Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Jul. 17 at 09:01 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.
Looking at Cleveland's schedule, I find it impossible to imagine them winning more than five or six games (and judging by your post on Gordon, it sounds like you agree). Keeping in mind your own research linking rushing touchdowns to wins, I'm having a hard time buying Richardson as a 1st round fantasy pick. How many times in the past has a running back (rookie or otherwise) put up top-7 RB numbers (making him a first-rounder in a 10-team league) on a team that won 6 games or less?
BILL REHOR [CULVER CITY, CA]
First of all, thank you. With the mailbag, this is exactly the kind of question I want to see. It brings up an important topic – an intriguing question that everyone would like to see answered; then I get to run off, look at the various numbers and bring back my findings. And this affects not only Trent Richardson but Maurice Jones-Drew as well; the Jaguars should be pretty awful as well. For this study, I looked at all of the top-10 running backs of the last 20 years. There are some guys from bad teams in there. Adrian Peterson and Jones-Drew were top-10 backs last year, and those teams went a combined 8-24. The previous year, Arian Foster, Peterson and Chris Johnson were all top-5 backs despite playing on teams that each went 6-10. It happens. But those are exceptions of the 105 top-5 backs of the 1991-2011 time period, 15 played for teams that went no better than 6-10. Your odds for rushing production get a lot better when the team is better. For teams that went at least 12-4, for example, 43 of those 87 teams had a top-10 back. But if you look at teams that went no better than 4-12, then the success rate is only 10 of 96. So with those groups, you’re looking at the 12-4 teams being about four times as successful. For teams finishing with 5-6 wins, which is where you’re sticking Cleveland, those teams tend to have about a 1 in 4 success rate of producing top-10 backs – 29 backs out of 111 teams. With teams finishing with 10-11 wins (and 5-6 losses), the success rate is almost double – 56 times out of 124 teams. The rate for a .500 team is 42 percent (34 of 81). All of which means what? I will grant that I might be a little high on Richardson. Only 2 of the last 9 running backs selected with top-5 picks in the NFL draft have really met expectations in their rookie year. But I don’t see who’s supposed to go ahead of him. Jones-Drew also plays for a lousy team and has the contract issue. Ryan Mathews and Darren McFadden have injury issues. Marshawn Lynch won’t catch as many passes. Chris Johnson played pretty terribly last season. Let me see Richardson carry the ball a few times in the preseason. If he looks like he’s in way over his head, I’ll move him down a few notches, but I think he’s going to be pretty solid. To see the probability numbers in bar-graph form, go to our Facebook page.
In a technical world, it's great having the paper version of the FFI rag in my hands this year. Great job as always, guys. Ian, there has been a lot of talk about having Thursday (or Wednesday) games each week. Any chance you have a way to get data on players/teams/coaches who fair significantly better or worse with short rest and preparation? It's a decision every owner will face each week – whether or not start a player who has had 3 days to recover and prepare.
L DALE GANDER [SUN PRAIRIE, WI]
Those decisions, I imagine, will be driven mostly by matchups. If your player is at home against Jacksonville or Indianapolis, then he’ll wind up starting for you. If he’s on the road against Pittsburgh or San Francisco, then you stay away. When you start getting into other matchups, things get tougher. There have been 50 of these games in the last six years (that’s not including season openers, since those teams didn’t play on Sunday). The home team is 30-20 in these regular games – a little higher than what you would expect, but not wildly out of line. Home teams average 23.3 points in those games, compared to 19.5 for visitors. Which means what? Not a heck of a lot, as far as I can tell.
In your write up on Percy Harvin you said the Vikings seem almost certain to have one of the 6 worst passing offenses in the league. I strongly disagree. Christian Ponder didn't get any offseason work last year and unlike Dalton and Newton he didn't get first team reps in training camp. It is reasonable to expect him to take a significant step forward in year two. Last year the Vikings had Harvin and a bunch of journeymen receivers and a rookie TE. This year they have added Simpson, Carlson and the rookies Wright and Childs. Simpson is better than anything the Vikings had opposite Harvin last year and, if healthy, Childs could be the steal of the draft. He was in the conversation with AJ Green and Julio Jones for the best WR in college before hurting his knee in 2010. There are a lot of reasons to think the Vikings passing game will be much improved and they only need to move up 2 spots in the rankings to get out of the bottom half dozen. I think you are underestimating Harvin's, and the Vikings, upside.
