Ian Allan answers your fantasy questions. In this edition: Should Josh Gordon be tossed cold into fantasy lineups? When do we give up on Kareem Hunt? Rookie receivers who should play more in December. And what happened to Dak Prescott?
Love your advice, it helps me make playoffs consistently in all my leagues. In one such league I am just starting playoffs but my team is falling apart due to injuries. I stashed Gordon a couple weeks back. Do I dare take a chance on him this week? Or would it be better to go with a lower upside but higher floor type flex play like Kenyan Drake or another low-end RB? I know it takes a while to get to game speed, but do you think the fact that hue Jackson and all of the other coaches are raving about him means that they will try to feed Josh Gordon the ball?
Kyle Curtis ()
Gordon is a remarkably talented guy, and he’s only 26. I wouldn’t put anything past him. When he served a lengthy suspension in 2014, he showed up in Week 12 and caught 8 passes for 120 yards at Atlanta. I wouldn’t be opposed to rolling the dice on him. But you mention the name Kenyan Drake, and I think you’re dramatically undervaluing his potential. Damien Williams is out, so Drake is about all they have at running back. He’ll account for 80-plus percent of their rushing yards, he’ll catch 2-6 passes, and if they score any rushing touchdowns, it will be him who’ll be running them in. They’re playing at home, and they’re playing against a Denver defense that’s really fallen apart recently. To me, Drake looks like a shoo-in for top-20 running back numbers, and it won’t be a surprise if he’s in the top 10. I wouldn’t be thinking at all about starting Gordon over Drake for Week 13.
I nearly benched Kareem Hunt for Burkhead last week, and now regret I didn't. Burkhead not only outscored Hunt, he out-touched him! This week I face the same dilemma. Is Hunt toast? Like all Hunt owners, I keep waiting for his long-promised return to glory, to no avail. I could start both him and Burkhead, but then I'd have to bench either Evans, Hill or Marvin Jones in a league with TD-heavy scoring.
Eric Pryne (Vashon, WA)
I’m not giving up on Hunt. I think he’s still capable and running hard. I think the problems are more with the offense around him – play-calling, offensive line and quarterback play. So if they’re playing an average or lesser defense (like this week), I think the correct move to stay the course and give him a chance to turn things around. Of course, I said the exact same thing the last two weeks, and Kansas City did precious little offensively against the Giants and Bills (with the entire offense scoring only one touchdown). But I think this is a situation where you go the Hans Gruber route and stick with the plan. Stand by your man. Dance with what brung ya. Burkhead is also a good touchdown scorer, but I would start Hunt over all three of the receivers you mention.
Do you see any new rookie WRs making a splash down the stretch? I'm in some deep leagues and injuries have decimated my WR lineup for the playoffs. I'm watching players like Chad Williams, Dede Westbrook, Mack Hollins. Thoughts?
Paul Bakalars (La Crescent, MN)
Bruce Arians talked about giving Chad Williams a chance, but he’s done essentially nothing so far. I didn’t see anything in the preseason, and he didn’t do anything when they upped his playing time last week against Jacksonville. Stranger things have happened, but I don’t think Williams merits a roster spot. Westbrook could be your guy. He looked awfully impressive in the preseason – like he might develop into another DeSean Jackson. He hasn’t made a big impact so far, but they’ve been trying to work him in – he’s seen 16 targets the last two games. The other name I’ll toss out is Josh Reynolds of the Rams. Looks like Robert Woods will miss two more games, and I think Reynolds primarily will fill that spot. He caught 4 passes and touchdown last week.
Thinking ahead to next season, what do you see as the longer-term prospects for Corey Clement and Alex Collins? I suspect, by next year, Blount (older/slower) and Ajayi (average talent/expensive) may be gone so Clement may emerge as their lead back unless the Eagles draft someone good or Smallwood comes around. The Eagles look to be set for several years with Wentz, so it would be nice to identify their lead back for keeper purposes. With the Ravens, if they get better QB play, Collins could be a solid keeper as well. What I'm not sure is whether these younger backs are good all-around talents, with above-average receiving and pass-protection skills, or just ball-toters. The other factor is offensive strategy and whether these teams embrace the RBBC concept.
Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)
Eagles are definitely a committee team. I think they like using two-three backs. I don’t think that trying to find and obtain an Elliott/Gurley type back who can be an every-down player is high on their list of priorities. I don’t see Clement as anything special. I don’t think anybody does. Dude wasn’t even drafted. With limited speed and ability, I don’t think he’ll ever be anything more than a No. 2. I don’t think they’ll ever want him to be on the field for more than 30-40 percent of their plays. I believe, however, that they like Ajayi a lot more than you do. They did, after all, trade for him. And he’s more than met expectations so far, with a 30-plus yard run in every game. He’ll be their starter on opening day, and he’ll probably be on the field for 40-50 percent of their plays next year, with Clement spelling him and somebody quicker and shiftier playing in the obvious passing situations. Ajayi is still on his rookie contract, and that runs through the end of the 2018 season. I think the Ravens are similar. With what they have now, they’re a RBBC team. Collins looks good to me; he’s capable of being their lead runner. But I think they want to work in other backs. They don’t seem to like Collins in short-yardage and goal-line situations; Buck Allen has been getting those carries for most of the year. And I think they’d to have a good pass-catching back to mix in. Had he not suffered a hamstring injury, Danny Woodhead probably would have caught 60-70 passes this year. But that offense is more volatile. It could be substantially re-worked. Joe Flacco can’t seem to play anymore, so they’re probably mulling how to transition to a new quarterback. And I would think they’ll add another substantial running back. If they use a second- or third-round pick on a running back, that will probably affect how we all feel about Collins.
Last week’s Index had Prescott at #9 and Rivers at #14!!?? Very simple question ... How did this happen? I played Prescott in several leagues and also BENCHED Rivers in several leagues! Imagine my frustration. It’s close to playoff time. Please DON’T do this to me again!
JOE VAN KOEVERING (ST PETERSBURG, FL)
That looks pretty dumb in hindsight. I had a feeling Rivers, as a veteran, would play well on Thanksgiving – that he wouldn’t be as adversely affected as the Dallas defense. I should have played that hunch stronger. As for Prescott, we’ve now seen over the past few weeks how important Ezekiel Elliott is to that offense. Prescott is a good young passer who might develop into a top quarterback someday, but it’s a process and he’s not there yet. When the running game is working and he’s throwing play-action, running and converting third and shorts, he can do that. But he’s not developed to the point where he can carry an offense on his own. We saw it again last night. Dallas went three-and-out on its first four possessions. Alfred Morris was getting stopped near the line of scrimmage on the early downs, and they couldn’t convert any of their third-and-longs. Prescott isn’t great yet, and his receivers are below average – Dez Bryant isn’t getting separation. Only difference last night was that Washington during the first quarter and half didn’t take command of the game. Winding the clock back to before Thanksgiving, I expected the Cowboys to win or at least trade points with the Chargers. They were getting Tyron Smith back, and I figured that would help. I thought they would have some success running it. And when projecting numbers to quarterbacks, the pass-run guys always tend to bubble to the top. When you have a quarterback who’s going to run for 20-30 yards, it’s like him getting a 40-60 passing yard headstart against a statue like Rivers. And Prescott calls his own number around the goal line – he’s run in 5 TDs on his own. So if the Cowboys were to score 3 TDs against the Chargers, that would make Prescott a pretty safe choice for 2-3 TDs. That was the thinking anyway. Now we’re looking at a quarterback with a damaged hand who’s been under 180 passing yards four games in a row. Even against a Giants defense that’s had a lot of busted coverages and no longer has Janoris Jenkins, I would be very nervous about starting Prescott in Week 14.
