Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Oct. 29 at 11:56 PM
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.
In the redrafter rankings, I assume that a player still having his bye week affects his ranking quite a bit, correct? For example: Brady is now behind Romo in the QB rankings; is this mainly due to Brady playing one less game than Romo the rest of the way? Or is it more that Romo is going to have a big second half of the season with the emergence of Miles Austin? I've got Brady and someone in my league is willing to sell Romo pretty low right now, so I'm wondering if I make the swap and pick up some additional players in the trade.
KEVIN CATALINI [USA]
The way I’ve got it set up, the rankings are heavily influenced by the expected number of games. If you’ve got two running backs of similar value, and one is far less likely to get hurt, he goes higher on the draft board. And the byes make a similar impact. I consider Tom Brady to be a better, more productive quarterback than Tony Romo. In a typical scoring system, I’ve got Tom Brady at 22 points per game, versus 20 points for Romo. But Brady still has his bye coming up, so Romo probably will start one more game the rest of the way. And 10 x 20 = 200, while 9 x 22 = 198 for Brady. So Romo is slightly higher on the board right now. That will change, of course, on Monday. It’s an issue I’ve wrestled with. Should I operate under the assumption that teams have easy access to adequate, “warm body” backups? If somebody selects Brady, should we make the assumption that they can simply plug in Vince Young, Marc Bulger or Matthew Stafford this week? If we make the assumption that each team has easy access to a 15-point quarterback on the waiver wire, then Brady goes higher. Under that scenario, than Brady’s “value” would be 63 (9 x 7), while Romo’s would be only 50 (10 x 5). I may shift to this kind of approach, but it’s tough when trying to prepare numbers for so many different kinds of leagues. For your purposes, when considering a trade, you can always look a the projected stats for each guys. For the remainder of the season, I’ve got Brady at 280 yards per game, with about 31 TDs if he were to start a 16-game season today. I’ve got Romo at 263 yards per game, with about 26 TDs in a 16-game season.
I'm having an extremely hard time understanding your quarterback ranking of Matt Schaub. You have him ranked #13 among quarterbacks in a TD-only format? Schaub is a top 5 quarterback. He leads the league in touchdown passes, and plays in an explosive offense that puts up points virtually every week. Are the rankings based solely on the variable that he is injury prone in year’s past? I really hope you do not rank players based on variables that are completely random.
NEAL BHARDWAJ [LOMBARD, IL]
This is the same issue I addressed in the Catalini letter. The redrafter rankings are generated using a combination of performance and expected number of games. In the case of Schaub, he’s one of the few quarterbacks who hasn’t had his bye yet, so he’s kind of taking a 13 percent discount in comparison with the other quarterbacks. If you look at the per-game projection for Schaub, you’ll see that there are only five quarterbacks that we are projecting to produce more touchdowns per game from this point going forward. So if you want to make the assumption that you have another quarterback for that game – that there’s a second guy on your roster, or that you can pick up a suitable option on the waiver wire – then go ahead and move Schaub up to No. 6 on your list. These rankings are done in an automated way; I don’t have the benefit of knowing each team’s exact rules and roster situation. I do, however, give you the exact stat projection for Schaub (and for all the other quarterbacks). So you can take that information, then re-work it to fit into what you’re looking for. On the subject of Schaub, I do notice that he has unfavorable situations in four of the final 10 weeks. He’s got a pair of games against the Colts, who’ve allowed a league-low 8 TD passes since the start of the 2008 season. He’s got a bye. And I’m a little worried about him this week – weather is always a concern in Buffalo, and the Bills are much, much better against the pass. On the flip side, I also see four really nice matchups left on his schedule as well – Titans, Jaguars, Seahawks and Rams.
I am in a 10-team Perpetual league and I am currently in a re-building mode. At the beginning of each year, we keep 13 players and draft 6 players. I am guessing that we will have the first pick and the 5th pick in the first round (we traded Steve Smith from Carolina), and now we have been offered a first-round draft choice for Darren Sproles. Do you have an opinion of what the quality of the 2010 NFL draft and how deep it will be in comparison to previous years and would you trade Sproles for what would probably be the 4th overall pick?
DENNIS RUEBEL [GREEN BAY, WI]
I would probably trade Sproles. He’s a great little player, but he weighs only 180 pounds. I don’t know that he’ll ever be elevated into being more than a change-of-pace guy, so I believe you’ll get a better player at the No. 4 spot in 2010. Next year’s college draft is supposed to be a very good one. Certainly, it will be unusually deep at quarterback, with Jake Locker, Jimmy Clauson, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy potentially all in the mix. But you probably aren’t looking for a quarterback, with that position being undervalued in most fantasy scoring systems. Wide receivers Dez Bryant, Dezmon Briscoe and Arrelious Benn all look very good, and Jermaine Gresham appears to be above-average in comparison with the top tight ends in typical years. The draft isn’t as good at running back. C.J. Spiller of Clemson and Jahvid Best of Cal look like the top guys, but neither is the next Adrian Peterson. And both of these backs weigh only 195 – barely bigger than Sproles. So I guess if you feel you absolutely have to select a running back with one of those three draft choices, maybe you just hang onto Sproles. But there’s a lot of talent there.