David Grace [TARZANA, CA]
I think the Vikings actually OVERACHIEVED last year. They were the worst team in the NFC North (and likely will be again) but managed to finish with 20 TD passes and an above-average 38 offensive touchdowns. They did this in part with good play-calling and offensive design, I think. Ponder completed a league-best 77 percent of his passes inside the 10. But does that mean he’s on the springboard to success? Or is that just an outlier number that should be discarded? He was really struggling at the end of the season, when they were benching him and putting in Joe Webb. I try to avoid putting much stock into the idea that everybody has to be better in their second year. If you look at the players drafted in the first round in the last 20 years, you will see that it doesn’t happen nearly as often as you might think. I don’t see Minnesota doing much. And while it could get more production out of its other pass catchers – Simpson and Rudolph in particular – how does that help Harvin? If they have another player catching 60-plus balls, seems like that would take away from Harvin. Last year, everybody except Harvin finished below 500 yards.
How would you adjust your rankings for a league that starts 2 QBs?
DARRELL DUKE [SPRING, TX]
That makes quarterbacks solid gold real estate. Right now with quarterbacks, I’m operating under the assumption that even if you essentially ignore the position, you’ll be able to pick of a viable warm-body type option in the later rounds – somebody like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Joe Flacco. If you’re in a 12-team league and everybody is starting double quarterbacks, everyone will be scrambling to collect guys like that. I would guess Fitzpatrick and Flacco wouldn’t make it past the fourth round. According to my numbers, 8 of the first 11 picks overall in your type of league should be quarterbacks and 13 of the first 24. Everyone will want to have two quarterbacks, and there are only 21 until you get down to the likes of Matt Flynn, Matt Cassel and Alex Smith.
In a head-to-head league we're exploring the possibility of incorporating a system that will take some of the scheduling luck out of play. One idea would be to award one point for a win and -1 point for a loss but then also reward a point for finishing in the top quartile in weekly scoring and then +.5 point/-.5 point/-1 point to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quartiles. Any thoughts on this and do you know of any league hosting sites that support a similar system? There's little support in eliminating the head-to-head element completely.
Brian Barrett [BOULDER, CO]
Sounds like a good idea. Should make for a nice balance of skill and luck. I don’t know, however, of any website that’s offering that option. You would have to contact them individually to see if somebody could do it. I doubt you’ll be successful. More likely, you would have to manage manually by having the commissioner go in on Monday night and manually adjust the wins and losses. Maybe have each team get 2 wins for each real-life victory (if your team defeated mine by a 58-33 score, you would get 2 wins and I would get two losses). If you finished in the top 25 percent in scoring, you would get 2 more wins. If you finished in the top half in scoring, you would get a win and a tie. If you were just below average, you would receive a loss and a tie. If you were in the bottom 25 percent in scoring, you would get 2 losses.
Please clarify the importance of a "good Offensive Line." That is, is it more important for protecting the QB so that he gets sacked less and/or has more time to find an open receiver? Or, is it more valuable to the RB for opening up holes in the defense that he may run through? I imagine it is a combination of both, but with one being more prominent than the other. Would it be possible to distinguish and point out the OLs and schemes that are good for the run from those good OLs better suited for pass protection?
Randall Weiss [CAPE CANAVERAL, FL]
There is no knockout offensive line right now, as far as I can tell. No group that’s in the same ballpark as the great Dallas group of the early ‘90s or some of the Hogs groups in Washington. There’s no group like what we saw in Denver in the late ‘90s, where you can bring down a fan from the stands and have him run for 120 yards. There’s more parity now (I think). The teams that are allowing under 20 sacks per season aren’t doing so with great offensive lines; they’re doing so with quarterbacks who are good at making a decision and getting the ball out of their hands – Brady, Brees, Manning. And it’s the same at the other end of the spectrum. If you have a David Carr or a Ben Roethlisberger who holds onto the ball forever and winds up getting sacked, is that the offensive line’s fault? I don’t think so. Andy Richardson spent considerable time looking at each offensive line and came up with four teams that are pretty weak in that area – Rams, Cardinals, Colts, Bears. Those are his clunkers. The four teams he’s got at the top are the Panthers, Patriots, Bengals and Bucs, but that’s not a stellar top 4. That group isn’t separating much from the pack of other good lines. In part because of the salary cap (I guess) parity is in.
Did the Browns selection of Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft have a more positive or negative outlook for Trent Richardson?
ROBERT HARRIS [FORT WORTH, TX]
I don’t think it affects Richardson at all. In late August when the Browns decide it will be either Gordon or Massaquoi in their starting lineup, that doesn’t (in my eyes) cause Richardson to move either up or down on my board. When a butterfly flaps its wings in a rainforest in Brazil, that doesn’t necessarily have any impact on whether a tornado starts forming in Texas.
I am in 2 different leagues. Both award 6 pts for all TDs including passing, but in one we can start a QB as our flex. How does this effect your rankings of how to gameplan?
