Matt Forte – Bears: Okay, obviously. Matt Forte is what some would say an elite fantasy option. Confidence in him is wavering in standard formats, however, because of several factors, his age among them. Though he may loose elite status this year in regular leagues, he should not slip down the board in PPR drafts. Forte was targeted a whooping 130 times last year, catching an impressive 78% for 102 receptions. To give perspective: Only four other backs even broke 50 catches, and only one other broke 70. Forte was the only RB to catch over 85. With Brandon Marshall’s departure, I expect nothing to change with Forte in the passing game. In PPR leagues he’s a must have in the mid first round.
Le’Veon Bell – Steelers: This guy should be the first overall pick in PPR formats. It’s unnecessary to dwell on why for too long. When on the field, Bell is the best back in the game. He should only see more involvement in the Steelers passing game this year as he develops as an NFL back. Though he’s been in RB news as being suspended three games at the start of the season, the points he’ll score when he comes back justify him as the first to come off the board.
Joique Bell – Lions: Bell is not the unquestioned starter in Detroit, but I expect him to win the job fairly easily. He has the most experience in the offense and the NFL, and has shown in the past that he can be a top of the line starting RB. Bell is going past the 40th pick in most leagues, which makes him an excellent PPR option. Bell is a great pass catcher out of the backfield and should see 45 or more receptions this year. He’s a reliable RB2 in PPR leagues
Shane Vereen – Giants: Timeshares in backfields usually scare owners off, so Vereen seems to be a sneaky pick late in drafts, especially in PPR leagues. The former Patriot has always been an elite pass catching back, but could see an even bigger role in the offense with his new team in New York. With injuries on the offensive line, blocking out of the backfield is something the Giants are taking seriously, and Vereen is known for his prowess in the area. If Rashad Jennings goes down, which is likely enough due to his age and history, Vereen will see plenty of playing time. Don’t expect him to be your RB1 or 2, but Vereen makes an excellent early bench pick or flex.
Gio Bernard – Bengals: Jeremy Hill is certainly still the fantasy RB to own in Cincinnati regardless of format, but Gio makes a nice leap in value in PPR leagues. He’s incredibly shifty out of the backfield and is hard to keep track of because of his versatility. He’s shown that he has the capability to put up 50 catches in a season, and should only see a slight decline in that number this season despite taking on a change of pace role. Look for 500 yards rushing and 400 receiving on 50 catches this year from Bernard.
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