Need your help. I have Dak Prescott and Alex Smith. They could do no wrong in the fist half of the year and now they can do no right. I need to win this week. Who do I start of these two or from these waiver options - Gabbert or Hundley? Just need one.
CHRIS HENKLE (Aurora, IL)
I would go with Hundley. He’s a lesser player, but he’s been playing a bit better recently and is a pass-run guy. Packers are at home against Tampa Bay, and that defense has been remarkably bad on the road. It allowed 20 points at Miami two weeks ago, but it’s allowed at least 30 points and lost in all five of its other road games – Minnesota, Arizona, Buffalo, New Orleans and Atlanta.
After a 1-4 start, my team 'GanGrene' has fought back to an 8-4 record. I need to win this week, however, in order to clinch a playoff spot. I need to choose between Tevin Coleman and Latavius Murray. I have been riding Coleman, but with Freeman coming back, and both are playing well, I may switch at this point. Am I overthinking it?
Tim Schadelbauer (Farmingville, NY)
Freeman’s playing, so I expect Coleman will be rolled back into his usual No. 2 role, handling 30-40 percent of the workload. When Freeman was healthy for the first eight games of the season, Coleman averaged 40 rushing and 25 receiving yards, with 2 TDs. With Murray, you’re also looking at a time-share back. Since Dalvin Cook got hurt, he’s averaged 65 rushing and 4 receiving yards, with 5 TDs in seven games. Atlanta has had some issues stopping the run, allowing 201 rushing yards at Carolina and 162 at New England. The Falcons have allowed 6 rushing touchdowns in their last four games. I don’t think there’s a huge difference between the two, but I would be rolling with Murray.
12-team PPR with Gordon and Freeman at RB, Marvin Jones and Davante Adams at WR. I have option to sub WR3 for RB and wondering if I am crazy to insert Westbrook and bench Freeman. Westbrook versus Indy with Hurns already out. Freeman back from injury versus stingy Minnesota defense.
WILLIAM MEDLOCK (Folsom, CA)
Yes. I think you’re crazy. Westbrook is a nice, developing young player. Maybe he hits on a long ball, allowing him to finish with more fantasy points than Freeman in one of the closing games this year. But Freeman’s the guy. He’s an integral part of that offense. If they score a short rushing touchdown, he’ll probably be the back. If the ground game sputters, then he’ll be catching plenty of dumpoff passes. Jacksonville, on the other hand, has thrown for 154 and 160 yards in its last two games. I suppose if we were to play out this weekend 100 times, there would be a few where Westbrook finished with better numbers, but I wouldn’t be thinking at all about sitting down Freeman.
Thank you for the excellent previous responses to my questions, and I would like to pick your mind one more time. I play in a 12-team dynasty auction league that has a $100-bid limit per team, and you may keep up to 20 bids worth of players for the next year. The key to our league is to get untapped talent off of the benches for 1 bid, then stash him for a year or two as he develops. My holdovers and their bids are: Ryan 1, Trubisky 1, Kamara 2, Duke Johnson 1, D.Lewis 1, Powell 1, Hogan 1, JuJu 1, J.Gordon 1, R.Anderson 1, Henry 1 and Lutz 1. 12 players for 13 bids, leaving me with 87 bids to pick up 3 players at next year's draft. Assuming all these players return healthy next year, am I in good shape? What are my weaknesses? Would you drop 1 of these players for an "untapped"? If so, who?
mark meyer ()
Is Trubisky worth 1? I see Matt Ryan listed at 1; I assume that means there isn’t much demand for quarterbacks, and you can go around pick up guys who are below-average starters for 1. If there are below-average starters available for 1 and 2, I wouldn’t want to use one of my valuable roster spots waiting for Trubisky to maybe become a viable quarterback in 2019. Nor am I crazy about Bilal Powell for 1. I don’t think he’s ever going to be anything more than what he is right now.