Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. Is Austin Ekeler the new No. 2 in San Diego? What can we expect from Michael Floyd? And when should one pick up an injured star like David Johnson, Greg Olsen or Tyler Eifert?
I have Freeman, on a bye as my #1 RB and Thompson, also on a bye, as my #3 RB. I have Abdullah, Buck Allen and Morris as my starting RB's this week. Ekeler is available and I have heard noise that he may be taking on a bigger role with the Chargers. Have you heard anything and do you see him as a better option than Morris or Allen?
David Hogshire (Plymouth, MN)
Ekeler caught my eye last week. He was on the field for only 3 plays and handled the ball on all of them – a 35-yard touchdown run and 2 catches for 23 yards. He’s small, but the numbers he put up at his pro day workout were really impressive – a 40.5 vertical, a 10-foot-8 board jump, and 4.43 in the 40. He’s listed at 5-foot-10 and 200 but looks smaller. Branden Oliver, meanwhile, has struggled pretty much all along. He averaged 2.3 yards per carry in the preseason. He had a 26-yard run against the Dolphins but otherwise has carried the ball 16 times for 32 yards in the first four games. Not that it’s all his fault – I’ve seen him get hit in the backfield many times – but with him struggling, I think the natural progression would be to put Ekler on the field more and see if he can provide a spark. For Week 5, I would guess he would outperform Morris. The value of Morris, however, is that he could be something special if Ezekiel Elliott gets hurt or suspended.
Why is David Johnson Constantly ranked as a top 20 RB when your site says he won’t be back until most likely week 16?
Tom Tango (North Bergen, NJ)
I don’t know when Johnson will return. If there’s a timeline, I haven’t heard about it. Bruce Arians said something about hoping to get Johnson back by Christmas, but I think there was some frustration involved – he’s a coach who was disappointed to lose his best player in the first game of the season. A week later, Johnson said there’s no timetable for when he’ll return. He’s got a broken wrist; we know that. He’s on injured reserve, so the earliest he could possibly return would be Week 10, suiting up for the team’s final eight games. If he’s playing in five-plus games, everyone will want him. On the downside, if the Cardinals are sitting at 4-8 late in the year (which I think is possible) they could be cautious about putting him on the field.
I'm trying to better understand the weekly rankings so I don't make the same mistake again. Week 4, before Thursday's game (Green Bay vs Chicago), my custom rankings had Cohen ranked slightly higher than Gillislee. So I started Cohen. In the Friday supplement, Gillislee moved up by a lot. It stings a little more than it should because Cohen didn't do much. If Gillislee had been ranked the same or higher on Thursday, I would have waited before making a decision. But up until now, I've chosen to always abide by the rankings, and stay consistent that way. Should I have not started Cohen and waited to see if Gillislee moved up?
Steven Schipper (Winnipeg, MB)
A fair question, and I apologize for the confusion. In this case, Gillislee’s grade was initially held back by Rex Burkhead. I wasn’t sure if Burkhead would play, so I had him allocated for a portion of New England’s rushing production. When they ruled him out on Friday, I then re-worked the numbers, with Gillislee, Dion Lewis and James White picking up some extra yards and touchdown potential. In some of these situations, I will double-list the players. Like with Matt Forte this week – you’ve got a “here’s where Bilal Powell is right now” forecast, and you’ve got a “here’s where Bilal Powell will rank if Forte is ruled out” forecast. But I try not to use too many of those. They take a lot of time, and they can make the list too confusing. With the Patriots, you typically have four running backs on the list – Gillislee, White, Burkhead, Lewis. To work in the yes/no on Burkhead, they become eight running backs.
I thought I was off to a great start by drafting David Johnson and Dalvin Cook. Luckily, I traded for Murray and White and have Kamara as well. To bolster my receiving corps do you think Michael Floyd will have any impact coming back from his suspension?
