Ian Allan's Mailbag
Posted Aug. 29 at 03:09 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.
I believe that one of the biggest factors NFL players use as a source of motivation to perform at a high level for the season, is if that player is in a contract year. Just as important is if a player has just signed a lucrative, multi-million dollar, long term contract because of his performance during the last year of his contract. I have seldom seen an article that was devoted to this issue. I know your magazine, more often than not, mention this little tid bit of knowledge in a player's individual analysis. But I think it would be very helpful to conglomerate these "tid bits" into one article. I think that if one were to generate a data base, the validity of my superstition would be cemented.
Jason Schlund [Twin Falls, ID]
I’m not a huge fan of the contract-year player theory. Sure, you’ll see players here and there who put up big numbers – like Jamal Lewis last year – and that tends to stick with us when the next season’s crop of free agents rolls around. Maybe this guy could be another Jamal Lewis. But there are also plenty of players who fail to do anything special in that key “contract” year. Where, for example, were the big numbers last year for Julius Jones and Tatum Bell? Rex Grossman, Michael Turner, Jerry Porter, Bryant Johnson, Devery Henderson, Ernest Wilford, Chris Brown. When you get the list out, I don’t see an overwhelming number of players having good years.
I imagine the results will be the same for the “fat cats” – guys who are seemingly now simply going through the motions after signing big deals. Look at the skill-position guys who signed contracts worth in the neighborhood of $4 million plus annually entering last season: Joe Horn, Willis McGahee, Travis Henry, Ahman Green, Andre Johnson, Fred Taylor, Thomas Jones, Kevin Curtis, Drew Bennett, Jeff Garcia. Some of those guys worked out, some of them didn’t. For those who didn’t I’m not willing to say, “well, see what happened – the guy got the big paycheck and then he stopped playing hard.”
I agree that it might make a nice feature for the magazine – maybe next year’s version of the Strength of Schedule deal. Bring out all the numbers and see if we can say anything meaningful. Right now, the biggest data set I can offer you is at wide receiver. I’ve got a list of the wide receivers who I consider to be the biggest movers – players people were excited about seeing on new teams. Of those 60 guys, 23 posted better numbers, while 37 posted lesser numbers. But that could be like that Sophomore Slump versus Junior Jinx idea I trotted out about 10 days ago: when you take a subset of players who performed well and then try to track how they do, it’s going to be tough for them to measure up the following year.
I have been in the same 12-man league for 22 years now. By the way, have purchased a copy of the "Bible" every year you have published. We run a keeper/dynasty style league with a salary cap. Needless to say, top rookie running backs are hard to come by, and always go first.This year (1st time in "R League" history) I've landed 1st AND 2nd pick overall,and I am very interested to hear what you think about the futures of the four I like, in this order. 1)J.Stewart 2)R.Mendenhall 3)K.Smith 4)D.McFadden.
chris burleigh [RENTON, WA]
Every year? Even the Marino cover in 1987? That's impressive. Just don't show anybody the 1989 magazine -- I don't want people to know that I ranked Tim Worley higher than Barry Sanders.
With you being based in the Puget Sound area, I think you'll have to make Stewart one of your choices. They might kick you out of the league if you don't. And I think you'll have to go with McFadden as the other one. He was the first running back selected, and none of those other backs have shown enough to move ahead of him, at least in my opinion. Mendenhall is more of a long-term guy; I don't think he'll do much this year, and won't Willie Parker still be in place in 2009? Probably the most productive rookie running backs -- this year -- will be Matt Forte and Kevin Smith, but I'm trying to look at it more long-term. If I were in your position, I would entertain the idea of trading either of those picks and moving down to No. 4 or 5. See what other teams are offering, because I don't see a huge difference between those backs.
I noticed you ranked the top 20 overall in an 8 team league in a previous mailbag. My draft is next week and I was wondering how much different would a 10 team leaque be?
