Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Aug. 03 at 11:09 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.
Last season your magazine advocated a flipped draft strategy in a feature article, targeting WRs first instead of the traditional RBs. I am in a PPR league and used that strategy with fair success last year, and am wondering what your take is on using that strategy this season?
Robert Cheney [NEW ORLEANS, LA]
Wide receivers, I think, tend to get undervalued. Particularly in PPR leagues and leagues using flex players. I just got out my stat projections and looked at the top 40 players at each position. The top 3 running backs project to be more valuable than the top 3 wide receivers. But at the No. 4 spot, the wide receiver (Roddy White) grades out a little higher than the running back (Ryan Mathews). And it stays that way for the rest of the top 40. Wide receivers are more valuable in each of those spots – Nos. 4 thru 40, and the difference gets larger as you move out of the top 20. I’ve posted the chart at the Facebook page, and I’ll try to put the players up side by side on this page tomorrow. I’ve got some other stuff I’m working on right now. Obviously, somebody must play running back for you. But in a ballpark sense, if you’re in a league where you’re starting two running backs and three wide receivers (or two of each and a flex), then I think the least important of those five spots is the second running back spot. You want to load up on those blue-chip receivers who’ll catch 80-plus balls.
Whose long-term prospects do you like better over the long haul in a PPR league – Percy Harvin or Antonio Brown? You have Brown ranked a few spots ahead of Harvin in your magazine, yet Harvin finished as the 6th best WR last year even with less than 1000 yard receiving. Do you really think Harvin is going to regress that much? I don't think his 345 rushing yards were a fluke, seeing as over half his attempts came when Peterson was still healthy. And I can't see Rudolph or Simpson taking away that many targets. So what gives?
JIM DILORENZO [GRAYSLAKE, IL]
I like Harvin. He’s a good player. I don’t think there’s much difference between these two. But keep in mind he’s had some concussion issues. He also isn’t happy with his contract. With Brown, he could benefit from the Mike Wallace situation. Keep in mind that Brown began last season as the No. 3 receiver behind Hines Ward. It wasn’t until October they moved Brown into the starting lineup. In Pittsburgh’s final 11 games, Brown caught 56 passes – over 5 per game. He’s working with a far better quarterback. I’m giving Brown a slight edge.
Great magazine this year! I just traded up to the #1 spot in a 16 team league. We have the lineup options to start RB/REC as either 2/3, 1/4, or 0/5. I'm wondering if this flexibility deflates RB value enough for me to consider Rodgers with the first pick, or if I should quit over analyzing and just settle on Arian Foster or LeSean McCoy. Look forward to your thoughts!
Donnie Schemetti (reader since '92) [RICHMOND, VA]
Compare Rodgers to the 17th quarterback (in this kind of league, I think you could get to the 6th or 7th round before a team selected a second quarterback). According to my projections, there’s a 139-point difference. But compare Foster to the No. 81 RB-WR-TE (the best one who won’t be starting). There’s a 163-point difference. In a ballpark sense, I think Foster is the clear choice for the No. 1 pick. The top 6 alternates running backs and quarterbacks – Foster-Rodgers-Rice-Brady-McCoy-Brees. Everyone will be more interested in obtaining about seven field players rather than carrying two good quarterbacks. The harder decision would be picking between Rodgers, Rice, Brady and McCoy.
Can you post a position statement on the advantages/disadvantages of an auction versus traditional snake draft, comparing the two? This is the 17th year of our league and I have been advocating for an auction for years. In fact, pretty much the whole league buys your magazine and probably reads your mailbag [I MEAN YOU, MAYOR ... LOL]. It finally has some traction, but there are several who are adamantly or maybe ignorantly opposed. I've actually never done one before ... Please include the recommended mechanics of running the auction, expected time for completion and so forth... Might be a good article to post on the website as well.
