Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Jul. 14 at 08:20 AM
Publisher Ian Allan fields your questions on strategy, how to run your league, player ratings -- and whatever else you think of. Updated every Friday during the season; Tuesdays and Fridays during the last two months of the preseason. You must be registered and signed-in to submit a mailbag question. After you sign in at the top of the page, the link to submit a mailbag question will become visible.
Over the years my 12-team league has changed its scoring system and a decent RB is clearly the must-have player. But my question is at what point in the draft should I go away from the running backs and grab the best player available? If I get pick 11 or 12, do I grab the QB and the WR (combo) on the way back or should I still grab a RB? By the way, I have been a diehard fan of your mag since I drafted Don Majkowski in 1989 at your suggestion and was laughed at the draft, then went on to win it all.
JAMES TALLEUR [HYDE PARK, NY]
“Must have”. Those are your words, not mine. Suppose you go into your draft with the 12th pick and the mindset that you’re taking a running back at that spot no matter what. At that No. 12 spot, you’ll probably wind up selecting a back like Frank Gore or Chris Johnson. Those are the Nos. 8 and 9 running backs on my board, and I’m projecting they’ll produce about 193 fantasy points using the scoring system of 6 points for TDs and 1 point for every 10 yards. If you then selected a wide receiver with the 12th pick of the third round (the end of that round), I believe you would get a player like Anthony Gonzalez, Anquan Boldin or Wes Welker; I’ve got those guys at about 155 points. So total production from those two picks would be about 348 fantasy points. Suppose, on the other hand, that you selected Larry Fitzgerald with that No. 12 pick. I’ve got him at 198 points. If you went that route, then maybe you’re looking for a running back at the end of the third round. Maybe Cedric Benson (168 points) is there. Fitzgerald and Benson would then give you 366 combined points – 18 more than using that first-round pick on a running back. Sounds like that “must-have” running back maybe isn’t quite such a “must-have” guy after all.
In the previous mailbag, you answered a question on the impact of Marvin Harrison's departure, saying there would be "no significant benefit for Clark." However, in the tight end section of the Index, you said "Now that Harrison is no longer with the team, Clark is one tight end with a realistic shot at 10 touchdowns,".. So which one is it, buddy? (yep, that was sarcasm, but I mean it in the most loving way) ... you can’t have it both ways.
JEFF FOSTER [CHICO, CA]
If I got both of the articles out and carefully dissected them word by word, I might actually be able to carve out a middle ground, with both of them being technically accurate. So like the political candidates in D.C., I am not going to admit my mistake. At best, I will concede that if we were to look into it further, I might have to cop an Alford plea (acknowledging the evidence would lead to a conviction by a jury but not actually admitting any guilt). And if that doesn’t quiet the masses, I’ll fire one of the copy editors. But allow me to re-state and hopefully clarify my position on Marvin Harrison. I think he’s done. I thought they should have gotten rid of him a year ago (as evidenced by the fact that he went on to average only 5.9 yards per pass attempt, lowest of all 40 receivers who saw at least 100 balls). That’s according to the catch/target data compiled by STATS, Inc. I envision Anthony Gonzalez stepping in and being BETTER than Harrison. While Harrison was clearly slipping last year, however, he still got a healthy chunk of passes inside the red zone. He saw a team-high 7 attempts inside the 5-yard line (that’s according to our count off the NFL play-by-plays), and he caught a team-high 10 passes inside the red zone. Those extra throws in that area could be a residual of all of the years working with Peyton Manning. I don’t think Gonzalez will be used as heavily as Harrison in that area (but might still score more touchdowns – he’s got the speed to score from 30-plus yards). So with Harrison gone, it underscores that Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne should see more balls in that area. But is this a huge deal? Not really; even if Harrison were still around, they’d probably still see more throws in that area – with Harrison continuing to decline as a player. Clark seems to be in line for something like 8 TDs. He caught 11 TDs last year; he slipped to only 6 TDs last year, but part of that was due just to chance – he still caught a nice of balls in the red zone. Over the last two years, in fact, Clark has caught a league-high 30 passes inside the red zone. I’m probably guilty of using Harrison to sell you a little bit on Clark. Considering that he’s already caught a league-high 30 passes inside the red zone over the last two years, it’s not really realistic to expect him to catch more passes. More accurately, it’s probably fair to simply expect more of those passes to wind up being scoring plays. Is that answer good enough to get me off the hook?
