn’t take long to get sniped. Smith-Schuster went off the board two picks before me. The No. 1 WR of 2018 is a decent consolation prize, however. 

Round 3

Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas

The trade to Dallas couldn’t have gone much better for Cooper. After two 1,000-yard seasons, Cooper fell off in 2017 with a 50% catch rate and less than 700 yards. And he was on pace for similar production during the first half of 2018 with the Raiders until he was traded and appropriately valued by his new team. The inclusion of a first-round pick in the trade put the pressure on the Dallas coaching staff to utilize the 24-year-old receiver.

With three extra targets per game, Cooper was revitalized and finished the season strong. Over the final 10 weeks of the season, Cooper was the WR9. His extrapolated 16-game total would have ranked as the WR9 for the season.

Alternate Option: Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota

Diggs was the WR11 in 2018 despite having his lowest yards-per-target average of his career. Another season with Kirk Cousins will hopefully bring some improvement in efficiency, which could unlock additional consistency in Diggs’ weekly scoring.

Round 4

Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles

Cooks finished as the WR13 in 2018. He’s coming into this year with four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. What makes his 2019 more intriguing is the potential for increased touchdown production. Todd Gurley’s injury concerns should open up some red-zone opportunities for receivers and if he can add one or two extra touchdowns, Cooks will be a low-end WR1.

Robert Woods outscored Cooks by less than 20 fantasy points over the course of the season, but Cooks has the highest adjusted yards per attempt of any receiver with Jared Goff, and his efficiency last season may have earned him some additional opportunity.

Alternate Option: Julian Edelman

The return of Josh Gordon should take some of the excitement away from Edelman’s season, but not drastically. Rather than being a sure-fire Round 3 pick, he’s likely better suited for early Round 4, as he averaged 13.49 fantasy points per game in the 10 games with Gordon in 2018, compared to 16.9 in the games without.

Round 5

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle

As I mentioned in the Perfect Non-PPR draft, Lockett’s ceiling is incredibly high with the exit of Doug Baldwin. He finished as the WR16 in 0.5-PPR leagues in 2018 and is one of my primary targets in any format.

Alternate Option: D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina

The exit of Devin Funchess opens up scoring opportunities for the second year WR. It took the Panthers coaching staff a few weeks to realize his potential, but once Moore began to see the field consistently, he never came off.

Round 6

Tevin Coleman, RB, San Francisco

With my WR position filled out, it’s time to hammer the RB position.

In his last season with Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator, Coleman had 941 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns as the second RB in a committee. He finished as the RB19 that season. Even with the potential committee structure with Matt Breida and Jerick McKinnon, Coleman has proven that he’s capable of producing on limited volume and reunited with his former coordinator, Coleman could reach his full potential.

As my RB2, on a roster with four strong WR options, Coleman provides some stability and upside if he can take over a larger portion of the team’s carries.

Alternate Option: Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago

In PPR formats, Cohen is a high upside RB2. His 91 targets ranked sixth among RBs in targets behind only Christian McCaffrey, James White, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and Ezekiel Elliott.

Round 7

James White, RB, New England

Sony Michel was only RB in New England to receive more than 100 carries. In fact, he more than doubled White’s carries. Yet during the first half of the season, White was one of the MVPs in fantasy football.

The dip in production is concerning, but with Gordon likely to start off the season slow, White should be heavily used during the first half of the year again. And if his drop in production is similar to the second half of 2018, White is still a low-end RB2.

Alternate Option: Lamar Miller, RB, Houston

Duke Johnson is likely to reduce some of Miller’s potential to produce in the passing game, but Miller should be the only RB in Houston receiving consistent rushing attempts.

Draft Dashboard Update: Round 7 was the first true predicament of the draft. Both my pick and alternate option were taken. Made the decision to take Murray a round early to secure his production. 

Round 8

Latavius Murray, RB, New Orleans

Mark Ingram proved that the second RB in New Orleans was a potential fantasy starter.

While Murray may not be the same caliber of back as Ingram, he’s proven to be a capable NFL back when behind a good offensive line. And if he can inherit the Ingram role in the offense, Murray should greatly exceed his ADP.

Alternate Option: Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle

By all accounts, Chris Carson remains the lead back for the most run-centric team in the NFL. But Penny averaged nearly five yards per carry and is only one year removed from being a first round draft selection.

Round 9

Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles

If Gurley is unable to handle a full workload, his carries will likely need to be distributed more the they were in 2018 when the second leading rusher had only 43 carries. Henderson averaged more than eight yards per carry each of his final two seasons and 8.2 yards per carry for his career. He also proved to be a viable receiving option with 63 career receptions at 12 yards per reception. He should have some stand-alone value, but he’s a premier option if Gurley misses time.

Alternate Option: Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles

Draft Dashboard Update: Henderson went off the board nearly a round before his Yahoo ADP so I took the high upside of Ekeler. If Gordon holds out into the season, he could have multiple weeks as a RB2. 

Round 10

Jameis Winton, QB, Tampa Bay

During his last two seasons as head coach for Arizona, Bruce Arians’ team ranked third and fifth is total pass attempts and he ranked second in passing yards in 2015. Winston averaged more than 34 pass attempts per game in 2018 and the team opens up the year against San Francisco who allowed the second most passing touchdowns in the league. Winston is always a risk to kill his fantasy production with interceptions, but in the Arians offense, his ceiling is inside of the top 10, and as a tenth round pick, he’s easy to cut.

Alternate Option: Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas

Round 11

Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis

Hines finished as the RB33 in 0.5-PPR scoring. While the presence of Spencer Ware and Jordan Wilkins likely prevent him from being a true handcuff, Hines’s speed and receiving ability will allow for him to maintain a role in the offense and keep stand-alone value.

Alternate Option: Kalen Ballage, RB, Miami

Ballage is an extremely athletic back playing behind Kenyan Drake who is already dealing with a foot injury. Because of Miami’s struggles, his efficiency may never make him a starting caliber fantasy back, but he could receive starting caliber volume as a fill-in option.

Round 12

Damien Harris, RB, New England

Harris was a good, albeit underutilized RB at Alabama. But he averaged 6.4 yards per carry for his career and New England used a Day 2 pick on him. There’s little reason to believe in Rex Burkhead as the primary backup to Sony Michel. If Michel’s history with knee issues presents itself, Harris could be a sneaky late-round pick.

Alternate Option: Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City

Round 13

Trey Burton, TE, Chicago

Burton didn’t make the splash that many were hoping for when he joined the Bears, but he finished the 2018 season with 54 receptions, 569 yards, and six touchdowns, which was good enough to finish the year as TE7.

Alternate Option: Jordan Reed, TE, Washington

Round 14

Denver Broncos DST

Opening the season against Oakland should provide for good fantasy production.

Round 15

Matt Prater, K, Detroit

There’s no need to overthink the kicker position, but playing against an Arizona team that wants to play fast could result in a shootout.

Final Roster

QB: Jameis Winston

RB: James Conner

RB: Tevin Coleman

WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster

WR: Amari Cooper

TE: Trey Burton

Flex: Brandin Cooks

DST: Denver Broncos DST

K: Matt Prater

Bench: Tyler Lockett

Bench: James White

Bench: Latavius Murray

Bench: Darrell Henderson

Bench: Kalen Ballage

Bench: Damien Harris

Final Draft Dashboard Roster:

Image Credit: Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: James Conner.

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