Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Dec. 11 at 12:17 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.
OK, so it's playoff time in our PPR league. I plan to play Ray Rice, Andre Johnson and Wes Welker this week, but I still need another RB and an RB/WR flex. I'm leaning Jamaal Charles over Cedric Benson because of his matchup and either Boldin or Meachem at the flex spot. Advice?
L.B. Graham [WILDWOOD, MO]
I will go Charles over Benson. I don’t subscribe to the theory that you Dance With What Brung Ya. I’m just trying to win game. I start the guys that I think will score the most points. And Charles, matched up against a really bad Buffalo defense, should outproduce Benson against a really good Minnesota defense. In his last four games, Charles averages 78 yards rushing and 20 yards receiving, with 5 TDs in those four games. Maybe Benson punches out 60-70 rushing yards, but he won’t catch many passes, and Minnesota has allowed only 3 rushing TDs all year. At receiver, I’ll go Boldin over Meachem – should catch more passes.
What in the name of Mike Martz is going on in San Francisco?! They've got 45 passes against 12 rushes in their latest game ... against the Seahawks (whom Gore ran wild for over 200 yards the last time they met!). And in case you missed it, the Niners had 3rd and goal at the one -- and passed it, incomplete. Then on 4th and goal from the one -- they passed it again! Incomplete. Gore has become nearly worthless. What is going on down there?
Scott Lommers [Corvallis, OR]
The run just isn’t working for the 49ers. I don’t think it’s so much Gore as the offensive line – the blocking isn’t there. I realize he ran for 207 yards in the earlier meeting against Seattle, but 159 of those came on two carries. His other 14 attempts went for only 48 yards. So I wasn’t surprised at all to see them instead go after Seattle’s suspect secondary. The Seahawks are far weaker this year against the pass (they’re actually above-average in run defense). The 49ers, meanwhile, have become a passing team; they’ve given up on all that offseason talk about being a physical, blue-collar team. In their last 10 games, they’ve averaged 217 yards passing versus only 82 yards rushing. (217 for passing is near the NFL average; 82 for rushing typically will rank in the bottom 4 in the league). In those 10 games, San Francisco has scored a 17-4 ratio of touchdowns passing versus rushing.
Sigh ... Forsett excels for three weeks, then Julius Jones (whom you anointed one of the "bottom 5 starting running backs in the league" in the magazine) comes back, and they just can't WAIT to jam him back into the lineup and relegate their budding star to back-up duty? Predictably, Jones barely registers in the Seattle win, while Forsett contributes a TD in a handful of touches. Can we count on the Seattle coaching staff to make more logical decisions with the fantasy playoffs kicking off next week? You're in Seattle, aren't you? Don't you go out for pizza and air hockey with Jim Mora on the weekends? Perhaps you can pass on my question to that bunglehead Mora personally.
Jacob Wilson [Crandall, TX]
I was talking to some students at Mora’s old high school last Friday – Interlake in Bellevue. Only a couple of the students realized that he had gone there. As for Jones and Forsett, I believe you will see the playing time even out a little bit this week. Against San Francisco, Jones held a 20-5 edge in rushing attempts and a 5-3 advantage in catches. I heard Mora say on Monday that Forsett’s playing time was limited because of a thigh injury he suffered last week in practice. Mora implied that had Forsett been healthy, he would have played more. For the opponent they’re playing this week, I think Forsett might be a better fit. Houston’s defense is much better against the run than the pass, and Forsett is far more dangerous than Jones on dumpoff passes. I believe both backs will get 40-plus percent of the work this week. Jones probably will still get more touches, but Forsett might outproduce him. (I don’t think either will be particularly good). With these backs, I’m more interested to see if one plays well enough to be more of a full-time guy for next week. The Seahawks in week 15 are at home against Tampa Bay; one of these backs could be very good in that game.
My league already has a penalty for lost fumbles, but is now looking at adding a penalty for fumbles that are NOT lost. Some owners oppose this change because "if a team retains possession after the fumble, it is no different than a QB who has a sure pick dropped by the defender." My question is, how often does that type of INT drop take place? I am thinking maybe we could add a penalty for X number of incompletions, thinking that's how often those pick-drops happen. Does the NFL keep track of these stats? If so, where can I find them? Thanks for the great work.
ADAM HOLTZ [ROCHESTER, MN]
You can’t make drops a scored fantasy scoring – for either quarterbacks or receivers. It’s too subjective. Occasionally, you’ll see a ball that simply clangs off the hands of a receiver – the old Braylon Edwards special. But more often, the throw isn’t on target, or the receiver gets blown up by a safety a nano second after the ball arrives. To score these plays, you would need to review each one, and that’s not something that’s possible, even if you had access to all the plays.
