Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Aug. 19 at 08:09 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.
This season sophomore RBs are ranked highly on many draft boards. Do you believe this proliferation of highly ranked young players could spell disaster for some teams due to the high percentage of sophomore slumps throughout history? I have the option of keeping Marshawn Lynch.
Colt Guthridge [HINDSBORO, IL]
I’ve got in front of me the list of the 42 running backs who’ve run for 1,000-plus yards since the league went to a 16-game season. Of that group, only 13 ran for more yards the following year. Only 11 scored more touchdowns. And only 9 averaged more yards per carry. So based on those historical numbers, I suppose we should all run and hide when it comes time to select Marshawn Lynch or Adrian Peterson.
But hold on.
There’s a certain pollution factor that occurs anytime you pull a subset out of a large group of guys and try to draw a statistical conclusion. In the case of the “Sophomore Slump”, for example, we’re not really looking at second-year running backs objectively. We’re asking a small group of running backs to stack up against a group that the previous year all went over 1,000 yards. So is it really surprising when that group doesn’t quite measure up? Aren't we just playing with numbers?
Consider, for example, how the Sophomore Slump compares with the “Junior Jinx” -- how running backs perform after a big year in season No. 2. According to my numbers, 42 running backs in their second seasons have run for 1,000 yards in the last 30 years. How have those running backs fared in their third seasons? Only 12 of those 42 scored more touchdowns. Only 16 ran for more yards. And only 16 finished with a higher average yards per carry.
What does this tell us? To me, I think it just tells us that we should probably not overanalyze this whole deal. Maybe we should just stick to selecting guys that we think are pretty good running backs. And I think Lynch and Peterson belong in that group.
I love the new Custom Auction Tool. I'm a big believer in studying the draft history of your league, which the tool supports. On that note, you've probably done plenty of drafts already - RB value as a whole is down this year. How much of a change have you seen this year in what are typically RB heavy drafts? Are you seeing people following true values, or just ignoring it and taking RBs regardless? I'm guessing I could see 5 fewer RBs go in the first two rounds.
L DALE GANDER [SUN PRAIRIE, WI]
I'm with you. I see a lot of question marks with the top running backs. I wouldn't, for example, want to be the guy who had to take the No. 3 running back. Tomlinson and Peterson will be the first two selected, but who goes No. 3? Steven Jackson is holding out. Brian Westbrook is a smaller guy who's had a lot of injury problems. Frank Gore plays for a coach who won't call running plays. Joseph Addai hasn't been very durable, and the Colts have a very hard schedule. I'm stuck. But everybody seems to want to select running backs. In the draft hosted by www.fanexfootball.com, all 12 guys selected running backs in the first round, and only five selected wide receivers in the second round.
Any chance you will reconsider the day you'll publish your final cheatsheet? I would say a large majority of drafts will take place on Sat 8/30 and Sun (8/31), with Mon 9/1 being Labor Day and the first game being that Thursday. How about publishing an update that Friday evening to help people prepare for the weekend drafts?
Kelly Salisbury [CENTREVILLE, VA]
I've got you covered. As it stands now, the updates go out late on Sunday night. But all of the changes in those updates are of the read-and-react variety. In Detroit's game on Sunday, for example, I liked what I saw out of Calvin Johnson, so I increased his projection slightly, causing him to rise slightly on my board. But on Wednesday and Thursday of each week, I take a look at all of the projections for every team, moving guys around and re-arranging the overall board. Those adjustments are reflected in the Thursday revision of the product. So if you've got a draft on Friday the 29th, you'll be able to pick up that update the night before your draft.
I always base my rankings off of yours and edit them to my preferences -- I was just curious whether you err to best-case scenario or worst-case scenario on your projections?
Don Parsons [Hamilton, OK]
I try to hit what I think is the fair over-under. Suppose everybody had the same information as me and had spent the same amount of time looking at it. At that point, I'm trying to hit the number (for yards, touchdowns and everything else we project) where about half of the people, if forced to pick a side, would say "too high" and half would say "too low".
