Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. Special Kenyan Drake Appreciation edition -- is it time to cut him loose? What are realistic expectations for Mark Ingram's debut? (And how will he impact Alvin Kamara?) Underperforming players to target in trades.
Does Kamara lose significant value now that Ingram is returning?
Marc Ferro (Osseo, MN)
Right now Kamara is on pace for 2,444 total yards and 24 TDs, which is pretty remarkable. He’s on pace to catch 140 passes, which hardly seems possible. He’s also on pace for 364 touches, which is too many. It would make some sense to dial back his workload, giving him a better chance of staying healthy and still having some spring left in his step when the playoffs roll around. With Ingram around, I expect Kamara will score fewer 1- and 2-yard touchdowns. But with a half-dozen fewer touches per game, Kamara might be more effective – he could tend to be fresher and more explosive.
What's up with Jordan Howard? He's often highly ranked but the results haven't been there so far (especially TD-wise), even when the Bears offense finally got going against the Bucs. This is why I don't trust guys with two first names. (I mean, except you, Ian!)
ANDY SHERRILL (Bellevue, WA)
He looked fine in the opener, banging through the Packers for 82 yards on 15 carries. He also improved his hands in the offseason, and that’s paid dividends – he’s caught 10 passes for 78 yards. But now Howard has gone three games in a row without averaging more than 2.5 yards per attempt. I can’t explain that. He’s healthy, he’s shown he can do it, and I think the line in front of him is fine. I expect he’ll turn things around, but that’s definitely a one-two punch backfield now. Tarik Cohen has been effective and explosive as a change-of-pace back the last two weeks.
This is the time of year I try to trade for under-performing players that their owners are ready to bail on, in attempts to scoop up a steal from someone else's impatience. Any obvious candidates? How do you feel about guys like Fournette and Devonta Freeman who fit this mold, but could be battling injuries the rest of the way?
Ben Blakely (Rochester, NY)
Freeman has put in his time. I think he’s healthy now and ready to move back into the starting lineup this week. With Fournette, I think they’ll sit him for at least two games. Hamstrings need time, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they held him out until after their Week 9 bye. Players who could fit your trading profile: Larry Fitzgerald, Dalvin Cook, Odell Beckham, Doug Baldwin.
You are killing me with Drake. I usually follow you advice all the time, but your recommendation on Drake has been killing me. It’s time to give it up!
David Huerkamp (Delta, CO)
He’s not playing well, and he’s also splitting time with Frank Gore. He’s too good to cut loose, I think, but best to keep Drake parked on fantasy benches for now. Shocking, I thought, that Drake and Gore (combined) ran for only 15 yards on 11 carries playing at home against an Oakland defense that’s given up a lot of rushing yards in all of its other games. And Drake didn’t even play as much as Gore last week. I still believe there’s some talent there. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry in the 2016-17 seasons. Last year he gained 20-plus yards on over 5 percent of his carries – best in the league. But it doesn’t seem to be happening for him right now.
I'm done giving Drake a chance. Until he shows more than he has so far, he's going to the bench. My other options are Ekeler or Buck Allen. Ekeler is higher in my custom rankings on your sight but I think Allen will see an increased workload with Collins' ball security issues. Any thoughts?
David Hogshire (Plymouth, MN)
Only two teams have allowed more rushing yards than the Raiders; they were particularly bad against the Broncos and Browns, letting running backs who didn’t even start run for over 100 yards (Phillip Lindsay, Nick Chubb). So I like Ekeler this week. This looks like a game where he might break loose for a long touchdown. As for Alex Collins, he’s got to avoid fumbling his way into a lesser role. He’s lost 2 fumbles in the first four games. He had ball security issues at Arkansas, fumbling 17 times (9 lost). He handled the ball only 42 times as a rookie with the Seahawks and fumbled twice; that might have been a contributing factor to them deciding to release him. But Collins was able to hang onto the ball fine last year (235 touches and 4 fumbles, with 2 lost).
So like the Seinfeld episode where Kramer was going to finally stop talking ..."Okay NOW!" is it time to give up on Kenyan Drake or should I say Gase?
