Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition: Will Damien Williams put up top-10 fantasy numbers in 2019? Is Green Bay's running game about to get a lot better? Changes to the Fantasy Index Blackout game. And mulling the right scoring and lineup rules.
Who do you think the best running back will be for Kansas City next year and beyond? Spencer Ware and Damien Williams are both about the same size and age, but Ware's recent injury history concerns me and Williams looks much quicker and explosive. Williams had a lackluster start of his career at Miami, whereas Ware is regarded as a good locker room guy and hard worker. I tend to think Williams has a lot of upside for next season, but Andy and yourself seem pretty cool on him. I also don't see Kansas City investing a high draft pick on a RB and don't think any of their other backs are much of a long-term option. Hence, optimistically, Williams seems like a potential top-10 RB, and the Chiefs just signed him to a 2-year contract extension ($8.1 million), so management must also like him.
Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)
Williams played well at the end of the season, scoring 10 touchdowns in his final six games (including the playoffs). With that strong play, they opted to give him the contract extension, and they also moved him up the depth chart – he was their third-string back for most of the season, but he played his way ahead of Ware in the postseason (in the AFC Championship, Williams was on the field for the vast majority of the game, with Ware hardly playing). Williams carried 10 times for only 30 yards against New England, but I didn’t sense that he was missing holes or underperforming. While he’s not a special talent, he’s got some ability and seems to fit nicely into that offense, with his run-catch ability. Williams went undrafted back in 2014, but he’s better than that. Teams likely passed on him because he was kicked off Oklahoma’s team after multiple suspensions his senior season. He performed well enough at his pro day, running a 4.45. And when he was at Miami, he was able to beat out Kenyan Drake for a while. I expect Kansas City will want to bolster itself at the position. Maybe they use a third-round pick on another back, hoping to find another Kareem Hunt. Maybe youngster Darrel Williams develops some, and they’ve still got Ware to work with. For 2019, I would expect Damien Williams will be their opening day starter, but that they’ll want to have other options in place. Perhaps somebody who can handle 30-40 percent of the load, and perhaps a rookie who might push for the starting job later in the year if he develops. If I were drafting today, I would think Damien Williams would be one of the top 15-20 backs on my board.
Nathaniel Hackett just signed with Green Bay as the offensive coordinator. He's had success in the past in the run game, most recently with Fournette (2017), and back a few years in Buffalo, with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Would you expect a big step forward for Aaron Jones?
Paul Desimone (Hayward, CA)
Hackett is the coordinator, but I don’t think it will be his offense. Matt LaFleur is an offensive coach. I would think he’ll outline a vision of what he wants and have Hackett implement it. LaFleur might even call plays. And they’ve got Aaron Rodgers, who’s a great veteran quarterback; no doubt he’ll have a lot of input into what they’re doing. I don’t know what changes they have in mind, but I wouldn’t expect a big uptick in rushing numbers. When you’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the league, you want to use him. The Packers have ranked 20th, 17th and 22nd in rushing the last three years, and that seems about right for 2019. Maybe we’ll see Aaron Jones catch a lot more passes, though. LaFleur has worked under Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, and both of those coaches tend to be believers in using running backs in the passing game.
Thanks again for great work with the weekly and redrafter newsletters, as they were a big help in me winning my 4th championship in the last 6 years in my 33-year old league. I wanted to offer a suggestion for the Blackout contest. Instead of blacking out players for everyone, how about everyone is free to pick whoever they want each week but are limited over the course of the season to using each player no more than 2 times? Would require some work from your programmers, but if feasible would add some strategy similar to a survivor type contest as to when to use certain players rather than riding the same players week after week.
Ed Weiss (Parsippany, NJ)
I’m in. For me personally, I think it would make the game more interesting. There are certain franchise-type players – Mahomes, Gurley, Kelce, Elliott – and you’d have to figure out when to use them. Do you save them for the choice matchup coming in Week 12? Or do you figure you’d better just the star guys before you don’t get to use them at all (because of a season-ending injury). We can change every year. It’s up for discussion, and I invite everyone to chime in with their opinions in the comments section below.
Adding a third starting WR and then moving to PPR were balances included years ago to countermand the dominance of the RBs. With the prolific rise in passing and success of slot WRs (see: Humphries, Adam) in PPR formats, is time to make an adjustment? Given that many drafts (and you are often the champion of it!) now have WRs dominating the early rounds in PPR formats with a reliance on lesser RBs and back-ups, do you believe that any adjustments need to made? Going back to standard as standard?
Moishe Steigmann (Milwaukee, WI)
I’ve never been a huge fan of PPR. I don’t like that it penalizes running backs who don’t catch the ball – Derrick Henry, Alfred Morris, Jordan Howard types. If a running back bangs out 80 rushing yards, isn’t that as worthy as a third-down back who finishes with about 60 total yards (say 30 rushing and 30 yards on 4 catches). In PPR scoring, the third-down backs is worth 2 more points.
In PPR scoring, it’s still compelling to nail down a running back spot in the first round. If you’ve got a chance to select a back like Todd Gurley or Ezekiel Elliott, that’s hard to pass up. But once those few safe running backs are gone, the odds tilt in your favor by instead looking at wide receivers. In the 2018 season, eight of the top 13 scorers (among field players) were wide receivers, and they were in general guys who we all agreed were going to be good. I think the hit rate is higher at wide receiver – fewer busts. We know who most of the guys are who’ll catch 90-plus passes.
Of the top 60 scorers last year (again, field players only), 33 were wide receivers and 22 were running backs, with 5 tight ends. If you want to instead expand out to 100 players (the meat of the selections in a 12-team league) I see 54 wide receivers, 36 running backs and 10 tight ends. So makes sense to start three wide receivers, two running backs and a tight ends, and maybe toss a flex player in there as well.
(On chart here, to help the position pop out, I’ve got running backs in bold and tight ends tagged with black dots.)
|TOP 60 FIELD PLAYERS (PPR scoring)|
|TE||• Travis Kelce||KAN||103||1,336||10||296.6|
|TE||• Zach Ertz||PHI||116||1,163||8||280.3|
|TE||• George Kittle||SFO||88||1,387||5||258.7|
|TE||• Eric Ebron||IND||66||742||14||224.2|
|TE||• Jared Cook||OAK||68||896||6||193.6|