Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Sep. 11 at 03:20 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.
Hey Ian, I am in a typical TD+yardage league and drafted utilizing the Aug. 27th updates. My RBs are DeAngelo Williams, Cedric Benson, Ray Rice, and Mendenhall. Based on what I've seen in the preseason and based on coaches comments I believe my week 1 starters will be Williams and Rice. Would you agree with this pair? Also I was wondering why Benson cracks your top 35 rankings based on his lackluster preseason and poor career numbers?
Colt Guthridge [HINDSBORO, IL]
Williams definitely starts. It’s a close call between Rice and Benson – they both should be really good. Rice should catch a lot more passes. I would disagree that Benson carries poor career numbers. Wouldn’t you agree, when looking at his profile, that the most important games of his career would be his work last season? Those are more current than what he did two, three and four years ago with the Bears. And Benson was very good as a starter for the Bengals. He averaged 71 rushing yards per game, 15th-best in the league (among running backs who started at least half of the time). During the second half of last season, Benson finished 3rd in the league in rushing attempts. After the Bengals started last season with an 0-8 record it was him, more than anyone else, that powered the team to a 4-3-1 record in the second half of the season. He’s a good player.
Do you think Jermichael Finley has a shot at being a top 5 tight end this year? He looked great in preseason and should be playing in one of the better offenses in the league.
Dave Jost [EUGENE, OR]
He looked very good in the preseason. He’s got hands and speed, and it’s clear they’re going to try to get the ball in his hands. But it will be tough to finish in the top 5 – there are a lot of good players at that position.
Lots of talk for PIT recently ref Willie Parker being "our runner" as quote by Mike Tomlin. What’s the real take on this? Will Parker be getting the goal-line carries? Has Tomlin lost confidence/favor in Mendenhall or others? Will this influence Parkers rank in the RB cheat sheet?
JOE NORDSTRAND [DICKINSON, TX]
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians made similar comments – that Parker would be pretty much a full-time guy, with Mendenhall seeing only spot duty. How long that lasts, we’ll see. Parker didn't play well last night against the Titans, and Mendenhall didn't look any better (they went with Mewelde Moore for the entire fourth quarter). But that was against a good Tennessee defense. Parker will be far more effective against the numerous soft defenses on the schedule this year (Pittsburgh plays a much easier schedule this season). So I imagine with their intention to use him more, his numbers should be pretty good in a lot of those games. But Parker isn’t a great goal-line runner, and he’s also had problems staying healthy. At some point, I imagine they'll either make Mendenhall their goal-line runner, or that Mendenhall will need to start some games as an injury fill-in.
If you and all of your readers are successful this year, please put Ray Rice and Anthony Gonzalez on the cover next season. Maybe add Cedric Benson to the mix and have the three of them standing in a Hooters handing out a fantasy trophy to an overweight white dude in a Tatum Bell jersey. Sure seems like we all ended up with the same roster based on the emails in your mailbag.
Jason Lent [HONOLULU, HI]
I like it. Sounds good. I imagine my e-mail inbox will explode on Monday if any of these guys has a lousy game on Sunday, but they’ve all got good matchups. They’re all at home, and they all get to go against what appears to be bottom-10 opponents. Denver and Kansas City appear to be particularly bad on defense, so I’m sure Rice and Benson will do well this.
I'm in a 1/2 pt PPR league and am wondering if I'd be better starting WR Wes Welker against Buffalo or TE Owen Daniels against the Jets in week 1. Welker is one of my starters but there seems to be some mysterious injury concern with him, about which I have been unable to find anything.
HUGH HIGGINS [LYONS, IL]
Apparently, it’s a knee (with Welker). According to the team-issued injury report, Welker practiced fully on Wednesday but was limited on Thursday.
Do you consider the Vegas lines on over/unders a valuable resource when handicapping the fantasy performance of individual players? I find them to be a great way to predict the surprises of the week. If an over-under is pushing 50, then someone is going to have to score those points.
ANTHONY TANGORRA [CHICAGO, IL]
Yes. But I don’t consider the “Vegas line” to be the prediction of a single guy. I consider it to be the consensus of everyone who’s willing to put money behind their opinion. So that is valuable information, in my opinion. And when you see those over-unders for each game, with the Steelers-Titans at a week-low 35 and the Lions-Sanders at a week-high 49, I think that’s meaningful.
I am in a 12-team auction league that has a position that we call the Taxi Squad position. It is kind of like red-shirting a player for the following year. For example last year I drafted Ray Rice for $8 and made him my Taxi guy. Because I did not play him the entire year I was able to keep him this year for the same price. In our recent draft I got Darren Sproles for $5 (I don't have Tomlinson), and I got Malcolm Kelly for $1. Sproles is in a contract year but I don't know if he will ever be more then a situational player. Kelly is moving into the No. 2 spot and will be a 3rd year receiver next year. The other guys there, Moss and Randle El are getting old. I don't need either of these guys this year, Sproles may have some trade value later but having a strong guy to start my team with next year will out weigh that. Which of these two guys do you think will be the most desirable next year?