Round 1 of the playoffs and has Reggie Wayne left the building? Seems he is double covered so much that Peyton just goes to his other options. Thinking about starting Santonio Holmes (with Ward questionable) and Robert Meachem and benching Wayne in week 14. Which I never envisioned happening. What are your thoughts?
ERIC FEINGOLD [GARDEN CITY, NY]
I would start Wayne. In that offense, there will be weeks where he is down. That’s just the nature of the beast. But he’s still the No. 1 receiver on one of the league’s best teams. I remember him catching 3 TDs in a game up in Denver a few years back. Meachem may have scored in five straight games, but he’s the guy who’s more likely to be underused. The Saints have a lot of weapons, and I figure they’ll have a lot of success with their running game this week – that Atlanta defense they’ll play is horrible. When New Orleans can run the ball effectively, I start to get nervous that Drew Brees (and Meachem) will be underused. In the last four games that New Orleans has run for over 150 yards, Brees has averaged only 193 passing yards, with just 5 TDs in those four games.
Ian, great stuff all year. I'm a first-year subscriber and you've given me a shot in the end despite the horrific luck I've had. With that said, it's crunch time in my 10-team PPR which rewards playoff spots to the top 4, with playoffs in week 15 and 16. I'm currently tied for 4th. Being a Northern California native, I'd well known about Davone Bess and thought he had great potential. Two weeks ago you hinted that he would be a decent PPR play, and I started him over CAR S.Smith the past two weeks, huge pay off this previous week as he had 10 for 117 and 1. Tell me the performance wasn't a fluke and I'm not out of my mind starting Davone Bess the rest of the way.
Jared Cravy [Vallejo, CA]
That will be a difficult decision for you this week. Both guys have very good matchups. The Panthers prefer to run the ball, but this week they’re playing a New England defense that’s simply a lot weaker against the pass. In their last 25 games, the Patriots have allowed 45 TD passes versus only 7 TD runs. That’s the most-skewed ratio in the league. In the same 25-game span, Carolina’s offense is at the other end of the spectrum, scoring on almost twice as many runs (41) as passes (22). We saw this dynamic in play last week in Miami (another run-dominant offense), with Chad Henne passing for 335 yards. Previously, he had passed for 175 yards in four of five games. If the Panthers pass for 200-210 yards, which I believe is a realistic estimate, that will put Smith in line for about 80 yard. And if the Panthers throw a touchdown (and I’m guessing they will), there’s about a 40-50 percent probability he’ll catch it. It’s also, however, a nice matchup for Bess. He’s playing well, and the Dolphins are playing against the same type of defense. The Jaguars got ripped up by Chris Johnson in one game at Tennessee, but otherwise opponents have consistently gone after their pass defense. In its other 11 games, Jacksonville has allowed an average of 259 passing yards, with almost four times as many touchdowns passing (19) as rushing (5). So a tough call for you. With Smith, you get the big-play ability and maybe a touchdown. Bess works almost exclusively underneath routes (he averages under 10 yards per catch) and has scored only 2 TDs in two years. With Bess, you don’t have to worry about weather.
Steve Slaton is out. Who will get the bulk of the carries?
Mike Monahan [LAS VEGAS, NV]
They’ll use a committee. Chris Brown will start. Ryan Moats will also play (Moats got twice as many touches as Brown last week). And youngster Arian Foster should get on the field as well. I don’t see any of these guys having any fantasy value this week against the Seahawks. Seattle is much better against the run than the pass.
I just wanted to take a minute to let you know the new person you hired to do the news blast is absolutely hysterical! It makes reading the blast a true blast. Great hire in my humble opinion.
JOHN RUPPE [FORT MYERS, FL]
Les Campbell does the Newsblast, but in that arena, he’s restricted to slipping in a funny line here and there. To truly appreciate his talents, you should look at the dozens of greeting cards he’s put together – Birthday, Christmas, Get Well, Thank You, etc. He’s started his own company, “Greetings from Uranus”. If you go to his website, you can see samples of all of the cards they have for sale (as well as where you can buy them).
My first-round playoff starts this week. I have to start two receivers and the choices are: S.Smith (Carolina), Greg Jennings, Derrick Mason or Robert Meachem. Your rankings have Smith and Jennings rated higher. How can Meachem be ranked so low? Before the sheet came out I figured it would be Jennings/Meachem. You think Smith is the play this week?
