Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: Who's going to be catching all of the passes and touchdowns for the Jets? Is Joe Flacco elite? What's the best draft position? And just how much can we expect from Tyreek Hill and Alshon Jeffery?
Someone's gotta catch balls for a Jets offense that you'd sure figure will be passing a lot. For historically bad passing offenses (which the Jets are sure shaping up as) how do the numbers wind up shaking out? Lotsa dump passes to the backs? The slot guy? Maybe some tight end? Not in any PPR leagues myself, but I'd think this would be darn relevant for those owners.
Richard Loppnow (Ephrata, WA)
I like Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The light has come on for him, apparently. He’s not drinking anymore and has lost 30 pounds. Supposedly crushing it in practices. He’s suspended for the first two games, but I actually think he’s worth drafting in leagues. About the 20th-best tight end on my board right now. The two backs, Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, should catch plenty of passes. With the wide receivers, it’s a potpourri of lesser options. Robby Anderson showed some ability to get deep last year, with 4 catches of 40-plus yards. But he might be a one-dimensional player, and it’s tough for a deep threat to make a living on a really bad team. Some other wide receiver, I’ll bet, catches more passes. I liked the look of Jalin Marshall in the preseason last year. Ardarius Stewart? Charone Peake? Chad Hansen? I don’t think those guys are worth drafting.
Am I crazy to think Joe Flacco could be a top-15 QB? I keep reading to stay away from any Ravens (except Justin Tucker), but I see great possibilities with above-average receivers, no running game, a high propensity to pass, and (I think) a strong strength of schedule. Flacco's recent back issues and his relatively weak statistical history are concerning, but the signing of Austin Howard is a positive. I have Flacco at 3 units in my standard non-PPR auction league where TD passes are worth 5 points but I could keep Andy Dalton (10 units) or trade for Carson Wentz (2 units) instead. What would you do? What are your thoughts on Dalton and Wentz? Thanks for your hard work, Ian. I signed up for your site for the first time last year and won just my second championship in the 24-year history of our league!
Brian Greene (Freeport, IL)
I don’t see it. Howard was a mediocre tackle when the Raiders signed him (away from New York), and they were happy to get rid of him. For pass catchers, the Ravens are rolling out a couple of veterans who’ve both been on multiple other teams, Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin, with Breshad Perriman (injury prone and unproven) as the No. 3 and Benjamin Watson or Maxx Williams at tight end. At best, that’s a below-average receiving group. And Flacco simply hasn’t delivered. He struggles with converting in the red zone. Had a decent season with Gary Kubiak in 2014 (27 TDs) but otherwise has thrown 53 TDs in his last 42 games. Over the last four years, 26 quarterbacks have started at least half of the time. In standard fantasy scoring, Flacco has outperformed only five of those guys. In my eyes, there are 18 of 19 decent quarterbacks available this year (I’m not sure if Tyrod Taylor is in that group). I want two of those guys. And Flacco isn’t in that group. He’s in the underbelly, with guys like Alex Smith, Carson Wentz, Sam Braford and Jay Cutler.
|POINTS PER START (2013-2016)|
I am a long-time subscriber and have done pretty well with your information. I am in a 10-team league with standard scoring. When we draw for draft order we let the guy who draws #1 to pick any spot he wants, then #2 picks from whatever is left and so on. Do you have any thoughts on preferred draft positions?
Randy Newland (villa hills, KY)
I want the No. 1 pick. David Johnson looks like he’s going to be really good. Things are much shakier with LeVeon Bell (who’s staying away from camp in a contract dispute), and Ezekiel Elliott (who’ll likely be hit with a multiple-game suspension). Look at the relative production numbers for each player in your top 40. That’s after adjusting for what position they play. Then add up the totals for picks 1, 20, 21 and 40, and compare them to the other nine draft positions. Spot No. 1 comes out 24 points ahead of any other spot, and it comes out 60 points ahead of seven of the other nine positions.