Aaron Rodgers threw for 4,000 yards last year and you have done some pretty detailed research on how the Green Bay receivers catch a lot of passes. Donald Driver is getting up there in age and someone besides Greg Jennings will have to fill the void (which I think is 1,000 yards and maybe 5-8 TDs). In a Dynasty League, is that going be Jordy Nelson or James Jones?
Farhan Hassan [St. Paul , MN]
I don’t know. The easy answer is Nelson. He had a solid rookie year. He’s big and he’s got some speed. He was drafted early in the second round. But Jones (originally a third-round pick) was even better the previous season, catching 47 passes and showing more downfield ability. Jones averaged 14.4 yards per catch in his rookie year, over 3 yards more than Nelson last year. It was a knee injury that Jones suffered in August last year that caused Nelson to move ahead of him. Now both guys are healthy. I expect they’ll compete for the job, and by late August, we’ll have an idea which guy is going to be the winner. It’s probably pretty close to 50-50. If you forced me to pick one guy or the other, I’d go with Jones. (But you being in St. Paul, I imagine you probably have a firm policy against picking any Packers anyway).
I joined my nephew's league last year. Prior to this I exposed him to FANTASY FOOTBALL INDEX. Needless to say he couldn't keep a good secret and let everyone in the league know about his new source. Long story short everyone in the league now uses Fantasy Index. My question to you is what other source would you recommend instead of Fantasy Index. I know tough question but I need to think differently going into the league this year. By the way I still won the league last year.
Richard Breuer [HARTFORD, WI]
You won the league last year. I don’t think you mess with that. I think you go with a similar type of approach. My only suggestion (in trying to counter there being too many owners heavily relying on Fantasy Index) is to go into the draft with a list of a dozen players that you think I’m wrong on. Who are the guys you feel I have way overrated or underrated? Maybe that would help you put together a good team. But I’m not the guy to help you out in that area (I only outsmart myself in my own leagues). As for potential other services, we run an “experts poll” competition in the magazine, with guys submitting their top 20 at each position. Among guys who are active and have entered at least three times, the current leaders are David Dorey (The Huddle), Bob Henry (Football Guys), Scott Pianowski (Yahoo!) and Michael Nazarek (Fantasy Football Mastermind). Each year I give a guy a “win-loss” record, based on how many other experts he beats using our complicated scoring system. (For this year, for example, the No. 1 finisher will get a win-loss mark of 19-0; the 2nd-place guy goes 18-1). Using that system, Dorey is at 133-39, Henry is 114-34, Pianowski 132-40 and Nazarek at 125-85.
What are your thoughts (and I'd be curious to hear readers' thoughts as well) on requiring tight ends in fantasy football? For three years, my 12-team league has required a TE in the starting lineup, but as commissioner, I have fielded questions from owners about whether or not we could change the TE slot to a WR/TE flex spot. My opinion is that is a significant change - I think only about 10-12 TEs would even merit having on a roster, much less starting.
ADAM HOLTZ [ROCHESTER, MN]
I like tight ends. I think they add a dimension. They’re a subset of players who tend to get ignored if you instead go with a generic “receiver” position. We start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers and one tight end. Last year, however, we added the loophole that tight ends can also be used as wide receivers (but not the other way around). So if a team wants to carry two franchise-type tight ends (making things tougher on other franchises), it can slip that extra tight end in as a third wide receiver on occasion. That added a nice dynamic to our auction. Otherwise, teams pretty much get locked out of bidding on tight ends once they have one good one. One guy in our league actually became obsessed with tight ends at our auction last year, buying about four or five of them.
Everyone is trying to find the next Matt Forte or Steve Slaton. I'm interested mining for another gem -- the next Larry Johnson. Who is sitting on the bench somewhere in a good system just waiting to put up numbers? I'm not poking a voodoo doll hoping for an injury, but which lottery ticket players would you want to have?
Andrew Taylor [GROSSE POINTE PARK, MI]
To meet the “Larry Johnson” requirement, does the guy need to be fairly inactive? I assume that players like Darren Sproles, Ahmad Bradshaw, LeSean McCoy and Chester Taylor wouldn’t be eligible, since they’ll have fantasy value even while in reserve roles. Maybe the best “Johnson-type” guys would be Rashard Mendenhall and Ladell Betts.