CHRIS EASLEY [GIG HARBOR, WA]
Once you’ve done an auction, a regular draft seems kind of stale. The key guys on draft night are those first 3-4 guys you select. Those are the ones you care most about. So why (with a draft) have luck play such a huge role in determining which players you get. If you don’t have a top-2 pick, you’re not getting Arian Foster. Similarly, if you have the No. 1 pick, you’re probably not getting Rodgers, Brady or Calvin Johnson – you’ll take Foster, and those guys will be gone before the draft snakes back to you. The auction is the better way of dividing up the talent. Then, every team has an equal opportunity of buying every player. Somebody will buy Foster early. That somebody will believe that Foster is worth about $40 or whatever. The other 11 owners will all think he paid too much. It’s fair, and it makes for team constructions that simply aren’t possible in a draft – you might wind up with Foster and Rodgers, for example. Once you’re halfway through an auction, it’s very similar to a draft, with the players tending to go for a buck or two. Some leagues even go with a “Drauction”, using an auction for the first six players, then going with a draft. I suggest simple rules. $100 payroll for each team. “Nomination order” is the order of finish from the previous year. The league champion gets the honor of nominating the first player. The runner-up from last year nominates the second player, and so on. Commish should print up draft sheets for each club, so the order is clear. When an honor nominates a player, he also serves as the auctioneer for that round. Auctions aren’t hard, and they’re really cool. They add new levels of strategy.
A question about online draft boards. Why does every online draft list players in a ranking based system? That takes the fun of the draft out of the hands of the players. I, for one, would love to see nothing more than an alphabetical order list of players. Let the fantasy football players do their homework, instead of log in to the draft without even looking at one article and see the top players, even the top projected rookies, listed at the top of the draft list. Let's make this game of fantasy a real game. You might even sell more magazines if you could get all the fantasy game providers to catch on to this.
ROBERT HARRIS [FORT WORTH, TX]
I agree. Putting the players in a recommended list creates a bias. If, for example, I had my heart set on selecting Doug Martin, I wouldn’t want it displayed on the draft board that he’s the No. 14 running back on the board (or whatever). When 19 running backs have been selected and some other owner is mulling whether to select Martin or Shonn Greene, what’s displayed on the draftboard might influence him. I have sent an email to the crew at FanDraft.com. I will ask them if there’s a way they can set up their product to display the players in another way. When I hear back, I’ll put their answer in the comments below.
This year we are looking at starting up a Best Ball league. Will be my first year participating in this type of league. I know it's advisable in this scenario to get good handcuffs, but I'm wondering what other draft strategies you might offer, that are specific just to the Best Ball format? For example, because the rosters will be larger, and considering the Best Ball rules, is it less imperative to get the gigantic studs like a Foster, McCoy, Rodgers or Brady? Or are they still equally valuable in this format?
Matt Tinker [ORLEANS, VT]
Balance tends to beat stars and scrubs in a best-ball format. We’ve done the best-ball auction league in the magazine for a number of years. I’m sorry, I haven’t kept track of all of the numbers for all of the years, but I believe David Dodds of Footballguys has done the best over the long haul. He always uses the same strategy. He will play a star-type player only if the price is really, really good. Instead, he tries to accumulate depth at each position. You get a whole bunch of seemingly mediocre starters at running back and wide receiver, knowing that guys will step up here and there. Some will outperform expectations. It’s worked for him. I spent considerable time last summer studying whether you got much extra value by carrying three defenses. You do not. Two defenses is the number to carry. Better to use that other roster spot on another field player.
One of my leagues is a keeper format with a divide by 2 rule. For example, if I drafted a guy last year in round 12 I can keep him in the 6th. Every year I try and figure out value picks in later rounds. For example I grabbed Ridley in the 14th last year. Which key players would you consider? For example will McGahee be done next year and Hillman take over?
DANA DUFFIELD [ROCHESTER, MN]
Sounds like you’re on the right track. In general, you’ll want to spend those late-round picks on younger-type guys who could start next year. Like Hillman. David Wilson, Isaiah Pead, Bernard Pierce, Robert Turbin and maybe Alfred Morris at running back. At wide receiver, Rueben Randle, A.J. Jenkins, Brian Quick, Alshon Jeffery and Stephen Hill. The receivers selected with top 20 picks, I think, will be picked earlier – Blackmon, Floyd, Wright.
