Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: why is Amari Cooper so generously ranked on the FFI board? Quarterbacks who get sacked too much. Defending projections for Rex Burkheard and Mark Ingram. What is the best draft position? And more.
Change from NFL to PPL (Puerile Pseudo Leftists.) After all the kneeling capped off by the head spear that ended Kelce's (and KC's) season, had the PPL not instituted the heads-up regulations, I would be boycotting this year -- yeah, I know they care. But in your mind, Ian, does this league have the balls to actually eject a handful of guys per game? And if so, can you put together strength-of-schedule analysis around teams who will be playing three quarters of their game-minutes with second and third stringers on defense? How good are the Steeler and Bengal kickers at playing a zone defense?
MARTIN DONNELLY (Elmhurst, IL)
I think these new helmet rules are for real. They’re changing the game, making it safer. We can’t have more injuries like what happened to Ryan Shazier. And this isn’t only tacklers. It’s everyone, including running backs. The league put together a series of videos, outlining what’s allowed and what’s not. I watched the 10-minute instructional video for running backs, hosted by Anthony Lynn, and it’s apparent they’re not going to allow them to drive into defenders with their helmet anymore. Two of my favorite all-time runs involve Earl Campbell against the Rams and Walter Payton against Kansas City. Great runs, but they won’t be allowed anymore. New game now.
One of the early standouts when compared to other rankings is Amari Cooper, where you have him at 7 on the PPR cheat. Most have him 15th or lower. I understand the Gruden philosophy of feeding his top guy, but wow did he look bad at time last season with the drops and disappearances in games. Can you expound and why you feel he may make a comeback?
Mike Kocis (Jefferson Hills, PA)
I want to see what he looks like in the preseason games because Gruden made a comment a few days ago about Cooper weighing 225 pounds. He was listed at 210 last year. Has Cooper really added 15 pounds? And if so, will that compromise his quickness and speed?
Assuming he checks out fine physically, then I expect Cooper will be very productive. Jon Gruden has a strong history of getting the ball to his featured receiver, and Cooper is going to fill that role. Each of Gruden’s last 13 offenses featured a 1,000-yard receiver, and all but two of those guys also caught more than 75 passes. Most of those guys aren’t as talented as Cooper.
|GRUDEN'S LEADING WIDE RECEIVERS|
|1996||Irving Fryar, Phil.||88||1,195||13.6||11|
|1997||Irving Fryar, Phil.||86||1,316||15.3||6|
|1998||Tim Brown, Oak.||81||1,012||12.5||9|
|1999||Tim Brown, Oak.||90||1,344||14.9||6|
|2000||Tim Brown, Oak.||76||1,128||14.8||11|
|2001||Tim Brown, Oak.||91||1,165||12.8||10|
|2002||Keyshawn Johnson, T.B.||76||1,088||14.3||5|
|2003||Keenan McCardell, T.B.||84||1,174||14.0||9|
|2004||Michael Clayton, T.B.||80||1,193||14.9||7|
|2005||Joey Galloway, T.B.||83||1,287||15.5||10|
|2006||Joey Galloway, T.B.||62||1,057||17.0||7|
|2007||Joey Galloway, T.B.||57||1,014||17.8||6|
|2008||Antonio Bryant, T.B.||83||1,248||15.0||7|
I'm joining a new league where QBs are penalized 2 points for every sack they take. Can you suggest a resource where I can find estimated sacks by QB?
Scott Kopischke (Menomonee Falls, WI)
Over the last two years, I think 29 quarterbacks have started at least half of the time. We can look at the last 16 starts for each guy. Four of these quarterbacks averaged over 3 sacks per game – Jacoby Brissett, Trevor Siemian, Josh McCown and Tyrod Taylor. Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers aren’t far away from that group. Four quarterbacks averaged under 1.5 sacks per game: Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Derek Carr.
|QUARTERBACK SACKS (last 16 starts)|
I'm curious about why Ingram has fallen so far. So he's out the first 3 weeks. Usually you have plenty of players in the beginning to fill your roster. But you'll have a good running back at the end of the season when things have begun to fall apart. Don't you think he will have a good year? Will Kamara push him aside? Also I'm thinking Winston will be a good pickup late in the draft for the same reason.
Jane Williams (Wooster, OH)
He’s missing four games. That’s a significant amount of action – over a quarter of a 13- or 14-week regular season. So some downgrade is in order. If not for the suspension, he would be the 10th running back on my board.