|DRAFT VALUES (thru 4th Rd)|
On one of your recent podcasts Justin Eleff pondered that Carson Palmers numbers really picked up the second half of last season and he took that to mean that Palmer might have a good bounce back season. I believe you were lukewarm on the response, But in your mailbag you have Arizona throwing for 28 TDs and I think 4500 yards. I think this is way off. I watched most of Arizona's games last year and there was a great deal of garbage time yardage. Several games Palmer himself threw pick sixes that put the Cardinals way behind and they had to pass most of the second half in those games. But I don’t think that situation repeats this year. First the Cardinal defense is pretty good, you’ve got them in your top three, and I think Bruce Arians will play a little more close to the vest this year knowing Palmer is getting up there in age and he’s got a stud running back that can help kill the clock so to speak the way Dallas did last year. Thoughts?
Tavis Medrano (San Gabriel, CA)
I think Palmer’s pretty good. He’s averaged 271, 292 and 282 passing yards per game the last three years. About 2 TDs per start three years in a row. Since 2014, he’s in the top 6 in passing yards (285 per game) and TD passes (72 in 37 games – just under 2 per). Not a factor at all as a runner. Offensive line is a concern, since he’s an older quarterback who needs a clean pocket. In Arians’ offense, he’s asked to hold the ball longer. But I think the receivers will be better this year (with John Brown being healthier). There are about 18 quarterbacks that like, and I have Palmer at the tail end of that group.
In a standard league, how good is Alshon Jeffery?
Anuj Agarwal ()
He’s Philadelphia’s No. 1 receiver. So that’s worth something. Supposedly nobody can cover him in practice. But that’s kind of the case with everyone right now, isn’t it? I have concerns about Carson Wentz’s ability to get the ball downfield. Jeffery is the 38th wide receiver on my board, meaning there’s no chance he’ll be on any of my fantasy teams. ADP data suggest he’s going about 18th in drafts right now.
I'm unsure of whether or not I'm comfortable with Tyreek Hill as my #1 WR.
Garrett Seymour (Fitchburg, WI)
He’s going to be a really nice player. They’re going to work the ball to him and really try to put him in good spots. He’ll also run with the ball. But I see that they’re worried about wearing him out, so he won’t be used as much on kickoff returns. It’s also a lesser passing team, and Hill hasn’t yet shown he can do it. So I like him a lot more as a 2nd or 3rd wide receiver, rather than as the No. 1 guy you must count on.
Back at it. Typically I'm not overly surprised at the rankings anymore, but you are super high on Jordan Howard. Can you elaborate a bit on that? I mean he's higher than high. Also, like how you like Dalvin Cook. He looks like he's got a real chance to be good.
Bill Petilli (Harrison, NY)
Howard is for real. He was really good last year, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He ranked 2nd in the league in rushing last year. He’s on a lesser team and isn’t a good pass catcher, but I think he’s in that second tier of running backs. He’s in there with McCoy, Gordon and Freeman. As for Cook, I haven’t seen him play yet, but it looks like he has a chance to be more productive than the other three coveted rookie running backs (Fournette, McCaffrey, Mixon).
Do you have information on the KICKERS in terms of kickoffs? Total kickoffs and the percentage that are touchbacks as compared to those that are actually returned?
Richard Spinella (North Providence, RI)
With kickers, we tend to look at field goals and extra points. Would be nice if we could work into the fantasy game some credit for also being good at kickoffs – points for touchbacks or whatever. But touchbacks aren’t as meaningful as they were a few years back. Now that kickoffs have been moved up, more teams are trying to hang them up high and short of the goal-line, trapping teams inside the 25. The Patriots were able to do this multiple times in the Super Bowl. The fairest measure of a kickoff, I think, is where the other teams ends up. Last year the Eagles, Rams, Patriots and Raiders did the best job of keeping opponents close to their goal line. The Packers, Bills, Giants and Steelers were the worst on kickoffs. On the stats below, they don’t include onside kicks or intentional squibs at the end of a half.
|KICKOFFS (2016 SEASON)|
I have read your magazine for (I think) 22 straight years. It's part of my summer time tradition to lay out in the sun and read FFI. You wrote an article 3-10 years ago about 'what is the ideal' draft spot. You mentioned that drafting 1-3 is almost always better than draft in the 10-12 hole. Do you remember that article? It was great and I would like to re-read it.