Congrats on another fine magazine! It seems that you're playing favorites with ‘injury-prone’ tag, especially as it pertains to players like Steven Jackson and Dallas Clark, yet you chastise others for the same thing. For instance, Brandon Jacobs gets some lofty praise from you, but you repeatedly tell us about his inability to stay healthy, and how you're almost guaranteeing us that he will miss time again in 2009. You mention that he has missed 9 games over the past two seasons, runs upright, with a physical, punishing style. But Jackson has missed 8 games over the past two seasons, and like Jacobs, he runs upright (your No. 1 pet-peeve), has a ‘physical running style’ ala Marion Barber. He also plays for a lesser team that perhaps will be the NFL's worst in 2009. Only once in his NFL career has Jackson played a full 16-game schedule, something you seem to overlook and downplay. Jackson also has a shaky O-line, a has-been QB, no-name receivers, new coach and offensive coordinator, and will see 8-man fronts all year long, so how can you justify his high ranking? The Rams will once again be in the bottom 5 in the NFL in offensive time of possession. Tossing out his 2006 season and his rookie year (2004), Jackson's numbers are 248/1030/6, 40/323/1. Good for about RB 15-20. He's a guy who barely scrapes 1000 yards and hardly ever scores TDs. He's never come close to his 2006 stat-line, so why do you think that, despite these glaring problems, he will somehow have a career year? Clark, on the other hand, is (very) highly rated , yet he too has injury problems: he's never played a full 16-game schedule. You bury Westbrook because of the injury tag, yet you're drooling over Dallas Clark? I don't get it. Clark suffers from recurring concussions, and is ALWAYS nicked up. Concussions aren't the type of injuries that just ‘go away’, they almost always becomes career-ending. You're also downplaying the departure of Tom Moore and Tony Dungy. Clark, Wayne, Gonzalez, Addai will take over the 60/636/5 TDs left behind by Marvin Harrison's departure, but T.O.'s departure and 69/1052/10 will mostly be picked by one guy: Jason Witten. I'm not understanding how Clark trumps Witten. You seem to put very little weight on injuries and loads of weight on 'potential'. Clark is more likely to get hurt than any other tight end in the game, perhaps more injury-prone than any other played in the NFL. Witten has missed 3 games in 6 seasons, and is a LOCK for at least 71/822/4. How can you so highly rank an injury-prone, fragile, made-of-glass running back like Steven Jackson, and an oft-injured Steve Young-type concussion magnet like Dallas Clark when instead there are plenty of rock-steady, never-injured players who crank out solid numbers year in/year out at the same positions? I understand not wanting to be a cookie-cutter type of fantasy publication, but you could have picked better players to roll the dice with than Jackson and Clark.
Rob Dammers [MORRIS PLAINS, NJ]
You make it sound as if Jackson is some kind of bum who can’t play. He did average 118 total yards per game last year, the most of any player in the entire league. I think he’ll be helped by having a new coach and a new coordinator, and they’ve made some additions to that offensive line. They drafted Jason Smith No. 2 overall, and they signed the center in free agent – Jason Brown from Baltimore (who’s now the highest-paid center in the game). They signed Jacob Bell to the big free-agent deal last year. So that offensive line could be just fine. In comparing him to the Brandon Jacobs head-to-head, the biggie is receiving production. Jackson has caught 43, 90, 38 and 40 passes the last four years. Jacobs, in comparison, caught 6 passes last year. As for Clark, you make it sound as if he’s suffering a concussion every 3-4 weeks. I looked at his history of injuries, and I thought I saw him on the injury report with a concussion only one or two times in six years. He’s had a variety of injuries that aren’t necessarily connected. In four of the past five years, he’s played 15 games. So I don’t see him down there, injury-wise, with the likes of Brian Westbrook. And as often as the Colts look to him inside the red zone, I think he’s going to outscore the other big-time tight ends.
Question 5: What are your thoughts (and...
Posted by CHRIS BIELIK | Jul. 17 at 05:36 AM
I agree completely with Ian that Tight Ends as a separate, required position is a positive, not a negative, and I really dislike the WR/TE flex option. To me, it's a complete cop out, it "dumbs down" strategic thinking by allowing you to essentially ignore an entire offensive position. I do, though, like the "TE as a WR" option Ian describes. I suspect it has more utility in auction formats than in a typical "snake draft", but using say Dallas Clark and Jason Witten both in the same lineup can often be nearly as good as using a comparable WR while tying the hands of other owners who may have a poor TE themselves now. I'll be curious how others feel, but my vote is squarely in the stand apart TE camp.
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