Steve Campagna (Miami, FL)
Floyd will be their third receiver, I think. They’ve been trying to get Laquon Treadwell going, and it just hasn’t happened. He caught only 5 passes for 42 yards in the first four games (and this is on a team that can pass it – Minnesota is averaging 275 passing yards per game). There were four wide receivers selected in the first round of the 2016 draft (Coleman, Doctson, Fuller). Treadwell is the first, I think, that we can now say with some certainty will never develop into a viable starter. But I’m not expecting huge numbers from Floyd either. They’ve got their two receivers – Diggs and Thielen. I expect Floyd will line up as an outside receiver and catch a few vertical balls, but I don’t think he’ll ever be productive enough or consistent enough that you would want to put him in a fantasy lineup. I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where you would be saying, “Vikings are playing the Bears this week, I’m definitely going to want to get Floyd in my starting lineup.” The past four years he was in an offense that perfectly fit his skills (with Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer consistently driving the ball downfield on vertical routes) and Floyd caught 5-6 TDs in each of those seasons. Only nominal value, I think, is the potential that Floyd would take on a much larger role if either Diggs or Thielen were to miss time with an injury.
In the redrafter you have McKinnon 20 plus spots ahead of Gallman in the PPR format but on the Thursday podcast you stated you prefer Gallman, what gives?
JEFFREY KOZLOWSKI (Maspeth, NY)
I was misquoted? These are different kinds of backs. With Jerick McKinnon, I think his role is secure. Latavius Murray is their starting running back, but McKinnon should be out for 30-40 percent of the plays. McKinnon is the better pass-catcher of the two, so he might be more productive in the PPR format. With Gallman, I think he’s more of a shot in the dark. Paul Perkins has started every game for them. Orleans Darkwa has been their No. 2. Shane Vereen has been playing on third downs, and the running game has been a mess. Wayne Gallman came in and played well in the second half of the Tampa Bay game. So now what? They could continue with Perkins as their starter. They might try Gallman. Or they could continue to go with a couple of backs – Perkins/Gallman/Darkwa. I’m sure they’ll leave Vereen in the third-down role. If you go the Gallman route, I’m not sure that you’re getting much of anything. But for me, I like the idea of taking a flyer on Gallman. Maybe he becomes the starter, and maybe New York’s running game starts coming around about now. That’s what happened last year, when the team averaging 40 more rushing yards during the second half of the season.
The NFL moved to full seasons of Thursday Night Football in 2012. Since 2012, is there any trend of performances by players in these games that indicate increased or decreased results? Are games like last week's SF-LA Rams outliers? Do marginal players outperform their averages in these games? What about top players? Any insights you have based on the numbers would be interesting to know. Thanks!
PAUL KONCZAL (Fairfield, IA)
Some believe that Thursday games are lower scoring, but that’s not true. This is a case of there being more divisional games on Thursday night. Those games are lower scoring because the teams have developed some immunity to each other. When you see an offense or a player twice per year, you start to figure out some of the things that need to be taken away. So if you look at the thousands of games played in the last 10-15 years, you’ll see slightly lower scores for games inside the division. Same with Thursday nights. Over the past five years, there league average is 43 points for Thursday night games between teams in the same division. The average goes up to 48 points for games outside the division – that’s 5 points per game. If a short week actually served to hold down offenses, it would be apparent in the stats, and that’s just not the case. Since 2006, there have been 82 games played on Thursdays between teams in the same division. That provides us with the data points we need – you’ve got the same two teams playing in the same year (once on Thursday, and once on Sunday-Monday). And it splits right down the middle: 40 of the Thursday games were higher scoring, and 40 of those Thursday games were lower scoring.