I'm in a 12 Team .5 PPR league that is doing an auction for the first time since its inception. In regard to auction strategy this year, do you think it's wiser to try for a "Stars and Scrubs" mentality (a few very high priced players surrounded by very low priced players) or more of a balanced approach? How do you think the extraordinary depth of WR and the unique top-tiers of QB/RB/TE should play into my strategy?
Travis Billman [DACULA, GA]
Every league is different. You have to be prepared to react to whatever the other owners do. If they have their hands in their pockets at the start of the auction, then you go ahead and buy. It’s more common to see owners overpaying for stars early. In general, if you hang back and try to by bargins in the middle and later rounds, that technique will tend to be more successful.
In my league, we are allowed to keep two players, as long as they were not selected in the first two rounds. I used FFI to win this (and another) league last year -- thank you very much! I have three choices for keepers Foster, Newton, and Cruz. I'm thinking I should keep Foster and Newton (Rodgers is off the board, and probably Rice too). League is non-ppr, 5pts for any offensive TD. Custom rankings have Foster @ 259.5, Newton @ 294.7, and Cruz @ 176.1. Thoughts?
Maxwell Cameron [Windsor, ON]
I believe I would keep the Cruiser. If you look at the difference between Cruz and the No. 35 wide receiver, I think you’ll see a bigger difference than between Newton and the No. 15 quarterback. It would make more sense, then, to keep Cruz and follow that up with a quarterback in about round 8, versus protecting Newton and selecting a wide receiver in round 8.
Question 1: Last season your magazine advocated...
Posted by Steven Schipper | Aug. 06 at 04:30 PM
Many thanks, again and in advance, for all the great work you and your colleagues at FANTASY INDEX do for us poolies. 8 team PPR keeper league, 2QB, 2RB, 4 WR/TE, 1 DEF, 1 K. 3 keepers. I'm proposing keeping Gronkowski, Graham, and Stafford, and regretfully not keeping Lynch. Although you have Lynch ranked higher in my Fantasy Index Custom rankings (They're GREAT) my experience in the league is that it's WR hidden driven, QB overtly driven, and RB makes the third leg of the tripod. That's why I'm going with the 2 spectacular TE, who on PPR alone bring in close to 100 points. As a form of due diligence, I'm asking if I'm way off in my thinking? Thanks again, Steven
Question 4: Can you post a position...
Posted by Matt Tinker | Aug. 03 at 03:17 PM
Couldn't agree more. After 22 years of straight draft, our 14-member league finally went to a 'drauction' 2 years ago, and haven't looked back. Each team has $100 to pick up their first 4 players in auction format. Then we revert to a draft. There's enough luck involved in fantasy football as it is, without adding to it by factoring in the "luck" of what draft position you draw. Like Ian said, "you want Rodgers? Fine, pony up." Basically the 13 guys who don't get him have nothing to complain about, because they CHOSE not to continue bidding on him. I can honestly say, I'd never go back to a traditional draft.
Question 5: A question about online draft...
Posted by IAN ALLAN | Aug. 04 at 01:23 PM
I heard back from the guys at FanDraft.com. They say they have the players in ADP order because it makes the draft go faster -- you don't have to scroll through all the names to find guys. The guy you want to select should tend to be near the top. But their product can be customized. You can also choose to have players listed alphabetically.
Question 9: In my league, we are...
Posted by David Kennedy | Aug. 03 at 01:46 PM
Couldnt disagree more about keeping Cruz over Newton. Cam is a star on the rise and hasnt come near his full potential. He could very well end up in the top 3 scoring for QBs. Hes unstoppable and electric. I dont trust Cruz and I get the feel he was a flash in the pan. I dont see Cruz reaching the same yardage totals. Keeping a young gun like Newton wouldnt even be thought of twice by me. In Cam I trust!!!!
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