In our league, both player and team defense/special teams get credit for TDs. Which RB or WR should I look for in Saturday's (AUG 23) draft and should I draft that team defense earlier to take advantage of the "double-dip"?
mike dauzat [deville, LA]
I don't double dip. Allow me to re-phrase the question. If you knew you were going to get two kick return touchdowns, would you prefer to have them both in the same game? I say no. If I get a return touchdown in my league (where we also get double points for long touchdowns) I figure I'm going to win that week anyway; I want those touchdowns spread out. Only time I might want to break out the double dip would be if I were a big underdog against a powerhouse team -- when I felt I'd need some luck to win. Best double-dip players: Devin Hester, Chris Johnson, Ted Ginn and DeSean Jackson. Maurice Jones-Drew probably will return a kickoff for a TD at some point this year. Other players with some return skills who potentially might be valuable enough to use as starters at some point this year: Steve Slaton, Felix Jones, Antwaan Randle El, Leon Washington.
Will your auction value generator work for leagues using a drauction? We have a 12 team league that uses an auction for the first 4 rounds (48 players). We get a 100 dollar salary cap. It is essentially a performance based league with some emphasis on longer touchdowns.
WILL SAYRE [W SACRAMENTO, CA]
Definitely. Just figure out which 48 players you feel should be selected, and how many you think will go for the minimum. I'll guess that you'll be looking at something like 22 RB, 12 WR, 10 QB and 4 TE. I'd assume that maybe the bottom 8-10 of those guys will go for the $1 minimum. Plug in those kind of answers to the questions that are asked, and you'll get the numbers you're looking for. With a 48-player drauction, I'm going to guess that the No. 1 player will be worth slightly more than $97 max that any team could pay for an individual player.
I have been a loyal reader and purchaser of your products since 1995 when I won my league with the WR trio of Rice, Carter, and H Moore! I love your bold predictions and rankings, and I have followed you to many FF championships. I am now in several dynasty/keeper leagues, and unfortunately, you don't offer any type of cheat sheet that takes a players future potential into account. I still read your team capsules where you make a mention or two about a dynasty value, but I wonder when you are going to put out a true dynasty/keeper cheat sheet?
Jim Faile [TAMPA, FL]
That's a difficult product to get right because of the wide variety of scoring systems and keeper rules. The list would change dramatically, for example, if you were looking at keeping five per team or keeping everybody. And what would be the penalty for protecting a player? That affects where you would rank a guy. Are you forcing each team to protect everyone? Or did you strip away a draft pick (starting with the first round) for each player a team protects? Are you keeping forever or just for 3-5 years? You start to see the problems that start showing up on our end. Even just putting this kind of thing together for one league, where you know all the rules, is a daunting task. I give thought to it from time to time, trying to balance the desire to win now versus the value of a roster spot versus the likelihood you might stumble on to Kurt Warner types who aren't even on anybody's roster. I tend to end up supposing that I would discount future seasons at something close to 10 percent for each year. That's the rate people tend to shoot for with the investments, isn't it? Probably the best that I can offer is to have you e-mail your keeper / dynasty ideas, observations and questions into the mailbag. Let's try that and see how it goes.
What has happened to Shaun ALexander ? Is anyone trying him out ? I would think he would like to prove everyone wrong and come back with avengenence ? You guys in Seattle must be hearing something ?
JOHN MARINO [BINGHAMTON, NY]
I think he's done. Too old. Too slow. Runs too soft. What team would be interested in bringing him in to be a No. 2 running back? He can't catch. He doesn't like to block. He has no long-term value. He can't play special teams. And he's used to being paid a lot of money, not the minimum.
I am faced with this question every year. I am in a 12 team league that seems running back crazy. I have seen years where 22 of the picks in the first round are all RB's. My problem is that if I follow your lists, I end up grabbing a QB and 2 WR's in the first 3 rounds. By the time the 4th round rolls around, the top 25 RB's are long gone and I am forced to find 2 starts from among the scrubs left behind or 1 RB and then flex at WR. I have tried grabbing three stub WR's and flexing, but the WR's are usually feast or famine and my lone RB is of so low value that he does not add much on a week to week basis.
So do I follow the sheep to make sure I have at least one decent RB or do I grab best available knowing I will not be able to solve my RB situation.