|THURSDAY GAMES WITH REMATCHES, 2006-2016|
|2014||NY Giants 45, at Washington 14||59||37|
|2012||New England 49, at NY Jets 19||68||55|
|2013||San Francisco 35, at St. Louis 11||46||36|
|2014||Philadelphia 33, at Dallas 10||43||65|
|2009||Green Bay 34, at Detroit 12||46||26|
|2014||Cleveland 24, at Cincinnati 3||27||30|
|2014||New Orleans 28, at Carolina 10||38||51|
|2013||Carolina 31, at Tampa Bay 13||44||33|
|2015||Seattle 20, at San Francisco 3||23||42|
|2012||Indianapolis 27, at Jacksonville 10||37||39|
|2014||Seattle 19, at San Francisco 3||22||24|
|2016||Atlanta 43, at Tampa Bay 28||71||55|
|2012||Denver 26, at Oakland 13||39||43|
|2016||Arizona 33, at San Francisco 21||54||43|
|2013||Seattle 34, at Arizona 22||56||27|
|2011||Green Bay 27, at Detroit 15||42||86|
|2007||Green Bay 37, at Detroit 26||63||47|
|2006||San Francisco 24, at Seattle 14||38||34|
|2015||Denver 31, at Kansas City 24||55||42|
|2015||Indianapolis 27, at Houston 20||47||26|
|2013||San Diego 27, at Denver 20||47||48|
|2012||Washington 38, at Dallas 31||69||46|
|2011||Oakland 24, at San Diego 17||41||64|
|2008||Indianapolis 31, at Jacksonville 24||55||44|
|2016||NY Jets 37, at Buffalo 31||68||40|
|2014||Arizona 12, at St. Louis 6||18||45|
|2009||NY Jets 19, at Buffalo 13||32||29|
|2015||Buffalo 22, at NY Jets 17||39||39|
|2014||Indianapolis 33, at Houston 28||61||27|
|2015||Chicago 17, at Green Bay 13||30||44|
|2015||Green Bay 27, at Detroit 23||50||34|
|2013||New Orleans 17, at Atlanta 13||30||40|
|2009||Indianapolis 35, at Jacksonville 31||66||26|
|2015||Baltimore 23, at Pittsburgh 20||43||37|
|2013||Indianapolis 30, at Tennessee 27||57||36|
|2008||NY Jets 34, at New England 31||65||29|
|2010||Indianapolis 30, at Tennessee 28||58||43|
|2014||at New England 27, NY Jets 25||52||33|
|2013||at Baltimore 22, Pittsburgh 20||42||35|
|2006||at Green Bay 9, Minnesota 7||16||40|
|2016||at Carolina 23, New Orleans 20||43||79|
|2016||at Detroit 16, Minnesota 13||29||38|
|2015||at Oakland 23, San Diego 20||43||66|
|2013||at New England 13, NY Jets 10||23||57|
|2011||at Indianapolis 19, Houston 16||35||41|
|2014||at Oakland 24, Kansas City 20||44||44|
|2016||at Philadelphia 24, NY Giants 19||43||51|
|2016||at Dallas 31, Washington 26||57||50|
|2012||at Buffalo 19, Miami 14||33||34|
|2015||at Jacksonville 19, Tennessee 13||32||81|
|2006||at Cincinnati 13, Baltimore 7||20||46|
|2013||at Jacksonville 27, Houston 20||47||19|
|2012||at San Francisco 13, Seattle 6||19||55|
|2012||at Baltimore 23, Cleveland 16||39||40|
|2009||at Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 6||19||41|
|2016||at San Diego 21, Denver 13||34||46|
|2016||at Kansas City 21, Oakland 13||34||36|
|2014||at Jacksonville 21, Tennessee 13||34||30|
|2006||at Kansas City 19, Denver 10||29||15|
|2015||at New Orleans 31, Atlanta 21||52||37|
|2012||at Atlanta 23, New Orleans 13||36||58|
|2015||at NY Giants 32, Washington 21||53||34|
|2011||at Pittsburgh 14, Cleveland 3||17||22|
|2014||at Miami 22, Buffalo 9||31||39|
|2012||at Green Bay 23, Chicago 10||33||34|
|2016||at Tennessee 36, Jacksonville 22||58||55|
|2014||at Denver 35, San Diego 21||56||32|
|2012||at St. Louis 17, Arizona 3||20||48|
|2016||at Green Bay 26, Chicago 10||36||57|
|2014||at Detroit 34, Chicago 17||51||34|
|2008||at Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 10||37||48|
|2012||at San Diego 31, Kansas City 13||44||57|
|2006||at Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 7||34||44|
|2016||at Baltimore 28, Cleveland 7||35||45|
|2016||at Seattle 24, Los Angeles 3||27||12|
|2015||at Cincinnati 31, Cleveland 10||41||40|
|2014||at Baltimore 29, Pittsburgh 6||35||66|
|2008||at San Diego 34, Oakland 7||41||46|
|2015||at New England 36, Miami 7||43||30|
|2013||at Detroit 40, Green Bay 10||50||31|
|2014||at Green Bay 42, Minnesota 10||52||45|
|2014||at Atlanta 56, Tampa Bay 14||70||44|
PPR league, I am in need of a good TE and have an overabundance of running backs, both Tyler Eifert and Greg Olsen are available and I think I can afford to stash one but don't know whether I should drop Marshawn Lynch, Buck Allen, or Latavius Murray. All three RBs are on my bench at the moment. Starting and only TE is Benjamin Watson.