John Isett [DUNEDIN, FL]
Sproles is by far the more valuable player. He’s an incredibly explosive running back – a guy who’ll score some 50-yard touchdowns. If Tomlinson gets hurt, Sproles will put up some really nice numbers. And he has fantasy value, I think, as a change-of-pace option. He’ll catch plenty of passes, and he’ll turn some of those into 60-yard touchdowns. Kelly, on the other hand, will be a starter this year in Washington. That’s about all we can say on his behalf. He appears to be a big, slow, possession-type guy. Will he be a starter there next year, when Washington almost certainly will have a new coach coming in with a new quarterback and new ideas? I’m not making that promise. I would hope to say Sproles for 2010. But if, because of an injury, you have to use him, then you can hope that Kelly proves to be a decent option.
Brandon Marshall is now practicing, Orton is preparing to start the season. How far does this move Marshall up in the WR rankings for the season in a PPR league?
DON ROSE [EL DORADO HLS, CA]
There's still unfinished business there. I don't think that partnership can be salvaged. I don't think Marshall can be productive with the Broncos, and I think they'll move him before the trade deadline in October. After missing all of the preseason, he doesn't know the team's offense, and his physical condition is a question after the hip surgery. We'll see what happens with him. I definitely wouldn't use him this week.
I participated in an auto draft and got Michael Turner, Reggie Bush and Leon Washington. I have been able to pick up Stewart and Sproles. Wide receivers are Vincent Jackson, Jennings, DeSean Jackson, Chris Henry and Devin Hester. I am not comfortable at all with running backs and everyone is holding tight. I was thinking about a trade of Bush and Hester for Benson and Santonio Holmes. I understand FFB is not won or lost during draft and I work things pretty hard throughout the season. Just not sure if overall this trade I am contemplating is a good idea this early or I should just hold?
Mary Jo Baughman [Nineveh, IN]
Looks like a fairly even trade to me. On my board, I’m projecting Holmes and Benson to finish with a combined 92 more yards and half a touchdown more. But much of that difference is tied into Bush potentially missing some action. If we are to assume that all of these players are on the field for all 16 games, then I’ve got Bush and Hester finishing with 9 more yards and half a touchdown more. Those figures include Hester scoring 1.2 TDs on punt returns. I’ve got Bush as a 50-50 bet to return a punt for a touchdown – so .5 TDs for him. (Return yardage not calculated into yardage figures). Looks like Benson and Holmes is the safer course to chart. In a PPR league, I’d go with the Bush tandem.
I am in a 13 team PPR league which caps RB and WR rosters at 4 each (only start 2/wk). I drafted 2nd, and picked (in order) DeAngelo Williams, Roddy White, Anquan Boldin, Cedric Benson, Matt Ryan, Brent Celek, Pitt DST, Tim Hightower, Jonathan Stewart, Trent Edwards, Muhammad, Longwell, Chris Baker, Dallas DST, and Hauschka. I always see you guys saying don’t pay any attention to bye weeks. So I didn't. By the time I was thinking about my 4th round pick, I realized that my first three guys all had a Week #4 bye week. Then QB Matt Ryan was the best QB left on the board in the 5th round, and I grabbed him. And Ryan's Bye week is also Week #4. My question is, does it make sense to keep stockpiling talent in the draft, even if that concentrates your players onto the same bye week? By the time I realized what had happened, and picked Matt Ryan, I knew that I was automatically going to lose on week #4. So I stopped bothering with picking 'bye week replacement' players, and started grabbing the best guys left on the board (Jonathan Stewart, Hightower). I also didn't draft my 3rd WR until nearly the end of the draft, since I knew Muhsin Muhammad would be left. Am I crazy? Or is it better to sacrifice one week in order to increase your odds of winning in all the other weeks?
Andrew Napoli [SPRINGFIELD, VA]
Ideally, you have a nice mix with your bye weeks, allowing you to get more pop out of the backups on your roster. But I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If DeAngelo Williams gets hurt, you’ll be very pleased that you selected Jonathan Stewart. And if Roddy White and Matt Ryan turn into the kind of passing combination that I think they’re going to be, they’re not going to be the problem with your team either. I think you’ll be just fine. I don’t pay too much attention to bye weeks. With all of the trades and waiver claims that are going to occur in the next month, you have plenty of time to address what to do during that bye week.
Need help with my TE. I drafted Visanthe Shiancoe but noticed John Carlson is still available. He is rated much higher than Shiancoe on everything I have reviewed.
john cope [CORINTH, TX]
I’ve got Shiancoe higher than Carlson on my board – have had him higher for at least three weeks. I think he’ll be a big part of Minnesota’s passing game. Seattle has a nice matchup this weekend, so I’m not promising Shiancoe will be more productive on Sunday. Long term, however, he should put up better numbers.