MIKE GIBBONS [RIVA, MD]
I just ran the numbers, using the stat projections that went out with Thursday's updated drafted board. Very little difference. I'm seeing most of the wide receivers ranked between 10th and 25 moving up 1-3 spots. That's for a league with three starting wide receivers. You can do this kind of thing yourself, of course, with our new Custom Auction Values calculator. It's free as part of the newsletters that go out. It's available in the YOUR PRODUCTS section after you log in at the website. For that deal, you define your scoring system, and then you define what you think is a "baseline" player in your league -- a guy you could get relatively cheaply. In an auction, it would be a guy who went for the $1.00 minimum. In a draft, it would be a guy you feel you would be able to select in about the 9th round. With this program, you get to decide where those pressure points are at each position. After you take the 5 minutes to make those decisions, the values (right down to the penny) are displayed for all of the players, including a top 50 overall.
This may be in the team notes next week, which is fine. But I noticed Dustin Keller went from possible sleeper to just falling off your board almost entirely without explanation. Something I should know about?
L DALE GANDER [SUN PRAIRIE, WI]
I think Keller is going to be a big player in this league. He catches the ball well. Could be another Shannon Sharpe or Dallas Clark. But when I got excited about him a few weeks back, that was when I didn't think Chris Baker was even going to be on New York's roster. Now, it's apparent that Baker is going to play. And after watching the last two preseason games, I believe Baker will be the starter there and actually catch some balls and touchdowns. Bubba Franks will play as well. Keller is more of a receiving weapon than those guys and should put up better numbers, but I don't think he's going to be a crusher as a rookie. I think things are going to be spread around. I thought I spelled this out in the updates, but it's possible I focused on another topic in the Jets' writeups. I try not to repeat the same info/ideas week after week because it annoys some readers and also makes the deal too much work to read.
Ian, With the #2 pick in our draft I selected Adrian Peterson. My next four picks were Larry Fitzgerald, Braylon Edwards, Calvin Johnson & Andre Johnson as I thought they were way better than the backs that were left. I can only play three. Should I look to trade one or mix and match with the following RBs? Chester Taylor, Derrick Ward, Chris Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, Chris Perry & Ray Rice. BTW, QBs are Cutler & Warner.
KENDALL HAYES [WOODBRIDGE, VA]
As the keeper of the Holy Grail said in the third Indiana Jones movie, "You chose wisely." You don't force picks on lesser running backs when there are franchise receivers on the board. You'll probably win that league easily. No pressure to trade any of the four receivers. If one of them gets hurt or has a particularly unpleasant matchup, you still have three left. Edwards (foot) might not be healthy for the opener. All four will have byes. Maybe Johnson gets hurt. I think you'll be fine at your second running back spot. Maybe Ray Rice starts on opening day. Chris Perry, I think, will be Cincinnati's starter. And DeAngelo Williams is a starter. I'd be surprised if any other team in that league is as good as yours.
I'm curious as to why Houshmandzadeh isn't rated higher on your PPR league rankings? Last year he had: 112 receptions, 12 TD, 1143 yards, what's not to like?
DAVID SMITH [WALLS, MS]
Houshmandzadeh is upset with his contract situation, and that may have played a role in him sitting out almost all of August with a hamstring injury. There are also more receiving options there this year -- Chris Henry will be available for 12 games, and they've added a tight end (Ben Utecht) who should catch a lot more passes than they got out of that position last year. The team also could try to run the ball more this year -- Marvin Lewis talked about that in the offseason. Plus, I just don't think that team is going to be very good. The wheels could really fall off that club in November. That's why you see Houshmandzadeh ranked just a few spots lower than you might expect.
Ian, love the name and the column. Every fantasy league I play in as well as all of the ones my friends play in score QB TD's as 6 points. Are there that many leagues still using a 4 point Passing TD system to warrant using it as your cheat sheet grading scale? My sample size concensus says no, I was wondering your thoughts?
