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Top Late-Round RB PPR Targets

By Jared Smola | Updated on Sun, 14 Apr 2024 . 1:10 PM EDT

How to Find Late-Round PPR RB Gems

Want a simple but powerful way to find valuable RBs late in your PPR draft?

Target RBs who catch a bunch of passes.

Seems obvious, right?

But fantasy drafters still underrate just how important pass-catching production is in PPR leagues.

Get this: Over the last three seasons, a RB carry has been worth an average of 0.63 PPR points. A RB target has been worth an average of 1.52 PPR points during that same stretch.

In other words, a RB target is worth 2.4 times more PPR points than a RB carry.

Find targets, score PPR points.

Here are four RBs with exciting pass-catching upside going in Round 7 or later of PPR drafts:

 

Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders

We wrote extensively about Gibson’s appeal in our sleepers article. Let’s focus on the pass-catching upside here.

WR Turned RB

Gibson was more WR than RB in his final college season at Memphis. 

He played 534 snaps out wide or in the slot in 2019 vs. just 74 in the backfield. 

He finished that campaign with 735 receiving yards and 8 TDs on 38 catches, a huge 19.3 yards per catch.

Proven NFL Pass Catcher

Gibson has continued to excel as a pass catcher since arriving to the NFL, although most of his work has come from the backfield.

Over the past three seasons, he has compiled:

  • 124 receptions
  • 894 receiving yards
  • 5 receiving TDs

All three of those marks rank top 15 among RBs since 2020.

Gibson is coming off the best pass-catching season of his pro career. His 58 targets, 46 catches, and 353 receiving yards were all career highs. He also registered personal bests in Pro Football Focus receiving grade and yards per route run, ranking fourth and 11th in those metrics among 43 qualifying RBs.

2023 Opportunity

Gibson has a shot to be even busier and more effective in the passing game this year.

Out is RB J.D. McKissic, who averaged 5.8 targets per game over the past three seasons.

In is OC Eric Bieniemy, who spent the past five seasons as the OC for a voluminous and productive Chiefs passing game.

There’s no Patrick Mahomes in Washington, so we’re not projecting the Commanders to be as pass-heavy as the Chiefs. But we are projecting them to pass more than last year, when they ranked 23rd in pass rate, 27th in pass rate over expected, and 20th in pass attempts.

Gibson looks set to play a sizable role in that passing game. 

RBs tallied big receiving numbers in Bieniemy’s offense the past two seasons:

  • 2021 Darrel Williams: 47 catches, 452 yards, and two TDs
  • 2022 Jerick McKinnon: 56 catches, 512 yards, and nine TDs

Buzzy Offseason

Washington’s coaching staff has been talking up Gibson’s role in the new offense all offseason.

HC Ron Rivera said in May that Gibson meshes with what Bieniemy "wants to do with the offense." 

Rivera later called Gibson a “matchup nightmare for the opponent” and a “big part of the game planning.”

This could be the year that Gibson’s ultimate pass-catching upside is unlocked.

TIP

Gibson is a key target in our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Guide.

 

James Cook, Buffalo Bills

A Promising Debut

It took a while, but Cook flashed his pass-catching prowess down the stretch of his 2022 rookie campaign.

After averaging just 1.3 targets and 0.7 catches over his first 10 games, he tallied 3.2 targets and 2.3 catches per game over the final six.

The advanced metrics were strong, too. For the season, Cook ranked 11th in PFF receiving grade and 15th in yards per route run among 43 qualifying RBs.

He finished well ahead of former teammate Devin Singletary in both metrics.

What’s the Opportunity in Buffalo?

Singletary, despite consistently below-average efficiency, averaged 3.2 targets and 2.4 catches per game as Buffalo’s lead back over the past four seasons – a 17-game pace of 53.8 targets and 40.4 catches.

That level of production is closer to Cook’s floor than ceiling this season, considering his profile.

Pass-Catching Resume

Cook was a dynamic pass catcher across four seasons at Georgia, averaging a big 10.9 yards per reception. He racked up 284 yards and four scores on 27 catches (10.5 YPC) in 2021, ranking top-22 among 120 qualifying NCAA RBs in both PFF receiving grade and yards per route run.

