Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. With depth at quarterback, when do you pull the trigger on Aaron Rodgers? Position-by-position sleepers. A pet peeve about defensive scoring. And weighing Kamara vs. AB in a PPR keeper league.
I noticed that Aaron Rodgers is ranked as a 1st round pick in your initial projections (assuming 12 team draft). Do you think/feel this is too high? The next QB off the board is Russell Wilson around the 4th/5th round. Let me know your thoughts.
Chris Clay (Los Angeles, CA)
Going into a draft, I don’t want to take Aaron Rodgers. I would prefer to wait at the position and pick up a pair of good ones. In a typical draft, I don’t think I would take a quarterback until the eighth round. But what if everyone else is also employing that strategy? In the 14-team Sirius XM Experts draft last month, I had the No. 2 pick. I selected Amari Cooper at 2.13 and JuJu Smith-Schuster at 3.02. But when it came back to me at 4.13 (the 55th pick overall) Rodgers was still sitting there. At that point, I felt it was time to shift strategies and select Rodgers. There are a bunch of quarterbacks who’ll throw 25-30 touchdown passes, but Rodgers has a chance to maybe throw 40. He could be a difference maker. So I think you take him there. When I rank Rodgers 12th, that’s what my projections are suggesting he’s worth. But in most leagues, the option of waiting for quarterbacks is very appealing. You’re going to be OK at the position, and if you wait, there’s a good chance you’re really going to like how things turn out. So with Rodgers, let’s make sure you’re really happy with where you select him. League’s vary, but I’m thinking you maybe select Rodgers late in the second round, start seriously considering him early in the third, and definitely grab him if he’s there in the fourth.
Every year I love reading about your sleepers. Especially the ones that you have rated so much higher than most other analysts. Of all of yours this year, which player are you the most comfortable with taking early because of your confidence in their upcoming performance and which player do you think you'll be able to wait for and still draft.
Johnny Bazzano (Santa Rosa, CA)
At quarterback, I like Alex Smith and Jameis Winston as late-round picks. I don’t think either will be among the first 15 quarterbacks chosen. Smith, I think, has a chance for top-10 numbers; he’s pretty good, and I like the way Jay Gruden runs his offenses. With Winston, he’s going to miss the first three games and has been plagued by poor decisions – both off-field and with forcing passes. But they’ve got a bunch of weapons and they really pass the heck out of it. In his 10 healthy games last year, Winston averaged 317 passing yards, with 19 TDs. Once he’s on the field and playing, I think he might put up top-5 numbers.
At running back, Alex Collins and Dion Lewis are two that I expect will end up on my rosters. We’ve got the experts poll in the magazine, with 20 industry analysts ranking the players. I ranked Collins and Lewis higher than any of those guys. In a typical draft, I would expect both to go two rounds later than I think they should go.
At wide receiver, I’ve got Amari Cooper and JuJu Smith-Schuster ranked higher than any of those 20 experts. That’s another pair of guys I expect will be sliding my way. I’m so much higher on those guys that I’m struggling with where to select them. I’ve been picking Cooper late in the second round of 12-team drafts, but I’m thinking he probably will be available early in the third.
Later in drafts, I like Tyler Lockett and Matt Breida as players who’ll probably be drafted a few rounds later than they should be. At tight end, I see Trey Burton and Kyle Rudolph lined up for larger roles. I like the offenses they’re in. But I think everyone seems to have come to that conclusion. Many people have them near the bottom of their top 10 at that position.
Keeper auction league. I'm set except at RB1. I have enough cap space for Elliott, who may be available, or Barkley, who will be. But I could use that same capital plus a bit more and probably come away 2 of the remaining rookie RBs instead. Grab the superstar or go with 2 rookies not named Barkley? I have all of camp to determine which two, but today I am leaning Guice and Freeman as I have Thompson and Booker. Thoughts?
Pat Smith (Mitchell, SD)
I’m not a big Royce Freeman fan. Is he even going to be better than Devontae Booker? Those guys look pretty similar to me. And I would be very nervous about letting one of those two premium backs slip away for anything less than top dollar. I think the play here is to land either Elliott or Barkley (whichever one comes at the more favorable price). Guice might be very good, but he’s not going to be as productive as Barkley in the passing game. Guice also had problems staying healthy at Louisiana State.
What is your favorite scoring setup and roster composition set up?