IAN SAUNDERS [COCONUT CREEK, FL]
My least favorite Ian is Ian Eagle of CBS. Dude doesn't know how to pronounce his own name. I think we should vote him out of the club.
As for 6-point TD passes, I think they're a small minority -- probably less than 20 percent. But I'll throw a reader poll question up there and we'll test it. I'm not saying it's a bad way to go, but that's just how I think it is. We do have the Custom Scoring and Custom Auction Value tools available at the website, and they don't discriminate against you.
I love the Custom Auction Values generator but I'm not sure I'm using it correctly. I'm in a 14-team TD-only league that uses a straight draft, and I'm not sure at what point to set the cutoff for players expected to go for the minimum price ($1). I used last year's draft results and counted the last six rounds (out of 17) as $1 players. The result is that quarterbacks come out as insanely valuable. Kurt Warner, #15 on the quarterback board, comes in at #28 overall. I have the #3 pick and if Brady is there, I'm fine taking him, but if LT and Brady go 1-2, should I really follow this list's advice and take Manning?
Adam Wilson [STATE COLLEGE, PA]
Let's try it with fewer guys going for more than minimum. Maybe 18 QB, 40 RB, 12 TE, 3 PK, 4 DEF and 36 WR. So that's about eight rounds. Set it for those levels, and I think you'll get a better top 50. Or you could tighten it even further, basically going with only starters and key reserves -- 14 QB, 32 RB, 28 WR, 6 TE, 1 K and 2 DEF.
This program is comparing players' values based on "baseline" production, so in reality, you should be looking at production beyond what you can get for relatively nothing. So with the quarterbacks, you need to set things a little higher to account for the possibility that some undrafted nobody will put up big numbers for some fantasy team -- like Kurt Warner last year.
Our league is a Point Per Reception league for receivers only. Last year Wes Welker went undrafted but ended up coming in second in points scored by a receiver next to Randy Moss due to his league leading 112 receptions. Because the NFL is a copy cat league, I'd imagine other teams may try to use their slot receivers the way New England successfully used Welker. He was essentially their "running back" that moved the chains. Would you please name any other receivers that you think could possibly come out of nowhere to fill the same roll that Welker did maybe ending the season with 90 plus catches.
Johnny Bazzano [SANTA ROSA, CA]
I saw a guy last week who reminded me of Welker: David Anderson of the Texans. Small, tough, works the middle of the field. I think he's going to stick around. He'll probably be Houston's No. 3 receiver. Maybe a year or two down the road, he'll get put in a system where he catches 60 passes. As for this year, I see three receivers with a good chance to catch 100-plus passes -- Welker, Brandon Marshall and Larry Fitzgerald. The up-and-comers in my top 10 are Jerricho Cotchery and Calvin Johnson. If there's going to be a nobody receiver who catches 90 passes, it probably will be one of the 49er guys -- Josh Morgan, Isaac Bruce or Bryant Johnson.
In a 12 team PPR league, drafting #3. I've always thought to play it safe w/my #1 pick. That pick just can't be a bust via performance or injury. As long as they produce at a steady upper level.... league's are won in the 3-8th rounds. With that said, would it be crazy to take M.Barber3 over R.Moss with my pick?
Eric Leeson [WEST CHESTER, PA]
I think his play will be worthy of that No. 3 pick. You've just got to cross his finger and hopes he stays healthy. Barber takes an awful lot of punishment -- he runs so hard -- that I can't see him staying healthy for 16 games.
I'm in several PPR 12 team leagues. Is it important to get one of the top 3 or 4 TEs when one is required? Is it an advantage to have extra points from that position?
David Norlin [BIRMINGHAM, AL]
I don't think so. Lots of good tight ends, and some will be available at shockingly cheap prices. I think you'll do better holding off on that position, unless one that you really like falls into your lap.