By the way, the RB feeding frenzy does not seem to hurt the rest of the league as they all move on to QB's and WR's at the same time so there are still plenty to go around so some of them end up with top RB's and top WR's.
PAUL BLANCK [KANSAS CITY, MO]
That's a fair question and a legit issue. It is hard to zag when everyone else is zigging. But it can be done. I won the experts league at fanexfootball using that approach last year. And I expect to have an outstanding team in the league again this season. (12 teams, PPR, start 3 WRs + a flex player). In that league, I've got Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith and Wes Welker at wide receiver. I drafted Steven Jackson in the first round. For my #2 RB, I'll be counting on production out of some combination of Matt Forte, Kevin Smith and Chris Perry. You may consider those guys to be "scrubs." I think I'll be fine. Those guys don't need to win the league for me, they just need stay out of the way. In your league, I wouldn't veer off the draft plan too significantly. You'll probably take a running back in the first round. After that, I think you'll do well by simply taking the best player rather than trying to follow the herd.
I'm in a 12 team yardage league. When setting up my auction profile in order to use your Custom Auction Values calculations it asks for the number of QBs (or RBs, etc.) that will go for more than the minimum. What is a good estimate for that if you haven't used an auction format before?
Eric Schmit [KEIZER, OR]
I suggest you start with the following guesses. For QBs, assume that every team will pay more than the minimum for a starting QB, and 3-4 will pay more than the minimum for a backup. At RB, assume every team will pay more than min for 3 RBs (2 starters and 1 backup). For WR, assume everyone will pay more than the min their starters, and only half of the teams will pay more than the min for a backup. At tight end, maybe 75-80 percent of the owners pay more than the min for a starter. For kickers, maybe 3-4 go for more than the min. For defenses, maybe 5 go for more than the min. That should get you started. If you've got a flex position, you'll have to work that into the RB-WR-TE positions.
My apology if it's been posted, but I haven't seen it, then again I've misplaced an exercise ball that was in my living room, yeah yeah the question, where is the mad bombers information? Distance is HUGE in my leagues, and honestly it's the preferred scoring method in my experience. One gets a lot more jacked up when rooting for a guy to finish a 76 yard scamper, rather than a one yard plunge.
DWAYNE COX [SMOKE LAWN, IL]
Here are the averages (average distance per TD pass) for the 17 quarterbacks who threw at least 15 TDs last year:
24.3 Donovan McNabb
24.1 Brett Favre
21.6 Tony Romo
20.8 Peyton Manning
20.4 Jon Kitna
18.3 David Garrard
18.1 Derek Anderson
18.1 Carson Palmer
17.0 Philip Rivers
16.2 Matt Hasselbeck
16.2 Eli Manning
15.3 Ben Roethlisberger
15.3 Jay Cutler
14.5 Sage Rosenfels
14.3 Tom Brady
12.3 Kurt Warner
10.6 Drew Brees
I run a keeper auction league. Every year the "bell cow" running backs go for huge money, but the touchdown stealers sometimes can be bought very reasonably. For instance, when Julius Jones was leading Dallas in rushing he went in the $20's, but I was able to pick up Barber in single digits. Barber was easily the more valuable fantasy running back in total point production but it also helped me manage my salary cap by buying him cheaper than a guy like Jones. Who are this season's potential "touchdown stealers"? Who are the guys who have the lesser name but may outperform and outvalue the big name player in front of them? I see Bush of Oakland or Perry of Cincy as guys who might fit that mold.
CHRIS RONQUILLO [HOUSTON, TX]
I don't have any interest in Bush. I could see Perry developing into Cincinnati's top running back this year; wouldn't surprise me at all if Rudi Johnson doesn't even make the team. Basically, when it comes to looking for running backs who wind up being dramatically undervalued, you're looking for running backs who right now aren't starters but wind up moving into that role. There are a lot of them around, and they tend to show up between 30th and 50th on our draft board. You've got one right there in Houston -- Steve Slaton.
How would you define a FAIR TRADE in FF? And, how would you apply this definition in practice? My daughter is a first-time commissioner this year. Members want to know her stance before season begins.