Who are some of the players that you're targeting as late season studs? Julius Jones and Correll Buckhalter each have incredibly easy schedules against bottom-feeding run defenses in weeks 12-17. Any thoughts on either of these guys?
Rob Dammers [MORRIS PLAINS, NJ]
Scheduling can be part of the picture, but you’ve also got to look at the players and teams themselves. Seattle has offensive line problems and looks like a 6-10 type team that will be simply playing out the string. Jones has been held under 3.0 yards in four of his last five games. I would have interest in him in week 15 against Tampa Bay, but I don’t have much interest in Jones. And while Buckhalter is an underrated player (at least in my opinion), the Broncos seem to want to make Knowshon Moreno their featured back. Overall, for the time frame you mention, the easiest schedules belong to the Seahawks, Chargers, Cardinals, 49ers, Steelers and Bengals. Hardest schedules: Carolina, Washington, Philadelphia, Kansas City and the Giants.
Your fantasy advice is second to none, and I have always appreciated your highly analytical (even mathematical) analysis to base your predictions. That said, however, when you do your strength-of-schedule analysis and assign each team a percentage chance to win each game, it seems that your numbers are at times ludicrous. If your numbers are even reasonably accurate, you could make a killing betting sports (sadly, however, I don't think they are reasonably accurate). The best examples are essentially all the games that you have a team projected to win 95%-plus. In all, for the rest of the season, you have 21 such games. In reality, almost no games are this lopsided. For week 7, you have New England and Indianapolis penciled in for 95% to beat the Bucs and Rams. If you want to bet the money line in Vegas, you break even if they win 91% and 88% respectively, and that is after the juice! Granted, Vegas lines are beatable (though very few handicappers are successful), but these kinds of edges aren't really reasonable. I just worry that people will look at these estimates for match win percentages and make some less than great wagers, thinking they are locks. Basically, I think that especially in games where you have teams at 90-95% you should temper your expectations by about 5%. Upsets do happen.
john stolzmann [long beach, CA]
The numbers aren’t intended to be used for gambling. I’m just trying to put down what I feel is the approximate likelihood of each team winning each game. That gives us a ballpark picture of where each team will finish the season. And this year, with an usually high number of really bad teams, I find an awful lot of the games looking like pretty much locks. If the Bucs were to play the Patriots 20 times, for example, how many times do you think they would win? I thought I was being generous saying they would win once. But I will concede your point. If you were to take every game where I forecasted the winner to have a 90-percent probability of victory, more than 10 percent of those games would go the other way. I never, for example, thought the Raiders would beat Philadelphia a few weeks back.
At what point should I pick up Fred Taylor?
RICH MICHELI [WASHINGTON, DC]
I think you can wait another couple of weeks – at least. What is it, exactly, that we can expect from Taylor? He won’t catch any passes. He won’t be used consistently at the goal line. He might not even return at all. I will be very surprised if he plays before December. He underwent a serious surgery on his ankle. And even when he does get back, they’ve got a committee situation there. Maybe – maybe, maybe – he can help you in weeks 14-15, when the Patriots are playing the Panthers and Bills. Both of those teams have weak run defenses. But I wouldn’t be anxious to use a roster spot on Taylor before Thanksgiving.
Thanks to the Fantasy Index I am 6-0 with a starting line-up of Brees, Benson, Forte, R.Moss, Ochocinco, Mason and D.Clark. Backups include Grant, R.Rice, Breaston and A.Gonzalez. What trades should I be offering to improve my chances during weeks 15-16 playoffs in a Yardage+TD Fantasy Index standard scoring league. I want to start preparing for the playoffs!
GREG HOULETTE [AMARILLO, TX]
Brees and Benson should be very good during your playoffs. The Saints are at home against the Cowboys and Bucs, while the Bengals play at San Diego then host Kansas City. Matt Forte is the guy I would have my eye on. He’s been a disappointment so far, and he’s facing a pair of tough matchups during your playoffs – at Baltimore, then home against the Vikings. If Forte plays well this weekend against Cleveland (and I think he will), I think you should explore the possibility of trading him away – maybe a package deal to bring in a better second running back.
Is Leon Washington worth stashing away on your bench in a keeper league?
JAMES FARES [NEW LENOX, IL]
I think he’ll get back to being an above-average change-of-pace running back. He averaged 77 total yards per game this season – 55 rushing and 22 receiving. In the future, I think you’ll see him doing more as a pass catcher and less as a runner. In a full season, I think he could put up around 1,000 yards – maybe 600 rushing and 400 receiving. He’s awfully small, so I don’t know that he’ll ever score more than about 4-5 TDs in a season – they won’t use him in goal-line situations.
