Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: Weighing what to do after Saquon Barkley in dynasty drafts. Will Saints or Bears win on Cameron Meredith. NFL's new anthem policy. And more.
I have the #1 pick in a dynasty draft in a .5 PPR. I've been offered Dalvin Cook straight up. Thoughts?
James Costello (Portland, ME)
I think it’s a fair offer. I wouldn’t be insulted by the proposal. But I think most everyone would select Saquon Barkley there. The owner making the proposal has his eye on Barkley. That being the case, I think the next logical step is to see if he’s willing to give you Cook plus something else for the No. 1 pick. I believe Cook is a good player, and I might be willing to make such a deal.
In a dynasty league. 1/2-point PPR. We have a two-round rookie draft, rookies have a 4-year contract if drafted in round 1 and 3-year for round 2. How would you rank the top 5 regardless of position? Also, have 5th pick in round 2, how would you rank WRs in this format? Lastly, this league gives 1.5 points per reception for TEs. Any TEs worth drafting in round 2 over a WR?
STEVE WEBER (Paso Robles, CA)
I think we’re looking at all running backs with the first five picks. Saquon Barkley will be picked No. 1. Then I don’t see much difference between the next three – Derrius Guice, Rashaad Penny and Ronald Jones. Ask me again next week, after a coach makes an off-hand compliment or criticism, and I might have them ordered Jones-Penny-Guice. You asked for five, so I’ll stick Sony Michel in the final spot, but I think he’s a notch back. In the second round, it would be nice if Mike Gesicki was available. And with that tight end rule in effect, I think Dallas Goedert and the two Ravens tight ends get in the discussion. I understand the Eagles have Zach Ertz, but Goedert looks like he’s for real and will eventually develop into a really nice player. Ertz has missed games three years in a row. If Ertz misses any games in 2019 or 2020, I expect Goedert will be a top-5 tight end while filling in. Baltimore really uses tight ends a lot. Last year only two teams completed more passes to the position. So I expect that when you look back a year from now, either Hayden Hurst or Mark Andrews will grade out as a really good second-round pick. But I can’t say which one it will be. They drafted Hurst earlier, but Andrews looks like he might be a better pass catcher – at Oklahoma, he looked like Travis Kelce at times. I also have some interest in wide receiver Braxton Berrios. I think the Patriots will develop him into a nice slot receiver, and he could start paying big dividends in 2019. I would say Berrios looks pretty similar to all those wide receivers chosen in the second round.
Hey just ordered my 2018 magazine cannot wait to read it and see how you all sort out the rookie RBs and how they will affect their teams good or bad. Question I am sure all the focus is on Barkley but my question is this do you think Sony Michel could outproduce Barkley? Michel could be their best running back since Corey Dillon. What do the experts think?
Bruce Sadler (Lakeland, FL)
We do the Experts Poll in the magazine, with 20 weighing in with their top 20 at each position. Of that group, five ranked Michel between 15th and 20th. The other 15 – 75 percent – didn’t include Michel in their top 20. I am in agreement with the larger group. He’s talented – he sure looked good in the Oklahoma and Alabama games – but I don’t expect he’ll be heavily featured. The Patriots have plenty of other capable backs, and I expect they’ll probably use two and three in a lot of games. James White, I think, is a lock to hang onto that Faulk-Woodhead-Vereen role. Rex Burkhead is versatile and has been around there for a year learning the offense; he might be involved. And let’s see what Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee look like in camp; one of them could be used in goal-line situations. Sony Michel was a committee back at Georgia, and he’ll probably be a committee guy here, especially early in his career. Bill Belichick has long tended to like older, experienced backs. He drafted Laurence Maroney in the first round back in 2006. Maroney was supposed to be a Michel-type superstar, and it never happened. If I could have Barkley or 10 Sony Michels, I would take Barkley.
Is there a correlation between the average length of TD scored by WRs and reliability? I'm looking at the chart with Hill, Cooper, and Anderson as having the longest average length for TDs and seeing reliable TD scorers at the bottom of the list. Is there a correlation: WRs who average high averages on their TDs are unlikely to repeat their numbers whereas WRs who average low averages on their TDs are likely? Or is there a baseline where that only applies to WRs who score, say, 7 or more TDs?
