Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Aug. 24 at 03:04 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.
I noticed that you dropped Marshall a couple of spots in your latest ranking on Aug. 23. What’s the reason for that?
Ian Nelson [BOCA RATON, FL]
After watching their two preseason games, I’m just not as confident that they’ll feed him the ball extensively. They paid him all that money, so my initial belief was that they’d force the ball to him and he’d catch 100-plus balls. Now I’m not sure so sure. They’re No. 3 receiver, Davone Bess, looks pretty good. Tight end Anthony Fasano will be involved. Marshall, meanwhile, has dropped 3 passes and is punting balls in frustration at practice. So I’m less optimistic now that Marshall will catch close to half of his team’s touchdown passes. I could be wrong, but the uncertainty drops him down a few spots on my draft board.
I subscribe for the full cheat sheet package and have used this for years. I just had a draft and used the sheet that came out on Aug. 19. I just looked at the Aug. 23 sheet and geez … Arian Foster shot so far up the chart all of a sudden? I wish I'd have had this draft next week. Anyhow. I had pick 10 in a 12-team league with standard roster (1 flex) and QBs get 6 pts for TD passes. I wound up with (Brees, Mendenhall, Best, S.Smith (Car,), Finley, Maclin, Portis, Garcon, Gaffney, Roethlisberger and the 49ers defense. Is Foster, in your opinion rated that high?
Is Foster, in your opinion rated that high?
Bill Petilli [Larchmont, NY]
Guys do bounce around. I’m constantly going through the file and changing the numbers. So it’s frustrating, I understand, to select a guy one week, then see him fall a half-dozen spots the next. It’s part of the over-analysis process. In the case of Arian Foster, I know longer see him as a sleeper. I just see him as Houston’s starting tailback. I know that he’s hardly even played in the league, but I see very little difference between Foster and backs like Rashard Mendenhall, Cedric Benson and Ryan Mathews. Your team, by the way, looks outstanding.
Our league does team QB rather than individuals. Do you think an in-shape Mike Vick gets used enough to rush for 5-6 TDs and move Eagles team QB into the top 10?
ANDREW FRITZ [MAPLE GROVE, MN]
According to my numbers, the Eagles will rank in the top 10 in passing – regardless of how they use Vick. I’ve got the Colts, Saints and Packers as the top 3, followed by the Cowboys, Texans, Patriots, Vikings, Chargers, Eagles and Giants. Philadelphia may move up a spot or two when rushing production is factored in.
PPR format with the 5th pick in a 12-team league. Do you feel comfortable taking Turner over Andre Johnson? This league usually goes very heavy on RBs early on. I'm pretty positive I can land two of the top 7-8 WRs on my board. I know you took two WRs in your experts draft and I'm wondering, in a head-to-head format, if your comfortable with two stud WRs and then going after guys like Foster, Spiller, or Portis in the later rounds.
JOHN RUPPE [FORT MYERS, FL]
I like Turner a lot. I think he’ll bounce back. He’s in shape and ready to put together a big year. But in that kind of format – PPR – my projections indicate that Andre Johnson is far more valuable.
I'm in a keeper league where we can only keep two players each year. One from the first 7 rounds of the draft, and one from the 8th round onward. Each player can be kept in the round that they were originally selected the previous year (Charles was drafted in the 14th round last year, so he can be kept as a 14th rounder this year.) Can you list 10 names of guys to target who will likely be available beginning in the 10th round of a 12 team standard league? I’m looking for guys whose value will greatly increase from this year to next year.
Joe Cartan [SAN FRANCISCO, CA]
The best of the no-names, I think, would be Joique Bell, Kareem Huggins and Keiland Williams. Guys you’ve heard of who should be available late (and will be more valuable next year): Golden Tate, Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman, Jermaine Gresham, Aaron Hernandez, Zach Miller (Jacksonville), Legedu Naanee, James Jones.
Good to start out 3-0; bad to start 0-3. Which teams (and therefore their fantasy players) look like good plays in weeks 1-3 and which are teams to stay away from?
MARK COLON [CALEDONIA, MI]
Easiest schedules (weeks 1-3): Arizona, Cleveland, San Diego, Oakland, St. Louis. Hardest schedules: Jacksonville, Atlanta, Giants, Lions, Seahawks, Texans Saints.
I noticed you dropped Tony Romo from three to five. Can you tell me why? I am in a 16-team league and was thinking of drafting him at pick eleven, but might wait to see if he drops to second round now.