GORDON SONNEN (Renton, WA)
I’ve run numbers regularly, showing that if everyone drafts the way they’re supposed to draft, the first few choices almost always project to be the best. But let me check with some of the websites that run thousands of leagues. Hopefully they can pull their numbers for the last 10 years and tell us which draft positions tend to score the most points and win the most championships.
I am in a 12-team touchdowns only league and I have 8th pick. I was wondering if I should get Mike Gillislee with my first pick. I feel he could be one of the highest scoring backs if he takes Blount’s role. But I am a little concerned because you never know what Belicheck is thinking (and should I worry about Burkhead perhaps taking on that role?).
BRUCE JAMES (Lakeside, CA)
In standard and PPR formats, I don’t think Gillislee is a top-20 back. Doesn’t catch passes, and they will use a lot of other backs. But in a TD-only format, he’s in play for the first round. I’m in a TD-only league myself, and it’s a different game. It’s not about guys running for 100 yards or catching 60 passes. New England probably will score 16-20 rushing touhdowns, and Gillislee should be their primary goal-line runner. He’s their biggest back. I don’t think he quite fits, however, with where you’re selecting. I’ve got him 10th on my board. So if I were sitting in the 8th spot, I would select somebody else in the first round and figure Gillislee most likely will still be sitting there with the 5th pick of the second round.
Auction Strategies. Just saw your Fanex Auction. I am doing my first auction in a few weeks do you have any strategies? I saw that you stayed away from your top 15, is that common? What players do you usually throw out?
Chris Winder (San Ramon, CA)
For the first few rounds, usual strategy is to nominate players that you don’t want on your team. There are probably a half dozen who would be drafted in the first, second or third round that you don’t want on your team (for whatever reason). Start with those guys, while others still have plenty of money to spend. If you think Brandin Cooks is worth about $8, for example, it’s a big win to put him out there and let somebody else by him for $22 – the overall price of the remaining players just went down by $14 (value that potentially could be added to your roster). Middle of the draft, give some thought to nominating the best $1 players. That is, if you know that 75 percent of the defenses and kickers will go for $1, best to be one of the first to nominate players at those positions (so you’re getting your 5th-best kicker or defense, rather than one ranked about 12th. If everyone in your league is new to auctioning, chances are there will multiple guys driving up prices, overpaying for the elite players. Hang back and collect the deals later. As the years go by and everyone gets more experienced – knowing what players go for – that strategy is a lot harder to implement. In my long-time league, we’ve been auctioning for about 20 years. In the early years, there were usually a couple of big spenders who decided they would simply pay whatever it takes to land that No. 1 player. Typically you’d see the top player in the draft going for almost half of the payroll. But everyone now has figured out that doesn’t work. Prices have steadily declined, to the point where it’s unusual to see a player going for 30 percent of the cap. When you get to this point in your league’s development, you have to spend more energy being aware what’s happening in the auction – being ready to potentially buy big players early when the spending is flat. Easier said than done. I may have underspent early in the Fanex Auction, and that was a slow-brew auction that played out over two weeks.
PPR league with $200 cap. I can keep one player for an additional $10 of what I drafted him for from the previous year. Who would you keep Isaiah Crowell for $17, or Melvin Gordon for $33?
Ryan Logan (Minneapolis, MN)
You want the better value. Probably Crowell. I don’t have exact specs (not sure if you would be keeping Gordon for $33 or $43, and Crowell for $17 or $27). But process is to create exact values for the 2017 season. Do this by using the custom rankings tool at the website. (You can adjust auction values in the setup area of the website, making sure the correct number of players are being sold for the correct amount of money.) Then compare those values to the cost of protecting the players. If Gordon is “worth” $40 and you can protect him for $33, you would be adding $7 worth of value to your team. If Crowell is worth $30 and you could protect him for $17, you would be adding $13 – he would be the better keeper (despite being less valuable overall).