TIM ZEUCH (Mason, OH)
Drake has some talent. They could shift the offense at some point, with Drake putting up very good numbers. So I wouldn’t release him. More reasonably, park him on your bench and see what transpires in the next few weeks. He had 3 gains over 30 yards in the preseason. If he gets back into being that kind of a player, you would be kicking yourself for cutting him loose.
We are off to an historic start to the NFL season in terms of scoring and passing. I mentioned in the preseason I thought we could see an uptick in scoring because of the rule changes put into place to protect players. Still more season to go and this week saw fewer roughing the passer calls than the first 3 weeks. Despite all this hype around scoring and pass offenses, it feels like every year we see passing games outpace the running games during the warmer weather months but, as we get later into fall and then winter, the running games pick up. Who are some RBs we should target that are off to slow starts who should benefit from the usual gradual shift to running more as the season goes on? Some guys I have in mind who could benefit are Royce Freeman in Denver, Kareem Hunt, Sony Michel, Kenyan Drake, Aaron Jones, and Jordan Howard.
Benjamin MacLeod (Concord, NH)
Sounds good to me. It is true that running games tend to improve later in the year. Over the last 10 years, for example, teams averaged 111 rushing yards per game in the first half of the season, with .78 TD runs per game. They averaged 115 and .81 TDs in their final eight games. Not every team will be better. In three of those 10 years, there were fewer rushing touchdowns (league-wide) in the second half of the season. But there tends to be an uptick. On the chart below, you’re seeing the amount of improvement (yards and touchdowns), and the percentage change using standard scoring – 102% would mean a slight increase, and 98% would mean a slight decline.
|RUSHING IMPROVEMENT (2003-17)|
Similarly, passing production tends to dip. In the last 10 years (2008-2017), teams have averaged 249 passing yards and 1.50 TD passes in their first eight games. They have 240 yards and 1.46 TD passes in the second half of the year. Not a huge decline, and I’m not positive it’s all weather related. (The second half of the season, for example, should be more affected by quarterback injuries.)
|PASSING IMPROVEMENT (2003-17)|
I've been using your product for decades and it's brought me lots of success. It's rare, but occasionally, I come across something in your rankings that leaves me wondering if there's an oversight or if I'm wildly misreading something. For instance, in your re-drafter you have Keenan Allen ranked 24th behind the likes of Amari Cooper, DeSean Jackson, Kenny Golladay and Geronimo Allison. While all have shown their high-end potential in games this season, Amari drops a lot of balls, DeSean is switching quarterbacks, and Golladay and Allison aren't even the No. 1 receivers on their own teams. What is it that causes you to drop Allen so precipitously in your rankings? He is a 100-catch clear No. 1 receiver in one of the leagues top offenses. Sure, he's had injury history, but they were freak accidents which any player is equally susceptible to. Also, I do not see Hayden Hurst listed in your tight end rankings after being a pre-season sleeper in a TE-heavy offense. He seems to be more highly regarded than the platoon that has been filling in during his absence, with a solid chance of becoming a top-10 TE. Am I really over-estimating his potential so much that he doesn't even crack your top 50 in the rankings? Did I miss something on his injury, because I was expecting him to return Week 5?
Randy Jackson (Lone Tree, CO)
Allen has never been a great scorer. He doesn’t have enough speed to score longer touchdowns, and they don’t feature him heavily in the red zone. He caught 6 TDs last year, and he’s on pace for 4 this season. He’s a possession guy. In three of the past four years he’s averaged under 11 yards per catch. You can put the No. 1 receiver label on him, but how confident are you that he’s going to catch more touchdowns than Mike Williams? And the running backs are a big part of that passing game – Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler have combined to catch 37 passes and 5 touchdowns in the first four games. Allen is fine, but I think we’re looking at more of a top-20 guy, rather than somebody with much chance of finishing in the top dozen. As for Hayden Hurst, I was driving the bandwagon in early August. I thought he was going to be a big part of that offense. But he’s been done for over a month, and I think the other guys there have carved out roles. Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams are all playing and contributing. They’ve combined to catch 31 passes for 342 yards in the first quarter of the season. I don’t think they’re going away. I don’t think Hurst will be plugged in and start catching 4 passes per game. I think they’ll continue to utilize three tight ends in most games. I expect Baltimore will finish the season with top-5 tight end numbers, but I don’t think there will be an individual tight end there that will emerge as a top-15 players at the position. But I could be wrong. I’m not opposed to parking Hurst on the end of the bench for a few weeks – maybe he’s better than I think he’s going to be.