HELP ME. You led me to a three-peat in my league, due to my unquestioning loyalty to your cheat-sheets. If it hadn't been for the snow in Cleveland last year, I'd have four-peated. But either I've gotten a lot older between this year and last, or this season is the most uncertain in memory when it comes to high draft picks. Almost ALL of them carry tremendous risk. Look at the top 10 overall: Tomlinson will probably be good to go. After that, Jackson at #2 is coming off of injury and plays for a cat-vomit-poor team. Westbrook at #3 is always an injury risk. Moss looks good at #4, then Peterson at #5 is an injury risk, and has a lousy offense around him. Gore (#6) has a worse one, Fitzgerald (#7) will probably get hurt at some point, Brady (#8) stubbed his toe, Owens (#9) is 80 but has the mentality of a 12-year-old cheerleader, and Barber (#10) never saw a collision he didn't LUST. That's 8 out of 10 who make my colon quiver with anxiety. And it doesn't get any better after that: Edwards (#11) is injury prone and might die, Marshall (#12) is suspended, Drew... oops, I mean JONES-Drew, almost forgot his maiden name... at #13 is a part-time player, Addai ha a lousy second half, Colston is gimpy, Johnson is unproven in a new offense, Welker's limping, Portis plays for the Redskins, Manning is bruised... So, by my estimation, there's about three "sure things" in the Top 20. Now, am I overreacting, have I just become too tightly wound in my success, or is this really the hardest draft year EVER? My lower intestines are flailing like Daniel Snyder in free-agency. Help me Ian Allan -- you're my only hope.
Jacob Wilson [KAUFMAN, TX]
That's why God invented the trade down. A few months back, I was participating in an Experts Draft hosted by Fanex Football. I knew I wanted to select wide receivers rather than running backs (which are snapped up in that league), so I trade down out of the second round and down in the third round. And you know what? There are a lot of damn good players available in the 30-45 pick range in this draft -- wide receivers who should go a lot earlier, in my opinion. Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Wes Welker (PPR league) -- guys like that. So that's one option -- see if you can trade down and pick up some extra draft choices.
I'm in a keeper league that starts 2 QBs. One is Peyton Manning, but I have to choose between Carson Palmer and Jay Cutler. I've had Palmer since he was a rookie, so there's sort of an attachment there, but Cutler is a few years younger and may have similar numbers this year, and for many years to come. What should I do?
Frank Kielpikowski [HAMMOND, IN]
I'm a Steelers fan, though less so now than in the past. I literally could not sleep on the nights before their Super Bowl games in the '70s. But with fantasy football, I've never had any problem separating business from pleasure. I'm looking for guys who'll help me win -- period. So I would advise you to set aside your man crush on Palmer and protect the player who's going to help you win ballgames. That would be Cutler. (He's from Indiana -- that doesn't help him?)
I'm in a contract based keeper league. I've had Peyton Manning for many years and am now paying him more than a fifth of my salary cap and due to our contract rules, I can only afford to keep him for 2 more years. I could trade him for his younger brother who is about 1/3 the price and signed through 2010 (after which I could give him a modest raise and sign him much longer). I'd do it if I was convinced that Eli was going to take his game to the next level and become a regular 30+ TD guy. Will Eli reach that level?
SEAN MCGUIRE [MINNEAPOLIS, MN]
30 touchdown passes? No. When I saw Eli Manning in the preseason, my gut feeling was that he was going to be pretty similar to what he was last year -- maybe about average in yards and about 24 TD passes. I don't see him becoming another Drew Brees or Tony Romo.
Drafting 3rd in a 2QB 3RB 4WR league, performance scoring. LT and AP likely will go 1 and 2. Is Brady the pick or Westbrook/Jackson/Barber? Does the fact that we start 2 QBs give that boost to Brady's value?
ALAN FREDERICK [SIMI VALLEY, CA]
Definitely Brady with the double quarterback rule. If I had the No. 1 pick, I'd be torn between Brady and Tomlinson.