The Bills took Cook with the 63rd pick of the 2021 NFL Draft and immediately talked up his ability in the passing game.

Buzz Even Louder This Offseason

RBs coach Kelly Skipper said in early July that Cook has taken a “big jump” from last year. OC Ken Dorsey called Cook a “three-down back” later that month.

And Cook has been a consistent standout in training camp, particularly in the passing game.

With Nyheim Hines out for the season, Damien Harris lacking in the pass-catching department, and the Bills still shaky at WR behind Stefon Diggs, Cook is set up to play a significant role in one of the league’s most voluminous and productive passing games.

   

Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs

This one is simple. (And, frankly, we’re surprised that McKinnon is still outside the top 40 RBs in PPR ADP.)

A PPR Gem Last year

McKinnon replaced Clyde Edwards-Helaire as Kansas City’s primary pass-catching back over the final 10 games of last season and was electric. His per-game averages during that stretch:

  • 5.4 targets
  • 4.3 catches
  • 39.6 receiving yards
  • 0.8 receiving TDs

He ranked top-2 among RBs in total targets, catches, receiving yards, and receiving TDs over that span. 

Despite minimal rushing production (4.2 carries and 17.2 yards per game), McKinnon ranked fifth among RBs in PPR points over those final 10 games.

More of the Same This Year

McKinnon returns to a similar Chiefs backfield, alongside Isiah Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire.

Pacheco, of course, emerged as Kansas City’s lead ball carrier over the second half of last season. But he averaged just 1.2 targets per game.

Edwards-Helaire was barely playing by the middle of last season before suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 11. He was cleared the week before the Super Bowl but was a healthy scratch for that game.

Undrafted rookie Deneric Prince has had a splashy offseason so far but is still a long shot to capture a significant offensive role this season.

TD Regression Coming … But How Much?

Head over to our PPR RB Rankings and you won’t find McKinnon projected to score close to as many fantasy points as he did over the final 10 games of last season.

That’s largely because he’s in for TD regression after scoring on an absurd 16.1% of his catches last year. League-wide RB receiving TD rate is around 3.9%.

But we do expect McKinnon to score at a well-above-average rate. 

For starters, he plays on the Chiefs. They're pretty good at scoring points.

More importantly, McKinnon was a huge part of the team’s red-zone offense last year. He played 56% of Kansas City’s snaps inside the 20-yard line and drew 25 red-zone opportunities (carries + targets) – tied for eighth among RBs.

Based on his usage, McKinnon was expected to score 4.0 receiving TDs over those final 10 games. That’s four fewer than he actually scored. But even with just 4 receiving TDs, he would have ranked ninth among RBs in PPR points.

His ceiling projection of 209.8 PPR points would have landed him 17th among RBs last year. That’s the kind of upside he brings.

3D projections show the baseline, floor, and ceiling for every player.

 

Devon Achane, Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins only had four picks in this spring’s draft. They used the 84th overall pick on Achane.

Speed, Speed, Speed

He’s a perfect fit in a Miami offense predicated on speed. Achane was an elite sprinter in high school, winning Texas’ 2020 Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year. It was no surprise when he blazed a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at the Combine.

That speed was regularly on display at Texas A&M, where Achane averaged 6.4 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per catch over the past three seasons.

And that speed will help him make a PPR impact, even on limited touches.

Pass-Catching Chops

At just 188 pounds, Achane will likely never be a high-volume runner in the NFL. But he can be a big-time factor in the passing game.

Achane tallied 65 catches across three college seasons, including 60 over the last two. He looks even more impressive from a market-share perspective, accounting for 14.0% of the Aggies’ receptions over the last two years – a big number for a RB.

Plenty of Targets Available

Achane joins a Dolphins offense looking for playmakers behind WRs Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

Braxton Berrios, Chosen Anderson, and Cedrick Wilson round out the WR corps. Durham Smythe leads the TE room. 

Achane will share the backfield with RBs Jeff Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert. Those guys have combined for zero NFL seasons of more than 31 catches. Achane already looks like the best pass-catching back in town.

He has a real chance to finish third on the team in targets.

  

Dominate Your PPR Draft

Landing these late-round RBs is a good start to winning your PPR league.

But you need to nail the other positions, too.

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