Moishe Steigmann (Glendale, WI)
There are certain receivers who don’t get many targets in the red zone. DeSean Jackson, Ted Ginn and T.Y. Hilton have been prominent members of that group for years. Any rookie receiver, I think, is a candidate to be lightly used around the goal line (neither Julio Jones nor Amari Cooper, for example, caught a pass inside the 10 in their first season – only one target between them, and it was an incompletion). Paul Richardson, John Ross, Keelan Cole, John Brown and Marqise Goodwin should be in this group. Tyreek Hill might be one of these receivers, running mostly deep routes, while Sammy Watkins sees more balls around the goal line. And with these kind of receivers, I think they’ll be streakier and less reliable as touchdown scorers than the guys who are consistently seeing targets in the red zone. It’s not easy connecting on long bombs; there are a lot more short touchdowns scored.
I have eight wide receivers and need to eliminate 2 in my dynasty league. Which ones shall I protect? Sterling Shepard, Cooper Kupp, DeAndre Hopkins, Demarius Thomas, Josh Gordon, Adam Thielen, Alshon Jeffery and Cam Meredith?
Ted Friesen (Bigfork, MT)
Meredith is the first one I would toss. He’s trying to come back from a serious knee injury, and I’m not he’ll be quite the same. The Bears presumably know the most about him. Their doctors have been monitoring his progress all along. Armed with that knowledge, the front office chose to tender Meredith at the $1.9 million level. If they were confident he was going to come back and be the Cameron Meredith that was their projected No. 1 receiver in July last year, they would have tendered him at the $2.9 million level. Had he been tagged at that $2.9 million level, any team signing Meredith would have had to give up a second-round pick. So if the Bears had gone that route, he would still be on their team. By tagging him at only $1.9 million, they only retained to match whatever contract he might sign. They looked at the New Orleans offer ($10 million for two years) and decided they didn’t want Meredith at that price. Not that Meredith doesn’t have any value. Maybe he gets healthy and becomes a starter for the Saints in 2019. But in this group of eight, he’s the first to go. I don’t think the other is a no-brainer. I think you can briefly consider tossing any of these guys except Hopkins. But Demaryius Thomas is the other one I would axe. He’ll be 31 at the end of the year, and he’s been slipping. I read reports indicating they were thinking about releasing him a few months back, and I expect that will happen next time around. Thomas is due $14 million next year, and he won’t be back at that figure. For the 2018 season, he’s in the same ballpark as Shepard, Kupp and Jeffery, but all of those guys will still be rocking in 2019 and beyond.
A keeper-league TD heavy draft question. I have the second overall pick and looking to upgrade either at QB or RB. Barkley will probably be drafted first so I can draft any other rookie RB. I am thinking Patrick Mahomes who has WR talent around him plus he is a mobile QB. Another interesting QB is Alex Smith who will be the new Kirk Cousins in the Gruden offense that is always favorable to QBs. On the RB side, in addition to any non-Barkley rookie Jerick McKinnon is available. The 49ers offense will be much improved and McKinnon will be the bell cow. The RB I am thinking of replacing is Jordan Howard. From what I read, there is talk he may be traded or lose carries to Cohen due to his inability to catch the ball in the new Bear offense. So with that said do I take a new QB or add a RB?
HOWIE FISHMAN (Hermosa Beach, CA)
Barkley will be the No. 1 pick. At quarterback, I think Alex Smith probably will be a little better than Mahomes in 2018. But with this being a keeper league, and Mahomes being younger (and perhaps developing into something special) I would select him earlier. With the running backs, hopefully you’ll get to see the rookies play in a few games before you make your decision. Derrius Guice, Rashaad Penny, Ronald Jones or somebody else could play their way into that spot. Right now, you’d probably be looking at McKinnon. I would not, however, expect him to be a bellcow. He’s not that kind of back. Minnesota tried to have him split time with Latavius Murray last year, and by the second half of the season, McKinnon had regressed back into being more of a change-of-pace guy. Murray took over that backfield. But they’re paying him a lot of money, and I expect he’ll catch plenty of passes. Key in your decision will be what you can get in the second round. If you go with McKinnon in the first, will Alex Smith be there the second time around? And if you go with Mahomes, can you get Dion Lewis in the second? For the 2018 season, I would consider a Smith-McKinnon pair to be pretty similar to Mahomes-Lewis.
Thanks Ian. Down year last year but I went all in on youth, so I’ve set myself up well going into 2018. The league is a 10-team, 0.5 PPR. You can keep up to 4 players (one must be a rookie from the prior year). You can keep a player twice and I haven’t kept any of my current players. You pay the round the player was selected the prior year. 1 A.J. Green, 2 Hunt, 3 K.Allen, 4 Mixon, 6 Ertz, 9 Kamara, 13 Wentz, 14 Jamaal Williams, 19 D.Watson, 19 Smith-Schuster, 19 J.Gordon, 19 A.Jones. Which four would you keeper?