DAVID BOZZELLI [INDIANAPOLIS, IN]
I’m just a little nervous about the offensive line there. So rather than having him right there with Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, I’m now seeing Romo as closer in value to the group of quarterbacks in that second tier – Rivers, Brady, Schaub, etc.
Was wondering which QB you would target outside of your top 8 to fill in until Roethlisberger was back? Does one QB look to have the better passing schedule during Ben's absence?
MIKE MADDEN [RIVER FOREST, IL]
The Steelers have a bye in week 5, so it would be nice to select one that will play in each of the first five weeks. Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer and Kevin Kolb, I think, would all handle the job nicely. With Cutler, there’s the concern that he’ll get hurt playing in that offense and behind that line. But with it being just a five-week stretch, I think you project he’ll last that long.
In a league where the player receives points for TDs on kickoff and punt returns. I'm assuming DeSean Jackson is off special teams this year. What players, in your opinion, hold extra value in this format?
JOHN RUPPE [FORT MYERS, FL]
I think they’ll still use Jackson on punt returns; I’m budgeting him to score on one of those at some point. Same deal with Percy Harvin. On the next tier, I would place Eddie Royal, Reggie Bush, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. Those are all guys who’ll start (at running back or wide receiver) who might score on a kick return. With each of those guys, there’s the potential they’ll be spared the wear and tear of the return duties. Josh Cribbs is a great returner, but I don’t think he’ll do enough as a wide receiver to have value in most fantasy leagues. Darren Sproles and Roscoe Parrish should score on returns, but they play lesser roles on offense. C.J. Spiller is the other guy worth mentioning; he was a great returner at Clemson. But I’m not sure the Bills will use him as a returner.
I am in a 16-team league. I can keep one of the following (or pass on all 3) in the 5th round. A. Foster, J.Knox or P. Garcon Which one, if any, would you keep?
VERNON JONES [OLNEY, MD]
I’d take Arian Foster. I think he might be a top-10 running back this year.
With the retirement of Tra Thomas, how much impact will that have on the numbers for Rivers and Mathews?
DARRELL PRESTELLA [CARSON CITY, NV]
I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Thomas can’t play anymore, so that doesn’t really change anything. They need to sign Marcus McNeill (the two-time Pro Bowler who plays left tackle for them). That’s what they need. They have an easy schedule at the start of the year (Kansas City, Jacksonville, Seattle), so they’ve got plenty of time to sign McNeill and get him up to full speed.
I have the 6th pick in a 12 team league that awards 6 points for all TDs, including passing. I've set up a scoring profile on your website and according to my customized cheat sheet Drew Brees is ranked #3. The guys in my league have traditionally drafted according to cheat sheets that award only 4 points per passing TD, and I'm fairly certain the top 5 picks will be Johnson-Peterson-MJD-Rice-Turner. Should I still take Brees at 6 and be left with a RB like Benson or Grant in the second round, or should I select Frank Gore and then grab a QB in the second or third round? I'm sure Brees & Rodgers will be gone, and possibly Manning by the time I pick at #19 but I'm also certain Romo, Schaub, Brady and Rivers will still be available, with at least one of those guys slipping to me in the 3rd round.
Jeff Fell [Sarnia, ON]
While there will be good quarterbacks available in the third and fourth rounds, there also will be good players available at other positions. According to my numbers, for example, the combination of Brees plus either Arian Foster or Clinton Portis will be more productive than Philip Rivers plus Frank Gore. So I would look at selecting either Peyton Manning or Drew Brees at No. 6. Or maybe you trade down a half dozen spots if you can pick up an extra pick in the 5th round.
How much weight should be given to the QB position if passing touchdowns are upped to 6 points each? Does this make it necessary to draft a QB in the first or second round, or are there enough quality quarterbacks this year to risk waiting until round 3 or 4? PPR league also.
Jared Faker [TACOMA, WA]
According to my numbers, four of the top 8 players on the board should be quarterbacks. Then I’ve got four more between 10th and 21st, Eli Manning at 26th, and Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer at 30th and 31st.
My 12-team, 24-year auction league hates quarterbacks. Every year someone snags the #6 or #7 QB for less than 10 bucks. The top guys never go for more than $50 or so. If I strictly go by the custom auction values, I'll have both Brees and P.Manning (your top 2 QBs). Can I, or should I, adjust the auction values somehow to account for the lower QB values in our league?
