Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Dec. 07 at 12:18 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.
If both of the Giants' starting safeties are out, would Kevin Curtis get a bump up in this week's rankings? And if so, where do you project him Ian?
John Boyd [ITASCA, IL]
You would think so. Then again, Arizona was without a Pro Bowl safety and a starting cornerback last week, and it didn't translate into much for the Browns -- Derek Anderson had one of his worst games of the year. In this case, New York's defense definitely is banged up. It lost Mathias Kiwanuka a few weeks back, and Antonio Pierce and those safeties (Gibril Wilson and James Butler) did not practice Wednesday. That should help Philadelphia's offense across the board. But I'm not moving the Eagles up too much in my rankings. I just went back into my stat projection file, and I think I already had them fairly generously graded (considering that offense is struggling). I had them at 250 passing yards and 1.25 TD passes. If you increase those numbers to 260 and 1.35, then all of those guys tend to move up 2-3 spots each. You specifically mentioned Curtis. The one Eagle that kind of intrigues me is L.J. Smith. He's finally healthy again, and he's in a contract month -- if he plays well in December, he might be able to parlay that into a big contract with some team in the offseason. Maybe he signs with Green Bay. Smith had a big game against the Giants last year, catching 7 passes for 111 yards. He was not as effective in the other New York game (4 catches for 54 yards, with a 2-point conversion).
It seems every week there are more and more lineup dilemmas due to players being listed as 'game-time decisions.' With this trend, does it make sense to draft more players from East Coast teams, given that you have more flexibility to make changes at 1:00 than at 4:00?
DANIEL FORD [ROCHESTER, NY]
You're a genius. That's a brilliant idea. Like many, I've noticed that word tends to trickle down on those big decisions prior to the kickoff of those first games on Sunday. But you've taken it to the next level. Why not, in the summer, tabulate a chart showing which teams start the most games in that first time slot on Sunday? We'll tend to have more solid information on those players, which will make them more valuable than West Coast players of similar ability. It looks like for next year, the three best divisions, using "Ford's Theorem," will be the AFC South and the two North divisions. The NFC North teams, in addition to six games inside the division, will play eight against the two South divisions. The AFC North teams will face the NFC East and the AFC South. And the AFC South teams will play eight games against the two North divisions. The worst divisions (again, using "Ford's Theorem"), will be the two West Divisions. Each of those teams projects to play about half of its games in the Pacific Time Zone. And next behind them will be the AFC East; each of those teams projects to play four games on the road next year against teams from those West divisions. These preliminary numbers, of course, don't include games played on Sunday and Monday nights.
Like many owners, I am out for this season, so I am looking forward to next year already. How do you think the first round will be different next year? Will the running backs be as hot or will WRs and QBs catch up? Do you have a preliminary top 10, especially for PPR leagues? I see Owens, Brady, Moss, and Romo as possible 1st-round picks, do you?
MICHAEL KOLTON [GREEN BAY, WI]
I just spent about 45 minutes working on this. Apologies if I left anyone out. I did fresh team forecasts for each team (with all teams tending to slide some towards the NFL averages of 115 rushing and 220 passing yards per game, with about 20 TD passes and 12 TD runs. Then I adjusted players' percentages (of their own teams production) and did a ballpark estimate on games played. For running backs, I went with 14 games for guys I was sure would start, going up to 15 games for super durable guys, 13 for guys with below-average durability, etc. For wide receivers, I went with 16 games as the average (for guys with reasonable durability) and moved some guys to fewer games based on durability and the possibility of moving to other teams -- Owens, Harrison, Moss. Anyway, my preliminary top 50 for a points-per-reception league. Again, apologies if I accidentally overlooked a guy who's hurt, but I think they're all there (plus two rookie runners) ...
