Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Antonio Brown.
These guys are reception monsters who get big boosts in PPR leagues.
Everyone knows it, though. Guys like Bush, Thomas and Brown routinely go a round or 3 earlier in PPR drafts than they do in standard formats.
But we’re on the hunt for some lesser-known guys who get a pop in PPR formats. Players who may not rack up big yardage or TD numbers, but will haul in enough balls to serve as injury replacements, bye-week fill-ins or maybe even starters for your PPR team.
Here are 8 hidden gems to target in the middle or late rounds of your PPR draft.
Lance Dunbar, RB, Cowboys
Play-calling obviously plays a big role in producing PPR sleepers. And that’s a big part of Dunbar’s appeal.
The Cowboys brought in Scott Linehan to call plays this season. He’s best known for 2 things: a heavy lean toward the pass and getting his RBs involved as receivers.
We only need to look back 1 year to see the impact Linehan can have on RB receiving tallies. As Lions OC last season, Linehan provided 54 catches for Reggie Bush and 53 for Joique Bell. They ranked 9th and tied for 10th among NFL RBs in that category.
Across his 9 other seasons calling plays, Linehan produced 11 more seasons of 30+ catches for a RB. More importantly for Dunbar, Linehan’s #2 pass-catching back has reached at least 25 catches in 8 of his 10 years as play-caller.
That’s the role Dunbar will be playing in 2014. And he certainly seems capable of hauling in at least 25 balls.
Dunbar proved plenty adept as a receiver in college, racking up 85 catches over his final 3 seasons at North Texas. He averaged 11.6 yards per catch and scored 7 receiving TDs.
His NFL experience is much more limited, but Dunbar did flash by hauling in all 7 of his targets last year and averaging 8.4 yards per catch.
Indications out of Dallas this offseason are that Dunbar will play an expanded role in 2014. The team reportedly views him as a Darren Sproles-type player, which fits perfectly in Linehan’s offense. RBs coach Gary Brown said in July that Dunbar will line up in the backfield, out wide and in the slot this season.
Dallas’ backfield belongs to DeMarco Murray, but Dunbar could easily rack up 30+ catches as a change-of-pace player.