Are you too bullish on Rex Burkhead right now? Seems like Burkhead is a big mover up your pre-season draftboard, but I wonder if he's just someone with a high floor and low ceiling. At this point, Burkhead only looks like the favorite to start Week #1, not someone I would want to pick in the 2nd or 3rd round of a fantasy draft. Is he really talented enough to repeat Dion Lewis' stats from the 2nd half of last season? With White and Hill likely to steal many of the short yardage opportunities, and the more-talented Sony Michel waiting in the wings, Burkhead seems like just a veteran utility player.
Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)
I’m not advocating selecting Burkhead in the second or third round of a draft. But I would rather have Burkhead than Sony Michel in any format. I think he knows the offense a lot better, so I think they’ll trust him more. If we’re getting into PPR scoring, than I think James White enters the discussion as perhaps New England’s best back. At worst, he’ll catch 60-plus balls. But I don’t expect White will score any short-yardage rushing touchdowns.
I play in a 12-team half-point PPR league with a third round reversal draft. I was wondering if you were able to pick your draft position where would you choose? I know you normally go with the thinking that the closer to the front the better, but with the 1st position getting the last pick in the third round (and every odd round thereafter) would this change your thinking?
Chris Durham (Mesa, AZ)
Let’s just look at the top 60 players. Those are the guys people care about. Once we get in the 7th-8th-9th rounds, people will tend to get who they want. Looking at just the top 60, I’m still seeing the top 4 draft picks being the best. I will take No. 1, if given the chance, and I would select Todd Gurley.
But the Third Round Reversal thinking seems to work. According to my numbers (based on my projections) the top 6 draft positions all project to finish with slightly fewer points relative to a tradition snake draft.
|PRODUCTION AFTER 5 ROUNDS|
Looking at the board and simulating scenarios at different draft slots it seems if you take the Brown or Hopkins 6th or 7th (or earlier) you pretty much miss out on the RB grouping in round 2. When things do play out that way, where you have to open wr-wr, in round 3 is the better choice Ertz/Kelce or Mixon/Collins? When I draft I usually never take a QB and TE early. I tend to go one or the other as taking both those positions early leaves you very thin at skill players. Is that something you agree with?
Bill Petilli (Harrison, NY)
Ertz and Kelce are great players, but I would be nervous about not selecting a running back in the first three rounds. Then you might be in the position of having to find not one but two players at that position. I like stockpiling pass catchers are much as the next guy (especially in PPR) but with the supply-demand dynamic, I would prefer to take a player like Kareem Hunt in the middle of the first round, rather than Brown or Hopkins. And if skipping running backs in both of the first two rounds, I would feel like I would need to uncork a selection on somebody like Joe Mixon or Alex Collins in the third round, hoping they come through.
Who is winning the kicking competition in both Vikings and Chargers camp? Once decided which kicker has better fantasy value? Vikings have the dome and Chargers have the weather
HOWIE FISHMAN (Hermosa Beach, CA)
Too early to call on those. I think Caleb Sturgis will win the job in Los Angeles; Roberto Aguayo simply hasn’t been good enough. And I believe the Vikings would prefer for their rookie, Daniel Carlson, to win their job. Both of those teams are pretty good, so top-10 production is possible.
Would you keep Ezekiel Elliott for the cost of a 1st round pick or Deshaun Watson for a 9th?
Matt Nguyen ()
I wouldn’t want to answer without knowing the position of the first-round pick. Elliott is the No. 2 player on my board. If it’s a late first-round pick, he’s considerably better than what you would otherwise select. If it’s a really high pick, then perhaps you let him go and then re-select him in the first round. I don’t think Watson in the 9th round is necessarily a steal. There are a lot of good quarterbacks available. When you factor in the injury risk and the likelihood that he’s not nearly as productive as last year, I don’t see him as much different then the others in the large group behind Rodgers and Wilson.
Some offseason chatter about adding first downs as a category for RB/WR/TE. I am intrigued; what numbers (if any) do you have, and would this cause a scrambling of the rankings?