Do you think Ray Rice could be the next Brian Westbrook or Tiki Barber? A yardage/reception monster who can also score a decent number of TDs? He has similar size and draft position. It's early, but he's further along than those other two. I have him in a great league for his talents (PPR and only 5 points/TD) and we keep one guy at every position. The way Rice is playing, I may trade DeAngelo Williams this offseason and keep Rice for years!
Todd Weigel [WAUWATOSA, WI]
I’m not sure that Rice is better than DeAngelo Williams. I’ve seen Williams score a couple of touchdowns that were of Barry Sanders quality. But Rice should continue to catch a lot more passes, and he doesn’t have Jonathan Stewart hovering behind him. There’s no sense beating yourself up over this decision right now, however. Let’s see if both of these backs can make it through the season without a serious injury. And let’s see who the Panthers hire to be their next coach. Bill Cowher has ties to that part of the country, and with those running backs and that offensive line, the job looks like a nice fit for him. A more pass-oriented coach might want to trade away either Stewart or Williams for help at other positions.
Trying to upgrade my second WR (we start 2). I have Reggie Wayne and each week choose between Santonio Holmes and Devin Hester – always guessing wrong. Was going to package one of them with Joseph Addai (I start D.Williams and R.Rice) to try to get a stronger choice. 1/2 pt per reception league. any insight would be great.
ERIC FEINGOLD [GARDEN CITY, NY]
If you can make a trade that makes your team better, I’m all for it. But be careful not to shoot yourself in the foot. It looks like Donald Brown might miss 2-3 games; while he’s out, Addai will be more of a full-time player – I don’t think you want to give him away. You might be better off just sticking with what you have, figuring you’ll do a better job of choosing between Hester and Holmes.
Is Willis McGahee still worth a roster spot? His carries have all but disappeared and Ray Rice looks to be the man. We have small rosters (13 spots) to encourage acquisitions and I could use the roster spot. I also have Cedric Benson, Tim Hightower, Mike Bell, and Darren Sproles. Is McGahee the guy to drop from this group? Non-PPR league.
Craig Gray [BEMIDJI, MN]
I think McGahee is similar in value to Hightower, Bell and Sproles. All of these guys are valuable enough to be on rosters, but none are good enough that you actually want to use them. I see McGahee as this year’s LenDale White. When the Ravens get the ball inside the 5, he’s the guy they’ll feature. So when Baltimore is playing a pushover opponent, I think McGahee has value. That’s not the case this week, of course, but the Ravens still have games left against the Browns, Lions and Raiders. And if Ray Rice gets hurt, you’ll be sitting on a top-10 running back. Is that enough to make McGahee one of your top 4 running backs? Maybe. I think you can make a case for getting rid of any of those other runners as well – Hightower, Bell and Sproles.
I am in a 16 person league and there is honestly no one on the bench because we have wolves taking everything weekly. My lineup is Brady, Peterson, Mendenhall, Knowshon, Moss, Collie, Gonzalez, Jets D and Gostkowski. Bench is Lance Moore, Ahman Green, Jacoby Jones, Chris Henry, Rashad Jennings, Jerome Harrison, Marcedes Lewis. I like my lineup, but I’m hurting in WR and my bench sucks! I'm thinking about trading Peterson to get some depth. I have a couple of options. Chris Johnson & Vincent Jackson for Peterson, or Chris Johnson and Sidney Rice for Peterson. What do you think about this trade? Which is better or should I even do it?
Jacob Priestley [Miramar Beach, FL]
I think you just sit tight with what you have. For a 16-team league, that looks like a dream lineup. You can continue to scour the waiver wire to possibly add depth at wide receiver, but I think you'll be fine with what you have.
Question 1: In the redrafter rankings, I...
Posted by MIKE DONNELLY | Oct. 30 at 09:16 PM
Ian - Under your scenario you describe, I would prefer to see Brady ranked above Romo. Virtually every league allows you to replace your bye week quarterback, so you should assume that you'll be able to replace Brady with a 15 point warm body during his bye week. Plus, most leagues have playoffs starting in week 14 and 15 when there are no byes. So, if I were contemplating trading for Brady and Romo, I would definitely want Brady, because he is projected to perform better when the games count the most.
Question 1: In the redrafter rankings, I...
Posted by IAN ALLAN | Oct. 31 at 02:44 AM
We're discussing changing the parameters. Question is, do you want to see Matt Leinart ranked ahead of JaMarcus Russell? Leinart will be good if Kurt Warner gets hurt. We know Russell won't be a difference-maker type quarterback. If you're in a 10- or 12-team league, I think you want Leinart higher. If you're in a 14- or 16-team league, where you need to have a quarterback who's actually playing, then you'd want Russell. This whole issue is pretty easy, I think at quarterback and kicker. It gets much harder with running backs and wide receivers. We are working on it internally.
Question 1: In the redrafter rankings, I...
Posted by Gregory Wells | Nov. 01 at 09:35 AM
Hi Ian. Your logic in #1 only applies for leagues that use total season points, not week-to-week head to head. Brady gives you a better chance to win each week. Perhaps the redrafter can be published in both "head to head" and "total points" formats.
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