Yahoo's Fantasy Football PPR Sleepers 2018: Hines, Beasley own sneaky catch upside

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/ind" data-ylk="slk:Indianapolis Colts">Indianapolis Colts</a> rookie <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/31074/" data-ylk="slk:Nyheim Hines">Nyheim Hines</a> could be this year’s <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/30861/" data-ylk="slk:Chris Thompson">Chris Thompson</a> in PPR impact terms. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Indianapolis Colts rookie Nyheim Hines could be this year’s Chris Thompson in PPR impact terms. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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Once in the minority, PPR leagues have become all the rage in fantasy football. The masses, looking to spice up mundane standard formats, have embraced the added wrinkle fully, even Yahoo’s decision makers. Half-point PPR is now featured in our default scoring. So what tacky-handed players are hanging in the shadows? Below are our favorite undervalued targets in PPR.

DaltonGIOVANI BERNARD (120.18 ADP, RB46). Joe Mixon should improve in year two, but his 3.5 YPC mark as a rookie was alarmingly bad. Yards-per-carry is an imperfect stat, but Mixon’s 3.1 against base fronts last season ranked No. 51, and while the Bengals improved their offensive line, it still looks like one of the league’s worst. Moreover, Cincinnati projects to win around six or seven games, so weekly game scripts will likely call for a bunch of passes, putting Bernard on the field, as he’s the far superior receiver and blocker.

Bernard’s target% (15.2) ranked seventh among running backs last season, one spot behind Alvin Kamara and ahead of other popular PPR backs like Duke Johnson, Chris Thompson and Theo Riddick. Bernard is a sneaky option whose lack of newness and perceived upside keep him cheap.

Liz – NYHEIM HINES. A speedster (4.32) with superior balance and deft cutting ability, the NC State product impressed in minicamp. He may be “undersized” at 5-foot-8 and 198 pounds, but his versatility as a slot-receiver-turned-running-back aligns with a Frank Reich designed offense.

Eerily similar in terms of both size and skill to Danny Woodhead, Hines offers oodles of upside. After all, Woodhead’s 80-catch season was architected by Reich when he was the Chargers’ OC. Hines may not produce top-five fantasy numbers in 2018 (as Woodhead did in 2015), but recent reports out of training camp suggest that the rookie will emerge as the team’s third-down back.

Factor in an upgraded offensive line and a healthy Andrew Luck, and Hines could be an every-week flex in PPR formats. That’s solid value for a player currently being drafted in the tenth or eleventh rounds of twelve-team exercises.

Matt – WILLIE SNEAD (234.6 ADP, WR88). Letting go of heartache is difficult. Willie Snead burned many in the fantasy football world last year. The former Saints receiver was justly going off the board as a top-35 receiver, reflecting the inevitable breakout season that laid before him. However, he got slapped with a three-game suspension in early September, came back with injuries and never seemed to get out of the doghouse. Snead didn’t crack a 60 percent snap share in any week. It was a whiff for the ages.

Here in 2018, we need to look past the hurt of last year and remember Snead’s pedigree as a player who racked up 141 catches and 1,879 yards in his first two NFL seasons. He’s legitimately good. Now a member of the Baltimore Ravens, Snead has a chance to revive his career as the team’s primary slot receiver. The Ravens have over 59 percent of both their 2017 targets and air yards available from last season and Snead has a chance to nibble off the bone as one of the top three receivers on the team. Despite his big-arm reputation, Joe Flacco has become far more of a short-area passer here in the back-nine of his career. The current Ravens starter has finished bottom-five in average intended air yards per pass attempt, per the NFL’s Next Gen Stats tracking data. Stylistically, that’s a fit for Snead to rack up catches underneath. He may snag 70 balls this season, a feat he’s already accomplished in his pro career.

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Brad – COLE BEASLEY (231.1 ADP, WR86). He may sound like an opening act for Willie Nelson, but the Cowboy certainly won’t have investors singing a down and out country tune this season. Though offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is sure to feature an ultra-conservative offense centered on Zeke Elliott, over 52 percent of last year’s target share is up for grabs. Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns and Tavon Austin will attempt to stake their claim as Dak Prescott’s primary weapon of choice, but Beasley owns the most proven relationship with the QB. Admittedly, his 2017 was forgettable. Woefully inefficient, the pint-sized WR dropped off precipitously in multiple categories, including overall success rate, average target separation, catch rate (’16: 76.5; ’17: 57.4%) and fantasy points per target (’16: 1.93; ’17: 1.45). Recall, however, he unceremoniously hauled in 75 passes only two years ago.

The coaching staff’s desire to feature the 5-foot-8, 177-pound receiver more outside is a tad bit wacky. Maybe they’ll soon also slot punter Chris Jones at tight end. But it does show a commitment to getting Beasley involved. Tally it up and a final line in range of 100-70-775-5 is absolutely doable. That’s a flex-employable output in PPR for a player sporting a 200-plus ADP. Not too shabby.

Follow the Yahoo fantasy football crew on Twitter: Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, Brad Evans, Matt Harmon, Liz Loza, Scott Pianowski and Tank Williams

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