John Williams ()
Eifert has been a better touchdown scorer. Olsen has been a more consistent pass catcher, averaging 5 receptions per game over the last three years, potentially making him a better fit with your scoring system. Olsen wasn’t playing at that level early in the season; the Panthers have a new offense and he’s a 32-year-old tight end. But I think he can still return to being a consistent pass catcher. Eifert in theory should come back sooner (you might get a month more of games out of him), but he’s historically been notoriously slow to return from injuries. Olsen is on injured reserve, so he definitely won’t play in Weeks 3-10, but he’s been the opposite – no missed games in the last nine years. I saw a blurb go by a week or so ago indicating Olsen’s rehab is coming along nicely. But with both of those guys available, you may want to wait another week before making a move – would allow you to see those running backs for another week before making a decision. (If one of those tight ends were to be picked up, you could still get the other one.)
Better dynasty stash, Zay Jones (BUF) or Mike Williams (LAC)?
JOHN MACHO (Elko New Mrkt, MN)
I saw Jones make a couple of nice catches in the preseason where he looked like he was for real. Heading into the season, I was thinking he’d be their best wide receiver. But so far not so much in the regular season – just 4 catches for 57 yards in four games. Not that anybody is giving up on him (I imagine he’ll continue to start, and he’ll be an opening-day starter next year) but he hasn’t done anything to demonstrate that he’s going to be better than what they were hoping for when they selected him in the second round. So I would prefer to instead roll the dice on the unknown upside of Mike Williams. They selected him with a top-10 pick, and maybe he’ll be something special.
Need some waiver help as I lost Dalvin Cook to injury. How do you rank Eddie Lacy, Aaron Jones, Murray, McKissic, Elijah McGuire and Andre Ellington as potential replacements? Waiver wire is pretty bare, we start 2 WR, 2 RB and a flex.
Anthony Cillis (Lagrangeville, NY)
If you need somebody who can play – somebody who’ll be starting in Weeks 5-8 – I would be looking at Latavius Murray and Andre Ellington. Ellington isn’t much of a runner but catches a lot of dumpoff balls. And Lacy ran surprisingly well for Seattle on Sunday night. He was moving some people backwards. I think they’re going to try to go with Thomas Rawls as their starter, and C.J. Prosise might put up better overall stats than both of them. But Lacy showed enough that it makes sense to bring him in and kick the tires.
All week long my inner voice was saying, "sell high on TyMont, sell high on TyMont, he won't hold up ... Go get Ajayi, his owner is antsy..." And of course, did I listen? Nooo. Granted, you can't predict injuries, but you can imagine how badly I'm kicking myself this morning? That being said, where do I pivot now?