1 RB MIN Adrian Peterson
2 RB SD LaDainian Tomlinson
3 RB PHI Brian Westbrook
4 RB IND Joseph Addai
5 RB STL Steven Jackson
6 QB NE Tom Brady
7 RB BAL Willis McGahee
8 RB SD Michael Turner (new team)
9 RB SF Frank Gore
10 RB KC Larry Johnson
11 RB BUF Marshawn Lynch
12 QB IND Peyton Manning
13 RB JAC Maurice Jones-Drew
14 RB GB Ryan Grant
15 RB MIA Ronnie Brown
16 RB NO Reggie Bush
17 WR IND Reggie Wayne
18 WR DAL Terrell Owens
19 RB DAL Marion Barber III
20 RB ARI Edgerrin James
21 WR ARI Larry Fitzgerald
22 WR CLE Braylon Edwards
23 WR NE Wes Welker
24 RB PIT Willie Parker
25 WR CIN T.J. Houshmandzadeh
26 QB DAL Tony Romo
27 WR NE Randy Moss
28 RB WAS Clinton Portis
29 RB --- Darren McFadden (rookie)
30 WR HOU Andre Johnson
31 TE SD Antonio Gates
32 WR CIN Chad Johnson
33 WR CAR Steve Smith
34 TE CLE Kellen Winslow
35 QB CIN Carson Palmer
36 TE DAL Jason Witten
37 WR STL Torry Holt
38 WR NYG Plaxico Burress
39 RB NE Laurence Maroney
40 WR ARI Anquan Boldin
41 RB --- Jonathan Stewart (rookie)
42 RB NYG Brandon Jacobs
43 QB NO Drew Brees
44 RB CLE Jamal Lewis
45 QB GB Brett Favre
46 WR SEA Deion Branch
47 QB DEN Jay Cutler
48 QB PIT Ben Roethlisberger
49 QB NYG Eli Manning
50 WR GB Donald Driver
Hi Ian: my question centers around "breakout" wide receivers for next year. I am in a point per reception league and currently have Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards as my top two wideouts. I am looking for someone who could put up huge numbers next year in a great offense. My two favorite young studs are Brandon Marshall from Denver and Lee Evans from the Bills. Unfortunately, they don't play in great offenses. Who are you high on for next year? Thanks.
JOHN SHELBROCK [FRANKENMUTH, MI]
Sidney Rice of Minnesota has caught my eye. He definitely has the size, speed and playmaking ability to be a No. 1 receiver. In a team with a limited offense, however, I wouldn't say that he'll ever put up the kind of numbers that you've seen out of Owens and Edwards this year. But a talented up-and-comer. Ditto for Dwayne Bowe. He's not in a great offense, but he definitely looks like he's going to be a No. 1 receiver for a lot of years. At this point, I kind of think he's going to wind up being a better pro than Calvin Johnson. If you held a gun to my head and forced me to call one guy the "breakout receiver" for 2008, Bowe would be the guy. Anthony Gonzalez deserves mention; if Marvin Harrison can't get back to full health, Gonzalez will be a full-time receiver with maybe the league's best quarterback. Sleeper: Chad Jackson. Randy Moss will be a free agent at the end of the year. And Donte Stallworth is owed $8 million in bonuses in February and March. So maybe one or both of those guys is gone, and Jackson winds up becoming a starter in that explosive offense.
I like Marshall. He's big and talented, and he keeps producing. I could see him outproducing Javon Walker in Denver next year.
Hey Ian! Do you think it is ethical for an owner who has clinched a playoff spot, to play his worst players the final game of the fantasy regular season to try to get a loss so that he can prevent another team that he doesn't want to face in the playoffs from making the playoffs? I think it's bush!
Billy LeRoy [YUMA, AZ]
I don't like it. Guys spend the entire offseason researching guys and exploring possible draft strategies. You watch a bunch of preseason games, read piles of articles and then spend four hours drafting guys on August. Then you spend hours every Sunday tracking how your team is doing -- and more hours during the week calculating roster moves and starting lineups. And it all comes down to, at the end, a guy intentionally tanking a game to keep you out of the playoffs? That's a crappy thing to do to all the guys in the league. Out of respect for the other competitors, it's not something I would do. I'd also be scared to try to pull such a stunt, since everyone in the league would then hate you and perhaps collude against you in the future. If it's something that you're worried might happen, I suppose you could get the owners together for an emergency session -- add a rule about "conduct detrimental to the league" or "spirit of the game" or something. But if you've got reasonable guys in your league, that's not a rule that you'll need.
I'm hoping to get some perspective from you on what I did in my league during week 12, in a 3-player keeper league that just this year changed its draft from serpentine to a straight line (NFL style).
By week 12 I was out of the playoff hunt. I was playing my co-commissioner who had an even worse record than me. I purposely lost the game by playing a lineup which included players. There are no rules in our league that cover such an act. I would not have done this had my game had playoff implications.
My other commissioner has attacked me with this quote "What you did is the most damaging thing that has ever been done to the league; you spit in the face of the league, and you chose to go directly against the spirit of the league. If there was ever a case for a team to be punitively punished, it is your team for what you did." In your experiences, how would you rate this? Without any kind of rule in place how would you adjudicate this? I'm looking for some independent thought on this that can assist our league more than help my position.