Ive used your products exclusively for years and have had great success during the regular season but have had problems come playoff time. I often have a great overall record and point total then flame out in week 1 or 2 of the post season while some 7 and 5 team cruises to the title. What teams or players look to have the best matchups in weeks 13-16?
Chris Krumenauer [GREENVILLE, WI]
What do you think of the company name Can't Win The Big One Fantasy Sports? For what it's worth, below is the list of the teams projecting to play the easiest and hardest schedules in the four-week period beginning with week 13. Wins and losses are from the 2007 season:
W L Pct.
29 35 .537 Arizona
14 50 .259 Buffalo
19 45 .352 Denver
25 39 .463 New England
25 39 .463 San Diego
25 39 .463 San Francisco
25 39 .463 Tampa Bay
26 38 .481 St. Louis
29 35 .537 Chicago
29 35 .537 Kansas City
29 35 .537 NY Jets
29 35 .537 Tennessee
31 33 .574 Miami
32 32 .593 Washington
33 31 .611 Carolina
33 31 .611 Green Bay
33 31 .611 Minnesota
33 31 .611 New Orleans
33 31 .611 Philadelphia
34 30 .630 Atlanta
34 30 .630 Baltimore
35 29 .648 Dallas
35 29 .648 Indianapolis
36 28 .667 Jacksonville
37 27 .685 Cincinnati
38 26 .704 NY Giants
38 26 .704 Oakland
39 25 .722 Cleveland
40 24 .741 Detroit
41 23 .759 Pittsburgh
41 23 .759 Seattle
44 20 .815 Houston
Question 1: I believe that one of...
Posted by JEFF FOSTER | Aug. 29 at 12:09 PM
one of the stupidest things i have ever heard is the 10 team league based on yardage, then to add insult to injury qbs get only 4 pts per td....this makes rbs the only valuable position, and then only the top 2 0r 3 at that...ridiculus...instead of suffering with that system, why not change the rules to make every part of your team valuable?...more points for ling fgs, there by making kickers w strong legs actually worth something, qbs td worth 6, start2 rbs, 3wr, and no flex (icreases wr value, even go to 8 team leauge, where everyone has a chance for some good players, instead of leaving the last 2 0r 3 out in the cold.. i'm just sayin'
Question 4: This may be in the...
Posted by Duane Stay | Aug. 31 at 05:46 AM
FFB movie called 10yards.com is pretty good and I got a kick out of it. I recommend that you look it up and watch it. Fantasy people will relate to it. You can watch it for free on your computer.
Question 6: I'm curious as to why...
Posted by Andrew Napoli | Aug. 29 at 03:35 AM
I also question the very low ranking of Housh in PPR format. I got it that he probably won't catch 112 balls and score as many TDs. All of those factors cited by Ian are legit concerns. But the bottom line is, Carson Palmer consistently looks to Housh in red zone situations. The Bengals pass a lot of their TDs, rather than run them in. If Chad Johnson gets hurt, Housh is the man. He'll get EVEN MORE throws his way. Sure, the extra coverage will hurt, but if Palmer throws his way 15 times a game, even if half of those passes fail Housh will still average 7 catches for 70 yards with a TD every other week. That's 14 pts per game plus a 20 point game every other week. That's a monster stud at the WR position in my book. It don't matter if the Bengals suck. Their defense is even worse. They'll be behind in every game. They'll be throwing even when they're ahead because their defense can't be trusted to protect a lead.
Question 7: Ian, love the name and...
Posted by GARY MAHER | Aug. 29 at 09:34 AM
our little league here in Renton started in 1979 and nobody was using a 4 point passing TD system. A TD is a TD and you shouldn't let anybody tell you any different. I believe that this weighting of points should never have happened. "Bradshaw to Stallworth for SIX!!"
Question 7: Ian, love the name and...