In a 10-Team, TD-heavy league, we have to keep 4 players. I believe my 2 no-brainers are D.Freeman and Michael Thomas. My other two choices would be from Prescott, Gillislee, J.Reed, Montgomery, Rawls, Ware, Coleman, and M.Bennett. According to your Custom Auction Values program, Prescott, Gillislee, and Coleman have the most value in this group. I tend to agree with Gillislee's potential, but Coleman's value is mainly as a handcuff to Freeman, and there are many 2nd-tier QB options beside Prescott. I'm thinking that Rawls, Montgomery, or even Bennett have a chance to be difference makers, although I appreciate that Rawls and Montgomery are in RBBC situations and may put up yards with few TDs. Any recommendations?
Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)
TD-only. That’s a different animal. If Rawls or Montgomery puts up 1,200 combined yards but don’t get many carries at the goal line, they don’t give you great value. I think you need to find room for Mike Gillislee. I understand that he’s been out this week with a hamstring injury, but I think he’ll be New England’s main goal-line runner, and they tend to score about 20 rushing touchdowns every year. He might lead the league in touchdowns. Prescott’s good, but with this being a 10-team league, you will be OK at quarterback. You’ll have two good ones. So I understand the lure of locking down Atlanta’s backfield with Coleman. Whichever guy you don’t protect (Prescott or Coleman) you should be able to select in the draft.
How about including a link on the site for "DEPTH CHARTS" that you can update for us throughout the preseason?
Jay Harding (Oregon City, OR)
Andy is continuously updating the depth charts. They are included in the final pages of the product that goes out on Mondays and Thursdays.
I’m in a 16 team league, so gotta dig deep! We’re allowed to keep up to five players each year, but for relatively short tenures (up to 2 extra years with 20% salary increase each year). PPR, 5 bench spots, CANNOT drop players without eating their salary into your $100 salary cap. We have Diggs at $3. Being offered H.Henry ($2), Blount ($4), and Rishard Matthews ($1). All players involved are 1st year, meaning the opportunity to keep for a couple more years if desired. What I see is we're giving up a #2 WR (16 teams remember...), gaining a #3 WR, #2 RB, and #1 TE with upside. Should we pull the trigger?
ROBERT TECCA (Saint Michael, MN)
I would rather have Henry for $2 than Diggs for $3. If you’re talking about throwing in other guys, that’s just gravy. Matthews, I think, will be a WR3 in your league. Blount isn’t much of a pass catcher, but he should punch in a healthy number of touchdowns. The Eagles have a good offensive line, and they know how to run it – they scored 16 rushing touchdowns last year.
Half PPR. I currently have #2 pick in 12 team league. Offered picks 10, 15, and 34 for my #2 and #23. What are your thoughts on accepting the trade?
Mike Bayless ()
The parameters look pretty fair. The #2 spot is a good place to be. If LeVeon Bell signs, seems physically fine and whatnot, he’s a really good choice there. If not, you’ve got Antonio Brown as a fallback. That player is 40-80 points better than what you’ll be picking down at 10th. With the 10th and 15th picks, I see a lot of mush there – Jordan Howard, Todd Gurley, maybe Jordy Nelson, Michael Thomas or Isaiah Crowell. And I don’t think the player at 23 is necessarily much different than 15. So 2 + 23 is definitely way ahead of 10 + 15. So what kind of player might you land at 34? If I was picking, I would expect it would be Tyreek Hill, Paul Perkins or Carlos Hyde. Such a player would add about 50 points of value to your lineup. (But you gave up, recall, 40-80 points to be able to pick up this 50.) I guess it hinges on what you think of LeVeon Bell. If you don’t think Bell is going to get everything squared away, then make the trade.