Giovanni Alessi [HAMMONTON, NJ]
In my opinion, it's the same as what's going on with the Arizona league in the previous letter. I don't like it. As Herman Edwards would say, "You play to win the game." If you've got your league set up where teams are getting a reward for intentionally losing games (in this case, getting a better draft pick), then I think you close that loophole.
Can Willie Parker still be considered a RB1 anymore? Not scoring a TD since October hurts and his lack of yards while keeping the same amount of attempts the last five weeks really makes me wonder. I don't think the weather or field conditions can be an excuse for the lack of production. Should I look to start Justin "Huggy Bear" Fargas or the other half of the Minnesota RB monster, Taylor, as my second running back along with ADP?
Ken Rose [ROCHESTER, NY]
No doubt that Parker has been disappointing in his last three games. 52 yards on 21 attempts against a bottom-5 run defense in New York. And then 81 yards on 24 carries against Miami's league-worst run defense and 87 yards on 28 carries against a struggling Cincinnati defense. That's three straight weeks he's failed to average 3.5 yards per carry against a bad defense, and two of those games were at home. He's definitely struggling. Maybe he's wearing down, or maybe that offensive line just isn't that good. I definitely wouldn't want to use Parker this week at New England. I expect to slot him behind Fargas in three of the next four weeks. The one exception would be in week 16, when Fargas is on the road against Jacksonville (which is very good against the run), while Parker is playing in St. Louis. The Rams are soft against the run, and the game is also on turf, which might be a good fit with Parker's speed.
Can you tell me what the tie-breaker is within a division when more than two teams have the same record? Or better yet, how the NFL does it?
DAVID STONER [LARGO, FL]
The important deal, with breaking ties, is to settle the ones inside the divisions first. Currently in the NFL, for example, you've got Detroit, Minnesota and Arizona all tied at 6-6 for that final playoff spot. In that case, you would break the tie between the Lions and Vikings first, with the surviving team then advancing to a tiebreaker with the Cardinals.
In your case, you asked about two teams inside the same division. First is head-to-head record. Did one team sweep the other in the regular season? Then that's your winner. At the NFL level, the next tiebreaker is division record -- record against just the teams inside the division. That's followed by common games, then conference record (and neither of those apply in the vast majority of fantasy leagues). The No. 5 tiebreaker is "strength of victory" -- the win-loss record of teams that you beat.
In a fantasy league, two other tiebreakers to consider adding for next year are total points scored (a good measure of a team's strength) and all-play record (a team's record if it were to play every team every week).
Steve Smith question: I know Carr sucks, and Vinny isn't great, but Smith's production still seems lower than it should be...so the question is: Are his hip and shin injuries a significant part of his lack of production? Maybe he has quit trying as hard out of frustration?...Smith's strength is making something out of nothing, shedding tacklers, squeaking through holes that aren't there, etc...So where are those kinds of scores this year?..Maybe teams are game-planning to stop him more than in the past?--(hard to imagine that)...Thanks for any light you can shed.
JEFF FOSTER [CHICO, CA]
I don't think there's anything physically wrong with Smith. He's just stuck on a bad team. And he really struggled when the Panthers were going with Carr (who might not even be in the league next year). He's been OK in his three complete games with Vinny Testaverde -- 10 for 132 and a touchdown at Arizona, 5 for 61 against Atlanta and 8 for 64 against the 49ers. That's 23 catches for 257 in three games (or on pace for 123 catches and 1,371 yards). In the four games that Carr started, Smith finished with 18 catches for only 141 yards, with 1 TD (or on pace for 72 catches and 564 yards). Smith should be fine next year when that team gets its problems sorted out (though who'll be quarterbacking and coaching, I'm not sure).
I have Larry Fitzgerald and his "bum groin." His scratch cost me a 0 last week since the only other player I could turn to late was Javon Walker. I assume he will be in question again this week and I don't want to run the risk of this happening to me in the playoffs. My replacement for Fitzgerald plays at noon on Sunday while Fitz is in the 3 p.m. block of games. How long do I wait to pull the plug on Larry?
Jason Kurvers [Eau Claire, WI]
I heard Larry Fitzgerald on the radio Wednesday night. He said he was able to do some things in practice that day and expected to be less restricted on Thursday and Friday. He says he expects to be fine. Unless you have another quality option to plug in, I suggest you use him. Seattle has been good against the pass this year, but with Anquan Boldin out, you can be sure Fitzgerald will be heavily utilized.