Scott Anderson (Lakewood, CO)
I haven’t done anything with first downs. I pulled up the 2017 numbers. Looks like the best offenses will tend to average about 20 passing/rushing first downs per game. The worst offenses should finish with about 15.
|TEAM OFFENSE FIRST DOWNS|
I'm in a ppr league. I just finished a mock draft using your rankings of course. With the ninth pick I was able to nab Kamara who you have as No. 3 overall. With my next pick (16th) I was able to secure Keenan Allen (your 12th ranked overall). When my third pick came around (#33), Ertz and T.Y. Hilton were both available (ranked 23rd and 27th. I went blank with indecision. Should I stick to your rankings like always (I won my league last year) or is there a little more at play here I should consider.
Emerson Snee (Waynesburg, PA)
I could live with either guy there. In general, when there’s a tossup choice in the third or fourth round, I’ll tend to go with the position where the talent will run out sooner. I would expect that you’ll be able to land Kyle Rudolph, Greg Olsen or Delanie Walker a few rounds later, so a case could be made to really nail down the receiver position.
I'm in a 10-team PPR league and we can keep 4 keepers. I have Le'Veon Bell at round 3, Michael Thomas 8, D'Onta Foreman 12, Cooper Kupp 13 and Sammy Watkins 9. I figure Bell and Thomas are no brainers but am unsure about the next two. I have the 9th pick in a snake draft and like the idea of filling my two RB slots before the draft. It would allow me to take the best available between RB/WR. What do you think?
Robert D Huntley (Rahway, NJ)
Kupp, coming at the cost of a 13th-round pick, also looks like a lock to me. For the final keeper, I would keep Watkins. I’m not sure Foreman will be healthy on opening day. Even if he is, I would take Watkins – it’s PPR scoring, and he could be very good in that offense.
In a keeper league, what do you think is the better choice as a keeper, the guy who will cost me a second round pick but is projected to be a first round selection, or a guy that will cost me an 11th round selection, but is projected as a 6th or 7th round pick? The first locks me into a better player, but the second is a better value.
DAVE AMSBAUGH (West Chester, OH)
For the sake of argument, I’ll assume you’re talking about a player like Alvin Kamara, David Johnson or Kareem Hunt as your first round. Using standard scoring, I would expect said player to be worth 40-45 more points than the player you might otherwise draft in the middle of the second round. If you’re talking about a player who would be chosen in the sixth or seventh round, that’s about 70 players in – Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb or Jamison Crowder, perhaps. I think that player is probably only about 15 players than what will be waiting for you in the 11th round. I don’t have the exact specifics, but in general I would think getting a first-round guy in the second round would be the correct move.
Wondering if you can run some numbers on what the best draft spots are in a 12 team 3RR PPR draft. One of the leagues I’m in does a Kentucky Derby style draw for draft order where you rank the 12 spots. I'm thinking that the first few spots are still probably the best, but at some point 12, 11, 10 become more attractive. What do you think?
MARK CHRISTIE (Fairport, NY)
Another reader asked a similar question, and I’ll give you a similar answer. Look at the top 60 players. Those are the guys you care about. Then look at how the stats project using the two different formats. Using my projections, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd picks still tend to be the most valuable, but not by as much as what you’d see using a snake draft.
|PPR PRODUCTION AFTER 5 ROUNDS|
I am in a 3-player keeper league (10 teams) that heavily scores towards QBs. For WRs, TEs and RBs, it is standard scoring plus PPR. For QBs, it is 6 points per TD pass and 1 point for every 20 yards passing. This is also a league where you start 2 QBs (in addition to 2 RBs, 3 WRs and 1 TE). How many of each for QBs, RBs, TEs and WRs would you have in the top 30 in this type of league.
Rick Anderson (Sun Prairie, WI)
I’m not sure of your league’s rules. If they stipulate 20 players per team, that would be 200 players total being selected. If I were running all 10 teams, each one would select one kicker and one defense, leaving 180 QB-RB-WR-TE. Probably 30 quarterbacks and 20 tight ends. That would leave 130 running backs and wide receivers. With it being PPR scoring and more wide receivers starting, I would expect about 73 wide receivers and 57 running backs. In the custom rankings section of the website (see under “YOUR STUFF”) click on the box that allows you to get into the auctions values setup (even if you’re drafting rather than bidding on players). For starters, I would set it up for 75 percent of the QB, RB and WR to be worth more than $1.00, along with 13 of the 20 tight ends. Do that and I think the overall top 30 should look pretty good. At that point, if a position seems over or under valued you can adjust the supply-demand numbers.