Matt Tinker (Orleans, VT)
Tyrone Montgomery supposedly has broken ribs, but he’s been practicing and says he hopes to play. I can’t guarantee he’ll be out there this week, filling his usual kind of role, but looks like he’ll be back sooner rather than later. If he sits out, I expect the Packers will go with Aaron Jones as their starter, and he could be sneaky good. He was their most effective runner in the preseason, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and he filled in just fine after they plugged him in against the Bears. Jamaal Williams (knee) says he also hopes to play, but I would think they’d prefer a healthy Jones rather than a gimpy Williams.
Which RB would you consider the most valuable to keep for the rest of the year, Terrance West, Jac Rodgers, or LeGarrette Blount?
JOHN LESJACK (Freedom, PA)
Blount is old and slow, and his lack of receiving ability makes him an odd fit with Philadelphia’s offense. But he’s still a big back with power, so I expect he’ll punch in some 1-yard touchdowns. He played well on Sunday against the Chargers.
I’ve been offered Antonio Brown for my Melvin Gordon and Tyreek Hill. On my bench are D.Henry, T.Coleman, or W.Smallwood to step into the empty starting spot. Your numbers say do the trade, and it isn’t close. My question is how much should I value my incredible depth? I have K. Hunt and M. Evans as well, and my team is blowing people out of the water. Would I be fixing something that isn’t broken? (standard scoring, 1 flex spot)
Bradley Contento (Tucson, AZ)
Gordon and Hill are good players, but Brown is really special. I don’t have any numbers in front of me, but would be nice to bring his talents into the fold. Gordon is trapped on a sinking ship and has had some knee issues. Hill is coming along nicely and will hit some big plays, but he’s not as polished and consistent as Brown.
Who gets the rock if Zeke gets suspended? Before the season it looked like McFadden was that guy, then Alfred Morris. But the third guy got the only touches other than Zeke in last week's game. What do you think?
MATT SHEDOR (Algonquin, IL)
McFadden has been inactive in all four games. Morris had a 70-yard run with one of his two carries on Sunday; I think he’s the guy.
Please list out your opinion of the 10 or so top 2 running backs (starter + handcuff.) I'm in a larger league where 70 or so RB's are rostered, I'm struggling, I need to figure out a trade. Maybe I grab Devontae Booker and package him with someone to the guy with C.J. Anderson (or I try to get C.J.) just for example. You would probably start with something like Freeman/Coleman and Murray/Henry and that's fine but those guys are rostered already. And as of today, as I understand it, we don't know who's backing up Elliot, so that shouldn't be in your list. Thanks.
Jose Montana (Rosemead, CA)
If you take away the top back on each team and look at just the No. 2 guys, I think you’re looking at Coleman, Kamara, Henry, Thompson, Cohen, Blount, Stewart, Allen, Forte, McKinnon, Crowell, Foreman and White.
Trade question. 10 team standard PPR. I get McCaffrey & B.Cooks. I give up A.J. Green and either Tate or Alex Collins. As always Ian, appreciate your advice.
CRAIG BOLGER (Sun City, AZ)
I don’t understand why Collins is in the discussion – one of three backs on a lesser team, and probably about a week removed from being on the waiver wire. I’ve got him at 8.6 points per game. I don’t see a big difference between the other four. Green (15.2), Tate (14.2), Cooks (13.0) and McCaffrey (12.8). McCaffrey is at the tail end of that group, but he’s a running back, which is the harder-to-fill position. And there’s a good chance that at some point Jonathan Stewart will get hurt (like he always does) elevating McCaffrey into an even more substantial role.
I am in a dynasty td-heavy league and already lost David Johnson and Chris Carson to injury. I need a longer-term solution. These players are available: Aaron Jones (like a Packer RB with Montgomery out). D'Onta Foreman (shares with Miller but getting carries). Alex Collins (also getting the carries but fumbles). How would your rate these 3?
HOWIE FISHMAN (Hermosa Beach, CA)
Foreman passes the eyeball test. Big back with speed, and he went over 2,000 yards last year at Texas. I saw him bust loose for some longer runs in the preseason. I think he’ll develop into a good starting NFL running back, so I would take the opportunity to pick him up right now. Price will go way up if you wait until Lamar Miller has a high ankle sprain in four weeks.