QB Shuffle. I have Big Ben and Goff. I cost myself a victory by sitting Goff vs. Minnesota, but you included had Ben higher. This week all the experts again have Ben higher than Goff. Are we ignoring McVay genius at our own peril?
Lance Reiss (Tarzana, CA)
I would be very comfortable starting Goff at Seattle. To me, he looks like a big-time quarterback who’ll probably throw 40-plus touchdowns. He looks like a much better player than he was last year. With Earl Thomas out of action, I think there’s enhanced potential for Goff to hit on some long balls in this game. He looks like a top-5 type quarterback to me this week. I just feel even better about Roethlisberger playing at home against a really bad Atlanta defense. This is one of those situations where I wish fantasy leagues came with a lockbox. That is, it would be nice to be able to use both of those games. You perhaps use Roethlisberger as your starter and put Goff in your lockbox – committing to using that game at some future week in the season (in a bye or when both of these quarterbacks have less favorable matchups).
Trade question. We can sign drafted only players to 3-year contracts (2 per season) as well as 2 yr contracts (1 per) to rookies, with the bonus that when those rookie contracts expire, we can then sign those players to a 3-year contract – in essence keeping a drafted rookie for up to 6 seasons. I've been offered Amari Cooper (3 yrs remaining on his contract) and Bilal Powell for Royce Freeman and Josh Gordon. I drafted both Freeman and Powell, so they would be contract eligible. I would most likely not keep Powell after this season.
JASON CHAN (Federal Way, WA)
Cooper is the player who stands out there. He’s been very good in two games and very disappointing in two, but there’s still some chance he’ll develop into a reliable receiver with a run of top-10 seasons in him. He’s the guy I would want. With Gordon, his career is kind of month-to-month – can he keep his life together and get back to something close to what he was doing five years ago? I don’t see him becoming a standout with the Patriots this year; he’ll be a free agent in the spring. With Freeman, he’s been fine. He’s scored three weeks in a row, and he’s shown some ability to bang between the tackles. Denver ranks 3rd in rushing. But I’m not positive he’s even the best back on his own team. They’re other rookie runner, Phillip Lindsay, has 88 more total yards after the first four games.
I notice in your re-drafter or in the weekly rankings ... you guys show no love for josh Gordon. Is this a wait and see attitude or do you think he is not playable in 12 team non-ppr league?
Kelson Stevenson (Winnipeg, MB)
He caught a touchdown last night, so that’s a step in the right direction. But I don’t think he’ll get developed to the point where you’ll be able to go into a game with the reasonable hope of getting some production. He didn’t catch any passes last night until the fourth quarter. I think there are three guys in that offense who can be counted on to consistently catch passes – Edelman, Gronkowski and White. Gordon is down in the group of ancillary parts, where once in a while you get a touchdown. I think there’s fou – with Hogan, Dorsett and Patterson.
Do I start Ingram this week? We can start 3 RBs, TD-heavy scoring. I already have K Hunt and Kamara; a little worried about loading up so much on Saints RBs. Your advice helped win me a title last year. Thanks.
Eric Pryne (Vashon, WA)
I would have no problem starting Ingram. I expect they’ll work him into his usual role. I would guess he’ll have more rushing attempts than Kamara in most games, and I expect he’ll score more of the team’s short rushing touchdowns.
What are your expectations for Mark Ingram on Monday? Should we expect about the same on average production from him as he had during his 16 games last year? As good as Kamara has been, don't you think rest should be in order? I'm considering playing him in my flex instead of Amari Cooper or Emmanuel Sanders.
Johnny Bazzano (Santa Rosa, CA)
Drew Brees needs 4 touchdowns to reach 500. I wonder if the Saints might make an effort to help make that happen – playing at home on Monday night, in front of a nationally televised audience. If he doesn’t throw his 4 here, then it will happen on the road in one of their next two games. If they score almost all of their touchdowns by pass, that would work against Ingram. But he’s a really nice player, and I expect they’ll plug him right back into his usual role. Over the last three years he’s averaged 65 rushing and 26 receiving yards, with 26 TDs in 43 games. He showed in the second half of last year that playing alongside Alvin Kamara isn’t a huge detriment. Cooper and Sanders are good players, but Ingram is better enough that I would start him ahead of them most every week.