Posted by Mike Walsh | Aug. 31 at 09:04 AM
I wondered the same thing as it seems that 4 point TDs for QBs were the norm on cheatsheets and mock drafts. Ian felt that only 20% of leagues went with 6 point TDs for QBs, however, your poll (with over 1,700 respondents) shows that the majority (over 53%) give 6 points for QB's TDs. Anyone surprised? So what does this mean, will Index use 6 pt TDs as the default?
Question 7: Ian, love the name and...
Posted by JOHN MACPHEE | Sep. 02 at 02:14 PM
I am in a Spokane league and Coeur d'Alene league and we both score 6 points for qbs so drafting goes a little sooner for these positions. If fact the first two picks were Brady and Manning. This league is easy pickens for me this year with LT, Gore, Brandon Marshall and Cutler (I hope Fantasy Index is right on this one) MACATTACK, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Question 7: Ian, love the name and...
Posted by Jonathan Souza | Sep. 03 at 07:57 AM
The two leagues I participate in both use 6pts for thrown TD. When I was in H.S. (88 - 91)before people even had magazines to cheat from... QB's were like the top picks. They seemed to dominate the drafts. I think this caused people to adjust the value of a thrown TD to 4pts such that QB's value was lessened. Now after years of seeing RB's go every pick from 1st to 3rd round, I sense that the Points Per Reception was added. This and a mandatory TE make WR and the TE more. It also adds more value to the change of pace back. Thus reducing the value of the 'Primary RB'. Finally our league 3 years ago went back to 6pts for a thrown TD to boost the QB. We are tired of the all RB strategy, especially in the now reality of just how few full time RB there are. Finally we also add a LOT of points for long field goals (up to 12 points) Adding these rules helps out our 14 team league because it gives more quality players.
Question 7: Ian, love the name and...
Posted by Scott Florence | Sep. 04 at 12:54 AM
I'm in 3 leagues this year. For TD throws they give 3, 3, & 4 points.
Question 13: I'm in a keeper league...
Posted by TOD EGE | Aug. 29 at 03:34 AM
The same one that you helped start when Jerry Rice was on the cover...198??? The league has changed a bit, but we still are using the Fantasy Football Index bible to help guide us. A few years ago, I asked you if there would be an updated keeper league cheatsheet coming soon. At that time, you said there was no need, since the changes would small at best. Is this still true, or is there a chance for an updated keeper league cheatsheet in our future. Tod - Woodinville, WA
Question 16: Ive used your products exclusively...
Posted by Andrew Napoli | Aug. 29 at 03:59 AM
I used to have a similar problem, Chris Krumenauer. My teams would consistently have the top 3 total points for, have great "breakdown" or "power" rankings, and yet my actual regular season record would either be mediocre, or I'd flame out in the first round of the playoffs. What I started doing different is focus on 'average points per game' and consistently producing players rather than super-high scorers who sometimes produced freakish one or two week results and then paired them with total goose eggs the next week. The idea is that if you load your team up with plodders who produce above average points week in and week out, in most statistical situations you'll come out ahead, as the opponent will likely have at least one explosive guy who lays an egg in any given week. Last year and this year, I quickly grabbed guys like Housh and Welker. These dudes consistently get the ball every week. They rarely get shut out. I avoid guys like Santana Moss, Chad Johnson, or Lee Evans, who bust out insane performances three or four times a year but then get zilch for many games, too. I focus on RBs who are guaranteed lots of touches per game and always stay in on 3rd down (Matt Forte, DeAngelo Williams) rather than single-use backs who are streakish and almost never play on 3rd downs (Laurence Maroney). I'd rather have a guy who gets 20 touches per game and only puts up 6 TDs, than a streaky RB who puts up 10 TDs (with 7 of them coming in 3 games) but gets 10-12 touches a game and never plays on 3rd down. The key is not to war game some week 13-15 scenario, but to make sure you've got players who rarely come up empty. If you put too much stock in some great week 14 match-up, chances are you're picking an inferior player for the other 13 weeks and putting your playoff hopes themselves at risk.
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