Just had my first auction draft after taking a few years off and I am trying to make myself feel better because I left $17 on the table. I stuck to my dollar amounts, only bidding on players at 75 percent or less of their worth/value. Would you mind evaluating my team? 12-team PPR that starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR and TE. QBs are McNabb and Cutler. RBs are Ronnie Brown, Donald Brown, Sproles, Beanie Wells and Leon Washington. WRs are Steve Smith, Anthony Gonzalez, Derrick Mason, Lance Moore and Donald Driver. TE is Greg Olsen.
Don Goss [, ]
That’s unfortunate. In an auction, you have to be careful to make sure you spend your money. Leaving $17 on the table, that’s like forgetting to select a player in the fifth round of a draft. The team looks thing at running back, but otherwise very strong. Would have been nice to spend that $17 on another running back.
I'm a new member and was wondering if Fantasy Index offers a weekly sit or play tool to aid in determining lineups week to week based on matchups, strength of schedule, injuries, etc., as opposed to weekly rankings based on that week's upcoming games? Perhaps it's asking too much and I don't know that it's possible, but I'm thinking of a program where you plug in your players in the Fantasy Index website and each week you would be able to determine if it might be better to start a certain RB or WR, for instance, over another based on that week's circumstances. I appreciate all your stats & info, which helped me tremendously in my draft this year and hopefully will continue to help me during the course of the season.
HUGH HIGGINS [LYONS, IL]
We put together a weekly newsletter throughout the entire season – capsules for all the teams covering all the players and all the matchups. That comes with draft lists for three different scoring systems. If your scoring system doesn’t fit one of those, then you can access the same projections on the website, where they are specifically tailored for your scoring system. That allows you to compare, for example, Ray Rice versus Cedric Benson, deciding which guy would be better to start in your league. We do not, however, have it set up to interface with your league’s rosters. When scouring for the best available free agent, you have to do it old school, scrolling down the list until you find a name that is available in your league.
We give a point per completion and -1 point per incompletion for QBs, which puts a premium on accurate passers. I'm not sure how to tweak the weekly to account for this. Any suggestions?
Dave Jost [EUGENE, OR]
I ran the team numbers on this. Looks like the average team, using 2008 numbers, picked up 114 passing points. The great passing teams like Arizona and New Orleans were up at 190 and 206 points. The bulk of the pretty-good teams – the teams that might be on your fantasy roster – seem to be around 140-160 points. So you’re looking at a few teams picking up20-30 points. In that kind of system I’d give Drew Brees, Chad Pennington, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady – high-accuracy guys – a slight bump. Team numbers are as follows …
190 New Orleans
165 NY Jets
148 Tampa Bay
146 San Diego
145 Green Bay
144 New England
109 San Francisco
105 NY Giants
79 Kansas City
64 St. Louis
Okay, the draft is over and I used your cheat sheet to what I perceive to be my best advantage. I now feel free to discuss my strategy this year. The customized cheat sheet is terrific by the way. Our league gives six points for a passing TD in addition to 1 point for each 20 yards passing, so the Excel spreadsheet made it a breeze to change the projections. Other scoring is standard yardage, with one league adding PPR this year. That brings me to my question. I have always thought that you look for the largest gaps between players in mapping out your drafting strategy. The position with the largest gaps used to be running back. After the first ten or so it was like dropping off a cliff, so I used to load up on running backs early. In using the projections on the customized cheat sheet, however, I noted that the largerst gaps point wise were at the QB position. You had Brees and Brady at the top with a total of over 400 points each in our system. The fifth QB only was projected to get you around 330 points. That's over a 70 point difference. When you compare that with the top WR's, you have to go down 22 WR's to get to a 70 point drop. In a similar manner, you don't get to a 70 point drop in the RB's until the 24th RB. By my way of thinking that made Brees, Brady and Manning the clear top three picks in the draft. I followed that advice and received sound guffaws throughout the room. We've been doing this a while. The situation is not quite as pronounced if you are using 4 points per TD pass, but there is still a 60 point drop between the top two QBs and number six, which still exceeds the drop in WRs and RBs by a wide margin. What say you?
James Morton [NEW ORLEANS, LA]
At 6 points for TD passes, I think you're going to be really happy with Brees, Brady and Manning. I think maybe Aaron Rodgers is the No. 4 player overall in that format as well, and Philip Rivers not far behind him. You have to know your league's scoring system. It's about value. And in that kind of a league, the value is at quarterback.
I have a similar dilemma as Troy from the last mailbag. My QBs ended up being Brady and Manning. For this week and going forward, how do I pick which to start each week? Do I go based on matchups or just stick with one starter for the whole year (or play Brady when I’m going up against Moss and Manning when I’m up against Wayne)?
ZACH LEAVITT [ENGLEWOOD, CO]
I expect that over the course of the season, they’ll both start at least five games for you. You can just start the guy each week who appears to be in the better situation. And at some point, you’ll no doubt get a good trade offer for one of them.
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