Ross Colby [CHICAGO, IL]
That can be done. Go into “Auction Profile”. I think the default setting would dictate that you could get the 15th or 16th quarterback for $1 in your league. Change that down to 9th or 10th. Tell the computer that you want only the top 9 quarterbacks to be worth more than the $1 minimum. That will readjust all of the values for you.
I am in an 18-team, 2-player keeper league, which also requires each team to draft and start a Rookie. I have the #2 overall pick and I'm thinking of grabbing Ryan Mathews with that pick, expecting him to be a good contributor this year and a great keeper after that. Is he worth the hype?
Scott Punter [ROCHESTER, NY]
He looks awfully good to me. He’s played well in both of their preseason games. He’s got some size and speed, and he breaks tackles.
I am in a 12-team league that starts 3 WRs & a flex. as you can imagine we are really picking the bottom of the litter towards the end. Instead of drafting the person on your sheet who may be safer to produce a certain number of points I am interested in getting someone who may be iffy but has big upside if things break right for him. Do you have any such list or suggestions?
RANDY NEWLAND [VILLA HILLS, KY]
When looking for rags-to-riches players, I tend to focus on running backs. You get a lot more injuries there, so it’s easier for them to get elevated into a starting role and then excel. So I’d much rather select a guy like Javon Ringer, Bernard Scott, Kareem Huggins or Anthony Dixon than the backup wide receivers behind Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson.
Our 12-team league just added 2 teams to become a 14-team league. We are a PPR format giving QBs 6 points for all touchdowns. How do you see this changing the values of all players in your custom cheat sheet and which positions become more valuable?
ERIC OVERDAHL [MILFORD, MA]
My guess is most teams will overvalue running backs. Quarterbacks and wide receivers are important in that format. For exact ratings, use the custom cheat sheet feature at the website. (For an exact overall list, use the “auction profile” feature).
This year seems to be very deep at the QB position. Guys like Stafford, Henne, Flacco, and maybe Palmer with all of his weapons could pay off later in a draft. Would you mind having a combo of Stafford or Henne paired with Big Ben? I’m considering letting the QB spot slip till later rounds and going with that strategy. Do you share the same optimism for QBs this year. Also is it just me but do the Lions look like a team to actually target the skill position players this year. Mega year for Megatron and Best?
David Kennedy [STEAMBURG, NY]
I agree. The Lions look like a team on the rise. I think they’ll score some points. And I think you’ll be fine at quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, in combination with an early-round Band Aid.
I read your recent updates about how good DeAngelo Williams looks. You seem to think he's a late first- or early second-round selection in yardage-and-TD leagues, but I just don't feel good about investing such a high pick on a player who will be sharing carries as much as Williams will. There doesn't seem to be a consistent plan for how Carolina uses Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The Panthers usually ride the hot hand, don't they? I want my No. 1 running back to be good for 12-plus touchdowns, but Williams very easily could be down in the 7-9 range because of the timeshare. Can you address this concern about Williams?
Paul Owers [RIVIERA BEACH, FL]
It’s a worry. But he’s a damn good back. He’s also in a contract year. If something were to happen to Jonathan Stewart (who’s had some injuries), I could see Williams outproducing Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson.
Just curious, but do you go back and evaluate how you did in your prognostications the previous year? I took a look at last year's as customized for my league's scoring, and had you at 70% accurate for QBs, 70% for TEs, 50% for WRs, but only 32% for RBs. It wasn't exactly scientific as I just looked at where you ranked someone, then if he finished within 5 spots of where you ranked him, you got a point. If he was 6 or more away, you got zero. If the player got injured, I tossed him from the sample. Did something go wrong for you with regard to the RBs, or is that just a harder position to predict? I'm not saying I could do any better, by the way, so don't take this the wrong way. LOL!
DARREL OWEN [SACRAMENTO, CA]
I think you see more variance at running back because there are more injuries and turnover at that position. Rashard Mendenhall, Fred Jackson and LeSean McCoy, for example, weren’t considered significant players at the start of last season. In terms of measuring selections, I tend to look at how my teams fare, as well as how my top 20s compare to the guys participating in our Experts Poll. But it’s not something I spend too much time on.