RAY SCHMITT [NORMAL, IL]
To me, a fair trade occurs when both teams are acting in good faith. When one of them is intentionally making a poor trade to try to help the other team better, that's a trade that you throw out. That's collusion. Or maybe an owner makes a one-sided trade in an effort to secure something outside of the league -- a free car wash, a free steak dinner, whatever. So if you want to throw out a trade, you'd better be able to convince a jury that one of the owners, for whatever reason, is trying to undermine the league. But I'm not a fan of throwing out trades like the one where Mike Lynn gave up a bundle of draft picks for Herschel Walker. That's part of the game. If you don't like trades and their potential impact, just throw them out entirely.
I've been buying your magazine for about 15 years and won twice my share of Super Bowls because I've done a better job of evaluating talent than my opponents. We keep 12 players each year so only the top rookies and a few surprises are available in the draft (Like the NFL). Your "keeper league draft board" in the magazine is very important to me. What major changes would you make on that board at this point? Who would you add, subtract, and move way up or way down?
JOHN BENNETT [CHINO, CA]
Josh Morgan goes way up. Chad Henne might be the top quarterback. DeSean Jackson, Steve Slaton, Tim Hightower, Mike Hart and Thomas Brown all go up.
I’m curious what you think about the following proposal. We have a 9 team league with 16 roster spots so there are always quality players floating out there. I’m envisioning a “Practice Squad” up to 3 players that you can hold post-auction. Each team would be allowed up to 3 players – they may want the players as a handcuff, perhaps he’s injured/suspended, or just speculation. At any time the team can “activate” the player by dropping someone from their current roster. But at no time can you add a new player to the Practice Squad. It’s a once only opportunity. Here are some caveats to make it interesting: Each player on the practice squad costs the owner $2 per week tax that goes into the kitty. And, at any time an owner can lay a $10 claim on a second owner’s Practice Squad player – in which the second owner has to either activate said player (and drop one of his others) or give up the player. The $10 goes into the kitty. This is to make sure an owner isn’t using the squad to hoard good talent. Your thoughts?
BRYAN BERTSCH [MINNEAPOLIS, MN]
I like the concepts. I think those rules -- or something similar to them -- could fly in a lot of fantasy leagues.
What are the best of the best when it comes to punt and kickoff returns? Take into account the only thing that counts are td's and both punts and kickoffs are the same point value.
JOHN STOUT [CLARKSBURG, WV]
Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs are the big two. After that, I'd be looking at Yamon Figurs, DeSean Jackson, Darren Sproles, Andre Davis, Chris Johnson, Ted Ginn, Steve Breaston, Johnny Higgins and Dexter Jackson.
I am in a league which gets to keep one player from the previous year who was drafted from the 10th round on ... That player just so happens to be Braylon Edwards and I am so pumped. If you were in my position with your tenth pick already locked in this year as Braylon Edwards, what approach would you take come draft day being that you already have your stud WR?
Dustin Mason [AUSTIN, TX]
I might talk a little more smack than usual at the draft. Maybe make wide receiver less of a priority in the early rounds. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Question 15: I’m curious what you think...
Posted by Matt Tinker | Aug. 19 at 10:53 PM
Love these ideas. Just wondering how many software companies can incorporate/automate both the roster logistics as well as the financing end of it? Or whether it's something the commish will have to manually administrate?
Question 15: I’m curious what you think...
Posted by BRYAN BERTSCH | Aug. 20 at 02:22 AM
Fanball has a "taxi squad" but I doubt they'd be able to handle the finaces and the piece about claiming someone else's player. I was going to suggest if an owner wants to claim a player an email be sent to the owner and CC everyone else...a phone call perhaps as well. Then the owner has 48 hours to decide what to do. If he does nothing then the commish releases the player. It's not a perfect system, and god knows I like everything to be automated, but it might be a managable band-aid.
Question 17: I am in a league...
Posted by JIM KLOSS | Aug. 21 at 05:45 AM
with 14 teams, performance scoring, starting lineups, with a TE. This year, we added a flex starter, who can be RB/WR/TE. Still have to start 2 RB and 2 WR and 1 TE. With that addition, how do you see it affecting the relative value of RB v. WR, if at all? How would it affect your draft strategy?
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