Bill Petilli [MOUNT VERNON, NY]
If you want to start Meachem, I will sign off on that. He’s scored five weeks in a row. And he may be starting to really hit his stride. He’s caught 5 and 8 passes the last two weeks. My thinking was that the Saints, at Atlanta, will be able to run the ball effectively this week, probably grinding out 150-plus rushing yards against a weak Falcons defense. If they’re running the ball and have a lead, that will reduce the volume of passes you’ll see. Drew Brees has passed for 371 and 419 yards in his last two starts. As I mentioned in the other letter, in the last four games that the Saints have run for 150-plus yards, Brees has averaged only 193 passing yards, with 5 TD passes in those games. So I was thinking that it was more realistic to project Brees to pass for something like 270-280 passing yards in this game, with 2 TDs. When you run the numbers that way, and factor in all of the other pass catchers they have, Smith projects to be more valuable than Meachem. But I will concede I could be wrong. I thought the Saints will run, rather than pass, the ball last week in Washington. And unlike Carolina, the Saints will play this week in a climate-controlled dome.
Which running back do you see having the best chance to start at some point this season? Our free agency ends this week so I was looking to add one or two of these guys as a flier. No more moves after this week. Chris Jennings, Rashad Jennings, Correll Buckhalter and Brandon Jackson. Are any worth it, or would you roll with a backup kicker just in case instead of any of these guys.
Tom Peterson [pullman, WA]
I think you’ll do better with an extra kicker – one with a nice matchup in the playoffs, perhaps. Buckhalter and the Jennings could all start games in theory; maybe the guy ahead of them gets hurt. Buckhalter might get 40 percent of the work in Denver anyway. But I just don’t see it as likely that you’ll wind up using any of those players. I’d rather have a seemingly insignificant kicker with a good matchup – maybe Shayne Graham or Billy Cundiff, who have home games against bad teams in weeks 14-16.
Looking ahead to next week, what defenses do you like based on the matchups? I have the New Orleans D, but they're at home against Dallas and are giving up a lot of points lately. Any chance they turn Romo into a turnover machine? It is December.
JOHN RUPPE [FORT MYERS, FL]
I wouldn’t use the Saints. I’d rather have a defense that I could count on for some sacks and interceptions. Ravens (vs. Chicago), Arizona (at Detroit), Steelers (vs. Green Bay), Denver (vs. Oakland) look like the best bets. Sleeper defenses (and this is just via ballpark glance): Jets (vs. Atlanta), Seattle (vs. Tampa Bay).
I am in an eight-team league with two divisions. In both divisions there are three-way ties for first place. Our tie breakers are head to head then points. We take six to playoffs: the two division winners, then the next four highest teams. What does head-to-head among three teams mean to you? I think it means total record vs other teams. They are saying it is who had an advantage against the others. One team is 3-1, one is 2-2, one is 1-3.
jason carney [, ]
In the NFL, when breaking a three-way tie in a divison, you look at overall record against others in the tie. So the team with the 3-1 record would win. The NFL has it set up differently for a three-way tie in a conference. In that one, the head-to-head deal would only apply if there was a sweep (one team went 4-0 or 0-4). So in a three-way conference tiebreaker, the winner would be the team that had scored the most points. For your league, I would argue that the division tiebreaker is more appropriate, since each team has played twice (in the same way teams play twice in NFL divisions). For the NFL conference tiebreaker, they’re looking at teams that have played each other at most once. (If the Jets, Steelers and Jaguars all finish 10-6, for example, the NFL doesn’t want to give that spot to the Jaguars on the basis of them having beaten the Jets – the Steelers haven’t even played either team).
Who's the better keeper league pickup: Brandon Jacobs (timeshare, but good team), Carnell Williams (pedigree, but lousy team), or Julius Jones (underachiever, transition team)?
JOHN MACHO [NEW MARKET, MN]
I would go with Brandon Jacobs. When he’s on his game, he’s a pretty good back, and he’s plays for a good team. I could see him punching in 10-12 touchdowns next year. I don’t know that Williams will be a starter again next year. I’m confident the Seahawks will pull the plug on Jones.
Question 1: OK, so it's playoff time...
Posted by Ryan Osgood | Dec. 12 at 06:36 AM
I am desperate for someone else to make up my mind for me: I am in the playoffs in a 12 team start two RB's yardage league. I have Grant, J Jones, J Forsett and J Fargas (had Slaton). Who do I start? Grant and Fargas???? Grant and Forsett??? I hate any of the possible combinations...
Question 8: I just wanted to take...
Posted by Matt Tinker | Dec. 11 at 02:56 AM
what is this "news blast" you speak of?
Question 8: I just wanted to take...
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Dec. 11 at 04:43 AM
On the main page of the site, two items down, you'll see the Newsblast headlines, updated each day. And there's a yellow box where you can enter your email address to subscribe.
Add a Comment
Already a registered user? Please sign in to add comments.
To add comments, you must become a registered user of our site. To register, please click here.