Looking for draft strategy in a 12-team PPR league that starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 6 points for all TDs, with extra points for long TDs. I'm drafting in the 7 position. I hate taking QB early, but I don't want to get stuck without one of the top 7 in a 6 point TD league and 12 teams. Brees is extra valuable. Probably could have my pick of QBs at 7, not sure what's left for me in Round 3 and 4 at QB if I pass in rounds 1 and 2. Thinking Calvin Johnson, maybe Turner at 7, but like him less in PPR. I think quality WRs will get scarce starting 3 in a 12 team league, but also could start looking the same very quickly so value is a concern.
Todd Siegel [BOCA RATON, FL]
If you go quarterback at No. 7, I’m not sure if it’s Brees or Manning. Brees hasn’t been as impressive as usual in the preseason this year – maybe there’s some Super Bowl slump in the works for the Saints. That also tends to be a good area to start working wide receivers.
Question 1: I noticed that you dropped...
Posted by ALAN CAMERON | Aug. 24 at 09:12 AM
I agree with Dave - change throughout the preseason is inevitable. Part of the fun for me is to watch a week of preseason, note which players MY opinion has changed on, then see if the new update agrees with me. As for me, I want no part in a league that drafts more than a week before Labor Day. It's hard enough to get a list in order when you know who the starters WILL be, much less having to predict if Sidney Rice is going to need preseason hip surgery!
Question 2: I subscribe for the full...
Posted by Dave (MOJO) Smith | Aug. 24 at 06:00 AM
I can understand the guy's frustration, but I'm glad Ian is flexible and tweaks the rankings. I love this web site.
Question 4: PPR format with the 5th...
Posted by SCOTT WOLF | Aug. 25 at 01:39 PM
Andre Johnson??? Dexter R.
Question 20: Just curious, but do you...
Posted by JOHN MACHO | Aug. 25 at 02:49 AM
I love this question. OK, so we continue to look forward, but we have to learn from history, or repeat it. We have to look back on our busts and review why they were, and what our reasoning was in taking them. If you find a trend that makes you successful or unsuccessful, you should emphasize or deemphasize that thinking going forward, and constantly review to improve.
Question 20: Just curious, but do you...
Posted by Matt Moyers | Aug. 25 at 05:24 AM
@JOHN MACHO - Well I think FFI took its lumps the year it put Tatum Bell on the cover of its magazine and has wisely adjusted from that decision. You can read it in the weekly when almost every statement is hedged with a counter argument to why a player might not be as solid as they prognosticate. Overall, however, I'd say they hit the mark much more often than miss and the rating system Darrell Owens put together proves that. Plus everyone I know that reads the FFI took Cedric Benson & Ray Rice last year and ended up playing late into the playoffs as a result.
Question 20: Just curious, but do you...
Posted by IAN ALLAN | Aug. 25 at 05:30 AM
You think I'm a hedger? You think I'm trying to play both sides of the fence? C'mon, man. That hurts. You think I haven't taken a strong enough opinion on Arian Foster, Clinton Portis, Matt Forte and Jay Cutler? I disagree. But I will keep it in mind this week and try to be very definitive with the forecasts for each guy.
Question 20: Just curious, but do you...
Posted by BILL REHOR | Aug. 25 at 07:45 AM
Backing up Ian 100% on this one. I don't think he's gotten any more conservative recently (see: Anthony Gonzalez 2009), and God bless him. I have no idea if he's right any more often than any other expert, but I do know he's the boldest. That's what keeps me subscribing year after year.
Question 20: Just curious, but do you...
Posted by DARREL OWEN | Aug. 27 at 05:12 AM
Yeah, this is the first year I'd done that. Like Ian suggests, I more compared how my team did over the course of the year, and I always do well using FFI as my resource. A lot of success, of course, is due to mid-season management and picking up the occasional Austin Miles, but as Matt pointed out, I was able to pick up Benson and Rice for good value in my auction due to Ian's ratings. My whole point was, given the results of my highly informal study, can we understand why there were big misses at RB and plan our strategy around that, trying to learn from history? For instance, if QBs and TEs are accurate to 70%, but RBs are down at 32%, maybe I put more emphasis on getting a top-rated QB and TE, knowing that I'm quite likely to get what I pay for, and instead of spending most of my budget on a couple top RBs, maybe buy as many RBs as I can at value and see who pans out? How would you alter your draft strategy if you knew only 1/3 of the RBs will be where Ian projects they will be, whereas 70% of the QBs and TEs will be accurate and 50% of the WRs will be?
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