For anyone that read our rankings for standard leagues, this will be a bit repetitive as there will not be huge changes from standard to PPR scoring. You still need consistent performers that will give your team a backbone week in and week out. You simply need to adjust a bit for players that happen to be better pass catchers.
With that in mind, here are my first round Rankings and Players I would avoid for standard (non-PPR Leagues)
1) Adrian Peterson – See our full article here of who you should take with the first pick in the draft. Peterson still gets the nod here.
2) Arian Foster – See article above. More of the same for PPR leagues
3) Ray Rice – Rice gets the nod over Charles for several reasons. First and foremost, he is a better receiver, which means he is less likely to get shut down in any given week and obviously will rack up more points in PPR leagues. Second, while Ricky Williams is in Baltimore now to take some carries, Charles is competing not only with Thomas Jones, but with the forgotten wildcard Dexter McCluster and with potential TD vulture Le’Ron McClain. Speaking of McClain – he is no longer the fullback in Baltimore and blocking specialist Vonta Leach is, potentially making Rice even better. Finally, with Baltimore’s defense, the Ravens are unlikely to be involved in too many wild shootouts, favoring the run on a consistent basis.
4) Jamaal Charles – Even though I would take Rice ahead of him (see above), Charles is still a solid option in the prime of his career
5) LeSean McCoy – McCoy, with his 78 receptions is the big mover here. McCoy is a rising young back with great receiving capability. He will lose some carries to Ronnie Brown, but his pass catching should help offset that loss and keep him in the game.
6) Larry Fitzgerald – Its difficult to pick an order for the top three or four WR’s. However,for the reasons I discussed here, I think Fitzgerald is the best option at WR this year. Andre Johnson would also be a solid pick here.
7) Andre Johnson – Johnson is the most consistently dominant WR in the league and seems likely to repeat his usual performance this year.
Calvin Johnson – Johnson is a great value pick after the first of the big two WR’s are off the board. If Matthew Stafford stays healthy, his numbers should improve. If Stafford does not, you can probably expect the same numbers as last year, which were still pretty good.
9) Rashard Mendenhall – Mendenhall suffers a bit from not doing much in the passing game. He had a great year last year (1273 yds rushing, 13 TD’s) and is only 24, entering his fourth year in the league. When it comes to running backs, ages 24 through about 27 are generally the prime of most players careers.
10) Roddy White – Roddy White somehow still seems to be an underappreciated fantasy monster, quietly ranking in the top 6 for WR’s in both 2009 and 2010. With Julio Jones in the lineup, I would expect a bit of a drop in TD scoring, but probably still a solid year.
11) Darren McFadden – McFadden is talented, but I’m still not fully sold on him lasting a full season. He is explosive and looks poised to finally fully fulfill his potential, but has injury waiting to happen written all over him. If you do go with McFadden, I would make sure to have plenty of other options at RB on your bench.
12) Frank Gore – This is a tough pick. Gore is a solid back in PPR leagues, assuming he fully returns to health. However, he is 28 and has been a full-time back for five years, so he might not fully return. Other options here include Hakeem Nicks and possibly even Peyton Hillis, though neither of these options are without risk.
Players I would avoid
If you hadn’t noticed, there are three glaring omissions from my rankings – Chris Johnson, Michael Vick, and Aaron Rodgers. Someone in your league will almost certainly take at least some of them in the first round, but I do not believe it is a good idea. (In fact, some of the last three picks above will likely be knocked out of the first round, since at least a few of my omissions are likely to be drafted by someone.)
Chris Johnson – At this point, the holdout is just too risky. You could lose him for half the season. When he does come back, he will be rusty and he did not have a great year by his standards last season. Other options, like Javon Ringer may also have a chance to prove themselves in his absence, leading to a loss of carries.
Michael Vick – First, I simply do not see a need to take a QB this high when numerous great options are still on the board (see articles here and here). Second, Vick is a huge injury risk and a candidate to have a big letdown.
Aaron Rodgers – If I did take a first round QB, Rodgers would probably be the guy this year. He has been consistent and dominant. He has some injury issues, but unlike Vick, his style of play does not scream “pancake tackle me.” That said, I still think there are too many other quarterbacks available as late as Rounds 7-10 to make this a worthwhile pick, especially in the top half of the first round where he may well go.