John Evans (Rochester, MN)
You’re looking not only at the players but also where they were drafted. I see three that are of the run-the-card-to-podium quality: Kamara, Watson and Smith-Schuster. To start with those guys for picks in the 9th, 18th and 19th rounds would be remarkable. The fourth spot gets trickier. I think Josh Gordon and Carson Wentz belong in the conversation. With both Watson and Wentz coming off injuries, there could be some merit in keeping both of them. But the quarterback position is remarkably deep. You’ll find one. And with you already being miles ahead after your first three keepers, I would be inclined to use a second-round pick on Kareem Hunt. I think he’s the 4th-best player on the board, and that would give you a pretty remarkable one-two punch at running back. He’s not the knock-out steal like the other three, but he’s definitely a lot more productive than whatever other player your would otherwise select in the second round.
I would like to thank you for being open-minded on my kneeling rants. As you are aware, a handful of your subscribers would really enjoy getting me kicked off the site. I don't understand why they are so livid on what I think is a no-brainer. People have the right to disrespect our national anthem and even burn our flag but they can thank our Vets for having that privilege but not on national TV before NFL games during the anthem. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong message. I can now say I told you so because of the new NFL anthem policy that came out. No one kneels during anthem, period. If they want to disrespect our flag then they must do it in their locker rooms. I completely agree with the new policy. Some people on this site owe me an apology but I don't think any of them are man enough. Thanks again for your support and common sense on this matter. Fantasy Index is for sure the BEST!!!
BEN HOGEVOLL (Siletz, OR)
I understand why the policy was put in place. They don’t have kneeling players in the NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL or at college football games. It turns off a lot of fans. But it would have been better to bring in the player’s association and work out the agreement together, rather than the owners simply taking something away that previously had been given the OK by the league. And while I would not kneel myself, I understand the frustrations of some of these players. A couple of weeks back I finished reading the book, THE BLOOD OF EMMETT TILL (the 14-year-old from Chicago who was beaten to death in Mississippi in 1955). Pretty powerful stuff. The book explains that African-Americans soldiers fought in the World War II, then came back to southern states and found they were still viewed as second-class citizens, unable to vote or eat in restaurants, and with their kids relegated to inferrior schools. Because they weren’t allowed to vote, there were no African Americans on juries, making for an inept legal system (the jury deliberated for less than an hour before letting Till’s killers walk). That was 60 years ago, and we’re better now than we were back then. But we’re not there yet. For African Americans who have felt like the deck is stacked against them, they’re getting tired of waiting – they would like the see the changes occur faster. I mean, this is all stuff that seemingly should have been resolved over 150 years ago with the conclusion of the Civil War. These protesters aren’t being anti-American or anti-military. Many on their side of this issue fought for this country. One of the powerful scenes in the Ken Burns’ documentary on Vietnam occurs when an African American returns to Boston after completing his tour, only to find that no taxi is willing to drive him. If that soldier, out of frustration, chooses to kneel in protest during the anthem, I would understand that. These people just want to see everyone get a fair shake. I don’t think this is a battle that is best fought out on fields before sporting events, but I understand the frustration. Many of these NFL protesters aren’t big victims of discrimination themselves; they’re millionaires. But they’re trying to advocate on behalf of those who don’t have much of a voice.
Is it just me, or does there seem to be a lot more QBs with question marks by their names this season? Also, there seems to be a lack of depth at the top level of WR, too. Pretty much just AB and that's it, as opposed to previous years where there were 3-5 guys perceived to be top level guys.
Ryan Peterson (Phoenix, AZ)
To me, I see more balance and depth at quarterback than ever before. There’s Rodgers, who’s great, and then I think I could live with any two of the next 15 or so. And even after that range, there will be some that will put up good numbers. Andy Dalton, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott, Eli Manning, Blake Bortles – some of those guys will rise up and post viable numbers. You use the term “question marks”. That’s not quite it, I think. I just see one great quarterback and a whole bunch of good ones and capable ones. With wide receivers, I would say you’ve got Brown, Hopkins and Beckham in the top class – guys who should be selected in the first round – and then you get into the depth.
Our league is switching to a 14-team PPR league this year from 12 teams in the past. We are still able to carry over two players. I can keep Michael Thomas for a 5th-round pick, Jordan Howard for an 8th-rounder or Tarik Cohen for a 9th-rounder. Which one would you not keep?
Thomas Popp (Aurora, IL)
Thomas is the No. 1 option – no way would he make it out the second round if you released him. Howard is the other keeper, in my opinion. Howard might not be a great fit with the new offense Matt Nagy is putting in, but he’s definitely still the starter, with Cohen likely playing more in a change-of-pace role. With the price tag difference of one round, I would definitely take Howard over Cohen.