Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: Is Jay Ajayi on the rise? Or in danger of losing his starting job? Finding replacement owners for a long-time league. Sorting through keepers in a 16-team league. And not making the mistake of underrating Tyreek Hill.
Last year, you were pretty down on Jay Ajayi. He had a bad preseason but put up great numbers during the regular season. You are the Man when it comes to spotting undervalued and overvalued players but we're all human and make an occasional bad call. My question is whether you've seen enough of Ajayi, where he no longer looks like "anything more than an ordinary backup running back", and someone worthy of his early-to-mid second round ADP? I copied and pasted your comments from last year below as a reference. <i>Jay Ajayi doesn’t seem to be the answer. He started all four preseason games, but he played poorly in all of them, averaging only 2.7 yards per carry. That’s eerily similar to last year, when he averaged only 2.6 per attempt in his final seven games. In the final preseason game, Ajayi lost a fumble on the first play (not that he was handling the ball carelessly, but coaches don’t like fumblers). Ajayi came back on the next series with a decisive 16-yard burst up the middle, his one good carry of the preseason, but then dropped a pass and lost 5 yards on his only other carry. He just doesn’t look like anything more than an ordinary backup running back.</I>
STEVEN MATH (Austin, TX)
I think everyone got thrown by Ajayi last year. They signed Arian Foster, and the plan was for him to be their starter. They also drafted Kenyan Drake in the third round. Ajayi didn’t play well in the preseason, and he did something that annoyed Adam Gase in early September, causing the Dolphins to not even take Ajayi with them to the opener at Seattle. At that point, it was reasonable (I thought) to wonder if Ajayi was even worth a roster spot in a typical 12-team fantasy league. Foster ended up getting hurt, and Ajayi was able to re-claim the starting job. But I didn’t think he was a superstar. He went over 200 yards against the Steelers and twice against the Bills. Buffalo was really bad against the run, but I will agree that he was really impressive in those games. But Ajayi was pretty ordinary in their other games. In the other 11 games Ajayi started, he averaged 3.6 yards per carry and ran for 639 yards – 58 per game. Four TDs in those 11 games. He also wasn’t much of a factor as a pass catcher, catching only 27 passes for 151 yards. Maybe they can get him going a little more consistently this year. They’ve got a good enough offensive line, and he’s definitely their starter. And he caught the ball well enough at Boise State, so I think he can turn around some in that area – that was supposedly a focus at a recent OTA. But I don’t see Ajayi as a safe choice to be a top-10 running back. I wouldn’t take him with a top-20 overall pick. (With him being just the 21st player on my board, I don’t expect I’ll be selecting him on any of my teams this year.)
Thank you for helping me win a third championship in 10 years. It's hard to do in a 16-team league where you keep 4 players but this site helped a lot. I can keep four of the following: LeVeon Bell, Kirk Cousins, Dez Bryant, Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill, Spencer Ware, Doug Baldwin and Greg Olsen. I won't have a high draft pick and rookie running backs will go in the top 5. I'm leaning towards keeping Bell, Cousins and Thomas but who should be my 4th? I want to win now so should I keep Bryant and trade Hill and Ware? Or maybe keep Hill because he's young and maybe there's not a huge difference between him and Bryant? Maybe I can trade Bryant for another first-round pick. What are your thoughts?
BRIAN ROWELL (Saint Johns, MI)
I wouldn’t even be considering Cousins as a keeper. There are about 19 good quarterbacks, so that’s a position you’ll be able to address in the draft. Your five keeper candidates (in my opinion) are Bell, Bryant, Thomas, Hill and Baldwin. Your decision would be which one of those four wide receivers you would be willing to part with. Not a huge difference between the four, I think, but I would be most willing to part with either Bryant or Baldwin. I have all of those wide receivers among my top dozen at that position. But the difference between all four of those guys is mild enough that I would shopping all of them to the other owners. With this being a keeper league, the 64 best players, in theory, should be protected. But you have at least five of those players. Probably more. There are probably many other teams that don’t have a fourth keeper who’s as good as Cousins, Ware or Olsen. So the job is to get in touch with these franchises and try to get them to take on these players in exchange for extra draft picks. If you can find a franchise that’s really excited about giving away a high pick for Bryant, Baldwin, Hill or Thomas, that would be a nice win-win trade. You might be willing to give up your first, second or third wide receiver if it meant landing an extra first-round pick.
I am in a heavy TD scoring keeper league . I won the title last year with Dak Prescott, Sammy Watkins, Davante Adams, Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Martellus Bennett. I now have two Packers (Adams and Bennett) and wonder what position player to draft first: tight end (Hooper, D. Allen, T Fiedorowicz, or any rookie) or wide receiver (Crowder, Doctson, Bryant, Tyreek Hill). I don't see downside with having two Packers. What are your thoughts on this?
HOWIE FISHMAN (Hermosa Beach, CA)
Separate issues. I wouldn’t have any problem with having two Packers, but that doesn’t have much to do with which player you’ll be picking first. Of the seven players you mention, Tyreek Hill and Dez Bryant jump out as the values. I think they’ll both be top-10 receivers. I would take one of them long before considering a tight end. With Hill, he might run for 3-4 touchdowns, and he’s going to be their No. 1 receiver this year. Also might score 2-3 TDs on kick returns, though they’re thinking about scaling back his work in that area. With him playing full-time as a receiver now, they don’t want to burn him out.
Tough question, because the last thing I want in my league are FFI readers. We had some 30-year players pass away (or go crazy) in two of my leagues. Dynasty and redraft. Where is the best, safe, place to recruit new owners, for us old guys who don't have many friends, and will never do social media? Didn't FFI used to do "Matchmaker?"
JOHN MACHO (Elko New Mrkt, MN)
Condolences; sorry for your loss. This isn’t an issue I have a lot of experience with. If the annual draft is a live, in-person event, you’ll need somebody from your hometown. If you’re going that route, then the proper course, I suppose, is to put the word out to remaining owners. Who knows somebody who might be a good fit with the league? A friend, relative or co-worker, most likely. If it’s all online, then it becomes easier to find someone, because you’re opening it up to people who doesn’t necessarily live in your community and don’t have to block out a draft night on the calendar. We used to have a “Matchmaking” bulletin board on the website, but it got removed in one of the re-designs a few years back.