Don Parsons (Hamilton, ON)
With scoring, I don’t think more complicated is necessarily better. The tendency nowadays is to add points for receptions, tenths of points for yards and subtract points for turnovers, but I don’t find that enhances the game for me personally. I play in a TD-only league, and I enjoy that format just fine.
My No. 1 pet peeve for scoring is how defenses are handled. In the vast majority of leagues, tiers are set up, with defenses getting perhaps 4 points when an opponent scores between 7 and 13 points – stuff like that. It doesn’t make any sense. In most of those same leagues, they award different point totals if a running back finishes with 96, 97 or 98 yards. Why do they at the same time want to say that there’s no difference for a defense allowing 7 or 13 points? For me, points allowed is the most meaningful defensive stat, and I want to see it rewarded in a significant way. I like the concept of tying defenses to the number of points they allow. I would set 24 as the baseline and go with a 2:1 ratio. If a defense gets a shutout, it’s 12 points. If it allowed 10 points, that’s 7 fantasy points. If it allowed 9 points, that’s 7.5 in fantasy. If it allows 36 points, then it takes a negative-6 in the fantasy ledger. With that kind of scoring, I think we’d see defenses becoming a more meaningful position in drafts – many would try to latch onto a pair of the stingier defenses (Jacksonville, Minnesota, etc.) and play matchups each week.
I need to keep 3 in a PPR league prior to our draft. We start 2 RB and 3 WR. The 4 to chose from are Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette, DeAndre Hopkins and Keenan Allen.
Michael Forsberg (Benson, MN)
I’m definitely keeping Kamara and Hopkins. Those are the easy choices. It gets harder with Allen and Fournette. Allen is really good in this format, and I’ve got him projected to score slightly more points. If you look at my PPR overall top 20, Allen is a little higher. But it would be very appealing to sew up the running back position, where the talent always seems to dry up in a hurry. If you protect Fournette, it might result in you being happier with your choices when you’re selecting in the first three rounds. And of these two players, Fournette has a better chance of outperforming where he’s selected. Today, I would protect Fournette. Ask me the same question next week, and it might be Allen.
Looking for some help selecting keepers in my PPR league. We get two keepers with no restrictions and can keep them for as many years as we want. I currently have Kareem Hunt, Dalvin Cook, and Odell Beckham. I'll likely trade one away to try and collect some draft capital rather than lose them to the draft pool (I won't have access to grab them back due to some league expansion rules). It should be noted that I also have the #1 pick (using some of that draft capital from last year!) and will be taking Saquon Barkley. We can start a flex, so 3 RBs won't be an issue. Do you see one of these as a less valuable commodity over the next, say, 2-4 years and worth trading now?
Matthew Schwartz (Baltimore, MD)
Three really nice players. I wouldn’t be opposed to keeping any two of them. That is, if somebody is willing to give up a lot more for one of them, I would consider making that deal and keeping the other two. Setting that possibility aside, I would keep Hunt and Beckham, staying away from having to worry about Cook’s surgically repaired knee. I don’t think that’s a huge deal, but Hunt and Beckham are both really good.
I’m in a 16-team PPR, keeper league. I’ve kept Antonio Brown the last four seasons and finished 5th, 1st, 3rd and 1st. According to your rankings and my league’s scoring system Alvin Kamara is ranked 3rd and Brown 5th. I drafted Kamara last year and I could keep him, but I just seeing his efficiency dropping way down and don’t see him outdoing Brown. If I stick with Brown, I’m curious to see what you think about pairing him with JuJu Smith-Schuster on the same roster if I can get him in the 3rd round.
J.T. Stewart (Waynesboro, VA)
Alvin Kamara will catch 80-plus balls, and that might be overly conservative. He might catch 100. New Orleans utilizes its running backs heavily in the passing game, and he’s really good in that capacity. Over the last seven years, the Saints’ running backs have averaged 143 catches per year. That’s 37 more than any other team. Brown is fine; I have no problem keeping him. But if I were given the choice, I would keep Kamara. As for Smith-Schuster, I would be ecstatic if he’s still there in the third round of a 16-team draft. I took him with the 26th pick of a PPR draft last month. If you keep Brown, Smith-Schuster would also serve as a nice insurance policy. If Brown were to get hurt, it would be a big blow, but you would pick up some extra production from Smith-Schuster. (On the downside, Ben Roethlisberger has had a lot of injuries, and if he were to get sidelined, your team might really fall apart.)