What do you think of the Seattle WRs this week, at home against Arizona. Who is likely to score and which one has the best chance to have a big game?
Octavius [Nashville, TN]
It's kind of a crapshoot with those guys. Deion Branch is supposed to be their No. 1 guy, but he's averaging only 63 receiving yards per game, with 2 TDs in eight starts (he had the foot injury). Bobby Engram has been a little better; he averaging 73 yards per game, with 4 TDs in 12 games. And they've also got Nate Burleson, who doesn't play as much as those guys (he's averaging only 34 yards) but has caught 5 TDs, plus scored two more on kick returns. I expect those guys to combine for about 160 yards and 1-2 TDs this week (with 2 more likely than 1), but I can't say with any certainty that any one of those guys is going to have a big game. Branch went over 100 yards at Arizona in week 2.
Question 3: Like many owners, I am...
Posted by Norm Foisy | Dec. 07 at 05:08 AM
how can you NOT have Tony Romo in the top 10?
Question 3: Like many owners, I am...
Posted by STEVEN MATH | Dec. 07 at 07:47 AM
What ?!!!! No Denver Running Back in the Top 50 ?
Question 3: Like many owners, I am...
Posted by Joe Savitsky | Dec. 08 at 04:08 AM
Ian, I've been holding onto Michael Turner for two years now in a dynasty PPR league, waiting for his SD contract to end. Finally, he is likely to be the biggest UFA (in fantasy terms, at least) this coming offseason. Last year, it seemed there were very few teams in need of a starting RB, but this season I could see several clubs vying for a potential workhorse guy like The Burner. Where do you think Turner is most likely to end up next season? And which of these teams do you think would offer him the best and worst opportunities to post big numbers (in PPR format)? I'd say the following teams are possible candidates, based solely on need (I have no idea what the salary cap implications would be for each): Cleveland, Houston, NYJ, Chicago, Atlanta, Carolina, and Seattle, and maybe just maybe New England. Personally, I could see Turner going off with any of these clubs, but NE and Cleveland would appear to be the most attractive. I look forward to your thoughts on all this. Keep up the good work. Joe, Reston, VA
Question 3: Like many owners, I am...
Posted by Joe Savitsky | Dec. 08 at 11:29 AM
More on Michael Turner - Do you see him as a 3-down back next season? How are his pass blocking and receiving skills?
Question 5: Hey Ian! Do you think...
Posted by ALAN CAMERON | Dec. 12 at 04:45 AM
Our league has, and has ALWAYS had, a "no tanking" rule. As Commisioner, I had the ability to edit anyone's line up, even after games are completed. If that happened in our league, I would have changed the offending owner's line up on Sunday morning (and probably not extended an invitation to join the league next season.)
Question 6: I'm hoping to get some...
Posted by David Jung | Dec. 07 at 05:10 AM
In our league we take the bottom 4 teams and have them play each other in a two-week playoff, just like the top four, and that sets the top of the order for the draft the following year. This prevents dumping and keeps everyone involved in free agent bidding, not just the top teams.
Question 6: I'm hoping to get some...
Posted by Johnny Bazzano | Dec. 07 at 07:18 AM
In our league, whoever comes in last for the year has to wear a dress and serve drinks at any owner's request at any time before, during and after the following year's draft. That will keep your owners from dumping games or not turning in a lineup! Johnny Bazzano Santa Rosa, California
Question 8: Can you tell me what...
Posted by Alex Armbruster | Dec. 13 at 07:41 AM
Another good tie breaker is total yards by all your starters (K and D not included). Since you could potentially load up your bench with high scoring positions, i.e. QBs, this is a way to make things even with virtually no way of needing another tiebreaker.
Question 11: What do you think of...
Posted by Brian Grzybowski | Dec. 07 at 04:46 PM
But what happens to the numbers if you toss out the doughnut that Branch put up in the first game? Is there better evidence that he should really be labeled the #1?
Question 11: What do you think of...
Posted by MICHAEL RUCKER | Dec. 08 at 12:25 PM
I was going to start RB-Reggie Bush now who should I start for week #14 (Play-Offs) Choose one only / Ron Dayne-Shawn Alexander-Chester Taylor-Aaron Stecker-Maurice Morris or L.Maroney - I'm kinda leaning towards Ron Dayne or Chester Taylor or maybe Alexander - I don't know LOL - HELP !!!!!
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