BOB KIBLER [MARLTON, NJ]
You’ll want to use two early picks on quarterbacks. Maybe your first two picks. According to my numbers, 9 of the first 12 picks in your league should be quarterbacks, and then another 9 should be selected in the top 50. That will be the dominant position in your league.
Other great magazine. Thank you. The Offensive Lines chart on page 103 is AWESOME! Genius! You don't need the other 4 pages of text. Having said that, let this armchair quarterback tell you how to do your job better: I don't think I need the details by position or the players names. It would probably be sufficient to give me the overall grade for the interior and for the outside. So you'd need just two columns. I'm basing that on the theory that you're only as strong as your weakest link, so Kansas City and Houston would be ranked a lot lower... Also, it would help if you graded the position based on depth (is there any depth at O-line anymore in the NFL?) and based on time spent playing together (that used to be a big factor with O-lines) And and and based on the fullbacks and the tight ends. Give me an inch and I'll demand a mile! You know what I want, I'll leave it to you to figure out how to communicate it: who's going to control the line of scrimmage, whose QBs are going to have that extra second to make the play.
Jose Montana [ROSEMEAD, CA]
I like the new offensive line grade chart (on page 103 of the magazine). It allows the reader to cross reference the offensive line in different ways. You can see the units ranked 1 thru 32, and you can look at the color codings to compare the 32 projected starters at each position. You can, for example, skim down the left tackle rankings and see which teams we’ve ranked in the top half dozen and bottom half dozen at that key spot. But it’s just a starting point. It’s version 1.0. Next up likely will be some kind of way to include tight ends, fullbacks and depth. Seldom do you see all five starters last the entire season for a team. And fullbacks and tight ends play a role. If you considered Pittsburgh’s and Denver’s offensive lines to be equal, it would make sense to rank the Steelers higher, given that Heath Miller is a much better blocker than Jacob Tamme (though Denver also signed Joel Dreessen, and second tight ends also would need to be worked in). Maybe each team should have a column for a tight end, and one column for either a fullback or second tight end. Some of the overall grade, of course, will have to be behind-the-curtain stuff that the reader doesn’t see. We’re working on it, and we’re open to suggestions.
Question 1: Looking at Cleveland's schedule, I...
Posted by Scott Anderson | Jul. 17 at 11:29 AM
Richardson is a special player, but I agree with you, Ian - I almost did a coffee-spit take when I saw you had him 6th overall. Seems like he'll be facing 8-man fronts all day long with that neophyte passing attack. In NFL terms, I like the foundation the Browns are putting in place - but in that division, with that woeful defense - they will not spend very much time establishing the run, in my opinion.
Question 1: Looking at Cleveland's schedule, I...
Posted by Richard Weber | Jul. 17 at 04:42 PM
If Foster, Rice and McCoy are gone, who do I take with the 4th pick in standard scoring? If I don't take Rodgers, I could expect to get the 4th QB with my RD2 pick, 5th QB in RD3 or 6th QB in RD4, based on the last three years' history in this league. If Rodgers goes before the fourth pick, do I automatically take one of the big three RBs?
Question 5: In a head-to-head league we're...
Posted by stephen hicks | Jul. 17 at 01:01 PM
I play in a league that uses a system like the one you're looking for. We give what are called "Victory Points" each week. If you win your head to head game you get 2 VP. If you lose you get 0. If you tie you get 1 but ties rarely happen because we use fractional scoring. (We're a 10 team league) If you finish in the top 3 in scoring for the week you get 2 additional VPs. if you finish 4-7, you get 1, and if you finish in the bottom 3 you get 0. This system works very well to take a lot of scheduling luck out of the picture. Standings are determined by total Victory Points and you can determine what criteria you want to use for tiebreakers, such as total points or best H2H record. The site is Myfantasyleague.com. I recommend it highly.
Question 5: In a head-to-head league we're...
Posted by Mark Peterson | Jul. 21 at 12:45 PM
Our league wrestled with this issue a few seasons ago. It seemed that on multiple occurances throughout the season the second highest scoring team would be matched up against the best the team, and would take a loss while several lesser teams would get wins. We decided to have mulitple matchups per week. We are in a 12 team league, with the playoffs in Weeks 14 - 16. The way the schedule turned out, we only have one matchup in Week 1, but for Weeks 2 - 13 we have 2 matchups, resulting in a 25 game regular season. We still take the head to head wins and losses to make up your overall record. We still sometimes get the second best team playing the best team that week, but at least that second best team comes out of the week 1-1 instead of 0-1. The cream always rises to the top. The website we use for our league easily handles this scenario.
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.