I am a retired professor with little interest in fantasy football, but I stumbled on a post of yours: <b><a href=" https://www.fantasyindex.com/2014/07/16/fantasy-news/third-round-reversal-drafts " target=_new>Third-Round Reversal Drafts.</a></b> There is a mathematical sequence called the Thue-Morse sequence that nobody knows about and thousands rediscover without realizing it. You are one of them. Take a look at the Wikipedia article <b><a href=" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thue%E2%80%93Morse_sequence" target=_new> Scroll down to the section I wrote on Equitable Sequencing,</a></b> which includes applications to sports. You wrote, “With the 3RR, it’s 1-12, 12-1, 12-1, 1-12, 12-1, etc.” For just two teams, team 0 and team 1, that would be 0-1, 1-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0, etc. Using Wikipedia’s notation, T-sub-1 is taking turns and T-sub-2 is snake. It looks like you were proposing T-sub-4.
Robert Richman ()
I don’t understand all of the mathematical notation, but I like the concept of simplifying the problem by not looking at 12 teams but by looking at just two. And those weighing the value of the Third-Round Reversal draft versus a snake draft will be interested to see that at least one math professor believes that when two captains are picking four-man basketball teams, the fairest order is to have one team picking 1st, 4th, 6th and 7th (and the other 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 8th).
The latest redrafter has Edelman down at 47. What gives? That seems awfully low for a guy who has the track record he has.
STEVE CATES (Cheyenne, WY)
He looked pretty good last night, catching 7 passes for 57 yards. But he’s not a big scorer – just 3 TDs in 2016 – and he won’t hit on many big plays downfield. Mostly, he’s catching 5-10 yard passes underneath. Durability is also a concern. We’re talking about a 32-year-old coming off reconstructive knee surgery. He’s played 16 games only twice in the last nine years.
The Rams D will be in my lineup every week except the Week 12 bye. I've got the Browns on my roster who travel to Cincy that week. I might be able to get the Texans who host Tennessee. Seems like a wash to me. A lot can change between now and then, but if you had to pick with the info available today, who do you like?
Stephen Neily (Epsom, NH)
Houston and Cleveland look similar to me. Both have some potential to develop into decent defenses that you might plug in for a few starts, but neither looks compelling for Week 12 right now. If I could put one on my roster, it would be the Texans; they’re hosting Buffalo next week, and I would guess I would use them before the Rams that week.
Drake and Carson - round 3 and round 6 picks. What can be done about them? What a mess.
Bill Petilli (Harrison, NY)
Wait and see. Drake needs to be parked on fantasy benches for a few weeks – see if he can develop into something. With the Seahawks, their running game has been coming around, with 100-yard rushers two weeks in a row. Carson missed the Arizona game with a hip injury but should be back and in the starting lineup this week.
Thoughts on the Packers backfield rest of season. In the latest re-drafter you have Aaron Jones the highest, which I agree with as he has been the most explosive, do you see him turning into a solid RB2 (standard scoring) at any point this season?
Darrell Sooy (West Chester, PA)
Jones is explosive. He’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry over the last two years. That’s 2nd-best in the league behind Alvin Kamara. It looks like a good week to maybe gamble on Jones this week. He’s facing a Lions defense that’s allowed at least 169 rushing yards in all but one of its game. And the Packers have injury issues with their wide receivers, so they may need to rely more on the run. But the Packers have two other viable running backs. Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery aren’t as good as Jones but they’re better in passing situations (as both pass catchers and in protection). And Jones isn’t a real big guy. I think that will remain a committee backfield. If you’ve got Jones, you can realistically hope he works his way to the head of that group, but it won’t be easy for him to get to the point where he can be counted on to be a starting fantasy running back in most weeks.
I traded Mark Ingram and Dalvin Cook for Alvin Kamara today. Projected value for the 2 players minus Kamara projected value was +28 for the sell. Ingram's return will cut into Kamara point totals and Cook is in a top 5 offense once he heals. I think it was fair, yay or nay?
Steve Car ()
It could be a win-win trade. You’re getting the best of the three backs, but the other guys both definitely have some value.